Nicli's Next Door

Visit Nicli’s Next Door to Enjoy Italian Tapas

Bill McCaig from Niclis Next Door introducing us to the restaurant

Bill McCaig from Nicli’s Next Door introducing us to the restaurant

In Spain, small plates of food are known as Tapas.  In Italy they also have small plates, but the name is different: Cicchetti.  Whether you prefer to say Cicchetti or Tapas, the food at Nicli’s Next Door is very good and they have an excellent wine list!  I was invited with a group of other food writers to try out Nicli’s Next Door, which is next door to Nicli Antica Pizzeria (at 62 E Cordova Street, Vancouver).

Nicli’s Next Door was conceived as a place for a small snack or drink, while you waited for a table to open at Nicli Antica Pizzeria, but the chefs, David Tozer and Keev Mah, really produced some fantastic Italian and Italian-inspired dishes, going beyond the small snack, so now you can enjoy a great meal with shared plates with your family or friends.

Our Dishes

We were treated to:

Cicchetti E Stuzzichini (smaller plates)

  • Cold pea and coppa soup, with creme fraiche mousse, and citrus preserve
  • Bruschetta, capecollo, bacon and leek jam, and arugula
  • Arancini with pork ragu and San Marzano tomato sauce
  • “Not Scotch Egg”, made of Italian sausage, fior di latte, runny egg yolk, and smoked egg white aioli

Piccoli Piatti (larger plates for sharing)

  • Eggplant involtini, with house made ricotta, San Marzano tomato, lemon and thyme
  • Braised meatballs, with Marina sauce and house bread
  • Roasted Romaneso and sunchoke puree
  • Reginette with pork ragu napoletana and house bread

I enjoyed all the dishes.  The cold pea and coppa soup, came with the cold pea puree and the creme fraiche mousse separately which you mixed together.  Lovely citrus zing and lightness to this cold soup.

Cold pea and coppa soup with creme fraiche mousse and citrus preserve

Cold pea and coppa soup with creme fraiche mousse and citrus preserve

The bread that came with some of the dishes, btw, is all baked in-house.  It was all nice and crunchy.

The bruschetta had a leek jam that was so full of flavour together with nice smokiness from the bacon.

Bruschetta, capecollo bacon and leek jam and arugula

Bruschetta, capecollo bacon and leek jam and arugula

The arancini was quite large, and could almost be a meal in itself for small eaters. The pork ragu inside the arancini was full of savoury flavour.  One of my favourite dishes.

Arancini with pork ragu and San Marzano tomato sauce

Arancini with pork ragu and San Marzano tomato sauce

The “Not Scotch Egg” was a play on scotch egg, with Italian ingredients.  The egg part, really had an egg yolk in the middle, but around it was wrapped the fior di latte. So you had cheesey, creamy goodness, together with the egg yolk and the seasonings from the Italian sausage.

Not Scotch Egg

Not Scotch Egg

A bit larger plate was the eggplant involtini, which had a thin slice of eggplant wrapped around the ricotta cheese, and served with the San Marzano tomato sauce and the lemon and thyme spices. This dish was light, fluffy and creamy.  An elegant dish.

Eggplant involtini

Eggplant involtini

More savoury goodness from the braised meatballs (made with beef and pork), with the Marinara sauce and house bread.  I liked the fennel in the meatballs and the bright flavour from the Marinara sauce.

Braised meatballs with Marina sauce

Braised meatballs with Marina sauce

For a bit more vegetables we tried the roasted Romanesco and Sunchoke puree, and sunchoke chips.  A Romanesco is a vegetable that is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli.

Roasted Romaneso and sunchoke puree

Roasted Romaneso and sunchoke puree

Our last dish was the reginette with pork ragu napoletana. Reginette are strips of pasta with wavy edges.  To this you add a nice pork ragu sauce, and enjoy.

Reginette with pork ragu napoletana

Reginette with pork ragu napoletana

Wine List

I mentioned that Nicli’s Next Door has a very nice selection of wines, all by the glass, and all Italian.  For some at our table, the short wine list was a bit intimidating, but the list is broken down into a few categories to help you choose: Rustic, Lively, Elegant, Complex, Rose, Sparkling, and House.  If you can’t make a choice, they also have 3 different flights of wine you can try, with each flight having 3 different wines.  I had a glass of the “Elegant” Brancaia Tre Sangiovese blend di Toscana.  I chose it as it would be lighter bodied with a good balance of acidity and fruit flavours, and soft tannins, which should pair nicely with most Italian dishes at the restaurant, and I was right.  Enjoy!

Tricolore flight of wines

Tricolore flight of wines

Some Canadian Wines to Try on Canada Day

Canada flagCanada Day is around the corner.  With your day off, I hope you will have a chance to celbrate our country with family and friends.  If you are having a get together, here are a few Canadian wines that you may want to try.  I’ve tasted these wines since January this year, so you should be able to find them in your favourite BC Liquor store or wine shop.  Enjoy!

Spierhead Pinot Gris 2013 (BC $19.90)

I tried their 2012 last year and noted how much I enjoyed it, with it’s range of flavours from citrus to tropical fruit to apples.  It won a Gold Medal at Okanagan Wine Festival – 2013 B.C. Wine Awards and other awards as well.  Their 2013 was pale to medium lemon with a tint of green in the glass.  On the nose I picked up Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, together with melons and a hint of vanilla.  With some airing, lemon and grapefuit aromas also became apparent.  It’s dry with medium plus acidity, with an acidic prickle that dances on your tongue.  Medium plus body, round mouth feel, some creamy lees, a hint of honey, and stone fruits, pears, lemons and Red Delicious apple flavours.  Again with a bit of air, I also picked up lychee.  Quite a mouthful of flavours.  Mouth watering finish.  This wine really tastes like fresh fruit to me.  A very nice example of BC Pinot Gris.  With halibut season underway, I would love to try this wine with a griled halibut steak, nugget potatoes, and salad.

Le Vieux Pin Petit Sigma Blanc 2012 ($17)

Why Petit?  Petit wines from France are the second labels of famous wineries.  In some vintages a winery may determine that some grapes did not reach the quality needed for their top tier wine, so the grapes go into their second tier wine.  An example of this second tier is Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux.  This Petit wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Erhenfelser.  The wine had waxy, lemony, and grapefruit aromas with a hint of flowers.  It was dry with medium plus acidity and some viscosity in the mouth.  I picked up some light tropical fruit that was underlain with full citrus flavours, particularly lemon, but also a hint of lime.  There was also some pear and apple in the background.  Steely on the palate.  Peppery and mouth watering on the finish with some grapefruit rind flavour.  A good wine for your summer, in a screw cap, so meant to be enjoyed now.

Painted Rock Syrah 2011

Very nice nose. A mix of black cherry and very ripe raspberry, with some vanilla in the back. Medium plus body, dry with bright purple fruit, cassis and blueberry flavours, together with vanilla. Silky tannins from start to end leaving you with a soft finish and mouth watering acidity.  Across the tongue you get a salty minerality which was quite interesting to me.  I also did pick up some leafiness on the finish.  A very enjoyable wine.

Bartier Scholefield Red 2011

My last wine, the B.S Red 2011 is a blend of mostly Merlot, with lesser amounts of Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Gamay Noir. This wine was noticeably dark to opaque ruby in the glass. Lots of sweet, purple fruit aromas, along with raspberries, plums, vanilla and a hint of chocolate.  Quite enjoyable to nose.  Wow, lots of layers of juicy fruits on the palate.  Ripe raspberries, red cherries, red and black fruit, and plums.  I also picked up vanilla, sweet spices, and milk chocolate flavours.  This wine has medium body and is soft and silky, coating your mouth.  The juicy fruit flavours were dragging my tastebuds all over the place.  The tannins were not too strong, but there was enough to support the fruit.  On my second day of tasting I noted aromas of violets, and a hint of blueberries on the palate.  An outstanding wine expressing an exuberance of youth in my opinion.  I might try this with some bbq’d baby back ribs.

Tasting Plates Latin American Flavours

Tasting Plates – Latin American Flavours in Vancouver

Vancouver Foodster tried something new today.  Instead of having Tasting Plates cover a small region/neighbourhood in Vancouver, it covered a style of food, in this case Latin food.  It took a short drive from one place to the next, but the tasty food that awaited us was well worth it.  Enjoy the pictures and my short comments about the food and event.

A.G.R.O. Roasters

MENU

Tasting Cups will include:

  1. A variety of organic coffees from Latin America including, Columbia, Peru and El Salvador. <The coffee here was very fresh, aromatic, and flavourful.  I sampled the El Salvador beans.>
AGRO Roasters Organic El Salvador coffee

AGRO Roasters Organic El Salvador coffee

 

Chicha Restaurant

MENU

Tasting Plate includes all 3 items:

  1. Ensalada De Quinoa: Mango, avocado, roasted red pepper, red onion, cilantro, mint. Jalapeño Huacatay dressing.
  2. Bolas De Yuca: Croquettes stuff with assorted cheese and chilies. Served with a Huancaina sauce.
  3. Calamari and chorizo Anticuchos: Skewers served with a basil and aji Amarillo mash, Peruvian black olive aioli. <Although I enjoyed all the items from Chicha, the calamari and chorizo skewer was my favourite.  It was interesting to pair the flavour and texture of the calamari, with the spice and oiliness of the chorizo sausage.>
Chicha: Ensalada De Quinoa, Bolas De Yuca, and Calamari and chorizo Anticuchos

Chicha: Ensalada De Quinoa, Bolas De Yuca, and Calamari and chorizo Anticuchos

 

La Mezcaleria

MENU

Our Tasting Plate includes all 3 items:

  1. PACIFIC RED SNAPPER CEVICHE: Tomato, lime, red onion, serrano and cilantro. <This ceviche was wonderful.  Full of citrus and spice.>
  2. GUACAMOLE: Fresh avocado, cilantro, lime, onion, jalapeño and tomato.
  3. TOSTADA OAXAQUENA DE FRIJOLES: Refried cowboy beans with Mexican cheese, fresh tomato, lettuce and sour cream served on a corn tostada
La Mezcaleria: Pacific Red Snapper Ceviche, Guacamole, and Tostada Oaxaquena de Frijoles

La Mezcaleria: Pacific Red Snapper Ceviche, Guacamole, and Tostada Oaxaquena de Frijoles

 

Las Tortas

MENU

Tasting Plate includes all 3 items:

  1. Cochinita Pibil Torta <nice and juicy pork here.  Added flavour from the taquera salsa I added!>  In case you are wondering about how to make a torta, here is a recipe for Cochinita Pibil Torta.
  2. Tortilla chips w taquera salsa
  3. Churros
Las Tortas on Cambie

Las Tortas on Cambie

Las Tortas: Cochinita Pibil Torta, Tortilla Chips, and Churros

Las Tortas: Cochinita Pibil Torta, Tortilla Chips, and Churros

Sal y Limon

MENU

Tasting Plate includes all 2 items:

  1. Ceviche tostatas
  2. Chicken tinga tostadas <My favourite tstada of the evening.  The chicken had so much flavour, without being spicy hot.  The ceviche was also top quality.>
Sal y Limon preparing the tostadas

Sal y Limon preparing the tostadas

Sal y Limon Cheviche tostada and Chicken tinga tostada

Sal y Limon Cheviche tostada and Chicken tinga tostada

Guanaco Food Truck

MENU

Tasting Plate will include all of these items:

1) Hand-made tortilla filled with pork chicharrón* or ground chicken, vegetables, cheese, loroco and savory refried black beans.

-Chicharrón/Pork <I had this version of the tortilla.  It was a nice mix of pork with the cheese, with lots of flavour and creaminess from the melted cheese.>

-Pollo/Chicken

2) We will be serving pupusas in appetizer sizes and pieces of fried cassava

OR

1) Our Vegetarian Tasting Plate we will offer bean and cheese, zucchini and cheese or just plain cheese with loroco. (V)

-Queso Y Frijoles/Cheese & Bean -Ayote/Zucchini (V)

-Queso/Cheese & Loroco

ALL PUPUSAS ARE SERVED WITH YUCA FRITA.

Stepping up to Guanaco Food Truck

Stepping up to Guanaco Food Truck

 

Guanaco Food Truck: Pork Chicharrón tortilla, fried cassava, and salad

Guanaco Food Truck: Pork Chicharrón tortilla, fried cassava, and salad

El Azteca

MENU

Our Tasting Plate includes all 3 items:

  1. Ceviche de pescado (fish)
  2. Guacamole mumuca (V)
  3. Cochinita Pibil

 I unfortunately ran out of time so was not able to visit El Azteca, but will put it on my list for the future.

Tostadas are fun to eat and very messy.  Fun I think in the summer on the patio with your friends and family.  Here is a receipe so you can make your own tostadas.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haywire Baby Bub

The Arrival of Haywire Baby Bub!

BC Sparkling Rose wine = Summer Treat.  Enjoy it.  Please see the announcement that I received from Okanagan Crush Pad, then stock up!

~~~

The team at Okanagan Crush Pad is thrilled to announce the arrival of Baby Bub. On June 20, 2014 at 5:30pm 3,600 – 375 ml bottles, weighing 3,240 Kg, were bottled at the winery, just in time to enjoy summer.

Baby Bub was crafted by Jordan Kubek, Okanagan Crush Pad’s cellar assistant with direction from chief winemaker Michael Bartier. “The Baby Bub is tasting fresh, fruity and fabulous”, noted Jordan, “and I am very happy with the results. We stayed consistent with the 2012 Pink Bub giving Baby Bub six grams of residual sugar. I love the texture as it has quite a bit of yeasty fullness. Although it is a new born, the bubbles are quite fine and you can see the direction the wine will take as it ages.”

The wine was made in the classic style using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes with secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle. It was hand riddled and warm disgorged with a red wine dosage being added at final bottling. Like its bigger siblings, Baby Bub is closed with a crown cap ensuring that cork taint does not interfere with the wine.

This tiny bottle is a young, bright shade of pale rose and is packed full of raspberry, strawberry patch and lime zest character. Its singularly distinctive taste is gun flint which lends a smokey, stoney edge to the wine and keeps it in balance with its more berry salad side.

The first 100 cases of Baby Bub is being released this July long weekend at the winery and through the order desk exclusively. Priced at $13.90 and delivered in 12 – 375 ml bottle cases, sporting hot pink artwork, Baby Bub is sure to be a big hit this summer.

In Search of Paella in Spain – Part 2

Moving from the small, seaside city of Castellon, I was entertained by the Old World charm of Valencia, and the youthful vibrancy of Barcelona. But with one thing still on my mind: Paella!  The locals say that the best paella is always found at restaurants along the beach.  So while in Valencia, I headed to the beach, with it’s beautiful silky, sand, and sun tanned bodied, and found the restaurant of my quest; “Restaurante La Pepica“.  This restaurant is an establishement to say the least, being located there for more than 100 years, and being visited by such celebrities such as Ernest Hemmingway!  They must know what they are doing with paella, and I was right.

Although Paella Valenciana, made with chicken and rabbit, is the namesake for Valencia, I was on the beach, and needed to try seafood, so I ordered Paella Mariscos.  The paella came, with the rice forming a thin layer in the pan.  I could see that the edges of the pan had bits of “burnt” rice, which is crunchy and one of my favourite parts of a rice dish.  The paella was made simply, topped with prawns, then mixed in the rice were fish, shrimp and squid.  The rice was al dente, but I think that this is normal, as I’ve tried 7 paellas to date and all but 1 were al dente.

Paella mariscos and a glass of rosado wine

Paella mariscos and a glass of rosado wine

Squeezing lemon on the dish allowed the citrus flavours to brighten the earthiness from the spices in the rice, and make the seafood come alive.  This was the perfect paella while I have been in Spain.  To enjoy with this paella, I of course had a bottle of wine; a local rosado from the Valencia region.  It was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quite surprising, but it was very tasty with sour cherries and strawberry flavours and a very smooth round mouthfeel.  A perfect pairing.  If you ever go to Valencia, Spain, visit Restaurante La Pepica, and raise a toast to Ernest Hemmingway!

A Hot Dog from Across The Border – Not to be Missed

What pops into your mind when you hear Mexican food?  Tacos? Nachos?  How about “hot dogs”?   Now the hot dogs that I am talking about are not like the ones you get at Nathan’s Famous or Pink’s.  Hot dogs from just across the border from Arizona are a new taste treat.
 
Over Spring Break earlier this year I decided to get some sunny, warm weather in Phoenix, Arizona. While there one of my goals was to attend a Cactus League baseball game in Phoenix, and eat a hot dog with the standard toppings.  I watched Seattle play Arizona, and had a fabulous time.  But, I had one other goal during my Arizona trip, and that was to try a “Sonoran Hot Dog”.  But for that adventure, I had to travel about 2 hours south of Phoenix to Tucson.  Some enterprising Mexicans brought their version of the hot dog to Tucson several years ago, where it has received rave reviews; check Yelp.  The restaurant, El Guero Canelo, who brought the hot dog to Tucson, was started by the Contreras family in 1993.  It is in a very unassuming building, and looks more like an outdoor concession stand that you would find at the PNE, except that it has a roof over the seating area.  People from all ages were lined up for their Sonoran Hotdog while I was there.  In fact a ladies baseball team just arrived after me, and they looked very hungry.
 
El Guero Canelo in Tucson

El Guero Canelo in Tucson

What makes this hot dog different from the one you can buy at a baseball game here in Vancouver, or elsewhere?  For El Guero Canelo there are 4 components: 1) they use a Mexican bolilo bun which is soft and has some sweetness to it, and makes a nice pocket for the hot dog and condiments, 2) the hot dog itself is wrapped in bacon then grilled or pan fried, 3) beans, mayonnaise and mustard are added by the cooks, to which you can add other condiments, and 4) it is accompanied by a grilled jalapeno pepper on the side.

 
The beans were boiled, but do not have any syrupy sauce as you may imagine from a can of pork and beans.  They are also not mashed or refried, but gives weight and texture to the hotdog.  The combination of the sweet bun, the crunch of the hotdog and bacon, the creaminess of the mayonnaise, and tartness of the mustard made a wonderful flavour combination and made me have to go back and order a second hot dog.  The jalapeno pepper, which you may think would be quite spicy was very delicately smoky flavoured, and not hot at all unless you decided to eat the seeds located at the stem of the pepper.
The Sonoran Hot Dog

The Sonoran Hot Dog

 
This Sonoran hot dog has inspired me to try making them this summer on my patio, introducing the South of the Border flavours to friends and family, and trying some condiments that I would not have thought of before, like beans and salsa.  I have not checked around Vancouver for bolilo buns, but I think Filipino Pan de Sal buns may work in a pinch, or use a regular hot dog bun.  Give these hotdogs a try.  It might be yours and your family’s new favourite summer treat.  Here is a recipe for Sonoran hotdogs from Food.com.  Enjoy!
La Pepica Ensalada Valenciana

Variations on Ensalada Valenciana

Classic dishes, as I have found out, may have many variations.  For example, Paella and Ensalada Valenciana (Valencian Salad). Both dishes originate from Valencia, Spain, but all are made in different ways by different restaurants.  So it was an adventure each time I ordered one of these dishes.

For this article, I would like to show you two versions of Ensalada Valenciana, and also to give you a recipe I found on a Spanish recipe website.  Both salads were an appetizer before the main course.  The first salad was from a small cafe on the side street to my hotel.  The salad came with:

  • lettuce
  • sliced onions
  • sliced tomatoes
  • green olives
  • olive oil to taste
  • salt to taste
First Ensalada Valenciana with olive oil and salt in the background

First Ensalada Valenciana with olive oil and salt in the background

A simple salad, similar to what I could get in Vancouver.  The only “Valencian” or Mediterranean specific ingredient to me would be the green olives.

The second salad was from La Pepica, an institution on the Valencia Beach, having been in business for more than 100 years.  Their salad contained:

  • lettuce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • julienned carrots
  • black and green olives
  • sliced hard boiled egg
  • flaked tuna
  • pickled unripe figs ( I think )
  • olive oil to taste
  • salt to taste

This was a very tasty salad. In particular I liked the pickled unripe figs.  At first glance they look like small green olives with a stem, but on closer look, you see patterning on the skin, and when you bite in, it is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds; no single large seed.  The pickled figs are quite addictive, sour, similar to a green pickle, but has some other vegetal flavour I cannot place.  All I can do is recommend to try them when you are in Spain, or pick up a bottle from a Mediterranean grocery store.  Each bite of the salad has different flavours and textures, from the tuna to the tomatoes, eggs, and more.  Recommended.

La Pepica Ensalada Valenciana

La Pepica Ensalada Valenciana

And to round out this article, I tried to see which of the two above dishes served to me was the more authentic version.  I searched many recipe websites, trying to concentrate on Spanish websites, as I felt that these websites would be have their recipes uploaded from cooks in Spain.  Again, I found many variations, but I think the La Pepica one would be the better variation.

A close recipe I found had the following ingredients for 2 people:

  • lettuce
  • a tomato salad
  • a boiled egg
  • a can of tuna
  • olives
  • asparagus
  • onion
  • anchovies in oil
  • virgin olive oil
  • salt

(http://www.gandiaturistica.com/ensalada-valenciana.htm)

Whatever variation you prefer, please try to make an Ensalada Valenciana this summer as a nice start to a summer dinner (and pair it with a Rosado wine), or try it at a restaurant in Spain if you are lucky enough to travel there.  Enjoy!

Republica – The Protest for a Spanish Republic in Valenica

As I type this, outside my hotel room window I hear the chants of people from Valencia, Spain, urging the government to change from a Monarchy to a Republic, with the abducation of King Juan Carlos I a few days ago. This region of Spain, known as Catalonia, has long felt that they are a unique region within Spain, with their own language. With the King stepping down, the push to be a Republic, and possibly more in the future is on the minds of the protesters. Below are a few pictures and videos I took outside on the street. It is all in Spanish, and if you cannot speak Spanish, you can at least feel the energy of the crowd. The things you can experience as a traveller!

People gathering in front of government building

People gathering in front of government building

3 Interesting Observations about Spanish Food & Wine

Living in one country or city for most of your life you come to expect certain things when you go to a restaurant to eat.  Visiting another country, especially one that is significantly different in language and culture, I have found can suprise you about food and meals.  Here are 4 of my current observations from my visit in Valencia, Spain.

1. Condiments at the table

When sitting at a table and enjoying your meal, in North America you would expect salt and pepper.  In Spain I have observed that black pepper is not provided at all.  Salt is always at the table, and if it is not, the server will bring you salt when they serve you your dish.  People really like to salt their food in Spain.  I would love to sprinkle some pepper on my dishes, but am adjusting.

Many of the marinated fish dishes that I had, were heavily salted.  Maybe not using much salt back in Vancouver has sensitized me to sodium.  But a warning if you do order some marinated fish at a tapas bar, be prepared that it could be quite salty.

2. Patatas Bravas – tapas

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

Back in North America, one of the tapas dishes I really like is Patatas Bravas; cooked potates, cut in cubes and then coated with a spicy tomato/paprika sauce, and sometimes with a poached egg.  Here in Spain, when I ordered the Patatas Bravas, I get a bit of the tomato/paprika sauce, but it is mostly mayonnaise that coats the potatoes.  It is quite filling and rich.  Sometimes dishes that are made in North America, do not match the dish in it’s country of origin.

3. Sangria

Similar to food dishes, drinks can also differ from country to country.  When I enjoy Sangria in Canada, I get a pitcher full of chopped fruits, and is not too sweet.  In my latest Sangria experience in Spain, my pitcher contained only 2 slices of lemon, wine, and a sweet fruit juice.  Not quite what I expected.  Again you need to be flexible and go with the flow.

Related to my Sangria observation, is the love of sugar here in Spain.  Desserts like turrone are quite sweet.  Non-alcoholic drinks, in particular, horchata, which is popular here, is quite sweet.  Along with the horchata, they love to have a sweet pastry, in particular a Farton, a long thin sweet bread topped with icing or icing sugar.

4. Salad Dressing

Salad with olive oil and salt in the background

Salad with olive oil and salt in the background

A typical salad dressing in Canada is oil and vinegar based, blended with various spices.  I have found in Spain that when I receive the salad, I am also given a bottle of olive oil and of course salt.  I miss the acidity of vinegar for my salad, but embracing the Spanish way of doing things.

I’m sure I will come across more observations on food and wine before my time in Spain is over.  Stay tuned on my blog and on Twitter.  Cheers.

Paella - finished cooking

In Search of Paella in Spain – Part 1

You probably knew that paella was invented in Spain, but did you know that it originates from the city of Valencia?  Also did you know that sausage, chorizo, is not an ingredient in traditional paella?  Did you know that there are many different styles of paella; with some using seafood, rabbit, rice or noodles?

Come along and read about my experience with paella freshly made today for me, and others, at a conference I am attending in Castellon de la Plana, just a short train ride from Valencia.

Two paellas were made today; one vegetarian, and the other a mixture of two types of meat.  The meat one I was told is traditionally / commonly made with chicken and rabbit.  A very large paella pan was heated over a wood fire.  Vegetables and the meat were cooked in the pan, and spices added.  After a while rice was added followed by broth, then the whole dish simmered until the liquid was absorbed by the rice.  I did not get to see all the spices that were added, but saffron is always one of the ingredients to the best of my knowledge.  Before this trip I had never eaten rabbit, but now I will have had rabbit in two different dishes.  It does taste like chicken, but has a finer texture than chicken.

I sat with a lady from Valencia who told me that this paella was quite good.  I am not too sure I agree.  I think it needed a bit more flavour for me, so in Part 2, I will hunt for the ultimate paella when I am in Valencia.  In the meantime, check out the pictures of the cooking process for this paella, and think about relaxing in Spain with a glass of Tempranillo from Rioja.  Enjoy.

Paella - cooking the rabbit and chicken

Paella – cooking the rabbit and chicken

Paella - the veggie version getting stirred

Paella – the veggie version getting stirred

 

Paella - ready to add the rice and broth

Paella – ready to add the rice and broth

Paella - finished cooking

Paella – finished cooking

Paella - enroute to my stomach

Paella – enroute to my stomach

d