It’s the cold, hard truth; when the average foreigner thinks of Spanish cuisine, one main dish comes to mind: PAELLA.
Now, before I get into the best Paella in all of Madrid, I have to debunk a couple of common misconceptions:
- Paella is NOT typical to Madrid. It actually comes from Valencia, where it’s consumed the most. Catalonia also takes part in the ricey-liciousness, as Valencia’s friendly next-door neighbor.
- Paella is NOT traditionally made with seafood. Mind blown?! I know, I know. But actually, the most traditional Paella Valenciana is a rice dish made with veggies and MEAT! Gasppppp! The typical meats are rabbit and chicken. If you ask almost any Valenciano what they’d recommend, they’d tell you the classic meat paella. But don’t panic! There are different variations you can get, depending on your preference. Of course, in any paella joint you can always find seafood paella, made with the idealistic shrimp, clams, mussels, squid, lobster, etc. And if you’re a veggie, there’s vegetarian paella too! Want it all in one? Get “paella mixta,” with a little bit of everything! Yes my friends, paella does not discriminate.
Although Paella is NOT at all typical to Madrid, the beautiful thing about Madrid’s gastronomy scene is that it’s got amazing food from all regions of Spain. Because it’s the capital, not to mention it’s smack dab in the middle of the entire country, any regional Spanish cuisine you crave, you can find. But the trick is, finding it. So, you’re welcome lads! On this episode of #FridayFinds, I found you the most finger-lickin’ Valencian paella the capital’s got to offer. Straight from Valencia, of course. Which makes sense that it’s called…
I discovered this place by talking to a Madrileña foodie who has been living here for 30 years, and has spent lots of time in Valencia. She described this place to me with two words: “LA PAELLA…Riquísimo.” This inconspicuously hidden gem is wedged in between a bunch of residential-looking apartment buildings and office spaces. It’s extremely easy to pass, so don’t pass it! In fact, when I was trying to find it, I waltzed right past the restaurant two times before I realized I was standing right next to it. Hehe…oops.
If you’re looking for a cool, trendy, hip place to go, this is NOT your place. You go for the food, not the decor. As Spaniards would describe it, the vibe is rather “pijo,” or for “stuffy rich people”. But that definitely doesn’t mean you have to be rich! Considering the ambience and the high quality of the food, the prices are reasonable (averaging between 25-35€ per person) . That being said, it’s got a super old-school fancy feel, with white table clothes, shiny wood floors, and waiters dressed in nice dress shirts and ties. The place was established in 1975, by a dude from Valencia. Since then, it’s received visits from Spanish royalty, politicians, and of course, AWC.
Let’s take a look at my meal, shall we?
The paella takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, as it’s made fresh each and every order. So, I was feeling impatient, and, well..clammy. SooOOOoo, it only seemed fitting that I ordered these beauts. “Almejas a la marinera” or clams in a garlic, pasley white sauce.
Then, it’s game time.
The chef comes out to present his ever-so-beautifully crafted paella, before it’s plated and inhaled in -10 seconds. PAELLA SECRET: See the black edges around the rim of the paella, where the pan meets the rice? That, mis amigos, is called “la soccarat” and it’s the sign of any good paella. The rice becomes caramelized in the oil and spices, giving it that golden outer rim. I’m actually drooling as we speak, just writing about it…
Now, let’s plate that baby!
OhhhHHHh sweet baby paella. It might be a “nicer” restaurant, but don’t be ashamed to lick your fingers. Or the plate. Even the queen was doing it. And finally…
As you might very well know, Valencia is known for its “Valencia oranges.” Hence this scrumptiously moist orange layer cake. I’m not huge on orange desserts, but this one blew me away. And yes, it’s made with oranges straight from the trees of Valencia.