Paella is complex; make serving it easier

The Sun Herald


November 17, 2006

by Erica Marcus, Newsday

Paella makes a show-stopping centerpiece for a special-occasion meal. Since it is fairly labor-intensive and must be completed at the last minute, the best strategy for serving it to company is to select accompaniments that require a minimum of effort, like opening a can.

As it happens, Spain is famous for its canned products. Consider serving stuffed olives (pimentos, almonds, cheese, tuna or anchovy paste are all common fillers), ventresca (tuna belly) preserved in olive oil, or piquillos, the distinctive pointy red peppers from the region of Navarra.

Spain produces a number of great cheeses, among them Manchego, a forceful sheep's milk cheese from La Mancha (like Don Quixote); Idiazabal, a smoked goat cheese from the Basque region; Tetilla, a mild cow's milk cheese from Galicia; and Cabrales, from Asturias, one of the world's great blues.

Most specialty markets stock a good selection of Spanish canned goods, cheeses and ham or go online to To drink, try a sampler of Spanish wines. We started with a sparkling Cava, Codorniu Brut, Cuvee aventos (about $10) and a crisp white Albarino, Rias Baixas, Martin Codax (about $14). With the clam paella, a rose, Gran Feudo, Julian Chivite (about $10) and, with the Valencian paella, a classic Rioja, Marques de Riscal, Reserva (about $15).

You'll want a simple dessert, perhaps a flan, or, even simpler, vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream topped with toasted almonds.

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