Paella, On A High Flame Please

The Spanish language is full of colorful proverbs to celebrate what happens in and around the kitchen.  Proverbs often explain the how and why of the order in which foods must be eaten or how food brings people together. One of the great uniters in Spain is paella and today that we are celebrating the International Spanish Paella Day, what a better way to celebrate this day than learning curious facts about it and of course, turning out the perfect one?

There are as many stories to explain the origin of paella as there are versions of it. Linguists believe that the word paella comes from the name of the pan it is made in – the Latin term patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the Gods. We have the word in Castilian “paila” which denotes a utensil with the same characteristics, called “paele” in French and “paella” in ancient Valencian.

There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs.

Last but not least, my favorite explanation of the origin of the term. I read it a long time ago and I tell it every time I have the chance so, here it goes. Back to ancient times, when women were usually housewives, a woman was getting ready to enjoy the rest day, Sunday. Sunday, was the men’s turn to do the housework and cook. In those days, it was possible to find any ingredient going for a stroll around the vegetable garden: fresh vegetables, rice, snails… on special days, a rabbit or a duck could be added to the dish. Imagine the conversation between men from those days:

“Hey, What’s up? –Que estàs cuinant?–  What are you cooking?

Hi, – ‘estic cuinant pa’ ella, pa’ la dona– I’m cooking for her, for my wife today it’s her turn to rest”

This sentence was pronounced day after day, year after year, century after century… from I’m cooking for her, pa’ la dona, pa’ella, to I’m cooking paella, the dish. Is it not a great story?

Wherever the word derives from, we love paella!

Regarding versions and preparation, I cannot fail to mention some tips and other curious facts. The rice used to prepare paella is rounded and short grain type. Ideal if it comes from Valencia around the Albufera Natural Reserve or Calasparra in Murcia. It is called “arroz Bomba” which literally means bomb rice. It is a pearly grain with the incredible property of absorbing even three times its own volume and consequently the flavor of the ingredients, all of which stays firm during cooking.  It must be dry and separate when done and both tender and al dente at the same time. It should have a crunch at the bottom of the pan called socarrat. Scratching the pan base with a wooden spoon is a meal ritual.

The right pan, called a paella or paellera plays a fundamental part. Its shape helps to cook the rice in a thin layer. Everyone eats out from the same plate and the stainless pan is the perfect utensil to do this.

Ideally, paella should be cooked over an open wood fire, uncovered until the final resting period. Just before eating it, cover the paella with a wet dishcloth. So if you have the chance, do not hesitate and cook it outdoors. Wood from an orange tree would be perfect.

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Everybody loves paella, but finding the right ingredients, especially when outside of Spain can be a big chore. With our paella kit you’ll have everything you need to turn out perfect,true and authentic flavored paella. For those wanting an easy-to-prepare, easily accessible paella, this is the kit for you. The individual pan size is perfect to enjoy in good company with a friend and includes all the ingredients for paella in 9 minutes flat. It includes a stainless steel pan for two, rice, seasonings and tin of seafood and cooking liquid.

Preparation:

1. Pour the entire content of the tin into a pan. Then, fill the empty tin with water and add it to the broth. Cook it over high heat until the broth boils.

2. Once the broth is boiling, add the seasoning sachet and stir.

3. Cook it over medium-high heat for approximately 9 minutes. Once the liquid has been evaporated, it will be ready. Leave to stand 2 minutes covered with a wet dishcloth and serve.

How can you know if you’ve cooked the perfect paella? It is said that paella is perfect when people eat all the rice and leave other bits on the plate. Give it a try and let us know!

Happy International Paella Day!

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San Jamon Blossoms Out

Eager foodies and wine-drinking community we are excited to announce that spring is here!!
The season that brings new lives and new beginnings, time to celebrate that we are growing, expanding and approaching renewals. We enjoy every day, on our way to the warehouse, watching the sights, almond trees flowering and storks building nests on rooftops. We are livelier; it is the power of sunlight and mild weather which allows us to relax in the sun immediately after lunch.

Our new site is getting ready, and we are eager to launch it even though it is both terrifying and exciting at the same time.
Bloom everywhere. Days are longer and sunnier, new born piglets, with perfectly floppy ears, running around makes our farmer spend most of the time catching and putting them back with their mother to be breastfed. They are so cute.

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Miguel, sanjamon.com Founder and our Sales Manager, just came back from ProWein, Dusseldorf, Germany, the number one trade fair for wines and spirits worldwide. The perfect trade fair to check what is new in the world of wine. He has had the chance of attending numerous presentations; establishing new contacts and meeting some old acquaintances for the first time, people from all around the world, winemakers, associations and institutions; savoring top quality products on their stands; tasting champagnes, ports and Rieslings, reds from South Africa, New Zeland and France… and brought his suitcase full of swapped stories and hundreds of brochures and business cards.
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ProWein Brochures
Such as enriching experience it is just the beginning. Now we have started contacting new suppliers and we are willing to begin this new stage: wines from Spain, but also from all around the world. And here we are, in Valladolid, among five appellations, and now surrounding by quite a few more, at least in our warehouse. Port wine is late, but Riesling is already with us. Check it out on sanjamon.com

DEINHARD Riesling
Now, we are gearing up for The International Fine Food and Beverage Fair, Salón de Gourmets, 29the edition, which will take place in Madrid very shortly. We hope to bring a new sample of quality products, including oil, honey and cheeses among others. Meanwhile, we keep on making our way to markets all across Europe and far away.
Savor the change of season tasting our new arrivals, uncork a wine bottle and take a moment to welcome spring! So do we.

 

Fried Eggs, Chorizo and Bread, A Delicious Childhood Memory

By: Sero, Marketing

Some of my most delicious childhood memories are linked to the flavor of fresh hen’s eggs fried and chorizo prepared by my grandmother. It sounds easy, but believe me, nobody else has been able to prepare this simple dish with the same flavor… apart from my mother.

Late February is traditionally the time to cure chorizo, salchichón and other pig delicacies, and now, at the beginning of March these pieces are ready to be tried. They have spent more than 20 days hanging from poles in the ceiling, drying out. Since they were hung, we have paid attention to the whole process. In the first days, with the meat and seasoning still wet, drops fall down at different times playing a slow rhythm and making marks on the panera floor. The panera is a kind of attic with little or no light and excellent air circulation. There is no exact translation into English.

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Every morning the poles must be taken down and exposed to the sunshine in order to expedite the drying and curing process. There they dazzle and swing under the sunlight. The smell is glorious: paprika, salt; exotic and familiar at the same time. The air cools in the evening and the chorizos are taken back inside the panera.

A few days later white mold starts covering the red- and white-dotted chorizos. This is a good sign. This happens because of the oxidation of the meat in the atmosphere and is a perfectly natural occurrence. Don’t forget to always remove the skin before eating a slice. As the days go by, the soft, malleable meat dries into chewy links and  the drawings on the floor disappear. There is no more dripping. There is no sound at all. They are ready to be enjoyed.

I don’t know if this happens to you, but in my case even following her recipes step-by-step I could never make a dish taste like my grandmother’s. But we are going to give it a try. The following recipe, a traditional rustic style bread with a touch of chorizo, is very easy, but full of flavor.

Chorizo Bread and Fried Eggs

INGREDIENTS FOR 6 PEOPLE
3 Farm-fresh eggs
325 g flour
3 spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
10 g baking powder
50 ml verdejo wine
200 ml whole or full-fat milk
200 g chorizo
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt, one loaf pan

-For the bread-

Spread extra virgin olive oil in a mould and then flour it. Shake off the excess flour.
Finely chop  the spring onions and slightly fry them in a pan with two spoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Sift the flour and baking powder together over a big bowl. Add the slightly fried spring onions, eggs, wine, a spoon of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and the milk. Mix well.
Chop the chorizo into small cubes and fry them slightly in a pan with a spoon of oil. Degrease your chorizo, add it to the mix.
Place the mix into the mould and bake at 180 ºC for about 45 minutes.

-For the eggs-

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a small pan. Fry the eggs one by one along with the garlic (without peeling them). Season.

Cut the bread into slices and serve together with the fried eggs.

Happy Mother’s Day and have a delightful meal!

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Ribera del Duero: The DNA of Tinto Fino

Our export manager, Vanessa, who handles our wine selection, had the pleasure of visiting La Horra, Burgos and interview Jordi Alonso, enologist and technical manager of one of the oldest wineries from Ribera del Duero, Virgen de la Asunción.

Jordi is the artificer of a new range of Ribera del Duero award-winning wines, between them, Ricardo Dimas, which is coming soon to San Jamón. He, together with his team, is currently implementing a project which involves not only renovating the underground cellars, but also approaching prestigious designers to carry out changes of the full range of wine labels.

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He says his wines are neither better nor worse than others, simply different. But believe us, these are amazing, fruity wines, with marked mineral notes coming through. They are high quality wines that clearly convey the spirit of Ribera del Duero with a little Priorat style. Good structure and concentration in the mouth, they are wines that do not need to spend years in a bottle to become round; modern, colorful and bright.

Traditionally, Virgen de la Asunción sold bulk wine to other wineries, but three years ago this cooperative went to bottle its own wine. The 100 families born and raised within the vineyard’s culture stepped forward offering unique wines made from tinto fino.

They own 325 hectares of vineyards located around La Horra (Burgos), known as the “Golden Triangle” of vineyards (Roa-La Horra-Sotillo) at altitudes between 800-850 m. A wide variety of soils (chalky, sandy, and calcareous clay) and one main grape variety tinto fino, were what Jordi found when he arrived to Ribera coming from Priorat.  Continental climate, with slight Atlantic influence, means extremely cold winters and warm summers with greatest differences between day and night temperatures; this is what gives the grape character. Even tempranillo, tinto fino y tinta de toro are the same, they are completely different depending on the region where they are cultivated.

Studies carried out indicate that tempranillo, tinto fino and tinta de toro DNA is the same, so they are all the same variety. Climate and altitude influence ripening process. In La Horra, climate is more extreme than in Rioja, with very short periods without frosts (from June to September), which is why  grapevines have had to adapt their growing cycle to reach the right ripe state in a shorter time. On the contrary, warmer and drier summers cause a higher concentration of sugar and polyphenols than in La Rioja varieties, and lower acidity.

Jordi and Vanessa

Vanessa and Jordi on one of the small plots outside of La Horra (Burgos)

Tinto fino is a very rustic variety, resistant to cold and extreme heat (August and/or September temperature oscillate between 36ºC during the day and 3or 4ºC during the night), drought-resistant  (there is not any drip irrigation system) as well as more disease-resistant.

The tinto fino bunches and grapes are smaller, creating a greater skin-to-juice ratio and more polyphenols, more tannin and a higher anthocyanin content. Wines are suitable for extended barrel aging. The finos have a distinct aroma of blackberry and violets whereas in tempranillo, red fruit (strawberries, raspberry) aromas dominate.

When it comes to making the wine, or rather understanding the wine itself, we try each soil, small plots or areas express what they really are. The fermentation process is made with almost no intervention, natural yeast or lactic bacteria.  Jordi doesn’t like wines that have been over-extracted. If they have a colorful grape, then they obtain a colorful wine. They do not force the wine by pumping it over, given that asides from color, pumping over extracts other things such as unpleasant herbaceous tastes. “Wine must be made to be drunk, not to participate in a contest,” Jordi says.

 Virgen de la Asunción winery

Sales Director Julio Carro, San Jamón wine director Vanessa, Asunción winemaker Jordi in front of Virgen de la Asunción

They have changed a lot in the last three years. They know that the potential of this area is unbelievable, and the ancient vineyard legacy is something magical and inexplicable unless you see it with your own eyes. There is no word for it. As Jordi told Vanessa,  “You’re welcome to come to harvest next October.” Meanwhile let your  mind and spirit free to enjoy life around a glass of wine. Thanks Jordi.