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Flavors of Spain

spainRecently, my friend and I decided to take a foodie road trip to  Williamsburg Virginia to visit one of my favorite online shops, La Tienda.

There is something about being able to see all of the merchandise in person displayed neatly in front of you on the shelves; it’s about being able to pick up the pretty jars, admire the colorful Spanish pottery, and yes, the possibility of samples while you shop.

La Tienda is primarily an online store , so when we arrived at the unassuming store front sandwiched right in the middle of a business park, we were not surprised. Once inside the shop we  were  greeted by a friendly clerk who made us quickly forgot we were in an office park, we were suddenly in a quaint little European shop. Our tour included a personalized and informative trip through the isles, with stories about how certain products were carefully handcrafted or  grown in specific regions of Spain.

We nibbled on  bread dipped in samples of olive oil, my favorite of which was Aceite Boletus, an aromatic oil infused with the flavor of  wild Boletus Edulis mushrooms (similar to truffles), and makes a wonderful addition to salads, soups, panini sandwiches, pastas  and sauces.

Here are the other products that happily found their way into my shopping basket:

Smoked Spanish paprika

Smoked Spanish paprika

Roasted Paquilla Peppers

Roasted Paquilla Peppers

Manchego Cheese

Manchego Cheese

Tuna

Tuna

Chorizo

Chorizo

Aceite Boletus olive Oil

Aceite Boletus olive Oil

Spanish Bamba rice for Paella

Spanish Bamba rice for Paella

Anchovies

Anchovies

saffron

Judion giant beans

Judion giant beans

Part of the enjoyment of cooking (for me) is seeking out the ingredients that make a dish special; whether it’s a trip to the farmer’s market,  talking with the local fish monger about what  looks spectacular that day, or in this case a visit to a unique shop…these are the things that inspire us in the kitchen.  Here’s my recipe for Paella with  Clams, Mussels and Shrimp,  which is also in my new book Friends at the Table . I will share additional recipes using the ingredients from my shopping basket in later posts…stay tuned… Do you have a favorite “foodie road trip”? Write and tell me about it!

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Paella with Clams, Mussels, and Shrimp
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 large pinch of saffron threads(about 30)
1 cup white wine
3 cups water
1 ½ cups Spanish bamba rice (or) short grain rice
24 mussels, debearded, scrubbed clean
24 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells reserved
24 medium clams, such as little neck, cleaned
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped Italian parsley; reserve some for garnish
Put shrimp shells in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring,
until they are dry and pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add clam juice, water, wine, saffron.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain the broth,
discarding shrimp shells. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool; refrigerate. Rewarm
when ready to use.)
Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium. Make a sofrito by sauteing
the garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes, and paprika; cook until the mixture
caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld; season with salt and pepper. Fold in the rice,
stirring constantly to coat the grains. Increase the heat to high and pour 4 ¾ cups of
the hot broth into the paella pan. Use a spoon to spread the rice evenly. Adjust the
heat to a vigorous simmer. Add the clams and mussels, tucking them into the rice.
Simmer 10 minutes. Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and continue to cook 5
minutes. Arrange shrimp in the pan. Continue to cook until the paella looks fluffy and
moist; about another 5 minutes. The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called
socarrat. Remove from heat, cover with foil, and allow to rest, for 5-10 minutes, and
garnish with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.
8 servings

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