Saturday, October 23, 2010

Figs & Lamb

Ok… and aioli.

Or “alli oli” as they say here in Mallorca. I just really couldn’t bring myself to put the word up there in the title. I just finished a month in spreadable-garlicky-bliss, and can successfully say that I have personally consumed enough aioli to feed a small country. So much so, that by the last week I was outwardly stating before each meal, that I would not be eating anymore aioli. Then promptly being the first to raise a hand at the passing waiter and yell- “mas alli oli por favor!” And successfully dragging the last piece of toasted Mallorcan brown bread across the cleaned clay bowl. I’m about ready to legally change my middle name, or at least name my first born after this Godsend of a foodie wonder. I don’t care how many times, or in how many different countries and cities I’ve had it in- the beautiful Balearic Island of Mallorca makes the best damn aioli on the planet. Hands down.

The best thing to cut through all that pleasurable fatty goodness is… roasted lamb- of course. Well, and suckling pig (lechona), but lets just focus on the lamb for now, shall we? Es Verger is a family run restaurant just up the mountain from the city of Alaro. A woman in her 70’s pushing 5’2” stands in front of a large wood burning oven, and pushes and pulls large oval pans filled with lamb shoulders and succulent juices. All with her long, hooked stick, and a pretty face beet-red from standing by the fire for the last 7 hours. She was breathtaking, in my opinion.

3 hours, 4 bowls of aioli, 4 lamb shoulders, and a bottle of house vino tinto (to also assist in cutting through the excessive fat consumption,) it’s no wonder why this country has a mandatory nap mid day. We barbarically piled our completely cleaned, lamb shoulder bones atop one another, as if a prized carnivorous trophy. And ordered cortados (espresso cut with milk) as we laughed out loud, drunk with gluttony. It was raining as we walked past a pack of sheep down to our car, the restaurant still buzzing behind us with Mallorca’s Sunday best. One of my favorite days to date.

It’s the figs on this Island that really get my juices bubbling. As a Californian, I do love my mission figs, and I peer out my Santa Barbara window everyday in August to check in with that there tree. But in September here in Mallorca, my favorite type of fig is unveiled. A couple named Pepe and Angela whom own a sweet little shop in the Santa Catalina Market, take pride in their Higos De Mallorca con Anise. Dried figs, pressed into beautiful fat disks, massaged by Angelas hands with Anise liqueur, wild fennel, and honey from Pepe’s bees. I got Kim Schiffer and Peggy Markel to join me my last week in Mallorca, and I think enough dried figs were purchased to put Pepe and Angela’s first child through college. Excessive weight fare on AirEuropa- 60 Euro.

With figs in tow, a ceremony to initiate aioli into it’s own food group-done, and a small village town of Ferreirola in the Alpujarra mountains on the horizon. Falling deeper and deeper in love with España.

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