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Bar Bodega Biniaraix: discovering the magicMarch 9, 2024

I’ve been going to Bar Bodega in Biniaraix, the lovely little hamlet a 20-minute or so walk from Sóller and Fornalutx, ever since it opened. Now it’s one of my favourite places to visit with my family and friends. In January, Bar Bodega celebrated its one-year anniversary as Bar Bodega by Dos Alquimistas. Katja Woehr, one half of Dos Alquimistas, told me the story of how it came to be.

Bar Bodega has existed since 1937. When Katja and Kate John, her partner in Dos Alquimistas, much loved for their olive teas and powders, were looking for a flagship store and café that felt right for their brand, Katja thought of Bar Bodega.

Pedro Antonio, a member of the family who originally opened Bar Bodega back in the 30s, managed the bar until Dos Alquimistas took over. Now, Katja told me, ‘He’s still in Biniaraix, happier than ever. He sings in a choir, paints and does what he loves. It makes him look ten years younger. He still supplies us with grapefruit, mandarins and oranges.

A birthday, a beginning, a new seven-year cycle

Katja had been stopping off at Bar Bodega in Biniaraix before and after hikes for 21 years.

‘I was in awe of the magic I felt when entering its space,’ she tells me. ‘But I always felt it was a little “desaprovechado” – not used to its full potential. Although this somehow added it to its charm. When we heard Bar Bodega was looking for a new owner, we knew we were meant to continue its story. We’re keen hikers ourselves so creating a really wonderful place for other hikers to gather just felt right.’

Katja and Kate cleaned and painted the interior of the Bodega but left it essentially as it was, even keeping the beautiful, old-fashioned cooler behind the bar counter. They added new lamps, modernised the electricity and plumbing and launched a new vision for Bar Bodega.

 

In our happy place

Many of us who are regulars at Bar Bodega come because, when we’re there, we feel like we’re in our happy place. It doesn’t surprise me that Katja feels the same.

‘We love to bring people together,’ Katja explains. ‘We’re in our own happy place when our guests connect with each other over an organic copa de vino, a fine speciality coffee, one of our olive teas or a cold press juice, and a meal or snack.’

As anyone who hikes knows, rewarding yourself with a delicious, tasty treat is an essential part of the experience. The menu at Bar Bodega includes grilled cheese sandwiches with sourdough bread, homemade pastries and granola and a hearty soup of the day. Tommy Smale’s sourdough pizzas are also a hugely popular staple menu staple.

Watching Katja and her good friend Petra dashing around serving hikers, cyclists and families on a busy Sunday morning, I can only admire the way they keep smiling.

When I mention to Katja that, although the obvious increase in tourism to the island, and not just in the summer, looks like a kind of bonanza, it’s clearly also hard work, she simply says ‘We love hosting and bringing people together.’

Pop-up lunches and dinners

On weekends, Katja and Kate invite a different chef to make a pop-up lunch. There’s no grand strategy behind this. Katja says, ‘We’ve always liked the idea of bringing some play into the kitchen: we do it for fun!’

When I was at Bar Bodega recently with a friend, we had a delicious lunch made by a chef named Frits from the Netherlands.

Katja told me that ‘Frits will probably cook with us throughout this coming summer. He’s cooked in some of the best restaurants in Amsterdam.  His style is nicely eclectic and involves plenty of Arabic and Asian spices.’

In the summer months, Bar Bodega switches to pop-up dinners on weekends.

For Katja, pop-up dining keeps things interesting ‘not just for our guests but for us also’.

 

Bar Bodega Biniaraix and Dos Alquimistas

 As Katja says, Bar Bodega is the ‘window for Dos Alquemistas’ but it’s more than that. It also fits perfectly with Dos Alquimistas’ plans for the future, particularly its olivar concept, an olive grove at Cinc Ponts outside Sóller.

In 2024, Dos Alquemistas will continue to invite guests to the olivar. The olivar is a grove where events and ceremonies like intimate rustic weddings with Kate John as the ceremony master are held.

The olivar also hosts experiences such as harvesting and distilling olive leaves or making a tincture or tea with herbs from the Tramuntana mountains.

I’m sure I’ll be visiting soon.

Find out more here.

 

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