Within a one-mile radius of my Holland Park mansion (an inferior property nearby recently sold for Pounds 80m) there are dozens of restaurants, all dreadful. Except for the Belvedere, which is okay. Within a one-mile radius of La Residencia hotel, which I visited for Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's 60th birthday bash, there were at least five great restaurants, and his lordship assured me there were many more. All this in a tiny medieval village called Deia.
I've never liked Spain. Stupid place. Dreary food. But Mallorca (or Majorca, as we English twits say) around Deia is fantastic, beautiful beyond belief, not overdeveloped. Mountains tower above it. The food is stupendous. I flew out Sir Michael and Lady Caine a day ahead of the official LW celebrations.
We dined first at Es Raco d'es Teix, in one of Deia's narrow streets, full of stone houses and thus far completely unspoilt. It's like St Paul de Vence, a hill town near Nice, used to be before every building housed a ground-floor boutique or gift shop. The chef, Josef Sauerschell, used to be at La Residencia. He now owns this place and has a Michelin star. "Let's up him to two," said Michael Caine halfway through a stunning meal.
The menu is in three languages, Spanish, French and English. "There's duckling," I pointed out. "I can't eat ducks - I've got them at home. I see the poor little things on my pond," said Michael. "I'm glad you haven't got cows and sheep at home as well," observed Geraldine.
I started with medallion of foie gras with pears and beans in a sauce of cinnamon, then pot-au-feu of fish, including lobster, scallops, red mullet and hake. There were four desserts; two of them took 20 minutes to prepare. "We'll be asleep by then, won't we?" said Michael. He and me (great English, that) had doughnut of chocolate with pineapple in balsamico with praline ice cream.
The next day we went to Palma and had lunch in Puerto Portals nearby, at Flanigan, on the port. A simple place but excellent. I had fried anchovies, then shrimps in yellow rice, a lot of which ended up on my shirt. Everything we ate was fine, including the dessert of flat apple tart.
An English lady, Patricia Sheridan, (or was she Australian?) greeted the Lloyd Webber birthday group of 46 people for dinner at Sebastian, in Deia. Another great meal, with profiterole of foie gras mousse with tartar of smoked duck breast, then spring roll of Mediterranean fish with mango salad, followed by veal fillet with a chive potato puree and truffle sauce.
Sounds a bit pompous, but these places are very casual and absolutely lovely. Deia is where Robert Graves lived, is buried and wrote most of his important works.
Lunch next day was at Jaime, in Deia. Some of the best warm fresh bread I've ever eaten, with a white garlic pate and a red tomato one. Then some white liquid stuff. "Vichyssoise," Michael kindly advised. Then a totally historic suckling pig. Soft, delicious pig; great crackling. "The local English paper wants to interview me," I said to Geraldine. "I'm very big in Majorca." "Yes, you're getting bigger every day," she responded. My diet went out the window, but I've slimmed down now.
Another great place was Xelini, where we all sat at long outdoor tables. It was mid-March and sun all the way. It looked like a mafia wedding in old Sicily. I suppose I was the Godfather. Endless tapas. The Xelini website describes its 130-year-old stone walls and says, "Pedro and Adriana take more than 13 years working together and they offer a letter with more than 60 tapas to choose. Both love to this profession and they continue renovating and maintaining clients." Good for them. I need some renovation and maintenance.
Geraldine and I stayed on after the LW party left and had dinner in Deia at a restaurant called Deia. I had fried camembert with crust of almonds and blueberry marmalade. Geraldine, a tapas of that plus black sausage, cannelloni with crab and a pate. My main course was rabbit with onion and wild mushrooms. Rabbit great; sauce tasty beyond belief. I finished with pear cake, whipped cream and ice cream.
I really should advise you to stay at La Residencia (more of that another day) and enjoy Deia, the foodie heaven. But it's unspoilt, even having had me loitering. So, please, stay away.
PS Here's a Michael Caine joke. A man is very ill. His doctor says: "You're going to die." The patient says: "I'd like a second opinion." The doctor says: "You're also very ugly." If that didn't make you laugh, forget life.
At Le Cafe Anglais, reviewed last week, we too came across the bored, monosyllabic girl at reception. Then, warm wine, flat tonic, cold food, tasteless chicken and an interminable wait for poor coffee. When we complained, the restaurant manager stood over us in the pose adopted in your picture, but without the smile.
David Pickard, West Yorkshire
How does Michael think the rabbit at Le Cafe Anglais found itself on his plate? It didn't hop into the oven for his benefit. Its body intercepted 28g of lead shot, some of which ended up on Michael's plate. If he's afraid of breaking his teeth, he should remove them first!
Martin Merriman, Northumberland
Last night I dreamt you'd gone to Heathrow's terminal 5, had a crowded meal, lost your luggage and had to wait more than 18 hours for your British Airways flight, which was then eventually cancelled. Please tell me it was true. It could be the winner of all Winner reviews.
Graham Thomas, Doncaster
It was bound to end in tears. BA upsets Michael on a flight back to the UK. Michael publicly criticises BA. BA withdraws his privilege card. Terminal 5 is an utter disaster. Who said the curse of Michael Winner was no longer effective? My advice to BA is to kiss and make up asap. Start by sending Michael a case of Evian water.
Don Roberts, Wirral
Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1ST or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org