Palma Diary, Jan 2017 – An Englishman abroad
Day 3 – Monday
I have a wander to Santa Catalina. The market is not as big as Mercat D’Olivar, but is interesting to look around. I stop at a stall for a coffee and read the day’s Majorca Daily Bulletin. It’s the original English language newspaper; it’s been going for fifty years and used to be pretty corny (its nickname was the Daily Bullshit!), but now it’s quite professional and has an informative website.
I leave the market and stroll around hoping to find a genuine local café and stop at Bar Potateo. It’s basic, but very clean with a good atmosphere. There are only regulars inside and two middle-aged ladies are shouting to each other across my table. The blackboard advertises only the daily menu with three choices for each course, so it’s going to be fresh. There is just one waiter and a cook, who are both kept busy. A bottle of red wine comes to the table and I can drink as much as I like, though it would be rude to drink it all. I start with a Mallorcan speciality, Arroz Brut, literally “Dirty Rice”, a kind of soupy rice with meat and vegetables. My second course is Musola con Salsa Mallorquina, a type of dogfish often called smoothhound, with a tomato and vegetable sauce. For dessert, I go for Pudding, the Balearic version of Crema Catalana or Flan. I just can’t bring myself to take photographs here; in any case, this place is about taste and authenticity rather than presentation. So, for this delightful three-course meal including bread and alioli and red wine – €10.50 – less than I paid last night for a glass of gin!
I have a quick look at a streetmap to make sure I’m heading in the right direction and am surprised to find a hole in the middle. On closer inspection, it appears to be charred – how strange. I then see the burn hole in my pocket – my very own souvenir from San Sebastián. They have scant regard for Health & Safety here.
I return to the Born and decide to call in the Casal Solleric museum. I have the place to myself as I stroll around admiring the architecture and exhibits, then I ask a concierge if there are any toilets and he abruptly shows me the door, pointing to a sign which says, “Closed Mondays”. Perhaps they should have a sign on the other door, by which I entered. I cross to the Bar Bosch for a beer and a wee. The toilets are up two flights of stairs past the restaurant, “Mas Bosch”, and cost €1, but they are large and spotlessly clean.
I return for a siesta. There is glorious silence and I dare to hope that the Spanish woman has left, but I don’t want to tempt providence.
I normally go to Cellar Sa Premsa for lunch, but decide to go for dinner instead. They have quite a good selection of Mallorcan specialities and I start with snails and alioli, followed by lamb’s tongues with capers and finish with pudding – twice in a day, but you can’t have too much of a good thing. All this is accompanied by a very acceptable wine for €6.75. The waiter appears to be neglecting me, but all is forgiven when he freepours the Veterano in my carajillo about 70/30.
A great part of the character here is the ancient bullfighting posters adorning the walls and they are literally crumbling away. I wonder idly what they will do when they finally disappear and then I notice some new ones, but especially with no smoking, it will take some time to achieve the patina of the old ones. Perhaps they’ll chuck some coffee on them.
It’s only about 10.15 as I walk back and I have the streets virtually to myself. In summer, even on a Monday, they would be quite busy, but the Mallorcans tend not to eat and drink as late as they do on the mainland. A can of Alhambra from the minimarket; the Spanish woman has definitely gone and the new neighbour is very quiet.