To celebrate independence this weekend, I made a mostly vegetable paella and was joined by friends Laura and Michael for the meal. I really enjoy paella, and I often make it in the summer when Barbara is away, because she can’t handle many of the key ingredients (peppers, pimenton, raw garlic). My go-to author is Penelope Casas, and she did not let me down.
Now, paella is like risotto. You use what is available, so I substituted freely. Subtract: spinach, lima beans, peas, and snap peas. Add: cremini mushrooms, turnip, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, spring onions, and tomato. Ad-lib with a very small quantity of seafood: 7 littleneck clams, 5 shrimp, and 3 small squid. Use Barbara’s best vegetable stock.
I followed directions, using the electric oven timings, removed when the rice was not quite al dente, and covered with foil to steam until ready. A half hour later it was perfect.
Dessert was a simple medley Laura prepared, with raspberries from their garden, fresh peaches and pears, accented with fresh basil and oregano (also from the garden) and some balsamic vinegar. Just right.
And what about wine? …you ask. Ahhh, the wine. Excuse me while I pirouette briefly around the room in ecstasy. This was one of those occasions when I was flying completely blind — picking a wine I did not know at all — and finding a perfect match. Since it was 95º on Saturday, and the oven had been on at 450º for an hour, we were not in the mood for a red wine, so an intriguing alternative was called for. The wine was a 2011 Vinos Ambiz Malvar Sobremadré, made near Madrid. It is natural and organic, absolutely stunning. Here are Marc’s notes from April, when I bought it:
Vinos Ambiz Malvar Skin Contact
An orange wine made from 100-year old Malvar vines just outside of Madrid by a Scottish/Italian winemaker who started making wine naturally without knowing there was a whole movement spreading around the world at the same time!
Here are some notes from K&L Wine in California:
For this wine, a grape more commonly used for brandy production, Malvar, is given the “orange wine” treatment of extended skin maceration to produce a wine bursting with aromas of apricot preserves and spice, particularly cinnamon stick. On the palate, this is intense, chewy wine brimming with personality. It’s worth noting that Ambiz earns serious extra green points for bottling exclusively in recycled glass bottles, and extra hippy points for never adding sulphur to the wines. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer)
It was one of the most exciting wines I had come across in several years. Now the bad news: production was only 800 bottles. I may have to resort to the cries of Boston Red Sox fans: Wait ’till next year!