Monday, March 21, 2016

The Real Valencia Paella

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and known for it's pretty palm-tree lined streets and mix of old world and modern architecture. But I was most excited about Valencia's other claim to fame as the birthplace of paella. If you're like me, you've enjoyed countless pans of paella and eagerly order it whenever you see it on a menu. Well, I took two cooking classes in Valencia (I'll explore the details in later posts) and what I quickly discovered is that what passes for paella in the U.S. is rarely the real thing. There are so many details that are needed to create authentic paella but the most significant is an open fire of orange wood. That's right, paella is a rural tradition and it is cooked in front of baraccas or small country houses. I visited the small farm and restaurant of  Barraca Toni Montoliu. I picked the vegetables that you see Toni cooking over the orange wood in the video. The flavor that the open fire and orange wood gives to paella is a savory richness that I've never tasted in any paella in the U.S. Needless to say, my entire perspective on paella has been changed and I can barely look at versions cooked on a stove.