What´s On in August:
Sport - Copa del Rey Mapfre regatta, Palma Bay (first week of August)
Fiestas and celebrations - Mare de Déu d'Agost, Assumption of the Virgin Mary (August 15)
Fiestas and celebrations - Sant Bartomeu, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle (August 24)
Sport - Rafa Nadal Open by Sotheby's International Realty, Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, Manacor (August 29-September 3)
At tapas bars and restaurants, look out for sardines and fresh anchovies (called boquerones in Spanish) which are invariably done on a hot plate or deep-fried. You’ll see the sardines on menus as sardinas a la plancha (hot plate) or boquerones fritos, the fresh anchovies having been cleaned, floured and deep-fried. In most restaurants a single serving is enough for three, so both are economical starters.
Mussels, called mejillones in Spanish, are splendid when done on a hot plate. The high heat quickly opens them and because they don’t come into contact with any other ingredients, not even herbs, this is one of the best ways of conserving their natural sea taste.
Almejas (clams) and berberechos (cockles) are also delightful when done on a hot plate and they are usually available at restaurants specialising in fresh fish and shellfish. Both are somewhat dearer than mussels but they are affordable.
Two other seafoods that are within most people’s budget are sepia (cuttlefish) and calamares (squid) and a favourite way of doing both are grilled on a hot plate. They are usually done whole but sometimes they are cut up into rings and tentacles before being grilled.
Calamares are also sliced up into rings, dipped in batter and deep-fried, a speciality you’ll see on menus as calamares a la romana. Squid can also be cut up and cooked in its own ink when it is known as calamares en su tinta.
Shellfish lovers make a point of eating gambas a la plancha as frequently as they can afford to — Majorca’s gamba roja is one of the best shellfish that comes out of the Mediterranean. Those caught off the coast of Port de Sóller are especially memorable.
The gamba roja is at its best when grilled on the shell and for just long enough to cook it through: an overcooked gamba will be dry and lack flavour. The way to eat gambas a la plancha is to pick them up with your fingers and peel off the shell. That is part of the fun of eating them.
Some restaurants, however, leave the head and tail intact and remove the shell from the body before grilling them, thus making them easier to eat for those who don’t want to get their fingers messy.
Majorca’s other great shellfish offering is the langosta, a word that can cause a little confusion. Most dictionaries tell us that langosta means lobster, but that is less than half of the story. When Spaniards use the word langosta, they mean the Mediterranean lobster or the spiny lobster, the one with long antennas.
The lobster British and American people know, the one with strong pincers, is called a bogavante. So on menus the word langosta means the spiny lobster and if you’re seeing the word bogavante then you’ll be served lobster with pincers.
If it’s a bogavante it will almost certainly come from Canada or elsewhere. There are bogavantes off the Majorcan coast (it is the Med’s largest crustacean) but its size means fishermen must have huge pots and fishing for them isn’t economical.
Majorcan cooks split a langosta down the middle and do it a la plancha, the simplest way of getting at its rich flesh — so long as it hasn’t been overcooked. Another favourite way of doing langosta is in a rich soupy dish called caldereta de langosta which is on the menu at most restaurants specialising in fresh fish. Majorcan langostas are in season from March 1 to August 31.