Last Friday the Canadian and I went for an end-of-week drink at the courtyard bar in the Es Baluard art gallery, Palma. As well as being one of Mallorca's best art galleries Es Baluard also commands great views of the Bellver Castle, Palma harbour and the ubiquitous Palma Cathedral making the bar one of the best places in city for an alfresco beer.
The courtyard of Es Baluard sits atop the old city walls above the eastern end of Palma harbour. The old city walls were built as fortification and the courtyard is backed by more high walls and sentry lookouts. There's no shortage of landmarks visible from here, as I mentioned you can see some of Palma's best known buildings, but the courtyard itself is also home to sculptures and works of art. The effect is a reminder of Mallorca's past as a defensive Mediterranean city ever under attack from invading pirates, and also of it's current status as a cultural and artistic centre.
After perusing the menu on our table the Canadian decided that she would like to eat at Es Baluard too so we elected to move from our couch to a table and ordered our dinner. At this point it is only fair to point out that the restaurant at Es Baluard advertises itself as "Cafeteria BLD". They are probably selling themselves a little short in doing so but the point is that this is not the finest dining experience in Palma. The food is good, certainly better than cafeteria standards, but it's a restaurant in an art gallery rather than a restaurant in it's own right.
Nevertheless, my tandoori chicken skewers with peppers padron were very tasty and arrived in a conical, hermit crab shell-shaped vase that was an unusual touch. For main course I had decided to have the duck confit which arrived in a filo pastry parcel with hoi-sin sauce. Once again it was very tasty and the presentation was a pleasant surprise. The Canadian had elected to try the chicken and vegetable stir fry with udon noodles, which she said was ok. "The veggies were crunchy and the chicken was cooked well but over all it was a little too salty. M'eh" was her official statement.
The food was ok, but the setting is really the true delight of eating at the Es Baluard restaurant. Outside under the moon with the Cathedral at one end and the Castle at the other and the sea in front of you, it's hard to imagine a better place to enjoy a romantic meal under the stars in Palma.
What really made my evening though, apart from the charming company of course, was that the Mecal Air was on. This is Palma's open air short film festival and if you are visiting the city this week then you are just in time to catch the last few days of the festival - it finishes on the 31st. The screenings start at 8pm and admission is free. Simply turn up at Es Baluard and take a seat, with a drink if you want one.
We saw four films, the first of which was a "The Legend of Beaver Dam" a comedy/horror/musical about a bullied boy defending his scout troupe from the one armed killer "Stumpy Sam". Funny, rude and grotesque, this one made me laugh out loud. Fans of early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi movies will like this one and should check it out although it wasn't popular with the Canadian but she likes Channing Tatum rom-coms so we needn't worry too much, I don't think she's the target audience.
The second film was a weird, art school student disaster. A woman in a unitard danced to a nonsensical song. It was like a really bad Kate Bush music video with no sense of irony, but it only lasted three minutes so it wasn't too bad.
Then we saw a remake of the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video, with four year olds. The Spike Jonze original is a personal favourite and seeing kids in moustaches playing 70's cops complete with car chases and rolling over bonnets made me smile.
The last film we saw was my favourite. An animated film from France called "Specky Four-eyes"(Cul de bouteille) about a small boy called Arnaud who is forced to wear glasses to correct his seemingly poor vision. Arnaud doesn't like his glasses, they pinch his nose and the children at school tease him but mostly he doesn't like the way the world looks when he puts them on. All the wonder his imagination had created from the blurred shapes is lost as the city around him becomes normal. It's a beautiful story about the loss of childish innocence and the wonder of imagination and I'm glad I saw it.
I would certainly recommend visiting the Mercal Air for it's last few nights this week. The setting is amazing and the films on show are varied and sometimes exceptional. You can also enjoy a drink and some food before you sit down to the screenings or just turn up and watch a couple of the films on show as you pass by. It's a perfect time to enjoy Es Baluard, one of my favourite places in Palma.
For more information on Es Baluard and other art galleries in Mallorca visit our Museums and Galleries page.
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