FORMENTERA - PLATJA DE MIGJORN - RESTAURANTE PELAYO
This is the place to go for a Sunday lunch with friends and family. It is an rustic, unpretentious beach side bar and restaurant built in the true soul of Formentera. Good food in a pretty location right on the beach and filled with almost only local people and a chilled easy ambience.
They serve very good fish, octopus etc but, it is the paella on Sunday everyone goes for, served with an insane quantity of seafood!
Turn off at the Tortuga restaurant (which is at Carretera La Mola, Km 6.5) and head towards the coast of Platja Migjorn, where you will find yourself on a dirt road overlooking fields of wheat once brought to the island by the Romans. Stone walls divide the fields which were originally built by the Moors in the 9th century. Everywhere is history
Some unprofessional signs point the way past curves and turns, you will spy them out of the corner of your eye because they remain obscure and haphazardly placed. You will drive on dirt roads that are some of the worst on the island
You will eventually see the sign saying Pelayo with an arrow, carry on and you will find a Robin Hood like encampment nestled in a glen. Ramshackle buildings haphazardly placed of corrugated tin are thrown in a pickup straw fashion and cars are parked wherever there is space.
One shed houses a huge fire being stoked furiously and you will see on top of the fire a large pan, completely filled with the golden paella bursting with shrimp, mussels, other seafood and meats. You have arrived!
A roar lets it be known that the paella is ready and quickly servers spring into action scooping out mounds of the ambrosia into heaped piles on plates. Settle down to enjoy your meal and the rest of the day.
Paella is an ancient dish that has it's origins from two cultures, that of the Romans and the Arabs. From the Sanskrit comes the word Pa which means utensil or pitcher and this formed the word Paella which came to mean the pan that the meal was cooked in. Not until much later in the 18th century did the word come to mean the actual dish. The Romans brought irrigation and utensils and the Arabs brought rice. Rice grew around Valencia on the Spanish mainland and the common dish became what is now known as paella.
Then it was primary snails, rabbit and rice which came from the local lands. Later it morphed to include seafood because Valencia was coastal and different combinations emerged of mixed meat and seafood combined. Spices were an essential addition to paella and saffron was the crowning effect with it's golden hue making the dish flavourful as well as ascetically pleasing to look at. Garlic is a must as well as smoked paprika, green beans and sometimes red peppers as a garnish.
Because in Spain there was a lack of dry slow burning wood, green wood had to be used which would give off a very hot heat thus this developed the art of frying. For this a large pan was made that could be anywhere from the size of a record album to several feet in diameter. A flat pan which was good for being over a hot fire was created and would always measure from the knuckle of the thumb in depth in order to keep the rice have maximum contact with the bottom of the pan.
The only way to really experience paella is cooked over an outside fire preferably with wood from olive, orange or pine trees because this gives it a aromatic flavour. Paella cooked indoors on a stove just doesn't compare.
Apologies to any Valencianos (Valencians) regarding the recipe has it is often argued over and disputed.
Do not expect low prices, This is Formentera after all but, the paella is cheap compared to the other restaurants on the island, only €14.
Every Sunday they have a live Latin band so you can dance and eat paella.
All photos in this article © Bernadette Mundy. Most of the words © Jonathon Lipsin
You can find Jonathon's Formentera hippy music picks here
Also Bernadette's Formentera Blues here
Platja Migjorn, Formentera, Spain
+34 669 98 40 08
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