UP ON THE WHITE VERANDA – CABO DE PALOS

Cabo de Palos, with it’s imposing 19th century stone faro or lighthouse, happened to witness the worst catastrophe in both Spanish and European maritime history. In August 1906, an émigré packed transatlantic liner hit the barely submerged rocks of the Islas Hormigas just off the Cape and went down with over eight hundred passengers, mostly women and children. The area is strewn with the wrecks of other vessels suffering a similar fate and these pecios attract what is considered by experts to be the most abundantly diverse marine life in the whole of the Mediterranean. Sightings of sperm whales are not uncommon. These leviathans are attracted by the giant squid that also inhabit the deep trenches off the Murcian coast. Near the marina, clusters of squat, whitewashed cottages of the barrio de los pescadores back up a splendid paseo maritimo where most of the town’s excellent marisquerías or seafood restaurants are to be found. The dish perhaps most identified with this area is Caldero, which is the fabulous Calasparra rice cooked in a rich monkfish head stock and flavoured with local dried red peppers called ñoras and served with alioli. El Pez Rojo at the end of the paseo in Cabo de Palos, described enthusiastically by amiable owner Pepe Garcia as El Balcón del Mediterraneo, something like ‘the veranda overlooking the Mediterranean’, is one of the gastronomic delights of Cabo de Palos. Try his outstanding menu de degustación, a sampling menu featuring wonderfully sounding names such as atún en escabeche con mojete murciano, pickled tuna served with the classic murcian vegetable dip, boquerón templado a la carta esférica, another variation on the pickled anchovy theme, berenjena frita con miel y foie, diced aubergine coated in honey, pan fried and served with foie, and bacalao al perfume del mediterraneo which screams out for a sensible translation but I’m afraid the slightly dodgy word combination of cod, perfume and Mediterranean is beyond me. All this sumptuous tucker can be washed down with an excellent bottle of the local D.O. Jumilla red wine, recommended by the man himself. Call +34 968 563109 to reserve a table or just wing it.

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