Whenever I have visitors from overseas, I’m always surprised when they ask to be taken to a supermarket rather than a funky traditional mercado or a chi-chi deli selling Mallorcan delicacies.
Until I remember how much I get a kick out of drifting through the aisles in the supermarkets of the world, looking for peculiar products and unintentionally funny brand names. And I remember the first time I walked into the giant Carrefour on the big roundabout when you come into Palma from Deia.
There were – and still are – vast counters with all kinds of seafood laid out on ice, countless aromatic cheeses and meats, fruit and veg vibrating with colour and a mouthwatering smell of freshly baked bread. But I was happiest exploring the aisles devoted to more mundane products.
I’d never seen so many different kinds of canned tuna, for instance. (I know, I should get out more.) And I was fascinated by the branding for Don Limpio, the Spanish version of ‘all-purpose cleaner’ Mr. Clean. Don Limpio is a dude with a tight white t-shirt, earring and cropped white hair who looks like he should be the singer in an electropop band. Surely the campest product branding ever?
Conejo is a product name that continues to baffle me. Why would you name a bleach after a rabbit?
Incidentally, if you collect stories of product name disasters, you’ll like this one. The Mitsubishi Montero SUV goes by this name in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries. But elsewhere in the world, it’s called a Pajero. Pajero is Spanish for ‘w*nker’
Enough of that. While you may have rented a villa in Deia or on The West Coast from Charles Marlow to get away from it all in gorgeous tranquillity, you owe yourself a trip to one of Mallorca’s finest supermarkets. Especially if you have children.
Here’s a local’s guide to supermarket adventures.
You can buy both the basics and certain more luxurious items in Deia’s two grocery stores, Es Forn Deia and C’as Bernat – very near to the Charles Marlow offices – in the middle of the village. But, if you’re going to do a large shop you’ll definitely want to go to one of the larger supermarkets, particularly if you’re on a budget.
You wouldn’t go to Valldemossa purely to grocery shop. But while you’re following the fabled footsteps of Chopin and George Sand or even Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, you could pop into Supermarket Co Aliment on Carrer Marquès de Vivot, gourmet grocery store S’Hort de Cartoixa on Carrer de Jovellanos or QuitaPenas at Carrer Vell 4.
Apart from the excellent Saturday market, Soller boasts an Eroski supermarket at Prosperitat, Mallorca. The Eroski chain is great for basics and carries some organic, vegetarian, gluten free and non-dairy items.
I have absolutely no idea why anyone would call a supermarket Eroski. A visitor of mine who was going grocery shopping walked straight past one near where I live because she thought it sold water skiing equipment. True story.
Charles Marlow team member Andreas and his family are convinced that Eroski is actually the name of a mysterious Russian oligarch. If you can tell us the real reason for the name, feel free to get in touch.
You’ll also find the Supermarket Suma Soller on Carrer d’Isobell II and a SPAR at Av. d’Asturies.
If you want to do a large supermarket shop as quickly and painlessly as possible, I’d recommend Carrefour. It’s always reasonably priced and there’s plenty of choice.
Carrefour stores have an excellent selection of items from around the world, as well as what the Spanish call ‘bio’- organic bits and pieces. They also smell nicer than cheaper alternatives.
It’s easy to park at a Carrefour. Should you have rented a car at the airport, you might want to be smart and stop at the Carrefour at FAN Mallorca Shopping, Carrer del Cardenal Rossell. It’s just a few minutes away and easy to get to.
Or there’s the Carrefour at the roundabout when you turn off the highway in the direction of Valldemossa and Deia, the one where I first met the mighty Don Limpio.
The name Cort Inglés means ‘the English cut’, which gives you some idea of the source of inspiration for this Spanish department store. It’s the closest thing to Marks & Spencer in Spain, for what that’s worth.
Both branches of Cort Inglés in Palma – on Av. de Jaume III, 15 and Av. d’Alexandre Rossello, 12/16 – have supermarkets that work out to be about the same price as Carrefour but not as much choice There are more luxury items though.
The problem, unless you know Palma, is navigating parking if you want to stock up at Cort Inglés.
There are Eroskis all over Palma and they’re good value for money, with a reasonable selection, including international items. So, if you’re craving English tea, Scandinavian crispbread or German meatballs you’ll find them at Eroski.
I’ve always thought of Mercadona as midway between Carrefour and Cort Inglés. If you’re buying items in bulk, they’re great. But there’s not a vast amount of choice.
Again, there are several Mercadonas in Palma. Should you be shopping for produce in Mercat de l’Oliver at Plaza España, you could always pick up basic items at the Mercadona on the first floor of the market building at the same time.
In Spain at least, you can often find good quality items at ridiculously cheap prices at Lidl. If you’re on a booze budget, for example, it’s possible to pick up excellent German beer or, if you really know what you’re looking for, good drinkable wine.
The only problem with shopping at Lidl in Palma is that you’ll have to drive a fair way to find one. As far as I can see, the easiest Lidl to get to from Deia is at Carrer de Leocàdia de Togores so you’ve really got to be thirsty for a bargain to even bother.
Don’t forget that you can also arrange for our Charles Marlow Concierge service to do your shopping for you. Find out more about the Concierge personal shopping option and the full range of services offered to guarantee your holiday is utterly self-indulgent and truly relaxing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.