Category Archives: Syrah

Paella Party!

A few years ago now I bought an actual Paella pan.  In my own defense there were a lot of pan sizes to choose from, as is often the case.  From the diminutive, single portion size to the feed a town size.  When viewed in this relative context one can easily choose a pan that is on the big size for your needs.  This is exactly what happened to me so when I go to pull the Paella pan out it is time to invite some people over.  As many as we can find usually.  Here is a closeup of the pan showing the signature dimples.

I once saw a food show of some sort that showed Paella being cooked over orange wood.  Of course this meant that I had no choice but to always cook Paella on the grill which leads me to the second part of the story.  I’ve been in the market for a new charcoal grill and a recent, generous gift from my parents meant that I could afford the one I’ve been pining for.  What better time to get it then for a Paella party.  The one small aspect I overlooked was assembly of said grill.  One hour before the guests arrived I had dessert done, cracker dough chilling, and chicken seasoning but had done little else.  I realized I couldn’t finish the assembly in time so I reluctantly called off the assembly.  My friends, upon arrival (and after the first bottle of bubbly and some homemade crackers) graciously volunteered to finish the job and set about the task.  In fact they were a little upset we hadn’t called them over earlier to do it.  Silly me always trying to do everything myself when there are good friends who would like to help!  Anyway, I will post more about the new grill later as I learn how to use it.

As is often the case when I get behind the blog suffers so my photo count is low and I don’t have any photos of making the Paella.  Here it is finishing up on the grill.  I will have to make it again soon since this calls for more photos.  To say I have a recipe is to exaggerate a bit since I was really winging this.  Instead let’s call it Paella Guidelines.   I will also not pretend that this is authentic but I will say it is yummy.

Paella Party Guidelines

2 C chopped onions or shallots or mix
1 lb peeled shrimp (shells reserved!)
3 C arborio rice
Legs, thighs, and wings from two chickens
Some mussels
Some green beans from the garden
Some piquillo peppers
Handful of chopped tomatoes
3 oz Chorizo chopped into pieces
two generous pinches saffron soaked in some wine
smoked paprika
6 c chicken stock (homemade right?)
1 C white wine out of the fridge
Lemon from the lemon tree
chopped parsely
salt and pepper to taste

A few hours ahead season the chicken with salt (around 3/4 tsp kosher salt per pound), pepper, and smoked paprika to taste and put in the fridge.  Pull chicken from fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking.  Cook the shrimp shells in a large pot until they color and pour your stock over them and bring to a simmer.  Preheat the oven or grill to 350.  Heat the Paella pan (I start on the stove).  Brown the chicken well on both sides and set aside.  Add some olive oil and then the onions/shallots and chorizo and cook stirring frequently.  Add some more smoked paprika and a splash of wine never hurt.  When things are looking good pour in the rice and mix some more and allow to toast a bit.  Then pour in most of the stock and make sure things are mixed and spread out well and check for seasoning.  Place the chicken pieces and peppers around the pan and move to the grill or oven.  Keep an eye on things.  Probably about 20 minutes in I put the green beans in.  Around 30 minutes in I added the shellfish.  A lot of times people call for putting the shrimp in at the beginning but I just don’t like overdone shrimp.  I added a little bit more stock at this point.  When it is about time I tasted the shrimp to check on seasoning and for doneness.  Season or add more stock/wine as appropriate.  When it is done bring it to the table putting some nice lemon wedges around the outside and topping with some chopped parsley if its handy.

I have to say it was good, especially the chicken.  I think the early seasoning and then long amount of time on the grill absorbing some smoke made it really nice.  The one thing we didn’t have in abundance was the crust you are supposed to get on the bottom.  Not too bad for first try on a new grill though.  Here’s a shot (taken by a friend!) of my wife with the kids looking on getting everything settled.  I didn’t take wine notes but wines that were enjoyed include Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace Brut Rose (nice light, fruity sparkler), Harmonie 2010 Muscade Sevre et Maine (if you can find this it is very good for the price), Remelluri Eioja 2007 (a perfect match for Paella!), Bedrock 2009 Sonoma Coast Syrah (a nice cold climate Syrah that I love).



Filed under Cooking, Cremant, Family, Food, Muscadet, Recipe, Rioja, Syrah

Notes from the party

One of our guests on Saturday reads my blog and gave me a hard time after my last party when I said I wasn’t able to provide wine reviews.  She came to the party with several bottles of wine and a notebook with pink trim :).  She thought I could use it to take notes during the meal for the blog.  So I dutifully took some notes and here they are.

Carpene Malvolti Prosecco $?  This was one of the wines my friend brought over.  It was a delightful way to start the evening and brought a lot of citrus, especially pronounced orange and lemon, to the nose.  One the palate it is crisp and refreshing with a flavor reminiscent of a creamsicle.  For those not familiar, an American frozen confection of orange and cream.

Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $?  This was yet another bottle my friend brought over.  For those not familiar Elizabeth Spencer is a charming little winery whose tasting room is right off the main drag (route 29) of Napa just south of St Helena.  Definitely worth a stop if only because their tasting room is open later than most ;).  I decanted this wine and later found a nice mixture of kir, cherry, strawberry, and a touch of menthol on the nose.  The palate followed the nose with nice red fruit and the tannins which were stiff on opening mellowed with decanting though could still be felt on the inside of the cheeks.

Wind Gap Syrah Coast 2008 $36.  Wind Gap is a recent discovery and personal favorite of mine.  First, a confession.  I was pretty down on Syrah for a long time.  It always came across as overly alcoholic, too big, and too gamey for my palate. Then I started finding wineries like Wind Gap and Drew who specialize in cool climate Syrah.  This is an entirely different beast.  Wind Gap is named after a portion of Sonoma California where the cool wind off the Pacific blasts through the coastal range.  Instead of fruit bombs you get balanced wines, especially with the hands of Pax Mahle, Wind Gap’s winemaker.  I first heard about them at the Wine and Spirits Top 100 which led to a visit when I was in the hood.  To say their Forestville tasting room is not presumptuous would be quite an understatement.  When we pulled to the back of the non-descript warehouse in “downtown Forestville” we were greeted by Pax himself and had just a wonderful time tasting their wine.  What I find amazing about this Syrah is the distinct aroma of black olives combined with dark cherry and pomegranate , just a wonderful nose.  Not the typical California fruit bomb.  On the palate the olives, cherry, and pomegranate continue but are joined by a hint of cinnamon and black licorice and finish with something that closely resembles black tea.  A great food fine that will match all manner of cuisine.  I highly recommend it or at least trying a similar cool climate Syrah if you too had given up on “hot Syrah.”


Filed under Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Prosecco, Sonoma, Syrah, Wine, Wine tasting, Winery

Quivira Elusive

Disclaimer: I paid for this so I might want more/less from it

Tonight’s pick for pizza pairing was a Quivira Syrah blend called Elusive.  An exciting nose of strawberry, grape jelly, and a hint of cinnamon.  On the palate fruit then what I call oregano, leather, and finally earth for a dry finish with soft tannins.  For the $28 price point I would say worth it.  I should mention this is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre, and Petite Syrah where the first three varietals dominate the blend and are very typical of a Rhone blend.  Petite Syrah, however, is not a usually found in the Rhone though.


Filed under Red Blend, Syrah, Wine, Wine tasting, Winery