11 Jan 2021
We’re really proud of the superb paella that has become a fixture of our menu. Our paella are traditional in style and a speciality of our Valencian head chef Jose Garzón. Over the years we’ve loved listening to Jose evangelise on the subject of paella. It’s so inspiring when someone has that much passion and knowledge. We also love that deep, umami kick from paella made with great ingredients, good stock and amazing, unctuous rice. The special round ‘bomba’ rice (grown around Valencia) sits in a thin layer with maximum contact with the bottom of the wide, shallow, metal pan and is not stirred at all during cooking. This method provides conditions for delicious, crunchy ‘socarrat’ to form. ‘Socarrat’, from the Spanish verb socarrar (meaning to singe), is the rice that forms a crust on the bottom of the pan. It is an intrinsic part of paella and arguably the most important part! At this crucial moment in the paella cooking the rice starts to smell toasted and makes a crackling sound. In the socarrat the flavour is amplified in an amazingly addictive, nutty, crusty way, and if you don’t scrape that stuff off the bottom you’re seriously missing out! Don’t expect the paella to be sloppy - it should be quite dry… in a good way! If you want to debate these traditions, I’ll introduce you to Jose! Alongside whatever main ingredients we are using (chicken, pork, seafood etc) the other crucial elements of the paella are sofrito (slowly cooked garlic, onions, tomato, pepper) and a really, really, REALLY good homemade stock. We spend a lot of time and effort making stocks! The depth of flavour these elements combine to produce is, we think, sensational. Traditional paella of this quality is very rare in the UK (and not exactly to be taken for granted in Spain!). A humble rice dish like this really sums up what we’ve always felt about food and drink; it should be unpretentious, great value and focussed on flavour, not faff, fashion or fad.