Jo Eats... Mallorca: Part I
¡Hola food friends! As some of you will have gathered from my brand spanking new Facebook page (do go over and Like me), I've just returned from a glorious ten days in Mallorca / Majorca and I selflessly used my time there to investigate the local delicacies with gusto in order to come back and tell you all about them. Here I am above bravely supping a hefty 275ml of the local cava on the sundrenched powdery white sand of Alcudia Bay. I know, tough life etc. Like Rimini, Alcudia probably wouldn't be the first place I'd think of on the island in which to sample authentic Mallorquin food, but again I was proved to be snobbish and very wrong. I think by visiting mid-October the season had basically finished and we were treated to quiet beaches and plenty of lovely local restaurants whilst still enjoying 26°C temperatures and tourist friendly beachside bars.
One of my favourite places to go was picturesque Alcudia Old Town which has lots of little bars and cafes spilling onto the narrow Roman style streets, just begging you to sit and indulge in a mid-morning glass of cava. Anyone who has read my posts on Churchill's Port House or the more available Norfolk Arms will know that I'm a big big fan of tapas, so I was literally in my element here, dribbling over which little plates to choose every day. One particular place in Alcudia Old Town saved me the decision, by offering these six excellent little tapas for the unprincely sum of just €8... Barrafina, do take note:
Clockwise, from the sizzling prawns in garlic oil; octopus in chilli; manchego and olives; beautiful bouquerones; chorizo in a kind of patatas bravas sauce. Centre; baby squids with grilled pepper, aubergine and courgette. All were delicious.
Mallorca is a seafood lover's dream, and the selection above really is just the tip of the iceberg. One of the best things I ate over there was Kokotxas de bacalao which translates as cod's throats. Before I visited, I read that this is a Basque speciality and historically grounded in the stories of how fishermen used to stealthily remove this part of the fish unbeknownst to their restaurant buyers and take them home for dinner as nobody missed the throats. Now, as with all previously cheap offal type foods, its a delicacy and the price has been hiked up. There is some confusion as to whether these are the actual throats of the cod, or rather the cheeks. Our waiter actually told us that whilst they are called the throat, the dish always uses the cheek and there is much online to corroborate this. I've had cod cheeks many times, and even in great places like Polpo I've found them to be more robust and flakier than these, so I'm really not sure. In any case, they were very special. They were meltingly tender and had a silky almost gelatinous texture, simply tossed in garlic and parsley oil and with a few juicy clams thrown in for good measure. These babies were from Carrer Barques in Port d'Alcudia, which was rammed with huge tables of locals both times we went there and was definitely one of my favourites. The dish on the right is fried hake roe, which was good but not startlingly so.
Also, more bouquerones. This time, in the more traditional vinegar marinate and very good for it indeed:
As well as the cod throat/cheeks, another seafood dish which was a first for me over here was baby eels, and I was lucky enough to try this in a very traditional little tapas bar in an unsalubrious part of Palma, the island's capital, which we visited for a day during our trip. Before going I'd read a few articles on the best places to eat there, but as ever could not face putting my incredibly poor map reading skills to the test and actually tracking them down. Instead we had a leisurely stroll around and carefully shunned all the hawkers in the square trying to haul us in before asking a local lady where she would recommend. I can't remember the name of the place, but here it is:
As soon as I saw the pinchos (smaller tapas which are really really cheap and you just eat as you go) on the bar I was sold. If anyone is looking for something like this in London then go go go immediately to any of the excellent Pix bars. I used to work minutes away from the Soho one and would recommend it in a heartbeat for the churros alone. I digress, but here are the pintxo I went for - the morcilla sausage was a particular highlight. Not 100% on what the one on the left was, it was kind of a gruyere like melty ball. The other skewer is a cauliflower fritter.
And finally the much celebrated baby eels - YUM:
We also ate some really good snails here, which were a world away from the usual French escargot in garlic butter but just as easily washed down with the Spanish fizz.
This has turned into a mammoth post, so I'll leave you there for now. More Mallorquin delights to come soon.