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Artisan Guide to Menorca – A Secret World Rich in Fine Food and Crafts

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor May 20th, 2016 Posted in Europe Travel Blog, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 41 Comments

This artisan guide to Menorca will show you a new side to this small Spanish island. The Balearic islands  off the coast of Spain for many people would conjure up images of pristine Mediterranean beaches and amazing seafood. This is a completely accurate image but on my recent trip to Menorca one of the main things that struck me about the island was the impressive number of small boutiques in both the busy port town of Mahon and the charming cobbled streets of Ciutadella. Independent stores are very prominent to the local economy with residents preferring to avoid large brands and a government that discourages the building of large shopping malls with international chains that would damage trade for smaller stores. There is actually a law in progress that will prohibit them being built ensuring that local businesses continue to thrive by offering unique products made by artisans on the island or the mainland.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - sculpture garden at L'Hort de Sant Patrici 2Artisan Guide to Menorca – Sculpture Garden at L’Hort de Sant Patrici

For this reason the island retains a nostalgic, old world feeling exemplified by little details like the green wooden shutters found throughout Mahon, created from the leftovers of British ships. The architecture itself is a fascinating mix with highlights being the city’s baroque style town hall, Spain’s oldest opera house built in 1829 still standing in Mahon and the Santa Maria Church, fairly modest in decoration until you turn to see what is officially the 3rd most significant organ in Europe, built in Barcelona, Spain and sponsored by rich British merchants. It miraculously survived the Spanish civil war and is still in use today since its creation in 1810.

Two Monkeys Travel -Guide to Menorca Spain Moli and Old CityArtisan Guide to Menorca – El Moli d’es Raco & Narrow streets in the Old City of Ciutadella

The second day of our trip to Menorca revolved almost entirely around food and drink as we were invited to visit two of Menorca’s best examples of artisanal produce. First stop was at L’Hort de Sant Patrici, a winery and cows milk cheese producer.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - L'Hort de Sant PatriciArtisan Guide to Menorca – Wine and Cheese Tasting The Bodega at L’Hort de Sant Patrici

There are 8 boutique bodegas in Menorca and this one is particularly special amongst them due to the existing grounds and beautiful house now serving as a hotel and bio reserve, in fact more than 40% of the island is protected for wildlife and nature reserves.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - guesthouse at S'Hort de San PatriciArtisan Guide to Menorca – Charming Guesthouse within the L’Hort de Sant Patrici Bio Reserve

Pulling off the quiet country lane up the tree-lined driveway our first view was the lovely guest house known as Palacete de Ca Na Xini, originally built in 1919 as a private home and lovingly restored in 2005 to offer 8 rooms to visitors looking to be immersed in the Menorcan countryside. The ochre yellow brickwork and classic green shutters make the building blend beautifully with its surrounding vineyards and  sculpture garden, wine production restarted here in 2001 after wine lice destroyed the indigenous grape previously grown here.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - vineyards and sculptures at L'Hort de Sant PatriciArtisan Guide to Menorca – Vineyards and Sculptures at L’Hort de Sant Patrici

After watching the cheese makers hard at work pressing out the whey and wrapping the traditional cows milk to ferment we moved on to the bodega to try a Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French oak barrels and cheese of varying maturities as we learnt about their tried and tested methods for achieving their uniquely blended flavours.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - wine producing equipment at L'Hort de Sant PatriciArtisan Guide to Menorca – Wine Producing Equipment at L’Hort de Sant Patrici

There is a shop on site stocked with all of their wines and cheeses but these are also available in supermarkets and specialist shops in the towns as well as mainland Spain, just look out for the place of origin chip placed in each cheese to prove the farm, maker and time of production.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - cheesemaking at L’Hort de Sant PatriciArtisan Guide to Menorca – Menorcan Cheesemakers at L’Hort de Sant Patrici

Next on our artisan tour was even more alcohol in the form of Menorcan gin at the Xoriguer distillery. Due to Menorca’s almost century long occupation by British soldiers and sailors, a local version of the popular spirit was invented using Mediterranean grape alcohol flavoured with then imported but now locally grown juniper berries. Today it is traditionally drunk with two parts lemonade, a combination known as Pomada which we were warmly encouraged to try at every mealtime, and is even blended with ice to make a refreshing dessert.

Two Monkeys Travel -Guide to Menorca Spain - gin infused dessert Rose Infused GinArtisan Guide to Menorca – Gin-Infused Dessert at Trebol Restaurant & Rose Infused Gin at Xoriguer Distillery

After a scenic glass-bottomed boat around the Mahon Harbour we wandered along the waterfront to the Xoriguer distillery and shop, a family run business . Over the last 200 years many additions have been made to the original recipe meaning visitors now have a world of options to sample, from herb, mint and cinnamon infused to fruit, cacao and coffee variations. Xoriguer is the primary producer of these various gins, still owned by the same family who, in 1784 built the windmill that the gin is named after to process wheat flour. Tours can be booked to see the huge copper gin stills at work on site but we were too distracted trying every type of gin in sight before heading off for a walking tour of Mahon.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - gin varieties on offer at the Xoriguer distilleryArtisan Guide to Menorca – Gin Varieties on Offer at the Xoriguer Distillery

Mahon’s harbour is one of the world’s largest natural harbours at 5km in length, depths of 30 metres and its widest point reaching 1km and so unsurprisingly has been the island’s capital since 1721. Like Ciutadella the town’s shops are filled with locally made items and almost immediately we were drawn into one selling Abarcas, the typical Menorcan shoe. These simple sandals were originally made with re-used car tyres for soles and cowhide leather for straps to be worn in the fields. Today they are not just a humble farmer’s creation but a stylish accessory in every Menorcan’s wardrobe evolved to have varying options of sole, heel and strap. not only are they hugely popular in Menorca they can also be found all over mainland Spain and in some latin American countries.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - Made to measure Menorcan AbarcasArtisan Guide to Menorca – Made to Measure Abarcas in Menorca

Tourists like us are well catered for with row upon row of colour, texture and pattern combinations to choose from and we were eventually dragged away with just one pair each. Although most of the Abarcas seen in the shops are ready-made there are some smaller family-run operations such as the one pictured above in which you can have your Menorcan sandal made to measure right before your eyes, choosing every detail for a completely custom experience. We were then led, new shoes in hand, through the narrow, winding streets to a former convent framing the corner of a wide, cobbled square which is now home to a permanent market selling speciality food, crafts and clothing and also temporary art exhibitions.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - Convent de Carme of MahonArtisan Guide to Menorca – Convent de Carme Artesanal Market in Mahon

Just next to Convent del Carme is El Mercado de Pescado, which despite the name is more of a social and gastronomic meeting space than just a fish market. The dramatic and decorative black iron gates led to an open courtyard of tables and chairs that our guide explained is, on weekends, filled with locals and tourists sipping locally brewed craft ales that are sold within the market and sampling small tapas plates while musicians play live music, shame for us it was a weekday!

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - Mercado de Pescados in MahonArtisan Guide to Menorca – Mercado de Pescados in Mahon.jpg

The market itself is open all week however, selling fresh fish and meats as well as the highest quality cured ham and spanish sausages, local cheese and local beers like this Graham Pearce Sant Climent from a local microbrewery on the same site as the popular Es Moli De Foc restaurant, another recommended stop on an artisanal tour of Menorca.

Two Monkeys Travel - Guide to Menorca Spain - Sant Climent Graham Pearce Menorcan craft beerArtisan Guide to Menorca – Sant Climent Menorcan Craft Beer in the Mercado de Pescado of Mahon.

Anyone planning a trip to Menorca should be prepared to bring not only sunglasses and a swimsuit but also a big appetite and plenty of cash to make the most of the unique produce available all over this small but surprising island just a short flight from Spain and the UK.

Monkey Dividers

Note:Holly Howe traveled to Menorca as part of a blogger trip with The Travel Mob and Menorca Tourism.

Monkey Dividers

Artisan Guide to Menorca - A Secret World Rich in Fine Food and Crafts

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41 thoughts on “Artisan Guide to Menorca – A Secret World Rich in Fine Food and Crafts

  1. I never heard of that place before, but I can see its beauty through your pictures 🙂 I like old cities like that ! I changes a little from the industrial architecture we see everyday. This place holds a lot of history.

  2. I wasn’t aware that Menorca is such an amazing destination. before reading your post! Thanks for sharing the ultimate guide. Have pinned it for my reference!

    1. Thank you, Ana, for pinning this post on Artisan Guide to Menorca. Drop a message here if you’re planning Spain! 🙂

  3. Fascinating place ! I love reading about travel and new places and while I thought I been enough in Spain now you made me wish to go to Menorca 🙂 Gorgeous photos

  4. I’ve lived in Spain for two years and there are amazing places there I loced visiting. Thanks for this article I didn’t know about menorca!

    1. Lucky you, Natalia! Spain is a wonderful country to discover. Glad you find this Artisan Guide to Menorca useful. 🙂

  5. this seems like a really great adventure…this is actually my first time to hear about this place and it seems like it has so many great place to offer… every time I travel, i always make sure to visit a church so that Convent de Carme will definitely catch my attention… I wonder how beautiful it is inside

    1. You will love it, bluedreamer. This Artisan Guide to Menorca is a prove on how awesome it can be to explore this side of Spain.

  6. Nice! I’ve heard of Menorca before but dont really know what you can see or do there. I always love to see wine and cheese making facilites and of course eat and drink for free after. looks like you had a grand time!

  7. This is one of the most beautiful discoveries I found on the Internet. I actually haven’t heard of this place before. Looking at it now, it is so inspiring. I like how most Spanish words correlate with some of the words that we use here in the Philippines.


  8. A small island filled with big hearts and sweet aroma and culture? Count me in! The whole atmosphere smells of elegance from the cellars down to the streets. I love the pictures you took from this place, it gives off a vibe of local justice for soon-to-be tourists like me. Lastly, that guesthouse and convent are just simply…wow. It feels like modern 1800’s right in the flesh..or brick. Soon, Menorca. Soon.

  9. That looks like so much fun! I haven’t been to Menorca but I would love to go. Spain is such a fabulous country. I would definitely like to try a drink with gin in it. And of course I would love the cheese!

    1. Hell yeah! Cheese and gin, can I join? Spain is an amazing country. It has so much to offer. I have been there often and I loved Madrid. The food culture (and drink culture) is warm and food. Totally my kind off place!

    2. Perfect choices, Stella! 🙂 Feel free to use this Artisan Guide to Menorca whenever you are planning to go there. 🙂

  10. Up until a few years ago I associated the Spanish islands with partying and a lot of young drunk people, but I know how wrong I was, I’ve been wanting to visit either Menorca or Grand Canaria (which I know is the other set of islands).

    The scenery looks incredible and the food, yum!! I’d definitely be stuffing my face if we ever go!

  11. I really love places that offer wide varieties of options, particularly when it comes to foods and crafts. And this post about Menorca is something excites me even though it’s way to far to visit the place. hahaha

  12. Menorca tapas are meant to be really good but from what my friends have said it is the markets that bring the most joy.

  13. That was really interesting to read and perfect time since my eldest is going there in a few weeks

  14. I have been to Mallorca recently, Menorca’s big sister and learned about their windmills in a small church from Palma. The best was however experiencing the food market and the artisans from Pollenca old town. Food and crafts are a great way of exploring a destination.

    1. Great, Joanna! Any plan to go back to Menorca? And anything to add for tips to this Artisan Guide to Menorca?

  15. The cheese I would love to try, but more than the cheese, the island itself is so beautiful. Because I am half a world away from a different culture, the architecture looks so fascinating and stunning at the same time. 🙂

  16. Keep doing the great work. I am fond of travelling as well but never got a chance to travel. I have been to Dubai only so far and it was great. I plan to visit Europe and might consult with you when I am ready.

    1. Sure, Aqib! Feel free to drop a comment here. Our articles on travel guides, like this Artisan Guide to Menorca might help on your planning.

  17. just discover this site from somewhere. great sharing story & experiences. i will recommend this site to my friends out there.

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Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]