Almost everyday while in Barcelona, our friend Quim had a plan for us for either new places or meet someone new to meet. Usually we didn't ask for much details, we just got in the car full of excitement like two little children and awaited for the new place to appear before our eyes. We just can't say enough about how wonderful a host Quim was!
Here I want to tell you about a beautiful day we had eating the best "Paella" ever!
One day we visited Quim's parents Summer house which is near Lleida. We arrived a little late and we were greeted by Quim's parents, brother, sisters and their wonderful children (and two dogs). The house was about 150 years old and is where Quim's father was born. The house had 4 floors and the each floor had a unique floor plan including full bathroom and kitchen to accommodate each family with their children. So they would come and stay with the whole family but they still had their privacy in their own apartment. I thought what an ideal way to spend time with a big family!
After the house tour, we walked to the garden where the Paella was being prepared in the yard, on a huge open fire pit in a saucer that was almost four feet in diameter. What a sight! Even though I hadn't tasted anything yet, I knew it was going to be good and I was right! It was the best Paella I have ever had!
Normally, Paellas I've had in the past were either salty or dry, even at the places known for good Paella. This was the complete opposite. It was moist, full of color with an enormous range of ingredients, each timed, added and cooked just right to bring the flavor and texture to its fullest. Being a seafood lover myself, I get very grumpy when I have to eat overcooked seafood at a restaurant. In my opinion there's nothing worse than overcooked seafood. It's simply a waste of fresh seafood.
I was beginning to think that Paella was not my dish, even though I like rice dishes a lot including all type of risottos. Finally, I now know what a good Paella can be and I'm very happy that I got to taste one. There is obviously a craft to making something taste this good. The chef payed so much attention to every step of the process, as he hovered over the huge pan above the fire that sometimes appeared dangerous. Every addition of spices, colors, ingredients was delicately timed, including the stirring. No one was permitted to contribute, touch or assist in the process. Good thing too, because this was a masterpiece.
The chef was a long time friend of the family known for this very dish and is usually called upon any party (and there are many in Spain) for his "chef" contribution. Gracias Sr. Rico for a wonderful Paella and we thank Quim's parents for such warm hospitality. It was a beautiful day!