We are so pleased with the way our very first Spanish food pop-up went! We ended up with close to 25 people for the tasting and everyone had such nice things to say about our food. Hopefully they weren’t just tooting our horn.
Before the first person even arrived, we had already been there prepping for a couple of hours. We had done a massive amount of preperation leading up to the event (hello 3am the night before), but there was still so much that we had to do in the moment. Thankfully, we had a little help. Honestly, we never planned on needing help, but we are so grateful for the family that was there to lend their hands.
So, obviously, decoration is the most important. I got that out of the way first. I was so proud of this little menu I had made the night before.
The mocktail you see on the menu was named after our old neighborhood in Sevilla. We called it “La Trianera” or “The woman from Triana”. From what I was hearing around the tasting it was nice to have something refreshing to go with all of Striped Pig Distillery’s beautiful liquors. I am a fan of La Trianera with a little Striped Pig vodka.
Paella was definitely the star of the show, but we did two more tapa tastings as well. The first tapa was a tortilla de patatas, which is a potato and carmelized onion cake.
In Spain it is normally served alone or with aioli sauce/mayonnaise. The sauce that was under the potato cake is normally prepared as a cold tomato and bread soup, a cousin to gazpacho. It is garlicky, rich, and creamy and completely vegan! The idea to put these two together, I must admit, was not original. However, the only other place that I have had salmorejo under tortilla de patatas was at our wedding in Sevilla. We had them as appetizers before our reception dinner.
Add a little roasted red pepper and parsley on top and repeat, repeat, repeat!
Our next tapa was champiñones al ajillo (garlic mushrooms) on a goat cheese crostini. This is something that is so easy to do and you can make a lot of them with minimal effort. The crostinis and all the chopping can be done ahead of time. And, honestly, garlic-anything on a goat cheese crostini is worth writing home about, so do some of your own experimenting.
I made a calculation error in the amount of mushrooms that we needed for these tapas, so we ended up with enough mushrooms left over to survive the apocalypse. Remember the 2-day bone broth we made for the paella? Well, we made some 2-day vegan, mushroom broth earlier this week with the leftovers. AND, we still have a few mushrooms hanging out in the fridge. Am I the only one who thought that mushrooms reduce by more than half when they’re sautéed? Well, in case you also thought that, they don’t.
We by far spent more time planning and tweaking the paella than anything else. Our new burners held up and worked spectacularly! Once we got the onions and chorizo going in the paella pan the whole place started to fill with the smells of Sevilla.
The next big paella showstopper was the saffron. We ground it up and soaked it in hot water for a bit before we added it to the paella rice. It really is beautiful watching the white rice turn a beautiful Spanish yellow right in front of your eyes.
After the saffron stage, it is advised that you don’t stir the rice anymore. Alfonso added a little parsley to the top after I had sprinkled on the smoked Spanish paprika and we let it be- at least until it was time to add the seafood.
Start to finish the paella took about 45 minutes. We were there for a few hours, but we got word that it was still good ’til the very end. I love the new burner, but I think the oversized cover (not-pictured) was to thank for the paella’s longevity.
The roasted red peppers were the last to be put on. They only needed to be warmed through.
Now that we’ve done this tasting and seen such a great response from those who were there, hopefully, more paella and tapas days are ahead. Having family around to help and friends there to cheer us on made it super special and we can’t wait to do it again!
I can say that after the many hours of prep time plus serving throughout the afternoon, I have a new appreciation for the 10-12 hour days Alfonso is on his feet at work- it’s not for the dainty.
P.S. Please check out the grandparents’ 1970’s camping stove frying potatoes for the tortilla