Monday, January 7, 2008

Paella & Cigars

The only thing I love more than great cigars is great food. And my favorite dish to cook is unquestionably PAELLA. I get extremely emotional in the process... the ingredients, colors, aromas, layering of flavor!!! I really get caught up in it.... chorizo, garlic, shrimp, scallops, crab, saffron, the peppers, onions, oooohhhhh it is a sensory orgy, and it is different every time.

This beauty in the picture was from New Year's Eve and it served us well. (I avoided using mussels this time because I think the left-overs keep better in the fridge without them. - but I digress...) A great Paella effects/affects me in much the same way that a great cigar does: it makes me 'step back', slow down, and really focus on the profound flavors (taste+aroma). I get completely caught up in the moment and just focus on what I'm sensing... it is a lot like yoga and focusing on your deep breathing.... Becoming fully focused on the moment and savoring it completely!!!

And great Paellas require proper ingredient preparation, cooking, and layering. I like to caramelize my chorizo and chicken, grill and season my shrimp and scallops, and layer in garlic at different times. Each ingredient gets 'processed' and cooked differently, just like the different leaves in a cigar have been grown, dried, fermented, and aged differently. Then I like to put all of the ingredients together for a simmer so the distinct flavors will marry... not unlike the blending, rolling, and aging of a great cigar.
I'm not sure what the lesson or the point of this blog is... maybe the greatest things in life are all really simple and similar; or maybe great things are accomplished in the details... or maybe great things take a lot of time and hard work.... or maybe I just wanted an excuse to show you my Paella... Or, to quote a friend and chef, Tom Colicchio: "Cook Often, Eat Well".

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