The bread of St John

14/04/2014 | James

A lot has been written about the old and knotted Olive trees, of which we have about three hundred and fifty at Finca Es Castell, many of which are five hundred to eight hundred year old, some of the oldest in Mallorca (and certainly the oldest in a luxury hotel break!)

But, unlike many small family hotels in Mallorca, we also have some five hundred Carob trees, and their history is as interesting, although less told.  The Carob (Ceratonia Siliqua) is actually a type of pea, althogh its fruit resembles a brown runner bean. The trees in Es Castell are more than 300 years old, in common with many in rural mallorca, and are used mostly as an animal feed for Cattle and Donkeys, as its rich in Sucrose and Fructose. However, the Carob has many other uses, from a delicious alcoholic drink ("Palo") common across the Serra de Tramuntana, to an industrial sweetener/thickener, a chocolate substitute, and also as a gelatine replacement for pharmaceutical capsules. They also make is beautiful backdrop for a romantic weekend hotel break in Mallorca!

Its name also gives rise to the "Carat" denomination for the purity of Gold, as the carob being, being quite uniform in size, were used as a unit of measurement for precious metals.  Here at Finca Es Castell, we also make a traditional mallorquin Cake with its flour, which is one of my favourite dishes in our hotel restaurant. But the nice thing about this kind of Rural Hotel setting is its not just the tastes which are given by the landscape - the Carobs add a lovely dark green and brown contrast to the, well, olive green colour of the Olives and the bright bright green of the Orange and Lemon tree leaves. The sight of them swaing in the breeze from our restaurant roof terrace is truly wonderous. Add to this the smells of the Carob flowers, plus the constant tap tapping of the aluminium poles against the trees as the workers harvest the Carob crops in October (I always like to hear other people working!) and youve got a beautfiul hotel with treats for all five senses from just one tree. St John made a good choice!