You could easily eat at a different restaurant every day for the month of June, order a fried egg and never once see a perfect version. Yet I did it a week ago and was served two fried eggs that were worth perfect 10s. That meant I would be writing about them for Brisas, the weekend magazine of Ultima Hora, the flagship publication of the Grup Serra. But for my Brisas article I need two pictures, so I was soon looking around for another restaurant that had fried eggs on the menu. Fried eggs on menus are like policemen on the streets: you can never find one when you need one.
Silvia Picó of the Galería Jaime III had booked a week in advance to eat at the Hotel Naisa (I had raved about their €15 menú del día) but when the big day came they phoned her to say they had miscalculated and they didn’t have a table for her. Bad luck for Silvia, so she went to the restaurant at Brondo Architect Hotel where she had fried eggs and chips with gambas and cuttlefish. Good luck for me. I now had the other picture I needed for Brisas.
And I would be eating them at Brondo, one of the most magnificent dining rooms in all of Palma. Brondo Architect Hotel gets that name because two architects some years ago took a stately but run-down townhouse and turned it into a splendid boutique hotel. And you’d never know it from the exterior.
The menu is on the longish side and most of the prices are too high for my modest eating-out budget, but I was able to fit in the fried eggs plus albóndigas with gambas and mango.
They do their fried eggs dishes with straw potatoes and not chips, which is the traditional way. But the waiter said I could have them with ordinary french fries. And instead of having them with gambas and cuttlefish, we went for diced cured ham and Mahón cheese.
I didn’t expect a re-run of the previous week’s perfect fried eggs nor was I even hoping for a repeat, but as soon as the dish arrived a mere glance was enough to tell me these eggs were another perfect 10.
The whites were barely set and the pale pink yolk skin indicated they would be very runny. And that’s exactly how they were.
With this dish you are supposed to slash at the whites and the yolks so they become a sauce that lubricates the chips. But that would have been a callous act indeed. So we serenely dipped the chips in one by one and enjoyed every second of it.
The fried eggs were sheer perfection, each one worth a 10, but the dish as a whole was only an 8 because the diced cured ham and the cheese contributed absolutely nothing to the eggs, partly because the cooks did absolutely nothing to the ham or the cheese except dice it and scatter it around.
The ham and cheese didn’t form an integral part of this dish.
The albóndigas were dry and tasteless (no trace of gambas, mango or anything else) with a coconut sauce that didn’t meld.
But with fried eggs like these, the cooks are forgiven.
This time, but not the next.
Brondo Architect Hotel, Calle Brondo 4, Palma. (The street that runs alongside the Bar Bosch). Tel:971-720507. Open every day for lunch and dinner. The dining room is one huge area, part under cover and part on the terrace. This is the kind of place that can fill up very easily, so it’s always best to book.
· Huevos rotos, 15.95 euros
· Albóndigas, 14.50 euros
· 2 cañas, 4.80 euros
Total cost with VAT: 35.25 euros.
Blue fish time
Since writing about blue fish at the end of last month and recommending it as the tastiest way to get a good daily intake of the highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, I keep running into it — both in its raw and cooked states.
At the Plaza Olivar market and every supermarket I visit with a fresh fish counter, you have the choice of the most magnificent looking sardines and fresh anchovies. The fresh anchovies, called boquerones in Spanish, have seldom looked so splendid. That is to be expected because this is the season for a wide range of Mediterranean blue fish.
But even so, all these lovely sparkling silvery fish, so fresh they look as if they had been plucked from the sea at that very moment, is a sight even early-bird buyers at supermarkets don’t always come across. This straight-from-the-nets freshness at supermarkets calls for military-like logistics: 5am buyers are at the main Palma fish market and crates of fish are quickly loaded on to vans that then speed their way round stores all over the island. I am also seeing boquerones, sardines and other blue fish at restaurants, both à la carte and as starters or main courses on menús del día.
Deep-fried fresh anchovies (boquerones fritos) in a restaurant are probably the most convenient way of making the most of the summer’s blue fish catch. They are widely available, the price is right, they are easily shared and they are usually nicely fried — although some places do them better than others.
Grilled sardines are also an excellent choice but many restaurants are inclined to overcook them, so you should tell the waiter you want them juicy (jugosas). Although sardines have a considerable amount of natural oils, they soon dry out if overcooked.
And if you want an easy starter for lunch on a hot day, get some filleted sardines, sprinkle them with salt to taste, drizzle generously with virgen extra olive oil and dust with pepper. Serve with Mercadona’s walnut bread and butter.