• The best way to serve paella at home

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    Paella Valenciana, with chicken, rosemary, and white and green beans

    Paella Valenciana, with chicken, rosemary, and white and
    green beans

    The answer to the title above is to have it delivered.

    The Manila Times happily discovered on its visit to the paella haven that is Arrozeria Manila at Century City Mall is that there is a way for hosts and hostesses to make their dinner parties more delicious and extra impressive with the restaurant’s new delivery service.

    Says Arrozeria’s young marketing manager, Ramon Vera, “I’d like to think no other Spanish restaurant in Manila has done this before, which is to deliver a huge serving of paella to your doorstep, without portioning it in styro boxes as one would think, but actually devising a special kind of packaging that presents the dish in the exact same size as you would have it in a paellera at the restaurant.”

    Estupendo indeed, as the Spanish would say, the idea is quite exciting for foodies and fans of the filling and flavorful Valencian rice dish that is very challenging to cook. Paella of course, to be truly authentic, requires the painstaking process of making a broth of out of seafood and meats where the bomba rice would be slow-cooked; the precise sautéing of multiple ingredients, say mussels or even bell peppers that have to be between tender and crisp, and thus removed from the heat each time; and of course, the need for an open fire.

    With that, let’s first agree that the best way to have paella is to “order it,” as Arrozeria Manila’s Chef Chele Gonzalez, who is owner consultant, duly promises that his renditions of the dish are “as close as you can get to eating paella in Spain.” Whether at the restaurant or at home.

    Paella Negra, a Filipino-favorite, of black ink squid and octopus

    Paella Negra, a Filipino-favorite, of black ink squid and octopus

    He adds that the claim is one that he does not take lightly as the philosophy that guides Vask, is the same philosophy he and Chef Ivan Saiz have applied to Arrozeria.

    “We’re all about high quality food, sustainable local ingredients, and helping local farm communities by buying their products,” he enumerates.

    But Arrozeria is not Vask’s clone. The food is simpler, homier, comfort-driven, and priced affordably. Compared to the upscale tapas bar and fine dining destination that is Vask and Gallery Vask, Arrozeria’s interiors are unpretentious, casual, and show off not just the chefs’ personalities, but the star of the restaurant’s menu—rice.

    Vera interjects, “To ensure the authenticity of the Arrozeria’s paella while remaining true to their philosophy of cooking local, the chefs partnered with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños. They brought samples of bomba, the Spanish variety of rice typically used in paella and other rice dishes, for the scientists to study. Once it was determined that the Ifugao heirloom rice variety tinawan had all the characteristics of bomba, the chefs set out to secure their supply.

    “This involved several journeys to the Ifugao communities to buy the rice, and build relationships with them—meeting the people, understanding their planting and harvesting traditions, sharing meals with them, and even learning to cook the rice,” he continues.

    “The result, combined with that Spanish passion for bringing out the best in the food that they cook and eat, is paella that tastes as authentic as if you were in the seaside city of Valencia,” the marketing manager enthused.

     Lengua Frita, a melt-in-your-mouth Angus beef tongue coated in béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs, deep-fried like croquetas

    Lengua Frita, a melt-in-your-mouth Angus beef tongue coated in béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs, deep-fried like croquetas

    Indeed, Arrozeria’s Paella Abanda (seafood), Paella Negra (Black ink squid and Octopus), Valenciana (Chicken, Rosemary, White and Green Beans) and Rossejat (Beef Shank, Pork Knuckles, Chorizo and Chick Peas) are all a must-try.

    “These are our best sellers at the restaurant and the same menu we offer for delivery,” related Vera. “Order sizes vary with paella that can be shared by two to three people, four to five, and six to eight. Delivery wise, these arrive at your doorstep in a 12-inch, 15-inch, and 18-inch-wide carton box [respectively].”

    Oh and by the way, when dining in either of Arrozeria Manila’s two branches [a second opened in Bonifacio Global City], The Manila Times highly recommends the heavenly appetizer, Lengua Frita, a melt-in-your-mouth Angus beef tongue coated in béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs, deep-fried like croquetas. Happily, it is one of those dishes that will have you stop and close your eyes for a moment on the first bite, as you would a perfectly cooked foie gras.

    To use another word the Spaniards like to use for wonderful experiences, phenomenal.

    For table reservations and delivery inquiries, call Arrozeria Century Mall 894-1796 or Arrozeria Bonifacio High Street Central 621-2554.

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