Zaranda originally opened in the traditional San Bernardino neighbourhood of Madrid in 2005, gaining a Michelin star just a year later. Chef Fernando Pérez Arellano moved his restaurant to Mallorca. When the seasonal 5-star country house hotel Castell Son Claret opened near Es Capdellà, Zaranda had a new home, where it gained a second Michelin star for 2016.
Zaranda has a sophisticated interior and attractive terrace for al fresco dining, and offers four tasting menus of extraordinary creations, with descriptions highlighting ingredients rather than culinary processes – so that each dish surprises on presentation.
Arellano’s cuisine is all about produce from the hotel’s extensive grounds, Mallorca, and the Balearic Sea; his appreciation of local artisan crafts is revealed in the specially commissioned tableware on which his food is presented.
Zaranda offers wine pairings with these menus as an option, or choose from the wine list, with the expert guidance of sommelier Sebastian Longo. The wine list is a weighty tome representing an impressive cellar of world wines. We chose wines by the glass: Golós Blanc by Miquel Gelabert, and an excellent Artigas 2013 from the Mas Alta winery in Priorat.
Itziar Rodríguez manages this gastronomic restaurant; Roberto Gottelli is maître d’.
Our dinner at the 2-star Zaranda was a combination of ten savoury and three sweet dishes from the three tasting menus ‘… to Discover’, ‘… to Taste’, and ‘… to Enjoy’. (The fourth tasting menu ‘… to Experience’ is a spontaneously composed menu of 12 or more plates, according to the diner’s preferences.)
We each started with a cocktail: ‘Tramuntana’ was made from Palo, fresh lemon and mint, and a syrup home-made from flowers in the hotel’s garden. ‘Our olive oil daquiri’ was a delicious concoction including Zaranda’s olive oil. Our waiter offered four varieties of bread – from the hotel’s own bakery – with olive oil.
We began dinner with ‘La Ruta de las Especias‘, presented with a small card naming its five bite-sized components, each with accompanying sauce. This tribute to the Mediterranean Sea’s role in the development of today’s gastronomy was served on a specially commissioned platter, made by an artisan in Llucmajor.
Here are just a few examples from our dinner:
‘Another Vitello Tonnato’, is described as ‘made from red tuna belly, veal, and caviar and in three bites’. Two of these were visible; the third bite was ‘hidden’.
‘S’Amfora’ also made us smile: it came with a card explaining that ancient amphorae lost after shipwrecks often became the seabed home of octopus. The amphora in front of us was made especially to accommodate a flavourful octopus dish based on the Valencian ‘all i pebre’ soup.
‘The Blackegg’ is an Arellano classic: a black-poached egg served with a white-onion purée and nutty venere rice. It’s served on another specially commissioned plate made in Llucmajor.
Several dishes comprised different elements: ‘Causa’ & effects comprised a potato and caper mousseline topped with moray eel skin; a ‘sandwich’ made from Creole-style-cooked eel between slices of skin, and a taco made with squid ink containing loin of eel, baby onions, and romesco sauce. Although I’d never usually choose eel from a menu, I was pleasantly surprised by this dish.
The ‘Lamb’s Berber dinner‘ is also in parts: a bite-sized coca-like pastry topped with tiny slices of pink lamb; harira (a traditional Moroccan lamb soup which we found a little too strongly flavoured for our tastes); Moroccan sweet green tea with mint, topped with a salt-preserved-lemon foam; mini tagines of lamb kebabs on vegetables and couscous, and a small piece of lamb wrapped in a goat-milk skin. It was served with a plate of hummus – presented in a unique way that looked almost too pretty to eat, with a yogurt sphere and pomegranate seeds.
We tried three desserts. Of these are favourites were the Burrata Zaranda, made from goat’s milk and served on a basil coulis, with pine nuts and strawberries, and the two-part Lemon-Lemon. First there was a Menorcan ‘pomada’ (gin and lemonade) served in a lemon shell and sipped through a straw, then a unique lemon pie. Instead of describing how clever this dish is, we encourage you to go and try it for yourself.
The meticulous detail, precision, and creative thought that goes into each dish is remarkable. A dinner at Zaranda does more than satisfy your appetite: it surprises, makes you smile … and wonder how Arellano comes up with his innovative ideas. He shows respect for Balearic produce (from land and sea), artisan workers, and his diners. No wonder those Michelin inspectors were impressed.
Chef Fernando P Arellano
Arellano is an amiable man with presence – and plenty to say. He’s tall, with a shock of dark wavy locks and a distinctive beard. His training was in the kitchens of some of Europe’s best-known restaurants, including Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin; London’s Le Gavroche, under Michel Roux Jr; Don Alfonso1890 in Naples, and Can Fabes in Barcelona. In September 2005, at the age of just 27, he and his then-wife Itziar (still his business partner) opened Zaranda, which was soon gaining awards and accolades.