Will you be my Valentine? Forever and ever?
Okay, I apologize, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Last night, we had our first new ethnic dinner of the year, and I must say that I am ready to call off all other ethnic dinners and just eat Spanish food for the rest of my life.
I should start at the beginning, though. We love dining out, as everyone who has ever glanced at this blog surely knows, but when it comes to ethnic foods, we stick to the basics: Indian food, Chinese or sushi, and when in Los Angeles at 3am, always Thai food (I never quite understood that phenomenon, but any time we were out too late in LA, it was time for Thai toast and some kind of pork).
This year, we wanted to try some new things. Pittsburgh has a pretty diverse selection of ethnic foods to choose from, partially, I believe, because we have such a large foreign student population at the colleges here. For this year, we have our eyes on an Ethiopian restaurant (Abay), a Belgian restaurant (Point Brugge), and a little trip to Ohiopyle to get some fine French cuisine at Chez Gerard. But first, we decided to do something new for Valentine’s Day and have some authentic Spanish food at Mallorca.
We started the night waiting for a cab (which almost didn’t come – we have the worst luck with pre-ordering cabs on Valentine’s Day!), so we decided to recreate the picture from our first Valentine’s Day together in 2007, when the same thing happened.
Thankfully, we made it to the restaurant in time for our 8:30 reservations, and we were seated in the packed dining room. Who knew how many people chose Spanish food for their holiday date!
Mallorca is known for its incredible wine selection, so we decided to try out a Portugese red – the 2002 Quinta Do Crasto Douro. This is likely Portugese for ‘holy crap, what a delicious wine.’ Because we are wine snobs who Snooth on our phones, we read that this wine has a rich mulberry and blackberry flavor, so we were sold. It was every bit as good as the Wine Advocate assured us it would be!
Another nerdy thing that I loved about Mallorca was the fact that all of the waitstaff had an accent. It was a real treat listening to our server list the specials for us – a little hard to follow at times, as he accidentally slipped back into Spanish (possibly because Michael insists on pronouncing in the correct language with an authentic accent anything that he orders on a menu), but quite fun.
One of the specials of the evening was calamari stuffed with proscuitto. Yes, you just read that correctly, one of my favorite foods stuffed into another of my favorite foods. Of course, we had to try it, and even our high expectations were blown away. The sauce is super garlicky and light, and the squid was cooked to just the right texture, not rubbery at all. After we finished the squids, the plate served as the perfect dipping sauce for the fresh sourdough bread we received.
Here is Michael with his wine, waiting patiently for his entree. The green color you see behind him is the main tone of the dining room, which is adorned with hanging plants in some areas. It gives the whole room the feel of being in a fancy European train station that doubles as a greenhouse, which was very unique.
This side of the room had sections of walls with built-in wine racks (which you can see in the back right corner), and the dark wall color and wood of the shelves gave off the impression of being in a wine library. I must admit, a wine library is a pretty great idea!
After having some side salads with a creamy dressing, our entrees arrived. I had chosen the Mariscada Ajillo, which translates roughly to, ‘giant pot of seafood in a yummy garlic sauce.’ (I also got a glass of the house sauvignon blanc, because I didn’t want to be the Guy Who Drinks Red Wine with Seafood and Brings Shame to the Waitstaff.) If you look into that pot of heaven, you can see all the different sorts of seafood: shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, and lobster. The sauce was very light, but flavorful, and I have probably about three meals remaining as leftovers!
And, best of all, our meal came with Spanish rice!! I got very comfortable with Spanish rice back when I had a bunch of Filipino coworkers. Spanish rice is like a Filipino family recipe thing, and every person I knew had their own variation on it. I loved the green peas with this rice, and it had that perfect Spanish rice sticky consistency that separates it from fried rice (Spanish rice kind of feels like a cross between sticky steamed white rice and fried rice, the best of both worlds!).
Michael got the Chuletas De Ternera for his entree, which is Spanish for ‘little tortured delicious baby cow with sausage, onions, and peppers.’ As with lamb or rabbit, I feel very guilty eating any veal, but I did try a bite, and Michael was right, this stuff was amazing. Our red wine was a perfect match for this juicy meat, which was so tender it almost melted in your mouth. I’m sorry, little baby cow. Just know you were loved. As dinner. Gosh we’re bad people.
After all that delicious food, we just had to try some dessert. We were planning on splitting just one dessert… but when they brought us the tray to pick, we couldn’t decide between these two, so we shared both! At the top is caramel cheesecake, and at the bottom is a rum cake, but not like those icky rum cakes you get in the octagonal boxes from your friends who went on Caribbean cruises. This rum cake had just a hint of rum, but fluffy yellow cake and fluffier vanilla icing. Oh, both were just so wonderful!!
So, now that you’ve read this and seen the mouth-watering pictures, you understand why I want Spain to be my valentine. If every new ethnic food we try this year is as good, I will be thrilled. And we highly recommend Mallorca to everybody – there’s so much variety on the menu, that there will be something to please any palate. The different options also cover a wide range of prices, so there’s something for every budget as well. The servers are knowledgeable and excellent in assisting you (they helped me pick a wine to accompany my entree) and very attentive with refills on water, bread, and wine. And don’t be afraid if you’ve never tried Spanish food before. You, like us, will most likely become a convert!