Friday, 17 July 2015

An Evening of Food, Music and Gin from Majorca

Dee – We were inspired to put together this menu of food, drink and music by Jay’s parents, who had bought us a bottle of gin back from Majorca where they had been recently on a holiday.  They had also bought us a book of Majorcan recipes while on a previous visit, so we thought it might be nice to combine the two into a themed evening.  We’re a bit far from the sea but at least it’s summer here so we’re part way there.
I’ve never been to Majorca myself so what follows is my attempts to approximate what an evening watching the sun set over the Mediterranean might be like.

Main Course:  Coca de Trempo
This is one of our favourite recipes from the Majorcan recipe book mentioned above.  It’s basically a base of wheat bread topped with peppers, tomatoes, onions and olive oil.  I’ve seen it referred to as ‘Spanish Pizza’ but it is quite distinct in that the bread base is rectangular rather than circular and the topping is of chopped vegetables rather than a sauce.  It is also best enjoyed at room temperature rather than straight from the oven.  There are some shared qualities though;  both are simple dishes, with bread and tomatoes at their heart.
It’s great as a lunch or sliced up for picnics or parties, both of which we’ve done in the past, but this was the first time we’d enjoyed it as an evening meal.  It went down nicely with a simple side salad and a glass of crisp, fruity white wine.  We looked for a Majorcan wine to keep in with the theme, but discovered that it was near-impossible to obtain away from the island itself.  A shame, but the wine we went for instead was fine.

Dessert:  Cottage Cheese Tart
On the evening that we made this dessert, I read an entry from a blog based in the United States, covering the decline in use of cottage cheese in favour of yoghurt. click here for details To be honest it was something that had passed me by but as soon as I read the article, I realised that yes, cottage cheese has been overtaken by yoghurt over here as well.  The whys and wherefores are beyond the remit of this article but the success of this recipe can certainly be used to re-assert the profile of cottage cheese in home cooking.
The Cottage Cheese Tart, known in Majorca as ‘Greixonera de Brossat’, is a super sweet baked dessert, resembling a cross between a baked cheesecake and a soufflé in both appearance and taste, though with a lighter texture than both.  Traditionally, it is baked in a Greixonera, which is an earthenware casserole type dish, but we made miniature versions in tapas dishes, as shown in the picture.
The finished dish was light in texture, which was mostly due to the egg whites which were whisked into peaks prior to baking.  The cottage cheese brought texture more than flavour to the dish.  Aside from the sweetness from the sugar, there were also hints of citrus from the orange juice that was added to the raw mixture and the lemon zest that was used as a garnish.

Gin:  11
Distiller:  Ca'n Vidalet
Tasting Notes said:  The first gin of Majorca.  11 stands for the number of Mediterranean botanics from which our gin was distilled. Elegant and pure, with a subtle bouquet of floral and citrus notes, which fully unfold on the palate. Whether with tonic, as a martini or "on the rocks" -11 (Onze) Dry Gin gives your cocktail an unmistakable aroma.
Dee said:  Definitely one of the sweeter gins.  The initial aroma and taste was of aniseed rather than juniper, followed by orange and cinnamon.  After trying out a couple of garnishes which didn’t work, I decided that this was a gin best enjoyed on its own.
Jay said:  I added tonic and orange and lemon slices to soften the aniseed flavour.

Music:  Ximbomba Atomica
While searching for some Majorcan music to accompany our meal, I found the web site of a traditional folk group called Ximbomba Atomica. click here to visit their web site  They are named after the Ximbomba Mallorquina, which is a small drum held in one hand and played with a single stick.
Their music is quite distinctive and consists of guitar, bass, drums, viola and several older instruments including a recorder, the aforementioned ximbomba which was played alongside a small piccolo, and what looked like bagpipes.  The music was complex, tuneful and quite fast paced.
I couldn’t find an album of their own, though they do appear on a couple of compilations, and there are a few videos of them performing live which can be accessed from their web site.

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