Seafood - with mussels, squid, shrimp and chorizo sausage. The aromas of ocean and saffron and toasty rice beckoned. Incredible paella. Perfect with a sparkling Italian rosé from De Faveri (we killed almost a case).
And the meat paella - with beef shank, pork ribs, and blood sausage. Blood sausage? Hell yeah! Out of this world - amazing! Excellent with a Cotes du Rhone from the ever-reliable St. Cosme (2009, 3 magnums gone quickly).
I could have gone all traditional Spanish with wine - with Rioja and such, but somehow sparkling rosé from Italy and a deep Cotes du Rhone from Southern France felt more festive. But for purists, Riojas and Vinho Verde were on hand ("under the counter"). I poured the Cotes du Rhone blind, and the crazy guesses of the crowd were all over the map. Oh, how fun it is to torture your guests!
The key to Hector's paella is precise execution and the best ingredients. Hector makes different from-scratch broths for seafood and meat. Then he uses the best, most expensive spanish rice called Bomba and saffron from La Mancha (the land of Don Quijote). He starts inspecting seafood several days in advance, visiting the fish monger nearly every day to see whether he should use mussels, clams, squid, octopus, etc... depending on what's the best that week and that day. It's a labor of love.
Chef Hector adds shrimp after having lightly sauteed it with onions in a separate pan.
Naturally, even if I could comprehend Hector's paella techniques, I could not reveal them in detail for fear of being persecuted by the Puerto Rican mafia :) Alas, I already said too much!
Meat paella, half-way through, before the broth is fully absorbed.
Here are some of the wines I poured to please the crowd! (Notice Grey Goose in the background... - yeah it's Russians' favorite French "wine")
Rona was happy! Even my 88 year old dear grandma got into it, and told stories of when I was a baby! Now... when my first baby first says "pa", will that mean "papa" or "paella"?
Here is to the oldest generation and to the youngest one!