The world is full of cookbooks and most of them are brimming with recipes and ingredients some of us have never heard of. You’d think restaurants cooks would be able to surprise us once in a while with something unknown. But few of them do.
However, at El Patio de Gloria last week there was something I have never seen on any menu: a German fresh noodle called Spätzle. I first came across it decades ago in some cookbook or magazine article and it appealed to me because it was so simple and, as it turned out, foolproof.
The Spätzle paste is made with a pound of flour, four eggs, nutmeg to taste and enough milk to make a solid dough. It was the non-fussy way of making the noodles that attracted me.
There is no kneading involved or allowing the dough to rest for an hour or two. You simply take handfuls of the paste and push it through a large-hole colander, letting inch-long noodles fall into a pan of salted water and boiling them for about eight minutes.
The short noodles are taken from the boiling water, rinsed, drained and sautéed in butter until golden, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and served with goulash. The Germans also sauté the Spätzle until slightly brown and then stir in beaten eggs to make an omelette. Either way, these noodles personify Gemütlichkeit, the quality of cosiness and cheerfulness that is such an essential part of the German style of life.
At El Patio de Gloria the Spätzle were sautéed until nicely shrivelled and then served with chopped vivid green wild asparagus and little balls of deep-fried butifarra catalana, the famous Catalán white sausage that was absolutely magnificent when done like this. They would make a lovely dish of albóndigas, the Spanish version of meatballs.
The main part of this dish was sea bass fillets (lubina) roasted in the oven. Although I eat lubina relatively frequently, I never fail to be amazed at what a delicious fish it is.
Either on the bone or filleted it makes for splendid eating and all the more so when the cook combines it with Spätzle, butifarra catalana and chopped wild asparagus that was beautifully al dente.
As can be seen in the picture, the lubina was nicely presented and photogenic, so it all added up to a 10-out-of-10 dish.
The lubina with Spätzle was one of the two mains in a €21.50 menú mediodía, which was great value for money. The other main course was a smoked leg of chicken glazed with homemade teriyaki sauce and a sweet potato gratin.
The menú mediodía changes every week and is great value for money but you should find out online what they’re serving and choose a menú with dishes you particularly like. I was especially interested in the caponata, the lubina with Spätzle and the roast plum tartlet. The website is elpatiodegloria.com. The caponata with the burrata had all the essential flavours including a subtle touch of salted anchovies. The lubina with the Spätzle was a huge success in every way and was an immediate 10. The roasted plum tartlet had an incredibly delicious tartish taste and it was also an instant 10.
El Patio de Gloria, Hotel Gloria de Sant Jaume, Carrer Sant Jaume 18, Palma. Tel:971-717997. The €21.50 menú mediodía changes every week and is served from Monday to Friday.
We had no extras so the bill for two was 43 euros. The price includes bread, a homemade alioli and a glass of wine, beer, soft drink or water. There is a charge of 2 euros per person for an additional service of bread.