A metal nut on the table, nothing else. A piece of hardware inside which, when turned over, you discover a message inside: MA de CA. This is how the journey at Maca de Castro’s restaurant now begins; only her name, highlighting a time of absolute freedom and the gastronomic boldness of this Mallorcan cook. By turning things up a notch, this is a clear statement of intent: this is me and I’m going to take things a step further. De Castro is loyal to her region and to local suppliers, defending an autochthonous discourse via minimal dishes that are delicate and flavoursome, and which change according to the best produce that each day offers.
Her case was not one of vocation, but happened almost by chance. She started working in the family business without anyone expecting it, quickly earning a place in the kitchen thanks to her tenacity and energy. This led her to journey through the great restaurants of this country during her holidays – and abroad as well – continuing to grow and train alongside cooks such as Hilario Arbelaitz, Arzak, Manolo de la Osa, and Julián Serrano.
Now, with the solidity of the experience of the Grupo De Castro that is shouldered in part by her brother and business partner, Daniel, Maca has the necessary framework to consolidate herself as one of the best cooks in this country, upholding a highly personal style which straddles the contemporary and the avant-garde.
‘A piece of earth wrapped in water in a sea suffused with ports and shores. Innocent, wild, fertile, deserted. [...] Friendly, cultivated landscape: ed-ib-ble. Nature that is conveyed on a plate.’ This is how this cook from Alcudia sees Mallorca and is how she translates it to the food on her unique tasting menu; a radical yet restrained series of dishes that are transgressive while being delicate, combinations that are both original and bold. The pa amb oli (bread with oil), with which the 2018 menu begins, is a hint of things to come: many vegetables, such as white peppers, tomatoes and pumpkin from the nearby kitchen garden; but the sea surrounding the island is also a vital protagonist and offers, for example, skate, langoustines, sardines and bonito.
There is also room for new and daring dishes, such as a very pronounced mare’s milk cheese – in a pumpkin carbonara when I visited – and desserts that hardly seem as such as they are light and plant based, with nuances that constantly return you to savoury memories in a brilliant transition towards the end of the menu. This cook’s tremendously personal and feminine creativity will surely be vital for this country’s gastronomic future.
By Clara P. Villalón