The Best Thing I Ate This Week: Eat's Paella
When you marry or are in a serious relationship, I’m sure you’ve found that birthday celebrations are not limited to just one event. More often than not there’s an informal birthday drink on the actual day, an intimate one-on-one date with your honey a few nights later, then of course a dinner with the parents. Well, that’s how it was for my husband’s birthday last week. So, my in-laws, husband and I headed to Eat at the sleepy, off-season Oceanfront—also known as the locals’ favorite time of the year.
I’d dined at the cozy spot before with a gal pal but was ready to get more acquainted with their evening specials. When scanning a menu I often base my decision on two criteria: have I had this before or would I normally not make this at home? Paella—a Spanish dish—passed my test, though my interest is growing to make this in my own kitchen, particularly during the summer when the morning-caught seafood pours out of our local markets.
Three delicious appetizers of tartare, salad and scallops later, out came the monstrosity that was my paella.
The aroma of saffron infiltrated my nostrils as our server carefully placed the nearly foot-long, steaming shallow pan in front of me. Once I squeezed the lemon halves across the paella, the chilis and paprika spices came to the surface, and I was ready to dig in. Each bite was unlike the one before as I perused the plate of shrimp, baby clams, braised octopus and calamari. Beneath the medley of seafood was a golden Spanish rice I surely could have eaten on its own. The paella’s foundation of saffron-infused calasparra rice was chewy, reminding me of risotto, though crispier and not as sticky. The rice was tossed with peas, tomatoes, onions and mild sausage bits adding a nice saltiness. The braised octopus was particularly tasty, tender and not difficult to chew unlike other octopus dishes I’ve had. Though not particularly spicy as it appears; it was simply a complete rich and well-developed dish.
After much convincing to not eat further to discomfort, I finished about a fourth of my dinner. But fear not! Paella has since become lunch for my husband and I and maybe dinner for another night. Of course hauling leftovers home didn’t excuse us from devouring their crème brûlée and homemade vanilla and pistachio macarons. Maybe I didn’t finish my paella, but in my book, there’s always room for dessert.