Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bits and Morsels in Ibiza

Sunset at Cap D'es Falco in Ibiza.

by Erin Frankel


For the past two weeks I literally ate my way through the island of Ibiza all the way down through southern Spain into Portugal. The great expanse of cooking styles, flavors, and textures throughout the region kept my palate thoroughly engaged.

I started my culinary tour on the island of Ibiza, infamous for its late-night party scene and renowned for its beautiful beaches. Ibiza is not touted for its cuisine, but it does have a rich tradition dating back to ancient times with each successive civilization leaving behind its own inimitable stamp on the island. My sampling of Ibicencan cuisine consisted of spectacular seafood, always complemented by a bottle of rose.
The town of Ibiza.
We started with lunch at the Jockey Club, an open, lively restaurant perched right on Selenas Beach. I took my cue from longtime chef Ignacio Bolanos and ordered a delicate, refreshing gazpacho soup and an avocado and chicken salad dressed with a creamy vinaigrette. A dry bottle of rose (split between two) and the beats of Balearic live music made for a blissful afternoon on this sensational, white sandy beach.
A bottle of rose was always near (Jockey Club, Juan y Andrea, Blue Marlin).
Gazpacho soup at the Jockey Club.
Chicken and Avocado salad at the Jockey Club. My friend and confidante Marisa at the Jockey Club.
In Spain, the sun doesn’t set until around 8pm, which is exactly when you must head to Cap D'es Falco. It is here where we sampled some toothy tapas accompanied by a pitcher of white sangria, all while watching one of the most captivating sunsets of our lives.
Cap D'es Falco.
When in Ibiza, a visit to the island of Formentera is a must. A day spent on the small island is a sensory experience that will be savored for a lifetime. Forementera is made up of numerous small sandy beaches divided by short rocky stretches. We walked to the very end of the beach (small beach bars dot the length of the beach) and had lunch at the acclaimed Juan y Andrea, which sits on the most popular beach in Formentera ... and arguably the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.

Juan y Andrea's tables are set out on the sand right in front of the breathtaking clear blue of the Mediterranean. Add to the already euphoric experience by ordering a bottle of chilled rose (yes, another). For starters, order the Juan y Andrea salad, a mixture of melon, avocado, prawns, salmon, and caviar topped with a spicy dressing. As for entrées, the grilled squid and the grilled sole were both delicate and supremely fresh.
Sitting down for lunch at Juan y Andrea.
Juan y Andrea salad.
Grilled squid at Juan y Andrea.
Grilled sole at Juan y Andrea.
Beautiful vistas are plentiful on the island of Formentera.
A visit to Ibiza is never complete without a day and evening spent at Blue Marlin, a sexy, stylish beach club situated in Cala Jondal. Here you can spot the rich and famous and international clientele while listening to the ambient beats of live DJs. When you perch yourself on a white sun bed overlooking the water, you may take our lead and never leave. If you miss your flight (as many do here), you might as well indulge in the Mediterranean fusion cuisine helmed by chef Christian Dinti.

We consumed countless glasses of rose and ate many meals at Blue Marlin; and soon developed an addiction to the prawn salad with avocado topped with a sweet mango vinaigrette. Our advice: Kick back day and night here until the sun sets ... and possibly until it rises again.
The scene at the Blue Marlin.
Scenes from the Blue Marlin.
Bread plate at Blue Marlin.
Gazpacho soup at Blue Marlin.
Prawns and avocado salad at Blue Marlin.
Four days in Ibiza will definitely put a dent in your wallet, which is why we headed to a more laid-back and economical part of Spain. Cadiz, a southern beach town set on a peninsula, has a rich culinary history that is Andalusian in character but also draws Roman and Moorish influences.

Since Cadiz is perched on Spain’s southern coastline, you will find a predominance of seafood with a wide range of fish, squid, sea-snails, shrimp, sea urchins, and lobster. However, the local dishes here are a bit heavier than in the northern regions of Spain. Stop at a casual beachside restaurant and order any number of seafood-based tapas. Our favorites included the sizzling, spicy shrimp and the seafood paella.
Gazpacho soup in Cadiz.
Sizzling shrimp in Cadiz.
Paella in Cadiz.
When we left Cadiz, we made our way from Southern Spain to Portugal and ended our adventure in Lisbon, a region famous for its fresh regional fish and shellfish. Although the food varies region by region, in Lisbon you will find the best of traditional Portuguese cuisine merged with some continental classics.

And the best part is that even the most refined restaurants in Lisbon won’t break the bank. Get on a trolley or, if you are feeling adventurous, walk up to the lively Bairro Alto neighborhood and enjoy a tapas-like dinner at one of city’s authentic restaurants, as we did one evening at Artis.
Hot Sheep's milk cheese with tomato and oregano at Artis.
Here we tried some of the purest Portuguese dishes ranging from the Franco assado no churrasco c/molho de piri piri (a Lisbon style grilled chicken with a sweet piri piri sauce) to a Portuguese classic -- the Queijo de ovelha de past mole (a hot sheep’s milk cheese with tomato and oregano).

We also tried some fresh shellfish, including the gambas frotas em azeute en alho, a sautéed shrimp perched in a hot olive oil and garlic sauce, and the Polva a moda de feira, a Galician-style octopus in a red pepper and olive oil base. We washed this deliciousness down with a refreshing sangria tinto, a perfect complement to this light, flavorful fare. Tudo foi delicioso!
:Sauteed shrimp at Artis.
Galician-style octopus in a red pepper and olive oil sauce.
Lisbon styled grilled chicken with piri piri sauce.
Photographs by Erin Frankel.
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