James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

PSA: Always, ALWAYS Pack Snacks. Always.

PSA: Always, ALWAYS Pack Snacks. Always.

Figs in Mallorca

There was a plan. Pick-up the rental car from Palma de Mallorca airport, then drive northeast along the spine of the Balearic island to Alcúdia on the north end. We were going to recreate a trip-highlight brunch by the water the previous year. Sometimes, travelers retread the routes of their past trips, hoping to recapture the original joy.

On a trip to Alcúdia last year, a friend and I ended up finding a secluded pebbly beach in Cala Poncet. There were only two places to eat nearby, and our simple beachwear was better suited to the downmarket beach bar than the chic seafood joint located higher up the rock face. Laminated menu pages listed a kid-friendly feast, from spaghetti to burger de pollo. Our stomachs sank. After three frantic flips of the menu from cover to cover, some mercy: sardines for 8 euros. Sold. We took our seats right at the water’s edge.

Soon, our meals arrived. Six perfect, lightly charred sardines lay before me. We dug in, paced by the delicate work of separating flesh from bone. It was the stuff that fueled daydreams of Mallorca for a whole year.

But this is not a story about breakfast sardines.

This year, we retraced the route with the help of a Google Maps star hovering over an establishment labelled simply “Bar.” Arriving at Cala Poncet and walking down those same stone steps to the beach bar, the setting was unchanged. The waters still shimmered in the morning sun, the sun still beat down on the plastic patio chairs, and the wait staff sported the same white running shoes. I shouted into the kitchen to inquire whether the sardines were still on the menu.

“No fish today. It’s Sunday.”

Fishermen need weekends, too, and the seafood delivery wouldn’t arrive for another 24 hours.

We retreated to the same pebbly beach, the water as crisp as on our August visit. I dug around in my beach bag and pulled out a plastic package of in-season Balearic figs. I offered one to my friend, and we sank into the sweet consolation of another of the Mediterranean’s treasures. It was enough to ward off our hunger until our first real meal of the day.

PSA: Always pack snacks.

Bar Playa
Av. del Pinar, 2A, Alcúdia, Mallorca
Daily 10:00 to 19:00 (no fish on weekends)

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