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Thursday 28 June 2018

#IbizaSabor18 – Discovering the Unique Flavours of Ibiza and the Balearic Islands

The Spanish island of Ibiza is one of the few places in the world that needs little introduction – its renowned clubbing scene, gorgeous sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets have been attracting large crowds for decades.

But scratch a little deeper, and you will find that Ibiza has more to offer than its clubbing scene and perfect beaches – Ibiza and indeed the Balearic Archipelago, which include Mallorca (the largest of the islands), Formentera and Menorca, have a fascinating history and unique local cuisine very much worth exploring.

And there is no better place to learn about the archipelago’s cuisine and local ingredients than during the #IbizaSabor Festival taking place between early April and late May each year. The festival involves many of the islands major restaurants (this year 54 restaurants took part) and local food and wine producers who offer special festival menus, host workshops, cookery demos, and tastings using native Balearic ingredients.

#IbizaSabor is a great opportunity for visitors to seek out and try a number of traditional Ibizan dishes and produce. To find out more about the festival, 2019 dates and the participating restaurants, check out their website here - http://www.ibizasabor.es/en/.

I went to Ibiza to attend the Mediterranean Gastronomy Forum (#IbizaSabor18), one of the main activities of the festival, with a group of international journalists and bloggers at the invitation of the Ibizan Tourism Board. The London Foodie however maintains complete editorial control over the content published on the site as always.

The Gorgeous Ibiza Old Town
The Ibizan Tourism Board handpicked a number of outstanding restaurants for us to visit during our stay; I will be writing more about them, including my top 5 restaurant recommendations in a separate feature in the following weeks. So as you plan your trip to Ibiza, bookmark this page and the one that is to follow for my top foodie recommendations on the island.

Balearic Cuisine, Produce and Dishes

Unsurprisingly, fish and seafood play a major role in Balearic gastronomy, as do pork and various types of game including mutton and sheep. Due to the lack of cattle, beef is not widely available in the archipelago.

Sustainability - All Ibizan fish are labelled Peix Nostrum to certify they are Ibizan local fish

In Ibiza, excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, dried almonds and honey are produced, as well as liquors such as the popular ‘Hierbas Ibicencas’ which we had a go at making ourselves (more on this later), sheep and goat cheeses, and their much loved ‘sobrassada’ a lightly spicy, cured and soft pork sausage (akin to an Italian Ndjua), that is very much at the heart of Balearic cooking.

Delicious Sobrassada, the star of Balearic cooking

Balearic dishes are hearty and generous, for example ‘Bullit de Peix’ is a magnificent local fish stew made with different types of fish and seafood, tomatoes, onions and potatoes cooked in a flavoursome stock heavily scented with saffron. 

The beauty of bullit de peix is that the leftover, concentrated stock is also used to cook rice and make a 2nd dish called ‘Arroz a Banda’, which is served after the stew. I enjoyed both dishes immensely, and found a good recipe for them here - http://www.ibizafoodie.com/en/home-2/recipe-the-bullit-de-peix-at-cana-sofia/.

‘Arroz a Banda’ by José Ferrer from S’Espartar

Café Caleta is ubiquitous in Ibiza –traditionally made with burnt wheat as coffee was a scarce and highly prized commodity. Today it is prepared with coffee beans, spices including cinnamon and cloves, lemon, sugar and plenty of brandy. It is a warming and strong coffee that you are likely to experience at the end of many a meal on the island.

Greixonera (a local bread and butter pudding made with 'ensaimada' breakfast bread) and Flaó (an open goat cheese, hierba buena and aniseed tart) are two of the most traditional and popular of Ibizan desserts I got to try on this visit, and I discuss both in more detail in the sections below.

Noteworthy also was discovering Ibizan wines – the island has a number of vineyards including the pioneer Sa Cova, Can Maymó that makes red wines steeped in thyme, Can Rich an organic winery that combines both Ibizan and French grapes, and Ibizkus, a boutique vineyard that uses the Monastrell grape, one of the traditional Ibizan varietals.

Ibizan local varieties are Monastrell and Garnacha grapes for red wines, while the most important variety for white wine is Malvasia. Ibizan wines are made and produced in the areas of San Mateu, Buscastell, and Sant Josep - they are medium to full-bodied, complex and well-structured. Vins de la Terra is the geographic indication that collects all wine production in Ibiza according to EU regulation. When visiting Ibiza, try to order these local wines, they are of excellent quality and comparable to other top Spanish labels.

III Mediterranean Gastronomy Forum - #IbizaSabor18

One of the highlight activities of the two-month long #IbizaSabor Festival is the Mediterranean Gastronomy Forum. In its third year, #IbizaSabor2018 was a great event that brought together some of the biggest names of Spanish cooking from the Balearic Islands and beyond as well as local food and wine producers.

This year’s forum had particular focus on the sustainability and biodiversity of the Balearic sea through gastronomy and the pioneering female chefs of the region. Of the various cookery demos that took place throughout the day, Silvia Anglada’s of Es Tast de na Silvia restaurant really brought home the subject matters of this year’s forum.

A pioneering female chef from Menorca, her doughnut of Picarel (a local fish) was served with a delectable beetroot marmalade, with every part of the fish being used to create the final dish including the bones.

Noteworthy was also Chef Cristian Periscal’s ravioli of squid and sobrassada sausage in a jet black sauce made from the seafood’s own ink. I enjoyed the mix of two of the region’s main staples – Balearic seafood and sobrassada (pork) and the gorgeous presentation of the dish.

We also had the opportunity to learn about one of the island’s famous dishes ‘Guisat de Peix’ -  similar in style to a ‘Bullit de Peix’ as discussed earlier, both are local, hearty fish stews, with Chefs Carles Cardona from Atzaro Beach Cala Nova and Carmen Tur from Pescados Algar.

We attended an epic 12-course lunch with dishes supplied by 12 different restaurants and food associations – each dish highlighted native Balearic ingredients used in traditional or reinterpreted recipes.

Sobrassada croquettes with Ibizan honey by Javier Cardona from Formentera Restaurant

There were so many favourites – Paul Barba’s of Can Domo (one of my top restaurant recommendations on the island) was a delicious dish of lamb gizzards with squid and fish skin soufflé potatoes.

Maki sushi by Moises Machado from Can a Soffia was an intricate rice roll with Can Rich vermouth, orange sobrassada, medlars, Ibizan carob teriyaki and amberjack – I loved the use of Ibizan flavours in such a novel way.

Another magnificent rice dish was prepared by Emilio Benitez from the Fishermen’s Guild of Ibiza – this had Picarel fish and cauliflower and tasted delicious.

We ended the meal with ‘Greixonera’ by Claudio Vidal of Es Rebost de Can Prats – Greixonera is a traditional dessert much like a British bread and butter pudding but made with day old ‘ensaimada’, a local breakfast pastry. The Greixonera was dense but creamy served with a lightly bitter sugar caramel. I found a good recipe for Greixonera here - http://www.ibizafoodie.com/en/home-2/the-greixonera-recipe/.

Besides the informative chef demos and tasting lunch, the Mediterranean Gastronomic Forum was a good opportunity to meet local food and wine producers. Most Ibizan wine makers had their own stands at the conference including Can Rich.

Discovering about Ibizan wines was one of the most interesting aspects of #IbizaSabor18

One of the outstanding wines I was lucky enough to try on more than one occasion during my visit was Can Rich’s Ereso – an organic wine made from the Malvasia grape, it was full bodied and with great complexity – an ideal wine to go with the robust seafood and rice dishes we enjoyed in Ibiza and I highly recommend it.

The wonderful Eresa wine, 100% Malvasia grape by Can Rich
Law Gin was founded by friends Wolfgang, Luna and Alexander in 2013. They distill their gin using 100% botanicals from Ibiza Island, with some unusual additions including padron peppers and prickly pear. The gin is highly aromatic but refreshing and makes for a perfect gin & tonic. If you are a G&T fan, look out for Law Gin in your next trip to Ibiza.

Antonio Adelino and Catalina Ribas Torres, 87 and 82 years old, started making fishing pots soon after retiring. They were one of the many local producers at the forum. They have 7 children and 11 grandchildren, and have been married for 63 years.

The Mediterranean Gastronomic Forum takes place annually; it is an all day, free event open to everyone, professionals or food enthusiasts. If you are travelling to Ibiza between April and May, the forum is a great opportunity to learn about the local cuisine, food and wine produce with some of the biggest names in the industry. For more information, visit their website here - http://www.ibizasabor.es/en/

#IbizaSabor Festival – Workshops and Cookery Demos 

In addition to the network of restaurants in the region offering special menus and the Mediterranean Gastronomic Forum, the festival also offers a number of workshops and cookery demos that are open to the public.

Flaó is one of the most traditional of Balearic desserts, particularly in Ibiza where historical records show it being made since the 13th century. Flaó is an open tart made with a filling of fresh goat and/or sheep cheese, eggs, sugar, orange peel, aniseed and Herba Buena (similar to peppermint but more aromatic) in a shortcrust pastry casing laced with lard.

We had a Flaó recipe demo at Can Berri Vell Restaurant, where we learnt about this exotic tart. The prominent flavours of Flaó are goat and sheep cheese, Herba Buena and aniseed - it is aromatic, sweet and savoury and certainly different from any other cheesecake I have eaten before. I loved it.

I found a great traditional recipe here if you would like to try it for yourself at home - http://www.eladerezo.com/recetas/flao-tarta-de-queso-tipica-de-ibiza.html - I certainly will.

Another interesting demo was at Can Muson – this is an organic vegetable, herb and animal farm created by Maria Mari only ten years ago with the aim of promoting healthy eating and for the kids of Ibiza.

The farm has grown substantially over the last 10 years much to Mrs Mari’s surprise and now has a cafeteria, fruit and veg shop, fields and playground for children. Can Muson also hosts classes on organic farming as well as guided visits which includes a brunch menu using ingredients grown in the farm for €12pp.

After a quick visit to the vegetable fields and animals, we got to make our own Hierbas Ibicencas – a liqueur made in Ibiza with different herbs and botanicals that grow around the island. Usually drunk as a digestif after lunch or dinner, Hierbas Ibicencas is one of the most quintessential of Ibizan products.

At Can Muson, we used 21 types of herbs all grown on the farm including juniper, lemon verbena, Hierba Buena, chamomile and lavender to name just a few. To the herbs we added a local aniseed liqueur, similar to Pernod, and were told to wait until Christmas when it would be ready to consume.

Hierba Buena - incredibly aromatic, similar to mint but richer

Where to Eat in Ibiza – My Top Restaurant Recommendations

If you are planning a visit to Ibiza and would like recommendations for the top restaurants on the island, keep your eyes peeled for my next Ibizan blog post in the coming week. Bookmark this page and the ones to follow for your Ibizan foodie guide.


I went to Ibiza at the invitation of the Ibizan Tourism Board to attend #IbizaSabor2018. The London Foodie however maintains full editorial control over the content published on the site as always.

Travel Essentials

For everything Ibiza, visit:

Ibiza Sabor Festival

To read about Ibizan ingredients, dishes and local restaurant reviews (by a local foodie), visit:

Can Berri Vell Restaurant 

Can Musón Organic Farm

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