Paella Festival at Jaleo with visiting Chef María José San Román through June 20.

One of DC’s most beloved Chefs, José Andrés is celebrating Spain’s most famous dish, the Paella with the 8th Annual Paella Festival now through June 20th at Jaleo. This year’s guest Chef María José San Román owner of Restaurante Monastrell and La Taberna del Gourmet, the restaurant known for it’s tapas is located in the Valencia region, where the paella was born has shared her coveted recipes and is working with Andrés and his team at Jaleo to bring a unique experience to Washingtonians. She is also world renown for her use of saffron and self-dubbed the “queen of saffron,” and has a tattoo of the purple saffron flower on her arm to prove it. “Azafran,” or Saffron in Spanish derives from Arabic (the Moors first brought it to Spain) and is the biggest export of Alicante, Chef San Roman’s hometown in Spain. It is her expertise of Paella and Saffron that Chef Andrés wishes to showcase.

Chef San Román trained the Jaleo team to add the vibrant ingredient in her carefully devised manner. For paella, saffron is added only after it is steeped in water at exactly 65°C for four hours; this, she insists, is the best way to extract the rich color and flavor from the tiny threads.

Monday, June 7th, foodies from all over the area joined Chefs José Andrés, María José San Román, and Jose Pizzaro for a kickoff party at Jaleo in Crystal City in Arlington, VA. Jaleo chefs were serving up a variety of Chef San Román’s paella recipes, such as Arroz de presa Iberico, or Paella with acorn fed Iberico pork shoulder and fresh vegetables, vegetarian spring vegetable paella with wild mushrooms, a paella made with vermicelli noodles and lobster, and a Valencian specialty, arroz caldozo, or “soupy rice.” The arroz caldozo cooked with rice in a briny, saffron-laced seafood broth and dotted with big chunks of softshell crab. The special paellas will be available for anywhere between $34 and $48, depending on market prices, at all three Jaleo locations until June 20.

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