Discover one of the best markets in Menorca
This is a large building whose building began in the 18th century, a must-see for visitors to Mahón. The Claustro del Carmen with its lovely arches houses all the various stalls selling the finest fresh Menorcan produce, handcrafts etc. Come shopping!
You can’t miss the piles of colourful fruit and vegetables, all fresh from the land and bursting with flavour. Look out for bunches of delicate wild flowers and catch the scent of fresh herbs as you wander around this old cloister area. And don’t forget one of the island’s most important products: Menorcan cheese.
The longstanding tradition of Menorcan cheese
They say that its distinctive taste comes from the sea. The wind leaves salt particles in the grass eaten by the cattle, giving their milk a subtle hint of the Mediterranean. It’s 100% cow’s cheese made with raw milk that is curdled and wrapped in fine cotton cloths to give it its square shape.
Is this how it was made 4000 years ago? We’re not sure, but archaeologists have found ceramic remains in Menorca that lead us to believe that cheese has been made here for a very long time.
Even Arab historians spoke of Menorcan cheese production in 1000 AD, highlighting its quality and trade in other points of the Mediterranean.
In the gastronomy of Menorca
These days they leave the cheese pieces in brine and cover them with oil and paprika. That’s how they achieve the delicate orange skin tone. Be it artisan or factory-made, cheese is a basic ingredient either on its own or combined, in many traditional Menorcan recipes.
There are typical cheese pastries like the “flaons”, sauces, fillings for vegetables like aubergines and tomatoes, … or a delicious cheese to be savoured with a good glass of wine. The range is varied to suit all tastes and occasions.
Variety of flavour
The most tender cheese is cured for two months, resulting in a soft cheese which goes perfectly with a homemade marrow jam. Relish the contrast of flavour and creaminess.
The semi-cured is matured over 5 months and is great too add to salads, while the cured cheese is matured for at least 6 months and looks and feels more like the best parmesan,
It has held its own Designation of Origin since 1985, ensuring that all quality measures are met through the Regulatory Council.
An appealing visit to the markets
On leaving the Claustro del Carmen market you will enjoy magnificent views of Mahón Harbour, and you may well hear musical scales as the students at the Conservatory on the first floor of the building practice.
In the last few years the Claustro has become a lively venue for all sort of summer music concerts.
This is an historic place worth visiting, as local markets are always a great way of enjoying the local atmosphere and also getting to know some of Menorca’s fine produce. And have you tried the cheese yet and do you know how to use it in recipes?