Paella-best known Spanish dish

Non-Spaniards consider this Spain’s national dish. Spaniards consider this a dish from the Valencian region. Valencians regard this as one of their identifying symbols. Regardless, it is one of the best-known dishes in Spanish cuisine. Why does that matter????? If you’re in Barcelona………’ve got to eat it! And we did.

Earlier I wrote we’re staying at this fabulous AirBNB in the Gracia region of Barcelona. The owner had a list of recommended nearby restaurants. This was the second one nearby on her list for those seeking a traditional paella – Envalira Restaurant.

It was described as a traditional, no-fuss restaurant in the heart of Gracia with good hearty Catalan food and professional service. Yep, that’s pretty accurate.

Since we’re not eating on ‘Barcelona’ time walking up to the restaurant, it looked closed. Opening the door, it still looked closed since it was empty. A waiter walked up, we explained we had a reservation, and we were seated. We had the restaurant totally to ourselves for most of the meal.

We all selected their daily special. We needed a bit of help with the Catalonian translation and so did the waiter when translating to English, HA! We could figure out a few worlds here and there and hey, we’re here for the food so it didn’t matter quite as much.

Our starters were:

Then came the main attraction, the seafood paella. By the time we were done, nothing was left except for a few carcasses.

Dessert was part of the meal (naturally) and gave us the opportunity to try three different ones.

Just when you thought you were done…………these were brought to the table, a digestive.

I tried, I really tried to get it down. Nope. I tried a small sip and I was done.

Okay, so we had our paella. It was good, very traditional and hearty. What’s next? A Paella class!!!!!

Eric did his research prior to coming and this was one of the highest rated classes. After experiencing it, I can see why, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

First thing upon entering, you’re giving a glass and Cava wine is poured in – and kept full the entire time.

We were the first to arrive and got a quick shot of the cooking stations before everyone joined.

Eight stations with 16 participants was a full class. We had 16.

Most of the ingredients were measured out at your station. I partnered with Eric and he (naturally) gravitated to cooking. Look at that serious face, so studious. Out of the way buddy!!!!!!!

I had to grab the utensil out of his hand and literally push him out of the way so I could get into the action!

The multiple glasses of Cava may have a hand in that – just saying.

Adrienne had a partner, Rachel from England, who was solo and we pulled her into our group.

Unlike Eric and myself, there was no fighting over the cooking. Adrienne had to take the lead, ha!

But let’s get back to the cooking. After sauting some of the ‘aromatics’, we browned the meat (our protein was chicken) added in stock and the paella rice. Can you smell it?

Added in a few sprigs of rosemary before placed in the oven (to speed the cooking for our class). That was not traditional, however another class was scheduled in 3 hours and we still had to eat and vacate the premises.

There was one V.E.R.Y important aspect of the class……………the owner, Alex. As you might guess from this photo – he made the class FUN!

We got a photo of the four of us before sitting down at the community table.

Before the finished paellas arrived, we each made our own tomato bread. Take crusty bread (think 1 week-old dry, crisp slice), rub a plum tomato over the crustiness, drizzle some local olive oil and sprinkle sea salt before eating. Yum.

Then came the cooked paellas. Our class of sixteen made three different types. Why was this cooked meal called paella………..that’s the name of the cooking vessel.

chicken paella
vegetarian paella
seafood paella

My favorite…………..the chicken paella.

Just when you thought you couldn’t eat another thing, dessert came. Glad it was a small portion.

salted chocolate mouse and almond praline

While no photos with the entire group, we had one moment that had me in stitches. The young lady across from us asked what else we were going to do with our ‘daughter’. Excuse me, what did she say? Yep, she thought Adrienne was our daughter. All three of us were dying laughing!!!!! Let’s just say for the remainder of the trip, Adrienne remained our daughter, ha! Really going to get some mileage out of that.

So let’s talk about Alex. He is the owner and the story of The Paella Club is one of determination, passion, cultural heritage, community and of course, love for food. This is a place where people from all ages and background can come together and share love for global cuisine. We were the last to leave and hopefully we see him when he brings his nieces and nephews to Walt Disney World in the coming years. You never know, stranger things have happened. It is a small world after all.

When we talk about our time in Barcelona, this is one of the first things we mention – and still do. Alex ‘made’ the class into a memorable experience; one we will talk about for years to come.