Paella Fiesta en el Jardin

Supper Club dinners have become a fun part of our business model. Aside from our catering and event side, it’s a way for us to be creative and incorporate many ideas. Our inspirations for our Supper Club menus come from all over the spectrum. It may come from a recent trip, dishes done working at other restaurants, or from eating a certain dish growing up.

I may be biased, we might lose some of you after this statement, but I think the best food in the world is either Mexican or Spanish. Bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and array of spices and chiles on both ends of the culinary world, from Mexico to Spain.

For this month’s Supper Club, I wanted to incorporate all those bold flavors and pull inspiration from different experiences.

Starting with our appetizer, mussels en escabeche with our garden tomatillos and torta. The first time I had mussels en escabeche, was in Barcelona, on our honeymoon. They were amazing! Sweet smoked paprika, lemon juice, Spanish olive oil, vinagre de jerez (sherry vinegar), served with what the Spanish call a Torta, which is basically a round cracker. Our version is basically the same, we just added some tomatillos and cucumbers that I pull from our garden. Doesn’t get any fresher than that!

OUR HONEYMOON IN BARCELONA

Growing up in Monterrey, we had many snacks to nibble on. Chicharrones was one of them. Either the puffed wheat or pork rinds, were always available. We loaded them with crema fresca, salsa Buffalo, fresh squeezed limes, tossed them in a plastic bag to mix, and into a bowl. What a great snack that was!  Which leads us to our second course, Chicharron “Tostada”, Oaxacan Black Beans, Serrano and Prickly Pear Pickled Onions. It’s a little play on those delicious nibbles, but in this case, I wanted to make it easier for people to eat. So, we piled everything on top of the chicharron as if it were a tostada. More of a modern spin to a childhood classic!

Tacos are Mexico’s gift to the culinary world. As a fellow Mexicano, we were born eating tacos. I think my mom has pictures of me eating tacos while the doctor is holding me! It only makes sense to incorporate tacos in the menu. So this upcoming Supper Club, we’re doing a Pork Belly Taco! What’s special about this taco, is the tortilla.

CHICHARRON “TOSTADA” WITH OAXACAN BLACK BEANS, SERRANO & PRICKLY PEAR ONIONS

As our population gets bigger and bigger, we have to produce food faster and in large quantities. Most corn tortillas are made with masa harina, corn flour, and water. Corn flour is ground up, water added and mixed. Don’t get me wrong, they are great, but you lose some flavor. I wanted to take it back to the traditional way, like grandma used to do: Nixtamal.

Nixtamal refers to the process of cooking dried Oaxacan Yellow Bolita, in this case, in an alkaline solution, mainly limewater, overnight, and ground in a molino the next day. The heirloom corn comes from small farms in Oaxaca. It’s not processed and it’s non-gmo.

Our main dish, the star attraction if you will, evokes tradition and a sense of togetherness. Paella! I first had Paella, many moons ago, but it awoke my senses again when I had it in Spain on my honeymoon. The richness of the bomba rice, the seafood, the smokiness from the paprika, and the lemon aioli. Flavors were just building and building, as you ate more and more. But what was more evoking, the sense of community it brought. If there was one dish that brought people together, it would definitely be Paella.

CHEF JUAN WITH FAMOUS SEAFOOD PAELLA WITH MUSSELS, CLAMS AND SHRIMP

There are many definitions of Paella. There are also many arguments as to who created Paella, Valencians being one of them. The most recent story, and a loose rendition of it, was where the word “Paella” came from. The story starts with a fisherman in Valencia, who went out to sea to find some seafood to have for dinner, with his rice, of course, for himself and his wife. Another fishermen asked what he was making and told him “Algo Pa Ella”, which translates to “something for her” and it became a local tradition to find seafood for their rice dishes. Not just for their significant others, but because it tasted great together.

Our paella takes time. We build the flavors and finish with an elaborate presentation. We eat with our eyes first, so every mussel, shrimp, and lemon wedge is arranged in a beautiful way to get your “eyebuds”, my version of tastebuds, excited!

Lastly on our menu, dessert. Everyone is on an avocado toast kick! Everywhere you look, it’s avocado toast this, avocado toast that! So why not a dessert? This version has avocado ice cream and a shortbread cookie that serves as the toast. The smooth texture from the avocado ice cream and the crunchy shortbread cookie resemble the popular dish, and a perfect end to a summer supper.

As we head inside to take cover from the Texas heat, we can’t wait for you to join us for our Paella Fiesta en el Jardin and share these special dishes with you!

Buen Provecho!
Chef Juan