Thursday 10 January 2013

The Joy of Paella.

As the weather's turns colder once again, my thoughts naturally turn to summer, and Spain. I have to have a paella at least once on my holidays. It really is one of the world's best dishes - if done correctly. But have a bad one, and it's 'just rice' as an old Valencian friend once told me. And she should know, Valencia is of course the home of paella, and they take it very seriously. They frown upon the seafood version, but for me this is far too purist, when the seafood paella can be such a great dish - and it looks wonderful. We've been all over Spain and had good versions pretty much everywhere. Some places you have to give them 24 hours notice! I've never eaten an authentic one in the UK.
Seafood paella.
I think one of the secrets of a good paella is the stock. Plus using good quality rice; bomba (also sold as calasparra) as it absorbs all the lovely flavours.  Stirring is an absolute no no unlike a risotto. Aficionados know that the best bit of paella is the brown and crispy rice at the bottom that's stuck to the pan, it has that gorgeous chewey texture, the socarrat.
A paella that springs to mind was one at Ayos Chiringuito in Nerja, Andalucia. Sunday is the time to go down, and they make huge ones in the open cooked on wooden fires right next to the beach.
It probably wasn't the best paella we've ever had, but certainly the most memorable; the situation was perfect, right next to the sea in the sun with the mountains behind us.
You didn't get large amounts of prawns, meat etc, but the rice was great.  Plus you could go back for more as many times as you wanted! For a pig like me, that's seventh heaven! All for €6.50 a plate.
A plate from Ayos in Nerja.

Ayos Chiringuito
Playa Burriana, 29780 Nerja, Spain

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