Here’s abcMallorca’s guide to the pick of what’s Made in Mallorca:
Inca is the leather capital: home of factories and stores selling footwear, bags and garments, and brands such as Barratts, Lotusse and Farrutx.
- Not just a shoe, but a concept
Camper (the Catalan word for ‘peasant’) was born in Inca in 1975 – but with a heritage of more than a century of footwear craftsmanship over four generations of the Fluxà family. Winner of the 1998 Spanish National Design Award, they also operate sustainable development and social commitment programmes. Camper stands for more than just comfortable, creative shoes: its innovative marketing campaigns and revolutionary retailing have helped make it Mallorca’s best-known brand – with more than 150 distinctive Camper stores in over 70 countries.
- These boots are made for . . . anything
In 1940, in Lloseta family firm began to make boots. Today, Bestard Mountain Boots are worn all over the world by walkers, mountaineers and adventurers. Advanced technology and meticulous quality control measures result in high quality. Bestard has an advisory team of professional mountaineers, who test and provide feedback on new design prototypes – often under extreme conditions, such as climbing Chilean volcano Puyehue!
Perhaps surprisingly, the world’s top cowboy boot manufacturer isn’t based in Texas – but in Alaró! Tony Mora was established in 1918 and their stylish boots – described as “walking works of art” – are distributed in 27 countries. Tony Mora boots are also sold in their exclusive store in New York City. Made by master craftsmen, from a variety of farmed skins, they’re double-stitched for long life, and their soft cork insole moulds to the shape of the wearer’s feet, making them feel almost custom-made. The Tony Mora philosophy is: ‘a customer is a friend’ – their many celebrity friends include Bruce Springsteen!
High-quality imitation pearls – rather than mass tourism – first gave Mallorca global attention. For more than a century, these pearls have been handmade from organic, marine and natural elements, to a formula brought here in the early 1900s by Hugo Heusch, a German.
Sold worldwide, Majorica pearls are prized for their long-lasting natural appearance. More than 2,000 people were once employed in Manacor’s pearl factories, giving the agricultural town an important economic boost. Another well-known brand is Orquídea.
José’s fashion career began in Paris, where he worked with top designer Thierry Mugler. In 2000 he returned to Spain to run Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada’s studio and workshop. A year later he began designing under his own name, debuting at Pasarela Cibeles in Madrid in 2003.
His first collection was launched in 2001, a year before he graduated from the “Escuela Superior de Diseño” in Barcelona. The Mallorcan created the Alberto Tous brand in October 2002, and is now based in Madrid.
Catalina was born in Son Servera – training as a designer in Barcelona, before continuing her studies in New York. She’s worked with leading international designers such as Giorgio Armani, Oscar de la Renta, Antonio Miró and Burberry. Her own SARD collections feature innovative designs for dresses that are cut and detailed to surprise.
Born in Palma, Carmen has been producing her own collections since 2000 and her designs have featured at Barcelona’s Pasarela Gaudí and Pasarela Cibeles, Madrid. In 2005, she won ‘Glamour’ magazine’s award for Best Spanish Designer; the following year ‘Marie Claire’ awarded her Best Upcoming Spanish Designer. Today, Carmen works from her studio in Madrid.
With artisan status, Gaia Natural offers a range of handmade organic hypo-allergenic soaps, body, facial and hair products for the whole family – crafted from Mallorcan ingredients such as flowers, herbs, olive and almond oils. Gaia recently introduced the Body Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc Spa range – combining the products of two ethical businesses. Their sublime soap and body scrub duo and pillow spray are available in lavender, rosemary, orange and rose varieties.
For the Home:
The distinctive geometric-patterned fabric that’s graced the homes of generations of Mallorcans is an artisan product known as ‘tela de lenguas’ (‘roba de lleng?es’ in Catalan). In Santa María del Camí, Artesanía Textil Bujosa has been hand-weaving ‘cloth of tongues’ since 1949, using traditional patterns and methods, natural fibres and dyes. The company’s workshop has seen three generations of the same family.
Teixits Vicens in Pollença is also family-run. Near their premises, the Martí Vicenç Museum (open summer only) exhibits these traditional fabrics.
The Phoenicians were the first to produce glass here, but the Moorish influence resulted in the rich colours and ornamental touches of today’s Mallorcan glassware. The skills of local glass-blowers were boosted in 1600 when an Italian glassmaker – who’d been virtually kept prisoner on the island of Murano – escaped to Mallorca, bringing the secrets of Venetian glass. The island’s most famous glass is the rose window of Palma’s Cathedral.
Lafiore (S’Esglaieta), Gordiola (Algaida) and Menestràlia (Campanet) are internationally renowned for their decorative and functional glassware.
The village of Pòrtol, in Marratxí, is the centre of the ceramics industry and filled with studios where master potters produce the economical earthenware cooking pots and crockery, favoured by Mallorcan housewives. Less useful are “siurells”: the quirky red and green-dotted white clay figures – in the forms of men, women or animals – incorporating a hard-to-play whistle. Their origin is unclear, but one theory is that they were a flirting tool: if a young man gave one to a young lady and she dropped it to the ground, his luck was out; if she blew the whistle, his chances were good!
It’s time to ditch and switch – plastic carrier bags for a sturdy local straw basket, woven from the leaves of the Balearics’ native dwarf palm. The Capdepera and Artà region is renowned for its basket weavers, many of whom work from home producing useful items like shopping and storage baskets, mats and hats.
Music is an intrinsic part of the Cappuccino Grand Café concept. They even employ one of Spain’s best Djs, Pepe Link, to choose the tunes played in their stylish establishments – and featured on their Cappuccino Grand Café Lounge CDs, sold in-house, in Spain’s El Corte Inglés stores, and music shops in England, Germany and Japan. Volume IV is Pepe’s latest compilation of 16 tracks and includes versions of songs originally recorded by Tears for Fears, Barry White and The Smiths.
The Cappuccino Grand Café brand has recently expanded beyond the island’s shores to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This Mallorcan brand – born in 1993 with a café in Palma Nova – is destined to be franchised in some of the world’s greatest cities.
The famous and much-prized “ensaïmada” is eaten for breakfast, as a snack, dessert or diet-busting treat (in a range of sizes). These yeasty pastries are sold all over the island, but fewer than 50 bakeries produce the Rolls Royce equivalent – the authentic ‘Ensaïmada de Mallorca’. Bakeries displaying the official registration plaque of the ‘Indicació Geogràfica Protegida Ensaïmada de Mallorca’ must adhere to strict quality guidelines.
There’s written evidence that “ensaïmadas” were eaten by the middle and upper classes back in 17th century Mallorca, but their origins are unknown. The Arabic word for pork lard – “saïm” – is at the root of the pastry’s name, and one theory is that their clockwise coiled shape was inspired by Moorish turbans.
The 20th century Catalan writer Josep Pla, described the “ensaïmada” as “the lightest, airiest and most delicate thing in this country’s confectionery.”
Inca’s railway station is right next to the Quely factory: delicious aromas of baking tantalise passengers who haven’t eaten before leaving home. But it’s highly likely that they’ll have a few olive oil-based Quely biscuits to nibble on their train journey, because they’re the perfect snack-to-go . . . and a Mallorcan family favourite. Seafarers were the first travellers to enjoy these crisp little biscuits: in the mid-19th century, the Domenech family baked them as a nutritious, long-lasting alternative to bread, for long sea voyages. Quely, formed as a company in 1970, is still owned by that family, and many of their biscuit products are exported.
With more than four million almond trees on Mallorca, it’s not surprising that their extremely nutritious nuts pop up everywhere! They’re the principal ingredient in the delicious traditional “gató d’ametlles”- the moist flour-free cake usually eaten with ice-cream made from . . . yes, almonds. California tops the almond-producing league table (Spain’s in second place), but Mallorcan almonds are considered the world’s finest.
The subtly-fragranced pink and white almond blossom is a tourism bonus: many people come here in January and February to enjoy the spectacle of rural orchards decked in a ‘snow’ of fragrant delicate petals.
- The king of pork products
“Sobrassada” is as Mallorcan as they come. Eaten here in some form since the Middle Ages, it’s made from best quality minced raw pork, sweet paprika, cayenne pepper and salt, and then left to hang from a rack to cure. The “sobrassada” was the first pork sausage product in the whole of Spain to be awarded DO status. “Sobrassada” is popular spread thickly on country bread, but also used in cooking for flavour enhancement.
Orange production is important to the island’s economy – especially in Sóller’s “Valley of Gold”. The wealth of the delightful town came from its orange trade with France at the turn of the 19th century, and many Sóllerics went with the oranges in search of prosperity. They returned with money and a taste for the French Art Nouveau style – evident in some of the town’s architectural heritage.
Mallorca’s superb apricots are widely used in patisserie and desserts (such as “ensaïmadas” and “coca”); they’re rich in iron and fibre, and help control cholesterol. Can Parrí in Porreres is a family firm using artisan skills to produce delicious plump dried apricots.
Literally, made in Sóller: ice cream from “Sa Fàbrica de Gelats”, charcuterie products (pork again!) from “La Luna” and organic jams and preserves from non-profit-making “Estel Nou”, which provides employment for local disabled people.
Leaving their coastal home in Mallorca’s south and her career in finance, Canadian Connie Mildner and her family moved to a farm in Llubi, with the intention of growing organic produce for a healthier diet. Eventually, Mallorca Organics was born. Finca Son Barrina is both organic and biodynamic. Its shop is a treasure trove of the farm’s produce, as well as a vast range of organic foods, drinks, household and cosmetic products.
Salt was harvested in the Es Trenc area of Mallorca when the Phoenicians were here. But it was in 2003 that this gift from the sea became a commercial success, when Katja Wöhr and Robert Chaves began hand-harvesting it from the island’s salt flats, in the way it was originally done on the French Atlantic coast. Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc is completely natural and unrefined, with several health benefits. When chef Marc Fosh added flavourings such as hibiscus, black olive, spices and herbs to the salt, its gourmet status was sealed.
Revered for its health benefits, Mallorca’s extra virgin oil has DO status and is made from the “arbequina” or “picual” varieties. Soil and climate conditions (particularly the sea breezes) and the age of the trees – some around 500 years old – result in traditionally-made oils with distinctive characteristics. Mallorca’s “Solevillas Virgen Extra” is considered one of the world’s best. The island’s brine-preserved olives are usually nibbled with “sobrassada” and the bread-and-oil combo “pa amb oli”.
“Hierbas” – the bright green liqueur served at the end of a traditional Mallorcan meal – has been recognised for its health benefits since the 13th century. The aniseed-flavoured drink is made with island herbs, including mint, rosemary, fennel and myrtle, and is available in sweet, dry and medium varieties.
Túnel is the best-known brand of “hierbas” – and also a recognised name in the competitive cycling world, with their own team competing in the Balearics, Spanish and World Masters Championships, wearing the distinctive Túnel strip. At around 22º proof, though, a glass of “hierbas” isn’t a recommended tipple for anyone travelling on two wheels!
Angel d’Or was only launched around three years ago, as a way of using the Can Posteta estate’s overwhelming bounty of oranges. The rapid success of this relatively new orange liqueur owes something to the fact that the estate owners also have a company promoting and marketing alcoholic products. Restaurants and bars in and around Sóller use the golden liqueur in their cocktails and culinary creations.
In 1891, almost 50 millon litres of Mallorcan wine left our ports for France and the peninsula but, shortly afterwards, the island’s vineyards suffered the phylloxera plague. Vines were replaced by almond trees, as a new revenue source. But Mallorca’s heritage of wine-making has seen viniculture revived – and in fine style. Today, there are two protected DO wine producing areas – Binissalem and Pla i Llevant – although wines are produced all over the island, in dozens of bodegas. Local grape varieties include Manto Negro, Callet, and Premsal Blanc. Increasingly, Mallorca’s wines are being exported and garlanded with top wine awards.
Jaume Mesquida in Porreres has become the first island winery to introduce biodynamic
viticulture. Jaume and Bàrbara Mesquida Mora (fifth generation of the family bodega) believe that to understand the present, it is necessary to know the past – and then create a new future. They’ve painstakingly reintroduced traditional methods of viticulture.
Mallorca’s natural beauty and stunning light aren’t the only attractions for film-makers – the island is also home to the award-winning Palma Pictures, one of the world’s leading production service companies – with an impressive 4,500m sq studio complex in Marratxí. They’ve provided services for more than 750 commercials and 20 feature films. Stella Artois, Ford, Vodafone, Adidas, BMW, VW, L’Oreal, Garnier, Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola are among the global clients captured on camera on the island. Palma Pictures also keeps a database of people for ‘extras’ work and properties available for location shooting.
Robert Graves’ son Tomás was born and grew up on the island, and is a writer, musician (bass guitarist in the Pa Amb Oli Band) and craftsman printer. His books reveal an intimate knowledge of island life and culture. “A Home in Majorca” – a practical guide to the traditional house and rural life – is essential reading for the island’s country dwellers.
Canadian sisters Jutta and Jeanette Kris identified a need for bilingual children’s books – and created Mabi Books. Jutta creates, writes and illustrates the little books (for little hands), printed by Gráficas Mallorca in Inca. Available in English/Spanish or English/Catalan, they’re just 2 euros each, educational but fun. There are currently eight in the growing series, including the great title “There are so many things we can do in Mallorca”! They’re sold in bookshops and newsagents around the island.
A fleet of “llaüts” heading out for a fishing trip is an attractive sight. Originally made from wood, fibreglass versions were introduced in the 1980s – a bitter blow for the master boatbuilders, who’d traditionally crafted these workhorses of the sea. Today, there are only around 1,200 wooden “llaüts” on the nautical register and half a dozen or so master boatbuilders. Factors such as the crisis, lack (and cost) of moorings, and high boat registration fees, seriously threaten Mallorca’s “llaüt” making industry – whether in wood or fibreglass.
As Mallorca’s most famous son, who better than Manacor-born Rafael Nadal to front the current Balearics’ tourism print and broadcast media campaign? The 23-year-old tennis superstar loves Mallorca and returns home to Portocristo whenever he can.
Tennis player Carlos Moyá, currently taking a break from the sport for health reasons, is another winning Mallorcan sportsman, although the Palma-born 33-year-old now lives in Geneva.
Twenty-two-year-old Jorgé Lorenzo from Palma is ranked 2nd in the Moto GP world. The motorcycle racer’s contract with Yamaha has been extended for the 2010 season.
Text by – Jan Edwards
Source by Helen Cummins