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  • Bettina Applewhite

Corona Chronicles: Trip to Spain

Who doesn't like Spain? Paella? Tapas? Sangria? All of these sound like a good idea to me. And that's exactly what I did. In the deepest part of the pandemic I had a scheduled girl's trip to Portugal which is another country but close to Spain. I, of course, had to cancel the trip and stay safe at home. I haven't rescheduled the trip and I have no idea when I will. But while I'm at home, let me try some different foods.

I bought a paella pan when a local Sur la Table store was going out of business. It was 10% or 20% off the original price. It awkwardly covered two burners on my stove. First I had it positioned wrong and was burning the pan. Then I turned off one eye and just kept moving it around. Once I started serving the paella, I realized that some parts were less done than others. Next time I'll try making it on the grill so I can have more control over the fire and hopefully get some even cooking.

The other thing about the paella was that it came together faster than I expected. I thought I would have time in between but I was constantly moving and tending to this dish. But one thing that I was excited about was that I research how to get that toasty rice on the bottom called the socarrat. This is the crusty bottom layer next to the pan. Think of it like... do you like the end piece or middle piece of a brownie. If you like the end piece, well the socarrat is for you. It got the socarrat

I did my research on how to get that toasted layer. Don't move the rice. Listen for the change in cooking sound. Trust the process. It all came out alright in the end.

There are so many different kinds of paella. A traditional Valencia paella uses rabbit and chicken. There is seafood paella that uses shrimp, mussels, clams, and calamari. There is a mixed paella that typically uses chicken and seafood. I made my version of a mixed seafood. I added chorizo sausage and lots of seafood.

In my paella the seafood and meats I used:

  • Chorizo

  • Lobster tails

  • Black mussels

  • Clams

  • Shrimp

I served sangria with my paella and a platter of Spanish cheeses. I couldn't find any Iberico ham so I served uncured salami. Shhhh... don't tell anyone. But if you can find some splurge on it. I was able to find 2 Spanish cheeses: Iberico and manchego. Both are hard cheeses. They are yummy to my tummy. I was eating on these cheeses for the rest of the week. They worked great for snacks. I paired my cheeses with almonds and figs. This was simple mid-week board. I was very pleased with how it turned out.

This was a super fun trip to Spain. The paella and cheeses are perfect for a family style meal. The paella is so beautiful in the pan that you'll want everyone to see that beauty. Communal eating is great for a party but it's also great for your everyday life.

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