BACK TO SPAIN! POR FIN! I just returned from a week in Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands off the East coast of Spain. It was a week of being disconnected; of days filled with boat rides, snorkeling and late-afternoon gin & tonics; evenings of slow family dinners with chilled Albariño and icy cava; nights hitting the pillow with that sun-soaked feeling of earned tiredness. There were too many beautiful memories to share them all. But I’ll to try capture one.
After waking up early to go horse riding (lazy “horse walking” for me—I hadn’t been in years) and a quick lunch at home, G wanted to take me to his favorite “cala”—which means cove or inlet—on Mallorca. Equipped with a bag of provisions packed with army-level expertise, we got in the car and started out on the dirt roads that eventually turn into narrow, winding, paved roads that connect the small towns on the southernmost tip of the island. We headed toward Cala S’Almonia, a place where G’s great grandma once had a home, somewhere in the cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean. On the way, we stopped to pick almonds. I climbed on a stone wall that ran along the road and picked from a tree a handful of almonds, which look like walnuts in their shells. Using stones, we smashed a few and ate the tender, rich almonds hidden inside, saving a few for later.
It’s hard to describe the natural splendor of Cala S’Almonia. The water is patches of cerulean blue (my favorite Crayola color) and aquamarine. With the sun shinning down, the water shimmers and the entire view is hard to take in it’s so breathtaking. We descended from up above into the cove and found a place to set up camp in a nook of the sharp rocks lining the sea—ok for G’s conditioned feet, but harder to navigate for my soft, city feet. (Note to self: research urban methods for strengthening feet pads.) On the way, we considered jumping from the medium-high cliff to a pool below, but when G told me to make sure I jump far out enough from the rocks, my head got the best of me and I chickened out. (He proceeded to the super high jump and dove in head first.)
Once in our nook, tucked away like rock creatures, we spread out a blanket and ate some more almonds. Then we unwrapped the Mallorquin delicacies we had bought earlier that morning: coca de verduras, which looked like a thin-crusted pizza covered with diced veggies, and empanadas filled with meat and peas. We soaked in the sun for a while then geared up for snorkeling. The water was cool, salty and revitalizing. We stayed near the rocks and watched tiny striped fish zipping back and forth. Near the mouth of a cave, a huge school of tiny whitish blue fish floated, then shifted en masse. G warned me not to touch what looked like black holes in the rocks—spiny sea urchins. He carefully plucked a couple for us to try. Back in our nook, G used a rugged-looking knife to pry open a sea urchin. We ate the (hopefully not still alive? I don’t like to think about it) buttery, bright orange animal inside. After a final swim, we climbed the path around the cove to head back toward the car.
Just one snippet of a magical vacation. I was lucky to have a place to stay with a family (my new family!) that opened their home to me.
With just a touch of remorse for the end of the summer, here’s a recipe for affogato: piping hot espresso poured over a scoop of gelato that melts into creamy deliciousness. I used almond-flavored gelato in the spirit of that sweet afternoon when I picked almonds from a tree in Mallorca. I could share a recipe for the gelato, but let’s be real: just buy a pint of whatever you like. I recommend something rich and nutty. And I used a delicious roast from Great Circle Coffee. Their GC Heart roast has a touch of natural sweetness and nuttiness, and legit makes my mornings better. Not to mention, this roast supports the Cafe Femenino Foundation, an organization that empowers women farmers in coffee producing countries. Good stuff all around.
2 ounces espresso or strong black coffee
2 scoops very cold ice cream or gelato
- prepare espresso just before you’re ready to serve your affogatos (i.e. when dinner’s winding down). Put serving cups in the freezer to chill while you prepare. I use a moka pot to make espresso… Check out this helpful video if you do too.
- when espresso is done, remove serving cups from freezer and add a scoop to each. Ice cream hack: if you’re struggling to scoop, run the scooper/spoon under hot water then continue.
- pour an ounce of espresso over each scoop and serve with tiny spoons.
Mil gracias to Great Circle Coffee for sharing their superb roasts with Back to Spain!