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Paella Party: Foodie Porn

Mon Aug 27, 2007

Ever since I visited Spain seven years ago, I’ve often felt like a Spanish girl trapped in a white Jewish girl’s body. So what if I’m only five-foot-two and blond instead of lean, leggy and dark? I found my home in saffron-scented rice, fresh shellfish, still briny and sweet from the sea, and the garlic, olives, tomatoes and other deliciousness that abound in Spain. I chased different incarnations of tapas, Spanish small plates perfect for sharing with friends over afternoon sangria. And I fell in love with paella, the Valencian classic named for the Catalan word for frying pan. Paella combines the aforementioned ingredients in a special, two handled shallow, flat iron pan with a great dose of olive oil. The rice is cooked slowly like risotto, its saffron-infused robes contrasting with dark mussels, whole pink prawns, bright red tomatoes and peppers, green olives and vibrant yellow lemon slices, making a plate look much like Gaudi’s palate. The flavors, when done right, are has vibrant as the dish is colorful.

My friend Ramon makes great paella and is famous for his small paella parties. Another acquaintance, Gerard Nebesky, a Sonoma County-based chef who makes his living traveling the country preparing the flavorful dish with flair. It was for Gerard’s paella that I ventured to a friend’s party last weekend, bottles of AlbariƱo and Monastrel in tow, excited to shovel forkfuls from pan to mouth and to watch the master at work. I arrived to find two empty paella pans in the yard, a pot of saffron broth bubbling on the stove, but no Gerard in sight.

Apparently our friend Gerard is off filming a Discovery Channel special currently being called “Totally Gerard.” But the host managed to rustle up a native Spaniard who was eager to fill in. A crowd surrounded the chef throughout the night, as he slowly stirred, added broth, stirred, waiting until near the end to add the shellfish and vegetables. The resulting paella was good, the rice soft and the seafood a nice balance of sweet and salt.

Now I’m on the hunt for a paella pan and a good recipe to make my first attempt or at least a visit from Gerard. Finding the right ingredients might prove to be a bit challenging: medium-grained rice like Spanish Bomba and smoked Spanish paprika and the best possible seafood. If you’ve got a recipe that’s authentic that you’d like me to try, advice on where in L.A. to find the best ingredients, or a paella experience you’d like to share, drop me a line. Until then, I’ve got a little foodie porn to inspire us all.

paella
A still liquidy paella…

paella

Gerard’s stand-in, the Spaniard.

paella

Prawns, mussels, olives and tomatoes, oh my!

paella

Steam rises when each new piece of cool seafood is added.

For more food photos visit flickr.com, screen name MtnGirl20.

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3 Responses to “Paella Party: Foodie Porn”

 
  1. Jonah Says:

    Where did you pick up those prawns in LA? They look amazing, along with the rest of the paella goodies.

  2. laura Says:

    hi. Please fwd the contact information for your wonderful S
    spaniard. Many tx Laura

  3. Leah Greenstein Says:

    Hi Laura,

    The best paella is made by the traveling chef, and the man who was supposed to cook for us that night, Gerard. His website is Gerard’s Paella. Happy eating!

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