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Feb 27, 2009 11:52 PM

La Espagnola

Based on some reviews on this and other websites, I'm going to La Espagnola and getting some of their $8.99 paella. It's a market, and I'm quite unfamiliar with this type of cuisine. If I am going to have a themed party, can you tell me some other great things to pick up from there?

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  1. Had you seen this thread from the other day on paella? It included hounds chiming in with suggestions of other delicious items to get from La E for the party.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      thanks, servorg. I actually saw this post. But it doesn't give many suggestions as to what to buy except for that some thought the iberico ham was not that good. I'm looking for suggestion from good grub from this store. The lady on the phone seemed very hospitable.

      1. re: nomo_fan

        i just finished off the last of my jamon iberico and jamon iberico de bellota last night left from my last trip there and it really is fantastic. i'm sure one can get superior quality in Spain and i would prefer if it was hand sliced in front of me, but it's really really delicious stuff.

    2. Sure. You can buy nearly all of this there:

      Plate of pork -- butifarra, fuet (rhymes with sweat), pernil serrà -- with escalivada (roasted peppers and eggplants)
      Brandada (cod pate, in the fridges)
      Cheeses -- Idiázabal, cabra, manchego -- with quince paste (on the shelf)
      Tinned white asparagus with allioli (garlic mayo)
      Calçots (thick spring onions with lots of the white part, grilled) with romesco sauce
      Pa amb tomàquet -- grilled bread rubbed with garlic, then with fresh tomatoes, then olive oil & salt
      Squid simmered for an hour in tomatoes, onions and white wine
      Truita de mongetes (potato omelette with mushrooms, at room temperature)
      Lots and lots of cava (Catalonian sparkling wine)

      12 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Thanks, Das Ubergeek. I enjoyed the paella. It was great but not WOW. Would definitely go back. I also bought some Pamplona chorizo. They have a tapas plate there with pork and cheese and peppers or olives. What is it, and how do I order it?

        1. re: nomo_fan

          I give La Espanola credit for having great but not WOW paella. I think the nature of rice dishes in general is that it is layered with potential problems if not prepared properly. Furthermore, rice dishes tend to "lose their steam" after a while - they have limited "shelf life."

          Although I've never been to Spain, my dad has, and he thoroughly enjoyed slurping down every bit that was served to him relatively soon but not immediately after it came off of the fire. This seems to be the consensus of those that I've spoken with who have enjoyed this dish in Spain.

          Another component that most rice lovers are willing to kill for is the crusty bottom portion, called the socarrat in Spain. Paellas that I've had over here tend to be cooked on the more fluffy or soupy side, which leaves almost no chance of achieving this socarrat, as well as the proper density for the paella. Maybe your next step is to get a paella pan, build a fire, and give it a whirl yourself? I think your guests would thoroughly enjoy watching to process and would appreciate the results even more.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            just anote - for lovers of socarrat - any persian place will have Tah-dig, which is the crusty bottom of a pot of cooked rice. It's not exactly socarrat but it's close and available any time.

          2. re: nomo_fan

            You can just order a tapas plate (they do speak English, and it's the only thing like that they serve). It's various kinds of pork products, like the serrano ham (jamón serrano in Spanish, pernil serrà in Catalan), whatever cheeses they're featuring, a little quince paste, probably some sausages, and roasted red peppers and olives.

            The only other thing they serve is sandwiches (bocadillo in Spanish, entrepà in Catalan), European-style, with a tiny bit of filling.

            1. re: nomo_fan

              Nomo..They give you a small Tapas plate when you eat there.. Could that be what your speaking about. Did you notice the small patio area on the right hand side when you enter??

              1. re: Foodandwine

                Yes. Saw the patio and will try to eat there next time. It was my wife's birthday party and trying to get paella and then some King's Hawaiian cakes and then back to set up. Thanks for the information. I think we are going to also try to use some of the stuff from La Espagnola for our next dinner party. This type of cuisine is new to me, so that's why I was asking for recommendations for what to buy and how to mix and match.

                1. re: nomo_fan

                  I had read somewhere on think on the La Espanola's website that they can present the Paella on a true Paella Pan with a deposit to guarantee the return of the pan. IMO that would be a nice way to present the dish..

                  1. re: Foodandwine

                    Mrs. J.L. & I did exactly that for a party of 40+ (!) at our home a few years back. The pan from La Espanola was friggin' huge. And breathtakingly beautiful (I almost wept with joy upon first gazing it)... with socarrat! A feast for all. We had 100% guest satisfaction that day.

            2. re: Das Ubergeek

              They have calcots? I've never seen these outside Catalonia - even in Barcelona they tend to be all wrong,.

              1. re: condiment

                They don't -- but you can buy tinned romesco there and buy the calçots at a farmer's market. It won't be exactly like a calçotada in La Seu d'Urgell or Sitges but it's fairly close.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Romesco is easy enough to make. I've never seen the calcots, though. (I've tried substituting green garlic, which is closer than leeks, but still no go.) Who grows them?

            3. I posted the "Paella" question the other day, and here's what I did:

              Bought the Paella at La Espagnola and added large shrimp - about 4 each to each serving. Love the Cost Co shrimp ($9 a pound for the 12-15/lb) - just sauted in butter and garlic. Made the whole presentation much better. They are very helpful at the store -- wtih samples of many items. For tapas --- mussels in escabeche, anchoivies, cheeses, chorizo, olives, atichoke mousse, bread sticks and bread. Lots of traditional candies and cookies. Dont buy the jarred white asparagus - it's in season now and they were just a soggy mess. Thanks everyone for their input!!!

              2 Replies
                1. re: J.L.

                  My favorite thing to get there is the pickled Garlic cloves that they have in a jar. They are from Spain and absolutely amazing. I chop them and put them over their white anchovies with some fresh parsley and extra virgin olive oil. A little crusty baguette and that's all you need.

              1. i love la espanola and go there regularly (on weekdays they sell a sandwich for lunch that's really good, too). the paella is not life-changing or anything like that, but it's really good in a really cool place. the real deal there is the sausages, which they make on-site. they are really terrific. in fact, if you go to fancy spanish stores, like spanish table up in berkeley, you'll notice that most of the sausages are made by dona juana, which is la espanola (of course,they'll cost 2 to 3 X).

                10 Replies
                1. re: FED

                  Please advise as to which sausages are the best ones to buy.

                  1. re: nomo_fan

                    Morcilla de arroz (blood sausage with rice).

                    1. re: nomo_fan

                      my favorites are chorizo sarta, leon herradura (with smoked pimenton), and soria, although the little cantimpalo are very good, too. i see on their website that they have fuet, but i've never tried that. next trip. they also have a really good selection of canned fish (conservas) ... they import direct and, again, a lot of times it's the same brand you'll see at Spanish Table, but at a significant savings.

                      1. re: FED

                        I think I'm addicted to their fuet. I even cut it into brunoise and sauté it with fresh peas and a little bit of onion... so, so good.

                        1. re: FED

                          What are the names of the sausages that they put in the paella? I made baked spaghetti twice in the past few weeks. The first time was with Portugese sausage and italian bulk sausage. The Italian was a bit overpowering. This time I tried ground turkey meat and the Chorizo de pamplona. The chorizo was a bit too strong for the dish. I think that next time I want to try to paella sausages and ground pork.

                          1. re: nomo_fan

                            I think the Chorizo de Pamplona is the one that is heavy on pimenton and really smokey? The opposite would be the one that poster Ernie mentioned - the butifarra. It's a white sausage that is very mild. I haven't had their paella in at least a couple of years but I guess you could call to find out? You might also consider the fuet, another Catalan sausage with more backbone than the butifarra but easy on the seasoning. It's a dry-cured sausage - the ones at La Espanola are still a little on the wet side - good for cooking.

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              If you know German sausage, butifarra is like weisswurst and fuet is like a less-spicy, better Slim Jim.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                I tried your brunoise idea with the Chistorra sausage - it must have been better than my usual peas (frozen) - both of my kids finished it all...

                        2. re: nomo_fan

                          If they have butifarra that one is my favorite. It is a Catalan white sausage with mild flavor that is good for grilling

                      2. well it's good to know that the paella isn't spectacular.
                        we always get there after it sells out or something.
                        i'm a fan of the sandwiches and the groceries, so i'm definitely going to hit the other stuff.
                        any opinions on the pa amb tomaquet?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: alkylyou

                          Frankly, pa amb tomàquet is so easy to make that I've only bought it at Lizzarán.