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I pulled over in one of the road-side shacks a fairly balanced person (you know, within acceptable expat-ish boundaries). Now, 45 seconds later, I am a woman possessed. I had ambled into the low barn-like structure, laden with ‘bags for life’ and then I saw them, perhaps I smelled them first, perhaps I hallucinated the culinary possibilities, the joy on my children’s faces, but there, in all their glory was a tiny crate of mange-tout.
Years earlier I had left behind the world of everything in season all year at any time of day or night and gingerly accepted a life of soft fruit for 8 weeks in the summer (magnificent, perfectly formed, locally grown, evidence of heaven) and a winter of apples, oranges and the occasional imported melon. I embraced the naturalness of this order, how we are supposed to be. But sometimes, when carrots and broccoli and potatoes are no longer enough, no matter how locally grown, and the sweet refinery of mange-tout present themselves, you realise with a rising panic what you’re missing. You have that moment of intense desire, that moment of need at all costs. I didn’t flinch, I didn’t make eye-contact with anyone, I was barely breathing. I dived for the crate. I started picking steadily and ended up pouring the whole thing directly into one of my bags for life.
When I first moved to Ibiza, how I lamented the depositing of bags of shopping straight into my fridge courtesy of Ocado (that’s how I remember it, at any rate). Food shopping in Ibiza is an art. There is no one-stop shop, there are no short cuts. Each must navigate her or his own path of procurement. It took a long time to find my collection of trusted shops or should I say shop-keepers. Becoming a true gourmet in Ibiza requires taking a bit of time to pick and weigh and pay and a lot more time to catch up with those doing the weighing!
Before long I found the courage to open the private door to Eivi Peix, who supply fresh fish to the Island’s restaurants but don’t mind opening their doors to any fish-lover. The experience is surreal because you stand in the accounts office, say what you’re after and they produce it from a vast hidden area behind, that might well be the Mediterranean itself. The wholesale prices are half that of the supermarkets and the sea-bass, calamari and mussels the best I have ever tasted. I find truly organic fruit and vegetables in Can Muson on the way to Santa Eularlia or in S’hortet Verd in Sant Jordi. At first it was pot luck, some days aplenty and others back to carrots and potatoes but with time and the building of relationships you learn which days the deliveries come and when to visit. I found my perfect green olives on one of the stalls at the Mercat Nou in Ibiza town and for amazing meat and a good laugh, visit Es Cuco on the way to Cala Conte but make sure you stop at the Hermanos Meneghello on the San Antonio-Ibiza road for the creamiest, meltiest Italian mozzarella around.
Granted it’s a lot of stops to put a meal together but extraordinarily satisfying to find what is local and seasonal and delicious. Here in Ibiza everyone finds themselves living closer to nature in one way or another, except of course, when the mange-tout gets dropped.
Fruteria Santa Eulalia Can Gulasch – Carretera Santa Eulalia del Río, Santa Eulalia del Río. 07:30 – 21:00 Monday till Sunday. There are a few of these road side supermarkets, but this one is the best. On the same side of the road as the Sal de Ibiza store.
http://www.eivipeix.com/en/. Just before the Suma supermarket in the Port des Torrent area. Just enter by the side office door.
http://ibizacanmuson.com Follow signs to this finca from the Santa Eularia- Evissa road. Selection varies, best time is usually Tuesday afternoon.
http://www.shortetverd.info On the corner on the main San Jordi road. Best day for fruit and veg is also Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday.
http://esmercatnou.com/inicio/ In the centre of the city, between Calles Castilla, Cataluña and Extremadura. Car park available underneath. Open every day until 3.
http://www.escucoibiza.com/en/ On the corner of the road to Cala Conta. Open every day including Sunday mornings and fiesta days. Usually closed between 2 and 5 pm.
Hermanos Meneghello: Ctra. Sant Antoni De Portmany, Km 1,2 07800; also a shop in centre of Ibiza: Carrer del Metge Antoni Serra, 1, 07800