A DAY & NIGHT OF FOOD & ADVENTURE IN IBIZA WITH RENOIR GUIDES TOUR 3
I took a pill in Ibiza and it was an antacid by Jonathon Lipsin
If you click on the people or places highlighted in BLUE it will take you to a link for further info.
It was a perfect day really.
Bernadette and I drove to the ferry and boarded an 8am boat to Ibiza. We landed at the old familiar dock and made our way down the street to Mar y Sol Cafe. This has been the spot to grab a good coffee and breakfast and watch people and meet people since the twenties when it first opened. "Meet you at Mar y Sol" is the standard reply for a discreet or otherwise rendezvous.
It was also the favoured place for the Nazis and the SS who from this vantage point at the cafe could watch whoever came off the boats, escaping Jews were the prizes. In the 1940's if I were here I would have to hide, spies were everywhere here not only Nazis but Franco's agents also going back to the Spanish Civil War.
Bogie would have felt at home here, also Ernest Hemingway I imagine. Errol Flynn would sail his yacht here and also hang at the Mar y Sol before he made his way into the bars of Ibiza for another day and night of debauchery.
But now Bernadette and I are here enjoying our coffees, hers a cafe americano and mine a cortado. The waiter forgets to bring me my pan moreno with queso (brown bread and cheese) and I tell him with theatrical scorn that I am the infamous Spanish food critic Jonathon D Lipsin and the review so far is going pretty badly. I am jesting and we both laugh as he recoils in feigned horror. I let it go and decide I really don't need the bread and carbs after all.
Soon Michael Bennett arrives to pick us up for our Magical Mystery Tour.
Michael is also Miguel Renoir as well as DJ MikeyB and this is the 4th time in a few years that we are getting together.
Michael with his many aliases is the mastermind behind the Renoir Spanish Food Guide and as a Brit is very enamoured with all things Spanish, not least being her gastronomic delights. He is also a superb cook himself and makes a mean tapas.
Michael takes us, once or twice a year on adventures in Ibiza usually with his buddies from England and he knows every nook and cranny on the island.
Today he confesses he has no plan and will just go with the flow, my favourite method of adventure. His car is a new rental BMW and we relax in the air-conditioning and we are on our way effortlessly. Sade is singing her version of the Thin Lizzy song Still in love with you softly, pretty soon we are out of the traffic of Ibiza town and we are gliding down ancient country roads lined by magical stone walls and fig trees.
Our first stop is Can Tixedo Art cafe which is what you might call off the beaten track and sits on the crossroads in Buscastells, it is one of those local spots that attract a loyal following from long time residents & tourists in the know.
Offering a real family vibe, a legendary tapas menu, beautiful art for sale on the walls and live entertainment at various points throughout the week. It’s a true Ibiza gem in the heart of the countryside, a million miles from the tourist resorts.
There is a small chaple opposite
We then move on and come to country cafe, Can Cosmi at a crossroads where many country cafes reside and this is a place that is legendary for tortilla espagnole but alas we are an hour too early until they start serving food at 1pm.
As we are veteran Zen travellers, "no worries" and we head up a narrow country road covered with almond and carob trees to the coast with breathtaking views where there is a wooden chiringuito in the pine forest called Cafeteria Can Jordi, because I have a desire for grilled fish and we will surely find it here.
Once again I am stymied because nothing is open before 1pm but we don't mind because the view is fantastic. We have been here before a few years ago with Michael as we stare out across the deep blue sea to North Africa.
No problem, as we get in the car again and drive to a special spot Hostal La Torre (hostals in Spain can be anything from a basic hostel to a trendy hotel) which is a favoured place to watch the sunset, Michael has stayed here before.
We relax in front of one of the great views from the island, looking out across to Illa Sa Conillera as I sip a shandy and eat a toasted croissant with cheese and ham to keep my blood sugar in check.
We also stop at Sa Capella on the outskirts of Sant Antoni de Portmany (San Antonio Abad) one of the best restaurants in Ibiza and marvel at the 16th Century chaple wherein lies a cavernous gastronomic destination.
This is considered one of the most delightful restaurants on the island of Ibiza but It only opens in the evening at 8pm.
But one day, I will enjoy this place.
I tell Michael, I have my sights set on a grilled fish platter in a chiringuito on the beach, where after lunch I can swim in the sea. "No problem," he winks, I have the perfect place. It is Cala Gracio, a couple of kms from Sant Antoni town and it has a reasonable chiringuito right on the beach, which is perfect.
We head there and indeed, it is perfect. First we park and walk to the small sister bay of Cala Gracioneta which is very busy because of the popular trendy restaurant El Chiringuito. This is a good, safe bay for young children.
We walk sea cliffs to get to the beach, clambering down stone steps and rocks until we arrive at the perfect chiringuito
We order a grilled fish and seafood platter, some drinks, looking out onto the beach metres away. The fish is dorada (gilthead sea bream) merluza (hake) atún (tuna) calamare (squid) almejas (clams) mejilliones (mussels) cangrejo (crab) and gambas (shrimp).
Enjoying it immensely, I sip an agua con gas, Bernadette being a vegan enjoys her salad.
Michael and I share the platter.
For dessert, I want a crema Catalana but all they have is a frozen version which I scoff at until they mention they can soak it in whisky. That, I haven't tried before, they bring the Catalan version of creme brûlée and then pour what appears to be a generous amount of pure whisky, at least two shots….
It was magnificent after a grilled seafood platter. I am now stoned by the heavy hit of alcohol but I know the antidote. I run into the sea and swim some 500 strokes evenly, after that, I am still rather stoned, but happy.
We head out on the road again because Michael has a surprise. He pulls up eventually after many country roads at an infamous and legendary place, that being, Tony Pike's Hotel, now known as Pikes Ibiza, which is a luxury hotel in Ibiza.
The hotel, cited as one of the most famous or infamous hotels on the island, developed a notorious reputation for hedonism in the 1980s, and is associated with being a playground for the rich and famous.
At the hotel this dude looks strangely familiar and I realise I have met my former self in a Back to the Future moment, except that, I was way cooler and I told my doppelganger that It's not the having the fro or how long it is but how you carry it I told him. Wear it like you are Genghis Fucking Khan I said or at least Napoleon Dynamite.
The hotel is best known for being the location of the filming for George Michael and Wham!'s 1983 hit Club Tropicana and for Freddie Mercury's 41st birthday bash in 1987, cited as one of the most lavish parties ever to be held on Ibiza. Many orgies and drug fuelled parties took place here. We wandered happily around the hotel, even going into Freddie's old suite and checking it out. Michael confides he has been to many parties here.
I loved the sign in the hotel car park, You can check in but you can never leave, as that is a line from the famous Eagles song Hotel California and I begged for a photo in front of it.
After, we head to a villa in Sant Antoni which Michael's friends have rented, there, with his friends and their delightful young daughters and baby son we throw ourselves in the villa swimming pool and splash merrily in the shade.
I tell the amused girls I feel I am in a Mary Poppins movie with their perfect English accents. They smile patronisingly.
After an hour of swimming and hanging, we get ready to go out to a famous old Spanish restaurant in Sant Antoni called Es Ventall now run by the talented young son of the owners, José Miguel Bonet, that draws from the tradition of Spain yet adds a modern twist.
There we dine and feast on Andalucían gazpacho (cold vegetable and tomato based soup)
Coca de algarroba con escalibada, aguacate, sardina ahumada, berenjena asada y emulsión de ajo negro (home made carob bean coca (Ibiza flatbread) with avocado, smoked sardine, roasted aubergine and black garlic emulsion).
Later a fideuá de pescado y marisco follows.
In Catalunya, the northeastern part of Spain, there is a traditional dish called fideuà, made with short lengths of dry pasta called fideos. Instead of boiling the noodles Italian-style, the Catalan way, is to cook them with only a small amount of liquid in a wide paella pan. Here, the noodles are first browned in olive oil with the addition of saffron. There is a generous amount of pescado (fish) and mariscos (shellfish) piled on top.
We are all too full for dessert, as we also had a big lunch on the beach and it is time for Michael to drive us back to the port in Ibiza Town so we can grab a midnight ferry back to Formentera.
Ibiza is not a simple place like it's sister island Formentera, there are many aspects of it and if you are young you would fly to Ibiza and as soon as you step off the plane you head to the party towns of Sant Antoni de Portmany or Platja de’n Bossa near Ibiza Town and take part in a drug induced rave party scene where after copious amounts of drugs and alcohol and listening to house and techno music spun by world famous DJs you find yourself on a floor somewhere completely out of it and next to someone and having no idea who they are.
There is that aspect, then there is the campo (countryside) and beautiful small bays with traditional chiringuitos giving the old País feeling of a time a hundred years ago and then there is the chic restaurants serving incredible food at incredible prices.
Finally there is the city feel of Eivissa (Ibiza Town) and the traffic and the hustle, after a while, you'll say, I am glad to be back in Formentera.
I fall asleep on the boat, I'm tired but happy.
Thank you once again Miguel Renoir!
If you wish to read more about Jonathon's travels and adventures please go to his constantly updated blog at
Words © Jonathon Lipsin
Returning to the Island made Jonathon relive his early favourites in music. These mixes have some of them.
There is also a mix for Bernadette "The blues lady of Formentera"
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Music on Mixcloud - Mikeyb