One of the benefits I enjoy when traveling the world is trying new dishes in the country I’m exploring.
My ever-increasing list of favorites include Germany’s humble spätzle, England’s simple Shepherd’s Pie, Scotland’s perfect Scotch Eggs, France’s yummy Brie and Bleu d’Auvergne cheeses, Cuba’s creamy flans and Spain’s authentic paella.
Shortly after arriving on Menorca, one of Spain’s three Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean this past October, I overheard people talking about the island’s famous lobster soup. “You have to try it,” was their consensus.
However, not every restaurant features this delectable specialty on their menu. So I was fortunate when my daughter, Andrea, and I were exploring the narrow cobblestone streets of Ciutadella on the island’s west coast and almost literally stumbled upon Café Bálear.
The modest-size restaurant with my preferred water view was perfect. While the main seating area is inside across the narrow street, we were drawn to the dozen tables outside positioned precariously close to water’s edge at the tip of the marina.
Menorca’s lobster soup is definitely a step up from my regular favorite tomato basil soup. Highly regarded by locals and first-time customers alike, this restaurant has been in the same family for almost 50 years.
We sat at a table joining the mostly local customers sitting comfortably under umbrellas that screened us from the late autumn sun.
Our waiter brought the obligatory menus touting numerous dishes featuring fish and seafood, freshly caught from their own boat, the Rosa Santa Primera.
We selected a starter of freshly caught shrimp to go with a crisp glass of cool wine and crusty white bread. Andrea, who has lived in Barcelona for over a year and enjoys fresh seafood often, ordered a steak.
But I knew my tastebuds were in for a treat when I ordered the Caldereta de Langosta — Menorca’s famous lobster soup — and the waiter’s body language affirmed that I had made “the right choice” despite a significant ding to my pocketbook. At €62 — that’s $73.60! — it is without question, the most expensive soup I’ve ever eaten.
We settled into our comfortable chairs, watching the ever-present birds and other patrons while enjoying our Spanish wine and conversation.
In short order, our waiter arrived with Andrea’s steak and an enormous thick brown pottery bowl — at least 16 inches in diameter — filled with a dark red broth and a huge lobster.
With accomplished flair and only inches from a 4-foot drop to the water’s edge, our waiter ladled out the rich, dark red broth in my white soup bowl and then delicately placed several pieces of lobster in the middle of the bowl, leaving me to strategically remove its delicious morsel of white meat from the spiky shell without splashing on my clothes.
After a second helping in which I managed to eat every morsel of the lobster, there was still a full meal’s worth of broth, which I was able to chill in our hotel refrigerator and enjoy cold the following day.
Somehow, it is understood that you do not share your Caldereta de Langosta delicacy with anyone at your table, although no one ever explained why.
If you go:
- Menorca: We spent $350 each for the 45-minute round-trip flight from Barcelona, a five-day, four-night stay at the fabulous Hotel Meliã, which included the largest breakfast buffet I’ve ever experienced, plus car rental for five days.
- Café Bálear, Pla de Sant Joan, 15. Ciutadella, www.cafebalear.com*, website is in Spanish. If you’re like me and don’t speak the language, click on English for a translation. When you go, be sure to order Caldereta de Langosta — Menorca’s famous lobster soup!
- Hotel Meliã, https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/spain/menorca/melia-cala-galdana/index.html
My next blog will be Barcelona by Bus, followed by a Tour of Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s cathedral in Barcelona.