“It’s All Gravy”

Review; Mariposa Pool Bar, Cala Llonga

  • Nick Gibbs

There was a character on the TV’s Fast Show who’s sole contribution was to run through camera now and again declaring that everything was “Brilliant”.

At the time it seemed one of the lesser characters but once you have spent a few close seasons in Ibiza his character starts to make much more sense.

OK we had a stormy week, but it is only fair on the folks back in blighty. They need their twice a yearDSC06323 opportunity to gleefully tell us that “the news said your weather is worse than ours”, and though the expectant look on their faces may say otherwise, the 354:2 ratio is hardly likely to have us break down in floods of tears admitting we’ve got it all wrong and yearn to return to lives where words like ‘drizzle’ and ‘dank’ can be used in everyday conversation, where gloomy is as much a colour as an outlook. I love that it is always Ibiza used as the comparison. As if saying “the BBC is pleased to announce that your life is not as miserable as you thought when weighed against the internationally recognised benchmark standard of people having a good time – those in Ibiza.”

I digress, as did the weather, but thankfully in both respects not for long. The weekend was simply glorious, and I am sure it left many of us with an urge to run around exclaiming everything to be brilliant. So hot in fact, that by 10am there were a group of teenage girls in their swimming cosies on the beach and in the water; I considered taking a photo to illustrate the point however for obvious reasons decided not to. We had no time for unfortunate misunderstandings as today our mission was eastward bound, spanning the island in the ridiculous way we seem to consider such “going a long way”. Luckily the San Rafael passport control was a breeze, and pretty well the only one to be found with temperatures reading 24c.

Empty roads, fantastic weather, and now for the 3rd piece in our brilliantly simple but always eagerly anticipated jigsaw — time.


Time to visit the places you couldn’t or wouldn’t in the height of the season. Today it is Mariposa, last visit Easter Fair, and high on its list of many virtues is that the limitation of our twice or thrice a year expedition across the interior’s Badlands seems to have no effect on a welcome as if you were a daily fixture at the bar.

You only have to look at the organisation involved in their staging the frankly awesome “Playing for Change” festival this year, or the Viva Cala Llonga programme where it is as if the entire area works as a single collective for the common good, kind of like the Borg with suntans, to know that Cala Llonga has a very special community spirit. Let me sum it up like this, the Mariposa is the kind of place you can say, and will find yourself saying, ’do you mind if we join you?’ and be guaranteed of a warm affirmation. As for being shown pictures of the Pueblo Esparogos’ wives naked as they go about their daily business as we were on this visit, that takes a little longer.


(To avoid blood pressures rising across the Island I’d best immediately clarify that as one of their many fundraising efforts , the ‘Sunshine Girls of Ibiza’ calendar inspired by the original ‘Calendar Girls’ raised I think around 3,000€)

Brilliant day, brilliant people, brilliant setting in the hills overlooking the bay of Cala Llonga, and now for, well it had to be a brilliant dinner didn’t it?

Sunday LunchDSC06309

  • Beef, Pork or Chicken 10.50€, Lamb 11.50€
  • Range of homemade puddings 4.50€ to 5.50€,

Each to their own, but I’m not a fan of Sunday Roasts in the baking heat of the Summer. I know lots love it but for me Roast Dinners come on the agenda at the same time as the Christmas ads on TV, i.e. September. This was my first eating out post summer and so really looking forward to it.

Everybody had plenty of meat, the portion control used being my favourite measure of ‘just a bit too much’. Way DSC06301too much is wasteful and if deliciousness dictates may demand overeating. Too little means you are probably somewhere with ‘bistro’, ‘gastro’ or God forbid ’fusion’ in the name that will have me muttering complaint when presented with the bill. This was in the Goldilocks ‘just right zone’. The chicken came both light and dark, the pork with some special crackling. Mint, apple, horseradish, whatever my chosen meat in the Sunday sauce trinity, I want lots of it and do not enjoy having to ask waiting staff for three more thimbles of a restaurant’s efforts at epicurean economy, so the broad dishes with copious supplies of each were a welcome sight. Home made Yorkshire, we are ticking all the boxes, and then of course it comes, the gravy.  Sitting in such a brilliant setting in the brilliant sunshine, it would have been impossible not to pour that so very British brown embellishment without realising that it certainly is, “it is all gravy.”DSC06306

Even the vegetables were gravy/brilliant depending which of the article’s metaphors you prefer to go with. I can’t think it is often I specifically seek out the name of a veg supplier. So tasty, so very tasty. We all know that one thing the BBC will never be telling relatives at home is that their food tastes better than ours. The British supermarket force grown, perfectly formed abominations on the memories of our allotment owning grandparents do not come close to even our most standard supermarket fruit and veg. But these were that bit more. Remarkable even by Ibizan standards. Funny how visitors remark at how our children are really good at eating their vegetables. Yes, that would be because they can taste them. Our son clicked on the extra specialness of these with no less than 3 return for Broccoli and Cauliflower, whilst dad used his rusty silver service for no one but himself in ensuring no carrot was left behind.DSC06314

It is often said that without finding criticism you cannot consider yourself to have been objective in a review.  Well there was one actually so we may as well get it out of the way. Comedy forks. In what had all the hallmarks of one of my most frequent personal failings, being tempted by a ridiculously good price direct from China, the Mariposa seem to have got themselves some Yuri Geller props, though to be fair their failings only came up in the process of the child plate cut up, which is of course undertaken with some gusto to allow a return to the table’s temptations now flooding the senses with their savoury scent that demands taste follows in hot pursuit.

Anyway, you can probably tell by now that a floppy fork was not going to spoil what was a brilliant return to the Sunday Roast.

Our order for desert could wait. Time for some basking, and chatting, and sipping with a little gulping. Talk turned to the success of the raft race the day before (they hadn’t organised anything for a couple of weeks obviously), and plans for the chaps of Cala Llonga to follow their much more photogenic spouses in a forthcoming ‘Calendar Boys’ production. From what the ladies had already told us of the freezing conditions modesty demanded in their very early morning photo shoots, we fear the gents noble efforts run the very real risk of the village being renamed Cala Shorta when their version hits the shops.

As we were enjoying the afternoon you couldn’t help but notice the succession of puddings pass by to other less patient patrons. Apple Pie created with an outlook of ‘now that’s an apple pie’. Syrup Sponge Pudding smothered in creamy custard that had been created with an outlook of ‘now that’s a childhood memory’.

There were others but I only had eyes for these little beauties and was wrangling over my inevitable infidelity as choosing either over the other seemed wrong at a spiritual level, when I discovered that demons were afoot. No pie! No pud!

In hindsight of course I was an idiot. You don’t keep watching these be served assuming there will be one left. Why would there be any left, look at them. And so your humble reviewer who has some modest claim to eat professionally, revealed himself as a rank amateur.

DSC06335Cheese was suggested. I like cheese. But still salivating over my sweet cravings it felt, well, it wasn’t pie and it wasn’t pud. Was the day to end on a low?

But then there were angels. Sweet, well savoury, cheesy angels. What we got was not the afterthought of something served to the tortured souls of pie and pud deprivation.

The platter of Stilton, Brie and Red Leicester flown in by our winged guardians was enough to provide tasty nibbling for a long time to come. Whilst still on transit from first sight to being set on the table, my mouth started to form the words of any British man less crackers than those on his plate. But my vocal efforts were not required, as a glass of port arrived automatically as part of the course. Classy.

One thing missing. No butter. As if projected by angels on high, or Joe behind the bar who understandably didn’t want to miss any of his Crystal Palace holding their own at Anfield, the butter came from nowhere  and required the instinctive catch of a long retired slip. Then again why would should that come as a surprise, Mariposa, where the Butter Flies.


Our thanks for a great afternoon to hosts and the team at Mariposa, Joe, Di, Brian, Michele, Jeremy  and adding some native authenticity,  Molly, 13 knocking on 21.

Footnote: We left with morning school in mind, probably half way through the second half with Palace having scored first and Liverpool bringing it back to a draw at the break. Kinda wished I could have stayed when I heard the final score. Liverpool 1, Crystal Palace 2. On Joe’s behalf, one last time, brilliant.


DSC06326“Spirit of Ibiza found inside Pork Crackling

Though the economic crisis of the last five years is waning as a subject of conversation, many people feel the Island is in the grip of an even greater calamity in having lost the unique soul, the engaging and accepting spirit that defined it as a very special place to live, work and play.

We can exclusively announce that according to a sharp eyed Ibizan reader that spirit is alive and well, and currently residing in a piece of Pork Crackling in Cala Llonga.

We talked to the simple sounding fellow  and he told us “It was lucky really, I normally have beef, don’t I Shirl, ‘av Beef? See, Shirl’ll tell ya. I normally av Beef, but for some reason, don’t ask me why”, we didn’t, but he prattled on regardless “but today I said I’ll av Pork,. Just like that. Were’n it Shirl, Just like that?” The man, of no fixed cerebrum,  revealed that Ibiza’s spirit was hiding in what appeared to be just a normal thick crackling slab, and was only  discovered when he started to eat. “Thing was, I nearly bit it right in half, dint I Shirl, bite the Spirit thingy in alf? Yeah, Shirl’ll tell ya.  Fancy that” he said, “biting the spirit of Ibiza right in half, but luckily my teeth went right exactly through the coastline of San Jowen. I reckon it must has been hiding in there. Just fed up with everything, like when that Stephen Fry fella went to Belgium, dint ’e Shirl, you member?. ‘Ere, d’tou reckon that’s how Formentera was made. Peraps it was hiding in a pie crust and someone bit right through it before they knew?”

We understand the crackling crackpot has sold his story to several British newspapers who are investigating reports that it was in fact crack-cocaine-ling, and is rumoured to be dating Katie Price.”