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Chasing Pineapples

an English girl tasting her way around the world

Month

July 2013

Palma de Mallorca: An Unexpected Food Lover’s Haunt

Palma was for me, in short, a very pleasant surprise. The stunning views of the cathedral out of the taxi that welcomed me to the city took my breath away. The same can be said about the food. Where a lot of tourist towns attract the blinding neon of takeaways, over-priced chains and rubbery calamari; my friends and I tasted some wonderful local delicacies, thanks to some informed suggestions from Olive Magazine. Here are a few highlights…

Five girls on a summer holiday provides plenty of opportunity for gelato, lots of which was consumed. The ultimate ice cream haunt was Gelateria Ca’n Miguel which we clocked early on. The 20 variations of Valrhona chocolate was baffling for the chocoholics among us. My personal favourites were the three pepper chocolate and the chocolate orange, both flavours refreshingly cutting through the scrumptiously rich chocolate base. Verity went for a basil sorbet which was very refreshing and we all sampled the Roquefort cheese variety out of intrigue, to very mixed reviews!

Gelateria Ca'n Miguel ice cream Palma

In my opinion a morning stroll and coffee in the local food market is by far the best way to capture the essence of a town’s spirit. Wherever I am in the world I endeavour to visit these meccas of wonderful food, and I am rarely disappointed. We were lucky enough to be staying a five minute walk from the market in the relatively untouristy Santa Catalina district and ambled down each morning in search of a wake up coffee.

Olive Magazine recommended the tiny bar at the far corner, Juan Frau, due to the fact that one of its frequenters is the legendary Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. Although this Catalan celebrity was not present, it was clear to see that this cosy corner was the best. Why? Because it was heaving with Spanish men and young families: the absolute tell tale of any great gem that may be otherwise attempted to be kept hidden from the tourists. Safe to say that our obvious English looks were a cause of intrigue and thus we made many ‘friends’ on our visits.

The first episode included Verity, Olivia and I wedged onto a table behind the bar between a table of old Spanish gentlemen and another table of what could have been their gossiping wives. Cortados (the typically Mallorcan Espresso-Macchiato) were ordered and I decided it was not too early to indulge in some local snacks. The chef let me try the frito just for the sake of tasting, however lamb giblets didn’t go down particuarly well before 11am. I instead went for another delicacy empanada cocarrois (beef, onions and peas pillowed in a crusty yet fluffy pastry… In other words a glorified cornish pasty!) and a coca de trempó (the pepper-and-onion-topped Mallorcan variation of the Catalan no-cheese pizza). Both were packed with flavour and a nice savoury contrast to my sugar-drowned coffee. The second outing to this bar was a different experience altogether, grabbing a cortado to shot at the bar while chatting away to some amused Spanish chaps.

Spanish Men at Juan Frau Palma

Coca de trempo and enseimada Palma de Mallorca

Other great experiences of the holiday included two of us visiting Ca’n Joan de Saigo for another morning cortado and sweet Mallorcan iced buns; traipsing the Ruta Martiana tapas trail on the wrong evening to end up in Molta Barra, an arty bar with a youthful clientele and laid back vibe; and sussing out local workers sipping on their morning, afternoon or evening alcohol of choice at the central ‘hamburger’ shack.

Cortado (espresso macchiato) and coca de patata in Palma de Mallorca

My biggest disappointment of the trip was not being able to eat in the charming ‘Chaflan de Patxi‘. Unfortunately the tapas bar was not open in time for me to grab some pinxtos before we had to catch our plane. I managed to peak inside and meet the chef which made the fact I couldn’t properly eat there all the more frustrating. I guess it will have to wait until next time, which I hope there will be!

Not one to end on a negative note, Palma is a wonderful place for a food lover with many hidden gems which we would not have experienced without our trusty Olive recommendations. Thank you for the heads up and Palma we shall certainly return!

 

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A Fruitful Pancake Hunt Across Amsterdam (Studded with Coffee!)

So, a foodie weekend in Amsterdam begins.. The light patter of rain at the windows did not stop us from getting out to see the city’s food offerings on Friday morning (though it may have delayed it for a couple of hours as we were kidnapped by duvets). Our unanimous first stop was Café de Prins to have its poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes) with vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately our number one thing to try no longer featured on the menu; but we could not resist the wooden panelled interiors with candles lit, local Dutch men quietly reading the paper and a resident cat who skulked in through the window. We quickly spoiled the peace of the locals with our custom loud expressions of appreciation of the places we discover. We ordered a coffee to start the day and were recommended to try pancakes at an authentic pancake house by the waitress who certainly did not lack that characteristic Dutch friendliness. So on we plodded on our hunt that criss-crossed the pictouresque canals of Amsterdam

A Different Kind of Amsterdam Cafe Culture
A Different Kind of Amsterdam Cafe Culture

Thanks to our local source of knowledge, Tom, we managed to get hold of this Dutch delicacy (poffertjes) street-food style in the market just outside of the city centre. Poffertjes: fluffy little mouthfuls of batter drizzled in nutella, maple syrup and butter were melted on our tongues leaving on the custom cardboard plate an amalgamation of buttery mapley chocolatiness to tackle.. and so between the three of us we licked the platter clean.. 

Mini Clouds of Sweetness
Mini Clouds of Sweetness

Our search for a pancake house was fruitless (to our dismay Gala’s number one place to go Upstairs Pancake House was closed) so we were a little flat when we arrived at Olive magazine recommendedScreaming Beans‘, which claimed to have the best coffee in Amsterdam. We obviously could not put this to the test and try them all, but this silky and heart-warming coffee would be pretty stiff competition and cheered us up right away. Gala, coffee enthusiast, was in barista heaven and thoroughly enjoyed the “well-rounded flavour” and “aesthetically pleasing latte art” whilst my humble palette was tickled by my deliciously frothy cappuccino.

A very kind barista, from Devon of all places, sat down with us and told us his favourite pancake house a few streets down which we finally found for our last stop before home time. There was absolutely no question as to what we would order, we had been waiting all weekend to try… Bacon and Apple Dutch Pancakes please! Crispy golden brown they appeared, an unreal combination of melting batter base and sweet caramelised apple, all cut through by ladders of crispy and salty streaky bacon. There could not have been a more fruitful ending to our trip.

Happy Girls with Bacon and Apple Dutch Pancake
Happy Girls with Bacon and Apple Dutch Pancake
FOUND IT!
FOUND IT!

Warning to visitors: the canals and bridges form a confusing, if beautiful, maze; so give yourself plenty of time to find places on your hit-list! Our pancake hunt was certainly worth the effort though, good things come to those who wait!

Two Happy Food Lovers
Two Happy Food Lovers

Thank you to Olive magazine for recommendations and Tom for hosting, we hope you enjoyed our adventure!

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