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Posts tagged ‘Farm’

Living off the land; moving with the seasons: The Mallorquin Huerta

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to a stunning little Huerta (kitchen garden) clinging to the terraced slopes of the Mallorquin coastline. Between the dry stone walls of terraces made long ago by arab occupiers in their magnificent process of taming the otherwise unreachable landscape, this little vegetable garden lay nestled in perfect order, with the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. From an initial sweep of green emerged vegetables the colour of which you would be hard-pressed to find in even the best quality supermarket.

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Keen to show me the fruits of his labour, the farm manager went about collecting samples of his home-grown produce. As he created a pile of the best of the harvest, the collection before me grew in both voluptuous size and magnificent colour. From super green cucumbers and a richly purple aubergine, to wonderfully fragrant basil, bright yellow peppers and startlingly intense red tomatoes, this gathering of produce was worthy of a museum piece, rather than a humble feast.

And yet feast we did, sampling flavours the likes of which I have never had the pleasure to enjoy before. The tomatoes were so sweet, and so complex in their flavour contrasts, that the sweet sticky small tomatoes might have been an altogether different fruit from the large meaty giant tomatoes which I could have feasted on forever.

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But behind the intensity of the flavour and the quality of the produce was the rationale which went with it. These vegetables were grown in alignment with the seasons. They tasted so good because they emerged from land grown traditionally, with no additives, at the time of the year when they are meant to be harvested. No tomato, artificially grown under a lamp light in the winter could ever have tasted this good. And what struck me most of all was the pride glowing from within the farm manager. Because he had presented the very best product from his intensely laboured land – the fruit of his work, with a little help from the perfect timing of mother nature’s seasons.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Discovering Mallorca: La Granja de Esporles

Sometimes the very best discoveries are those made by chance. And such a chance recently led us to a jewel of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains – an ancient palace surrounded by the most lush gardens and grounds – of which we previously had no knowledge. Almost like entering a kind of Lewis Carroll surreal wonderland, we came upon La Granja de Esporles in a densly forested turn in the road as we entered the mountains near Valldemossa. Through an opening in the vegetation, a grand building decorated with a series of elegant arches framing an open portico came into view. Around it, a mix of floral gardens, free formed parklands and formal lawns were just about visible. And in the air, a distinct harmony of birdsong became even more evident than normal. We knew that we had to park the car and discover more.

The lush surroundings of La Granja

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Reaching the front gate, the surreal feeling of this wonderland grew stronger as we encountered people dressed in traditional Mallorquin costume. Only a camera in their hand and a cash booth for tickets betrayed a sense of modernity, but beyond we were once again plunged back into the past as we toured a house packed full of the artisan crafts – lenguas fabric, pottery making, wine production – which are famous across the island, and beyond, the sense of surreal unease increased as we toured a cellar full of medieval torture instruments and childrens’ dolls with two heads…

From the ancient to the surreal…

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The pure light of reality flooded down upon us as we entered gardens abundant in flowers and larger than life trees. But this was a better kind of reality – a kind of bucolic nirvana in which birds gave out almost tropical sounding calls, and the air was suffused by the fresh dampness given off by a nearby 30metre tall waterfall. Meanwhile beyond this watery masterpiece, sun-dappled forests were enriched with further touches of wonderland, as we encountered baby donkeys asleep under trees, and mountain goats strolling fearlessly across our path. Had we entered paradise?

Freely roaming animals, a vast waterfall and other touches of paradise…

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Paradise or otherwise, La Granja is a former lorded estate today owned by the Segui family and opened as a museum in order to promote recognition of traditional Mallorcan crafts and to share the kind of blissful manor house living which was once possible on the island when you had pockets full of money to match. Amongst the natural beauty and a house packed full of history, a horse gala showcasing the incredibly skills of Spanish horses (rearing up on hind legs, trotting to rhythm and so on) rounded off a thoroughly fantastic, much unplanned discovery. Now we are looking forward to the next secret we stumble upon on this ever intriguing island.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.