Let your retail therapy tingle by letting yourself go and discover without haste, the charm of getting lost amongst its streets, reaching the cutest boutiques that maintain their character, chemists, delicatessens, lace and wool shops, silverware and jewellery and even handicraft studios. A special touch is that anything you purchase in these traditional shops is carefully wrapped – even the most basic of items.
To promote and encourage the local craftsmen, open air markets are held, in fact most of the towns host these markets every week, A ritual not to be missed is a walk by the stalls erected at Calas Fonts, Fornells or in Ciutadella Port; the mixture of medieval stalls, the soft lights and the proximity to the sea adds a rather special element.
The town centres and main tourist centres have boutiques offering the latest in fashion and footwear. The latter is an all important facet and one of the islands main industries. Many shoes designed and made in Minorca ends up on the catwalks of France, London and NY. These Cinderella designs can be viewed and purchased in the factory shops of Mascaro in Ferreries and Pons Quintana in Alaior, All the other local shoe manufacturers have outlets in the main towns.
Although not perhaps seen on the catwalks but on the feet of royal and distinguished persons, let us introduce you to the islands famous “abarca”. These sandals are made of leather and have rubber tyre souls. This sandal was originally made for the farming community when soles had to be hard to combat the stony byways yet keep the foot cool although today it’s made to appease the summer fashion business as well.
The island’s diet follows the healthy Mediterranean way, fresh fish, shellfish, fruit, dairy products and vegetables. One of the islands most famous sea food dish is the Caldereta de Langosta (lobster stew) and can be eaten in all the best restaurants.
The past occupations of the island have also made their mark on the islanders. During the French occupation the French chefs picked up a local sauce made with eggs and olive oil, they stole this recipe and went on to use the sauce in their own kitchens- this famous sauce was called “salsa de mahon” today you will know it as mayonnaise.
The British occupations from the 18thC left the “gin”. This very special drink is distilled entirely from juniper berries which gave, and still gives the gin its remarkable aroma. Sharing the custom of drinking gin for breakfast or as a fiesta drink is an experience not to be missed. The distillery, situated in the port of Mao, is open to the public.
Minorca is a dairy producing island and therefore it is not surprising to note that these products dominate the markets, cheeses, cold meat sausages and milk. These products have a special taste due to the strong gusts of Tramontana wind, that soak the fields with sea salt, making it a delicacy for the grazing cattle and hence the milk and the islands dairy products has that special taste.
Whilst you are on the island feel welcome to visit some of the working farms that are open to the public. The traditional cold meat sausages are also manufactured in a homemade setting.
The most recognised sausage is the spicy “sobrassada”, but there are black puddings, chopped hams and a full host of cold meats and sausages to try whilst here.