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Europe Ibiza

Amante 

So as you may know I’ve been writing up about some of the brilliant places I was lucky to eat at in Ibiza recently, but what you may not know is that Ibiza wasn’t just any ordinary holiday – it was my best friend’s Wed Week. This incredible week full of fun, laughing, a fair few hangovers and of course, chock full of love, culminated in a stunning wedding of two of my closest friends at the beautiful Amante Beach Club.

It being my best friend’s wedding, of course I had stalked photos of Amante online a lot, and another good friend of mine who had shot a wedding there last year confirmed it was an incredible location, but honestly I wasn’t prepared for just how amazing it would be until I arrived one morning before the big day for a run through. The other beach clubs I’ve been to in Ibiza are next to others yet Amante is totally isolated in a small bay, built up on the rocks with panoramic views of turquoise waters that melt into azure blue toward the horizon.

When we got there, one of Amante’s yoga and breakfast mornings was in full swing, and I cannot think of a more perfect spot to start the day. Classes start at 9am and are conducted in both English and Spanish, with a healthy breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, eggs, natural yogurt, cereals, dried fruit, freshly baked wholegrain patisserie and freshly squeezed juices to wash it all down (€30 for yoga and breakfast). I can’t report back on the quality of breakfast but it all looked great and if the food I have had at Amante is anything to be judged on, it’ll be fantastic.

Which brings me to talking about just that – the food. Given, I’m writing about a set menu at a wedding, but everything served is available on their a la carte and is clearly shows the quality on offer at the beach club. To kick off proceedings, tuna tataki canapes were a favourite, washed down with the most refreshing of expertly made mojitos. The drinks and canape reception allowed everyone to take in the – quite frankly – ridiculous views that Amante has to offer. It’s impossible not to be enthralled by the place, even if you were to simply go for a drink. But it would be foolish to miss out on Amante’s food, so back to that.

To start we had sharing plates of Iberico ham, the creamiest burrata I think I’ve ever had, and a delicious fish stew of sorts. Beautifully presented, the burrata was served with a basil infused cream and a scattering of cherry tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic pearls. I could’ve eaten the entirety of the seafood dish by myself, the standout element being the plump, perfectly cooked scallops among the calamari and king prawns, complemented well by a tomato and saffron sauce.

For the wedding breakfast main, we had a choice of baked cod – which was excellently cooked – served with tomatoes, garlic and baked potatoes, or Tenderised Galician beef with parmesan potato gratin, black truffle oil and vine ripened tomatoes, which was perfectly sized and married together well. On the a la carte menu there are of course ample more dishes to choose from, the tuna fillet dish and the slow cooked suckling pig, sounding particularly good to me. The perfect excuse to return.

Being the location of such a happy day for me and my friends, you may think I’m biased on Amante being a pretty special place, but I genuinely think the photos speak for themselves. There’s something magical about this beach club set into the rocks; the seclusion from everything else and the panoramic views make this a must stop during your time in Ibiza – just remember to check in advance the place hasn’t been hijacked by another wedding!

 

Cala Sol d’en Serra, Calle Afueras, s/n, 07849 Cala Longa, Ibiza
+34 971 19 61 76
Open every day from 11am until 2am; yoga mornings from 9am on weekdays

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Europe Food From Travels Ibiza

La Paloma

Whilst we’ve established that Ibiza is not all about clubbing and the San Antonio ‘lads on tour’ scene, you may not know that it’s not even just about the beaches. Ibiza is full of rolling fields and stunning vistas that overlook the hilly countryside, and La Paloma is an excellent example of a quiet hillside set restaurant in the tiny inland village of San Lorenzo that takes in the beauty of this side of the island. The restaurant is set in the middle of citrus orchards and run by an Italian family who swear by home cooking fresh ingredients just the way they like them, and we were lucky enough to eat there amongst the fairy light strewn trees one evening.

Starting off with a round of strong and refreshing dark rum mojitos, we settled down in the candlelit courtyard area outside at dusk. The courtyard is all mismatched chairs and wooden tables, with pretty cut flowers in vases sat amongst vintage crockery. The menu isn’t large at La Paloma, which can be a bit of a blessing if you ask me – too much to choose from can become overwhelming, and the ethos behind this small menu is it allows the chef to deliver higher quality through smaller quantity. The Italian family that own and run La Paloma ship many of the ingredients they use direct from their home country, including capers from Sicily, antipasti from Tuscany and of course their aged parmesan. They do also try to use local products as much as possible too however, even getting their mozzarella made by an Italian who lives on the island, and everything is organic where it can be. Homemade focaccia is made at their own bakery and the restaurant grows their own vegetables – it is clear that quality and sustainability is of the utmost importance at La Paloma.

As may be expected given La Paloma’s roots, there is a distinct Italian vein that runs through the food on offer among the starters as well as the mains.  As favoured by our group, we ordered starters to share: bruschetta (€6), aubergine parmigiana (€12) and goats cheese salad (€16). It turned out there was a bit of a translation problem as the goats cheese was definitely blue cheese, which made it off limits for me, blue cheese being one of the few foods I can’t stomach. It went down well with everyone else however, the pear and hazelnuts adding an interesting layer to the dish, so I’m told. The bruschetta was lovely and the aubergine parmigiana was particularly good, and something I’d definitely order should I visit again.

For main I had their famous fillet of steak with balsamic and thyme sauce, served with roasted potatoes and vegetables (€31) which made me the envy of the table. The fillet was huge and perfectly cooked to rare, though due to the sheer size of the steak I would have preferred more potatoes to have been served with it to balance the dish out more. Okay yes, it seems wrong to complain that a fillet steak is too big! The rack of lamb marinated in soy, ginger and honey served with sweet potato and mint sauce also went down well in our group, and the seafood pasta was cleaned up equally quickly. It’s worth nothing that there are always vegetarian dishes on offer on the weekly changing menu, and vegans are also catered for. To round off the meal, I had an exemplary chocolate fondant with Madagascan vanilla ice cream (€9) which finished off the evening perfectly.

The al fresco setting with fairy lights strung through the trees is a real pull of La Paloma, and the unique location in the hills is a refreshing change from the beach clubs that Ibiza is so well known for. Unlike many other restaurants on the island, La Paloma is also open through the winter months, when their intimate indoor dining spaces are lit by cosy fires. The balance of locally sourced ingredients and those direct from Italy of which the quality cannot be beaten on Ibiza itself forms an excellent and carefully designed menu, whilst the decor is as welcoming as you could want – it kind of feels like you’re sitting in a friend or neighbour’s garden, it feels that homely. The thought that has gone into the La Paloma experience is clear, and the result is a beautiful, relaxed setting with lovely food.

Calle Can Pou, 4, 07812 Sant Llorenc de Balafia, Ibiza

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Europe Food From Travels Ibiza

BEACHOUSE Ibiza 

If you’re not eating dinner by the ocean, are you even on holiday? I was lucky to spend a week on Ibiza recently, five years after my first holiday there and let me tell you, it is NOT all clubbing and rolling in at 7am from Pacha. Who knew? It turns out – many people clocked onto this long ago, I was just left in the dark. You can do Ibiza so many different ways, and one of them is spending a fair whack at some of the island’s renowned restaurants among beautiful settings; so that is what I did.

Being in the midst of a wedding week, there were roughly around 20 of us who went down for dinner at BEACHOUSE Ibiza on the sands of Playa d’en Bossa one evening. There being such a large number of us we launched in by ordering the vast majority of the starters on the menu to share, and it was absolutely the right decision. Beachouse has one of the strongest starter menus I’ve seen, and this is where the true quality of the food came through. First off, I can say with confidence that the guacamole, of all things, was one of the best I’ve had – and Beachouse is an Italian restaurant, so I wasn’t expecting that. The guacamole (€18) is expertly prepared at the table and perfectly balanced with just the right amount of kick from the chillies. The Italian burrata served with antipasti of marinated artichokes, olives, capers and tomatoes (€22) was another big hit, as was the Tuscan tomato panzanella salad (€18.00). Delicate slices of octopus carpaccio served with the daintiest brunoise vegetables and lemon oil (€22) looked like a work of art, whilst the Jamon Iberico (€44) went down as well as it ever does – i.e, the plate was cleared within two minutes of landing on the table. Calamari with an in-house made tartare sauce (€24) completed the seafood offering, whilst the thousand layer aubergine parmigiana with 12 month old parmesan (€19) paid tribute to the Italian roots of Beachouse. Washed down with plenty of crisp rose as the sun set over the sea, this course of starters was a huge highlight of eating out in Ibiza.

And then the mains happened, and unfortunately Beachouse let us down here. By the time the mains did come around, the wait staff seemed to have depleted by half to being just one person serving each large table. Which may have been fine apart from it took well over half an hour for ordered wine to reach us as the sole server was also in charge of deboning the fresh sea bream at the table (which ended up being dry anyway) and had no help in serving the rest of the mains or drinks. I can understand when restaurants are very busy and accept we were on a large table, but the restaurant was mostly empty at this time and I could see someone who I believed was the manager standing around doing nothing to help. All said, those who ordered pasta dishes such as Tagliatelle alla ragu Bolognese (€22) and Lobster linguine with tomato and chilli (€72 for two) raved about their meals, which you would hope for at an Italian restaurant, so I was pleased to see that not everyone had a negative experience with their main. It was a bit of a surprise after such a strong start to the meal, but there you have it.

I almost never write about places where I’ve had any negative experience as that’s not what First We Eat is about – it’s about recommendations I’d be happy to send my friends and family off with. Yet I would still list Beachouse to eat at in Ibiza based on the sheer quality of the starters we had and the stunning beach setting. I feel we were unlucky in that they may have had some servers finishing their shifts whilst we were still in the midst of a 20 person strong meal, but I don’t think this would be a problem if you were on a smaller table, and sometimes you do have to expect that things are slower for a large table. But Beachouse: just remember to keep the wine flowing and everyone will get over it fairly quickly!

Ctra. de Platja d’en Bossa, 2, 07817 Sant Jordi de ses Salines, Ibiza
+34 971 39 68 58
Open every day 10am until 2am

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Europe Food From Travels Ibiza

La Bodega Talamanca

Much like it’s impossible to cook the correct amount of pasta, has anyone ever ordered the right amount of tapas? I mean, of course the ‘right’ amount of tapas is ‘all of it’, but I do try not to over-order because wasting food is A Bad Thing.

I first read about La Bodega Talamanca well over a year ago, on Twitter somewhere I think, and have been wanting to visit this little boho restaurant since then. Ibiza is full of glamorous beach bars and gorgeous fine dining restaurants, but I do favour somewhere a bit more chilled and laid back, which is certainly what La Bodega Talamanca is. The powder blue gates and turquoise walls lead to mismatched chairs, moroccan lanterns and cushions strewn with colourful woven blankets, giving off a distinctly bohemian vibe. As if it couldn’t get more idyllic, the sea is just across the path, and my experience of Talamanca beach was that it’s very quiet and lazy, not the Ibiza I knew on my first visit five years ago. You can get peace in Ibiza, you’ve just got to pick the right place.

Settling in immediately by ordering half a litre of perfect ice cold Spanish sangria (€12.50) I sat down to choose my tapas from the extensive menu, a part of me wishing I was dining with someone so I could order more, but mostly utterly content that this evening was just between me, my book, the view, a lot of sangria and even more tapas. How to choose what to order? Manchego – done, obviously (€7). Chorizo – I’m in Spain, so of course (€6). Got to be a bit of tortilla patatas (€3.50) in there, too (aka ‘Spanish omelette’ – God we know how to class things up don’t we?) The truly painful part was choosing between pan con tomate (€2.50) and pan con aioli (€2.50), because the way the Spanish turn tomatoes on a bit of crusty bread into an art is truly something to behold, but also, aioli until I die. The kind (and probably bored of my dithering) waitress sorted me out by insisting she’d bring me a pot of aioli to go with the pan con tomate instead of me ordering both. After asking how many dishes she would recommend, I reluctantly abandoned about three dishes I had planned but threw in the meatballs for good measure. How often am I in Spain, anyway?

Firstly I need to talk about the manchego. The manchego was of such good quality, and – plot twist – served with walnuts, which was a combination I’d never had before but will absolutely continue to do so. Teamed with the chorizo and pan con tomate the manchego pretty much made my life that evening, it was that good. The tortilla was expertly cooked, not at all dry and falling apart just so. The meatballs I wouldn’t bother with next time – there was nothing at all wrong with them but I gave up prawns for them, you know? An error on my part. The pot of aioli I was served was so big I could barely make a dent in it alongside my other twenty eight dishes – and how I tried. So thick and garlicky – it’s the first thing I want when I land in Spain. This was the perfect first stop in Ibiza and I would absolutely return to La Bodega. The views are wonderful, the restaurant is chilled enough you can stay for hours without bother, the sangria is perfect and the tapas excellent. It’s also great value for Ibiza, where meals can easily add up to €100 a head in other fancier places by the sea. It’s worth noting the restaurant also have an outpost in Ibiza Town which I’d like to try next time – perfect pit stop after exploring those cobbled streets in the sunshine, wouldn’t you say?

 

La Bodega Talamanca, C/ Ses Figueres S18 Talamanca, 07800 Ibiza, +34971192740
La Bodega Ibiza, C/ Bisbe Torres Mayans 2, 07800 Ibiza +34672494847

Open every day from 6pm until late.

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