Where does mayonnaise come from? The story details that in 1756 the Duke of Richelieu was in Port Mahon, when he ordered his chef to prepare his favourite dish – unable to find cream the chef substituted olive oil. In addition in Catalan Mahon is called Mao and its inhabitants Maonès, and you have enough to start an ever-lasting story!
The most important and typical product from Mahon are: gin and the wonderful Mahon cheese – these are the real thing and still produced on the island today. “Gin de Mahón” has been distilled on the island since the 18th century and Mahón cheese dates from the same time.
One of the four islands that make up the Balearics, Menorca is the northernmost, and some say that is the quietest island of the Balearics. It is known for its spectacular beaches – unspoilt, stunning white sand, turquoise water… they look as they have just stepped out of a tourist brochure.
With no high mountain ranges, the land is relatively flat, making it ideal for walkers, cyclists or horse riders. In fact, the restored medieval bridle path which follows the coastal route – all 125 miles – of it is just perfect for this. In the stillness too, there is lots of opportunity for bird watching. There are also plenty of stone monuments such as Talayot settlements dating back thousands of years – some are thought to be burial chambers and others watchtowers.
The two natural parks – the Northern Minorca Marine Reserve and the “S’Albufera” des Grau also worth for a visit.
If you don’t fancy the countryside there are museums and art galleries to be explored in the towns.
Like all the islands, Menorca is full of fairs, “fiestas” and markets. Most of the “fiestas” seem to involve horses in some way or other, such as the Midsummer Fiesta de Ciutadella in June and its equally famous cousin Sant Martí de Es Mercadel in July – where the horses “dance” through the crowded streets. There are lots of different markets too – traditional everyday food, gastronomic for foodies, craft, artisanal and flea markets – some of them open till late in the evening, especially in the summer.
Menorca has kept itself low-key in comparison to Mallorca and Ibiza and has been encouraging sustainable tourism long before it was fashionable. But the low-key label does not apply to dining and nightlife – there isn’t a prettier sight than the restaurants and cafes along the waterfront at the foot of historic towns and villages lit up in the early evening. When we talk about dining in gastronomic restaurants, there are the traditional dishes to try, such as fish meatballs (yes!), arroz (rice) de la tierra (which does not contain rice!) and the famous caldereta de langosta (lobster stew) amongst others. Funky bars, chill-out hotspots overlooking the sea or in caves and when you’ve had your fill of dancing the night away, you can slip back to your hotel – whether that be agritourism, boutique or one of the many 5 star hotels dotted throughout the island.
Sailing in or around Menorca, is a choice among the numerous coves and calas for mooring – the joy of waking up in the morning into such a beautiful scenery, such peace and quiet, where the birdsongs can be heard. On the other hand, in the marinas you are just one step away from the delicious smell of freshly baked bread or croissants and real coffee!