Palma Diary, June/July 2018 – An Englishman abroad
Day 4 – Thursday
The others elect to have a pool and beach day, so after a pleasant interlude watching Elizabeth playing in the pool, I head for Palma. I have sussed out the buses now and know that a 105 will be quieter as it doesn’t go to the cathedral and that I can get off opposite my destination – another eponymously-named restaurant, Adrián Quetglas.
The Paseo de Mallorca is one of my favourite parts of Palma. It’s a wide, tree-lined avenue with the torrent running between the two carriageways. The torrent is a waterway running from the city into the sea; in winter it can be a veritable torrent, but in summer, it is reduced to little more than a trickle.
I walk up to the reception desk at the restaurant and am pleased to find that they have a table for 1pm. I have twenty minutes or so, so I have a coffee a few doors away. I pick up a copy of the local newspaper, Última Hora, and chuckle (apologies to my German friends) at the headline – Alemaña Eliminada! – Germany are out of the World Cup.
I head back to the restaurant and am invited to sit in or outside on the pleasant shady terrace. I do enjoy an al fresco lunch, but think I would prefer this inside, so I am shown to my table in the airy and simply, but very nicely, decorated interior. A rustic basket of bread and a jar of home-made alioli come to the table and then the degustación begins. It is a set menu – the only choice is the wine pairing, which I opt for.
The first course is Selyodka pod shuba or Russian salad. Now, Russian salad used to be ubiquitous on Spanish menus and was generally to be avoided, as it was canned vegetables in mayonnaise. This is the real thing (Adrián spent his early working life in Moscow) with fresh vegetables and herring. The wine is cava, about which I am normally ambivalent, but this is a really good example.
The waitress is a sheer delight. Her English is very good and whilst being knowledgeable about the food and wine, she also has a great sense of humour. The second course is cream of courgette curry with coconut milk and lemongrass turkey, which I concede does sound a little odd, but it’s delicious. The wine is a rosé from Chateau La Gordonne.
The third course is squid with black rice, fresh herbs, alioli and “Tap de Corti” pimentón – a locally produced paprika. The black rice is perfection, just verging on the sticky. The wine is an Alta Alella Pansa Blanca and I am coming to realise that whilst I have always been a tad sceptical of wine pairings, these really have been thought out and work very well.
Next comes veal shank with sundried tomato polenta and light sauce of truffled burrata, an Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The accompanying wine is a red Mestizaje from Valencia.
The pudding is cherries with white chocolate ice-cream and matcha tea biscuit. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but this is a delicious end to the meal as well as being visually stunning, coming in a kind of volcano. Indeed, all the presentation has been superb. The wine is a moscatel form Enrique Mendoza, a good choice.
The service has not been at all rushed, with a welcome invitation to pause between courses. I finish with an hierbas dulce (the archetypal Mallorcan digestif) and a café solo. I had thought that one o’clock was a little early for lunch, but it turns out to have been no bad thing as the whole experience has taken over two and a half hours! And the cost? €33 for the food and €25 for the wine, of which I do not begrudge a single cent. Oh, and coffee on the house. This is now, for me, the restaurant by which all others shall henceforward be judged.
I get back to Palma Nova just in time for a cold drink and a quick change, then it’s off to find somewhere to watch the football – England versus Belgium. All the bars on the strip are packed and apart from finding somewhere to sit, they’re a bit rowdy for a three-year-old. As we pass one, we notice that the rep has three Lion Bar wrappers sellotaped to his t-shirt. He says he can’t afford a real England shirt and we suddenly get the joke!
We have a look down a side street and come across Roger’s Beach Bar, a large bar with a nice terrace right on the seafront. It’s presumably packed during the day, but there are a couple of tables free in front of the television, so we sit down. The menu is simple and cheap; I have three big pork chops, nicely cooked, for €6. Not bad at all.
The game is ok, but England, who have not played a full-strength team, lose to Belgium. It transpires that Southgate actually wanted to finish second in the group as the route forward will be easier – now it’s Colombia next Tuesday.