The trips I’ve most enjoyed are the ones I never intended to take; I think that might be true of a lot of things, but especially of travel. There are certain places that get a lot of hype – my home of Paris is one of them. The problem with hype, though, whether it’s of places, movies, books or a blind date, is that it can disappoint in the end. When you stumble upon something amazing, you get to judge it for yourself, and that makes the experience all the richer.
When I first visited Mallorca, I didn’t mean to go there at all. An ex-boyfriend of mine was living in a tiny finca near Santanyi. He invited me for a few weeks; I had nothing better to do.
I have been all over the world, but I can say, unequivocally, that Mallorca is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s an island surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean coast, with hidden coves and beaches that reveal bright, aquamarine sea. Little paths wind amongst sheep pastures and crumbling stone walls, leading to cliffs that extend over the lightly crashing waves.
For three weeks, we were explorers: spelunkers in caves and caverns, tiptoeing on precarious, half-hewn steps, searching for the perfect sunny spot to spend an afternoon. The evenings were filled with native foods enjoyed on the terrace of the finca: pa amb oli – a mouthful to say simple bread with garlic, oil and crushed tomato. We drank local wine and ate local cheese and ham and sausage and stewed vegetables – like tumbet.
I realized later that visitors to Mallorca generally go to Palma de Mallorca, a Catalan capital, like Barcelona, filled with architecture, museums and clubs. But Mallorca had appeared on my radar out of nowhere, and Palma was the furthest thing from my mind; I saw it twice, and barely: once when I arrived, and once when I left.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 eggplant
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- ½ onion
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 4 whole cloves garlic
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- ½ lb. new potatoes
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.
- Slice the eggplant into thin rounds, and brush on both sides with olive oil. Salt and place on the baking sheet, and roast until slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove, and reduce heat to 350.
- Meanwhile, slice the bell peppers into strips. Heat the remaining olive oil over high heat, and char the peppers. Reduce the heat and add the onions. Stir fry for 5 minutes, until onion is tender. Add the cayenne and whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed lightly with a knife. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes to the peppers and allow to reduce slightly. Season with salt to taste.
- Slice the new potatoes very thinly, and layer in the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt. Add the eggplant slices in another layer. Top with the sauce.
- Bake for 40 minutes, until potato slices are tender. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Beware of garlic cloves!
Emily Monaco is native New Yorker, living and writing in Paris since 2007. She loves discovering new places and, of course, their local cuisines! Read about her adventures in food and travel at tomatokumato.com or follow her on Twitter at @emiglia