On the Gourmet Trail. Spain: Paella

This delicious dish is from Spain and is the ideal meal for a night in with your friends and family.

 

Ingredients 

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper, chopped

125g (4¼ oz) fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed and diced

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, diced

350g (12 oz) uncooked Arborio rice

1.25 litres (2 pints) chicken stock

100ml (4 fl oz) white wine

1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only

1 pinch saffron

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 squid, cleaned and diced

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

75g (3 oz) frozen garden peas

12 large prawns, peeled and deveined

500g (1 1/4 lb) mussels, cleaned and debearded

Generous handful chopped parsley

8 wedges lemon to garnish

 

Method

1. Heat olive oil in paella pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and pepper; cook and stir for a few minutes. Add chorizo, chicken and rice; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 of the stock, wine, thyme leaves and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes; stir occasionally.

2. Taste the rice and check to see if it is cooked. If the rice is uncooked, stir in 1/3 of the remaining stock. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Stir in additional stock as necessary. Cook until rice is done.

3. Stir in squid, tomatoes and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Arrange prawns and mussels on top. Cover with aluminium foil and leave for 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Remove the foil and sprinkle parsley over the top. Serve in paella pan garnished with lemon wedges.

Cala Galdana: Menorca

I have called Menorca my home for over 15 years, and Cala Galdana is without a doubt one of my favourite spots. A combination of many factors makes it, in my opinion, a little piece of paradise. Think golden sand and the crystal-clear turquoise waters, towering pine trees and dramatic limestone cliffs. This beautiful resort really does have something for everyone.

Menorca May 2018

Cala Galdana is the perfect family resort and is always one of my first stops with visiting family and friends. It has a horseshoe shaped bay of gentle waters ideal for even the youngest members of the family to enjoy a paddle. There is plenty to keep the little ones busy, including the Tobogan restaurant on the main strip, which is a firm favourite with my kids. It has two water slides, allowing the kids to tire themselves out whilst you enjoy a cool drink and a few snacks. There is also a crazy golf course and a play park if the kids ever manage to grow weary of the slides!

Family and friends playing on Cala Galdana beach

I often head to Cala Galdana to enjoy an afternoon picnic with friends, whilst the children paddle until the sun goes down. There are large picnic benches on the beach, nestling under the shade of the pine trees. However, if you prefer to treat yourselves, there is a popular restaurant perched on the edge of a rocky outcrop, where you can enjoy unbeatable views of the bay whilst sampling freshly caught sea food with cool, crisp white wine or try some local tapas accompanied by fruity, refreshing sangria.

After a day relaxing on the beach, if you fancy doing something different, the twice weekly equestrian show at Son Martorellet is situated less than 5km from Cala Galdana. I have taken my family numerous times, and it never fails to be both spectacular and enchanting. It is not just for horse lovers, and it is described as “A complete experience that touches the hearts and souls of all audiences”. The show is called “Somni” meaning “dream” in the local Menorca language. Magnificent stallions and their talented riders act out the story of a girl´s dreams and her longing to own a horse which soon becomes her best friend, embarking on many adventures. For true equestrian enthusiasts like myself, Son Martorellet also offers exclusive behind the scenes visits.

Lidia and Poppy at end of Cala Galdana to Cala Macarella walk

 

 

 

 

 

For the more adventurous holiday maker, Cami de Cavalls is the natural bridle path which skirts the whole island. From Cala Galdana, you can head in two directions, East to Cala Mitjana or West to Cala Macarella. Both walks saunter through a contrast of shady wooded areas as well as dramatic costal stretches. They are suitable for even the younger members of the family, with my younger son, aged 6, easily managing the longer route to Cala Macarella which is approximately 3km. The route to Cala Macarella should definitely be done in the early morning or late afternoon, when the heat of the Mediterranean sun is not so intense. The route to Cala Mitjana is shorter, and the majority of the route is along a well paved and shaded path, which winds down to the beach. Don’t forget that the way back is uphill though! The beach itself is spectacular, with the limestone cliffs overhanging the turquoise waters. Both Cala Macarella and Cala Mitjana are unspoilt “virgin” beaches, which is the reason for their appeal, however remember that this also means there are very limited facilities, with one beach bar at Cala Macarella and nothing at all at Cala Mitjana, so take plenty of food and water on your walk.

Menorca May 2018

If you prefer the open waters to dry land, there is a wide selection of water activities for all the family. I love hiring a kayak to explore a multitude of hidden caves and outlets around the bay. Or if you wish to head further afield, a round trip from Cala Galdana to Cala Mitjana and back should take approximately 2 hours. If its family fun you are looking for, my kids adore hiring out one of the floating pedalos, complete with its own slide!

After all the exertion, let the rest of the family head back to the villa for an afternoon swim, and book yourself into the Audax hotel’s Blue Spa for a bit of pampering. It boasts a full thermal spa circuit, as well as an array of treatments. The perfect way to unwind!

But it’s not all about the kids, as there is plenty to keep the grown-ups busy too! Cala Galdana has a good choice of restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as bars that are open until late, such as the popular Mississippi bar. Or head to the trendy chill-out lounge, Francesca, for an early evening cocktail.

Cala Galdana is home to 18 spectacular Villa Plus villas, including 7 which are new to the Villa Plus 2019 programme. Myself and my colleagues are delighted that they have been named after some of our children: Alexia, Erik, Ethan, Lidia, Nicolas, Olivia and Poppy.

Have a browse on our website to find the perfect villa to suit your needs, but I can guarantee that the resort of Cala Galdana will be an all-round winner!

So, in a nutshell, I just can’t wait for family and friends to visit us again in Menorca this year so that I can proudly show off this perfect piece of paradise on the island that I am proud to call home.

 

Post written by Caroline, part of our Villa Representative team in Menorca.

Why beach holidays in Menorca are perfect for young families

On Menorca, young families can enjoy thrills and sunshine at a leisurely pace. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve island is home to luscious wetlands, dunes and an untold number of islets just waiting to be explored. Just try to walk along its inviting shorelines and not be tempted by a spot of sailing, swimming or just paddling around at a gentle pace.

Such a diverse mixture of things to do means that beach holidays in Menorca truly define fun for all the family. Thanks to the wonders of self-catered accommodation, everyone can come together and play in your own pool whenever you’re not lounging about by the sea. Now all that’s left to do is get an itinerary together…

Hit the beach

family-beach-holidays

Menorca isn’t short of adorable beaches. Son Bou is one such strip, comprising golden sand spots lined with vegetation and stone jetties. For something a bit livelier, the Cala Blanca beaches have plenty of facilities to keep you occupied at all times. Otherwise, go to the village of Fornells, located in northern Menorca, where the coastlines are a known hotspot for windsurfers. Why not set up camp with the little ones and watch these water sports aficionados tackling the waves?

Explore the island from another perspective

Organised boat trips are a great way of uncovering the island’s various coves and natural harbours, and getting to see Menorca’s unique marine life while you’re at it! If you’re lucky, you might get to see dolphins swimming past and jumping out amid the waves. Otherwise, the surrounding waters are known for housing small numbers of starfish and even the occasional octopus!

For all you landlubbers, jeep safaris are a great opportunity for young families to go off the beaten track and discover the island’s inland allures.

Head to the attractions!

Pack a lunch, sun cream and towels, then spend a day at one of Menorca’s top-tier attractions. Los Delfines AquaPark is situated on the west of the island, and is packed with rides which’ll see most adults turn into little kids themselves. Take your pick from chutes suited to all ages – just don’t forget to bring a spare pair of clothes! Back on dry land, children will love exploring Fort Marlborough, a fascinating war museum near Mahon Island.

Get back to nature

nature-in-menorcaImage by Sonke Biehl, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

S’Albufera Natural Park is a verdant paradise, home to fine views and a fascinating array of nature. It’s also an idyllic setting for family adventure, with a visitor centre and numerous different trails to keep you busy. Keep your eyes peeled for vultures and buzzards, both of whom visit these wetlands to feed. It’s a short drive from Mahon, so it’s easy enough for families to get here and back to most places within the island in a few hours.

Villa holidays in Menorca offer a lovely blend of nature, attractions and sun-kissed memories that everyone in the family will always treasure. If you’re considering visiting this Balearic gem, why not consider treating to your family to something that little bit extra special with luxury accommodation?

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Why you should choose a holiday let when you go to Menorca

Menorca is holiday paradise, peppered with hiking and cycling trails for the active, and woven with beaches and towns for the less energetic to mooch about in. Although Menorca has an understated presence that’s sleepier than its Balearic neighbours, Ibiza and Majorca, it still has plenty of excellent hotels dotted all over the island. But there’s an increasing trend for holidaymakers to look at self-catering options when visiting Menorca, with more quality holiday villas to rent becoming available all the time.

A home from home

The space that a private villa in Menorca can offer means that the experience can be like a home-from-home, rather than squeezing into a hotel room for a week or two. Whether you’re travelling as a couple and just want some peace and quiet to truly get away from it all, or you’re on holiday as a family and want plenty of space for your kids to roam, choosing a self-catering holiday in Menorca can often prove the best decision.

…which is great for little ones

Thanks to a great choice of holiday lets in Menorca that have shared pools, or even private pools, your family may consider a villa on the island a top choice. Days can be spent together as a family with little or no jostling for space. The convenience of having your own kitchen means you can enjoy Menorca without having to dine out with children all the time, which – let’s be honest – can sometimes be more hassle than it’s worth. Amenities like washing machines and driers are also a big bonus to parents with kids in tow, as there’s no more emergency handwashing in hotel sinks, or paying pricey hotel laundry rates.

Menorca holiday rentals are ideal for parents

Private villas in Menorca are a particularly attractive option for parents, as they often offer more space than hotels and traditional resorts. So, if the kids are off to bed early, parents can enjoy extended living and outdoor space with their children safely nearby. It takes away the worry of finding babysitters and childcare, or spending the evening squashed in a hotel room, making the whole holiday a more relaxing affair for everyone, even with the opportunity to BBQ in the evening.

Villas are avaoilable to rent all around Menorca

Holiday rentals in Menorca can be found all around the island, so whether you want to be close to the beaches, by a town, or near Menorca’s cycling trails, there will be a villa that suits you. Scuba diving is a popular pastime in Menorca, so consider a holiday villa that allows easy access to the coastline if you’re keen to get in on some underwater action.

And on top of that, they’re a form of utter escapism

A private villa in Menorca means that you have the indulgence of your own space, perhaps a view to share just with your loved ones and a swimming pool that’s exclusively yours for the duration of your trip. You can still enjoy the towns of Maó or Ciutadella and the beaches of Son Bou or Punto Prima, safe in the knowledge you’ll escape back to your very own luxury villa for a proper time away from it all.

By Arianne Fabrice, a travel journalist who specialises in the popular resort destinations in and around Europe. Having worked for some of Paris’ premium travel mags, she’s recently moved into English-language publications.