Almond ice cream – helado de almendra - is THE classic Mallorquin dessert. Looking at the rows and rows of almond trees you drive past on any trip across the island this may seem nothing out of the ordinary. However, the first mention of ice cream being made on the island go back to the 16th century. How did they produce the ice?
A Treat with a History #
From the 16th century till 1927, the ice needed to create the cool delight used to be brought down into the city of Palma from Tramuntana mountains on donkey's back. In winter, workers collected the snow falling in high altitudes, brought it into "snow houses" – cases de neu – and compacted it into solid ice. Only in some years the stored ice lasted into the summer. This explains why ice cream was more of a treat for the cooler season back then – and not affordable at all for common people. To meet the growing demand also in the warmer months, ice was ferried into Mallorca from Barcelona, until the invention of electric refrigeration made all this superfluous – but for the ice cream itself which, to this day, has stayed a favourite with locals and foreigners alike.
In the old days, doctors on Mallorca recommended almond ice cream to their patients, claiming it had a fortifying effect. What a dream - ice cream on prescription!
The Classic Combinations #
Try the classic combinations of almond ice cream with tarta de almendra (Mallorquin almond cake) and ensaimadas (the spiral-shaped pastries you find in every Mallorquín bakery).
Make Your Own? #
You certainly do not have to hire a worker and donkey and transport the winter's snow down into your kitchen to make your own ice cream. Click here for our recipe.
Where to Buy It #
There is a plethora of ice cream shops in Palma and throughout the island, but many specialize in Italian ice cream or offer industrially produced ice creams that have nothing in common with the delicious, authentic Mallorquin helado de almendra. There are, however, a few places who keep the tradition up. Here is our selection:
Palma: Can Joan de S’Aigo
Joan de s'Aigo hired his first crew of snow workers – nevaters – in the 18th century, and the café he founded is an institution on the island. Enjoy their top-quality artisanal ice creams produced in their own factory in the polígono Son Ferriol in Palma (also try the lemon and hazelnut!) and Mallorquin pastry specialities in the wonderfully preserved original neoclassical decoration of the place; or visit one of the two more recently opened branches.
Address: Calle de Can Sanc 10, 07001, 07001 Palma, +34 971 71 07 59
Palma: Can Miquel
Another classic is the heladería Can Miquel. Since its foundation in 1979, the Silivellas family has taken great pride in the preservation of traditional methods and the use of local produce. My favourites are their avellana (hazelnut), almendra (almond) and café.
Address: Carrer dels Montcades, 9, 07012 Palma, +34 971 72 49 09
Andratx: Heladería Can Nero
A small place with a great experience in the production of artisanal Mallorquin ice creams: The heladería was founded over fourty years ago, and Luis, its owner, is the great grandchild of the original founder, Guiem Alemany. Try any one of their fifteen different flavours.
Address: Calle Archiduque, 27, 07150 Andratx, +34 971 13 60 29
Sóller: Sa Fábrica de Gelats
Founded in 1994, Sa Fábrica is a relatively new addition to Mallorca's traditional ice cream manufacturing world. However, they can stand up to any comparison as thy use first class local produce and make a point of sticking to the authentic ways as best they can and do everything "como los de antes". This being Sóller, try their orange ice cream!
Plaça des Mercat, s/n, 07100 Sóller, +34 971 63 17 08
Pollença: Gelats Valls
To those of you in the north of Mallorca, do not despair: Gelats Valls is another classic on the island. Founded in 1929 by the Valls family, they stick to the traditional manufacturing methods in an almost religious way and are ardent defenders of using local produce, only.
Paseo Anglada Camarassa 15, 07470 Port de Pollença, +34 971 86 49 50
recommendations by Mallorquin friends
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By Ulla Rahn-Huber
1 July, 2019