Could somebody PLEASE lend me a paella?

Las Canarias, home of the Red Mile's best paella...sangria is a perfect accompaniment  
1129 17th Avenue, SW

I’ve had paella three times in my life: once was in Spain, in a beach resort called Playa de la Barossa, not far from the Atlantic port city of Cadiz. Three of us shared a massive pan of the mixture of rice, meat(in this case), tomatoes and saffron, garlic and lemon; we were treated to an amazingly beautiful and passionate live flamenco performance while we ate.

The last time I had it was a couple of weeks ago, when Candace and I ventured out to 17th Avenue’s Las Canarias, a place I passed every evening on my way to the apartment, and knew I would have to try the dish again.

So we headed out on a Saturday night, after a long week for both of us.  We ordered up a pitcher of sangria that was perfectly refreshing, and we were able to finish it without too much effort.  We decided on a seafood paella that was as good as it was beautiful—it came studded with baby clams and mussels and langoustines. And we did a pretty good job on that too.

We were also treated to some wonderful music as a solo guitarist played and sang to us in Spanish (I say to us, because he was right behind us, but I suppose he was singing for the entire dining room....we can dream, though).

Everything was wonderful (especially the company).  But here’s the problem, and this has happened to me on a couple of occasions: The food was great and so was the wine, and we were clearly hungry and thirsty enough that we/I (this is really just on me—Candace is an innocent bystander, a consumer of the meal, and has no further responsibilities in this) neglected to take photos of our excellent wine or the more excellent paella.

And it was so pretty…..

Funny story here…when Candace got home, she picked up a magazine that had an article about different places to go for paella in Calgary, and it listed Las Canarias and had a gorgeous picture of the exact paella we had ordered!  I did my best to secure an ok from the photographer to use her photo to show it off, but we were unable to connect.  So you’ll just have to imagine it.  If I get it at a later date, I'll add it to the story, and new readers will wonder what the hell I'm talking about (just like the cat from my first post that only those of you who have been on this quest since the beginning know about.  Think about that for a while).

So here’s what I’d like to ask you to do: Send a pic via comment on FB  or at the bottom of this post so I can share some images of your favourite paella…someone must have a shot or two they can share?  It won’t be what Candace and I enjoyed, but at least we’ll have some illustrations.

Oh, and I mentioned that I had the dish three times?  The second time I had paella, I made it myself, after the trip to Spain—bought a paella pan and a cookbook and read up on what makes a good effort at this amazing Spanish dish.

What I learned was that’s a little tricky to make—the idea is to create a crust out of the rice at the bottom of the broad, shallow round pan.  The trick is not to burn it.  The other key factor in a decent paella is the saffron; it’s critical to find the balance in the saffron—a spice that comes from the crocus flower--too much can ruin the dish as much as too little.

Mine?  It was decent, except that the pan was too big to fit my oven and so the door didn’t close all the way.  I didn’t get a crust; it was more mushy, or creamy I would say, and I probably used too much saffron.

Ah well, trial and error.

But here’s the good thing: as I was unpacking in my new place, I realized that once again l have a gas range, which is good for starting the dish, and then, as I came across the pan, I took a moment and placed it in the oven.  

The door closed.

Time to try again, I think.  Sounds like the perfect dish to prepare for a group in my new home. Stay tuned!