It’s National Spanish Paella Day Today

Photo credit: Can Font

Can I admit something? I kind of like these “National [pick your food] Day” holidays. Sure, they are not as serious as Passover or Easter—both coming up soon—but they are not as uncomfortable and awkward (for me, at least) as April Fool’s Day. They are about enjoying a particular dish or food, and that’s good by me. The reason I tell you this is that apparently today is Spanish Paella Day in the US, and I got a nice press release about it. It was so full of useful and interesting things for Portland diners and eaters, I thought I’d share the bulk of it here.

Another admission on my part: I don’t like shrimp (something about the texture, as well as they way it is often fished) very much. Shrimp is a big part of the seafood version of paella, and while I’d eat it to be polite, when it comes to paella I prefer the version with chicken and chorizo, as well as some of the vegetarian versions that are out there.  I’ve had both at La Rioja, one of my favorite restaurants in my old neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. I’d love to find a restaurant in Portland that makes as good a non-seafood version and vegetarian version of paella as they did.

That said, I don’t begrudge anyone who loves the traditional seafood paella. PR rep Adam sent along a paella recipe (pdf) from Executive Chef Josep Vidal of Can Font, a Spanish restaurant focused on the dishes from Barcelona, located in the Pearl.

Apparently this paella recipe has been passed down through generations of chefs at well-regarded restaurants in Spain. And here are some tips from Chef Vidal to help you make a quality paella:

  • Use fresh seafood. This will provide the dish with the most amount of flavor.
  • Do not get stuck on the ingredient list for a recipe. If the seafood and fish market does not have one particular item, talk with some at the store or behind the counter. Chances are, they can recommend something that will provide a similar flavor or texture to your home paella.
  • Bomba Rice. Many people use Bomba Rice for paella, this is a great rice for those new to paella and novice cooks because Bomba rice is hard to overcook and tastes great. Some regions in Spain use a stickier rice, but when you do, you have to be careful it does not get overcooked.

In the release was a list of some places in town where you can find paella in Portland tomorrow (and any other day of the year, really). From the reputations I’ve encountered about each place over time, it would be hard to go wrong with any of them:

  • Ataula: Paella Ataula, Rossejat, Arros Negre, and Paella Jardinera. ataulapdx.com
  • Bar Casa Vale: Bar Casa Vale Paella. barcasavale.com
  • Can Font: Paella de Peix, Arros Negre, Paella de Mar i Muntanya, and Paella Vegana. canfontportland.com
  • Crown Paella: Crown Royale, Valencian, Montana, Mariscos, Cazador, Arroz Negro, and Verdura. www.crownpaella.com
  • Toro Bravo: Paella Tarragona and Toro Bravo Paella. torobravopdx.com

So there you have it—happy Spanish Paella Day, everyone!

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Bridgetown Bites is written by Meg Cotner, a food loving freelance writer, editor and published author in Portland, OR.

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