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Feb 24, 2010 02:18 AM

Making paella in New Haven, need rice

I'm making paella soon, and I want to get the right rice-- i.e., something from Spain. Where can I find it in/near New Haven? Thanks

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  1. My family is Spanish (from Spain) so traditional paella is often made for special occasions. The only rice my family uses for it is Uncle Ben's converted rice. It is firmer than others and works well in the paella pan we use for the meal. Note that we also use saffron in the rice which gives it the traditional yellow color.

    That said, there are rices made by companies that already have saffron in them. Viggo makes a saffron rice that we sometimes use for what I call "mock paella". Basically I cook this rice in chicken broth and then add in different things like shrimp, chicken, clams, beans, etc. to make a rice dish similar to traditional paella. It really comes out pretty good, is easy to make but is a bit mushier than the traditional dish my family serves. Hope this helps, Jay

    1. I was never able to find either Calasparra or Bomba rice anywhere near New Haven. The other rices that make an excellent paella are pretty much impossible to find in the US, so those are the two to focus on. Your best bet is to order online, and La Tienda is the best source I know, not just for rice but for everything else you'll need (pimenton, olive oil, saffron, or even a good paella pan and Penelope Casas's wonderful book on paella):
      If you need to buy something locally, and have no luck finding either of those types of rice, your best bet is to buy a Japanese rice. They don't absorb nearly enough liquid, but they do maintain the appropriate texture. Whatever you do, don't buy any regular old short grain rice, especially arborio or any other risotto rice. Any rice that's good for risotto is terrible for paella, and vice versa.

      5 Replies
      1. re: danieljdwyer

        Agree with the mail order idea. If that's not possible, Whole Foods has a very good bulk grains aisle, and I think a sushi supply section, too - so you might find the right rice there..

        1. re: danieljdwyer

          I don't know but my family has been buying all of the items for paella at Stop & Shop for years now. There was a time (40 years ago) when these items were not available locally and we would go into New York to buy them but now just about everything is available in the supermarket. To me $18 for imported rice is not worth it. Olive oil and pimento's are available in local stores. Even saffron powder is available in the stores. The only thing you won't find is the pan but I have seen them in good kitchen stores for sale. Jay

          1. re: JayCT

            Pimenton and pimentos are two different things. I've never seen a decent pimenton at Stop and Shop, and those carried by La Tienda are not expensive.
            Stop and Shop does have some decent Spanish olive oil, but the stuff carried by La Tienda is a much better value. My favorite is the Senorio de Vizcantar, which, at $18 for a half liter, is not especially expensive. It's about twice as expensive as the basic olive oils at Stop and Shop, and about ten times as flavorful. It's way better than the best oils Stop and Shop carries, while costing less.
            I wouldn't use saffron powder. Stop and Shop does sell McCormick thread saffron, which is way less expensive than the Princesa de Minaya I buy at La Tienda. You get what you pay for.
            As for the rice, if the Uncle Ben's works for you, then you should certainly use it. It's a very different rice than what is used in Valencia, and when I make paella I'm looking to recreate what I ate in Valencia. I buy the 11 pound bags of Calasparra for $30, which is not terribly expensive. That's only about $5 worth of rice for a pan of paella.

            1. re: danieljdwyer

              I seem to remember having a similar discussion on paella before on this board. It must have been with you. I will not argue about the various ingredients. Lets just say that people of Spanish descent in this area do not have a problem with using ingredients readily available at the local supermarket to make paella. I doubt most anyone else would either. Jay

          2. re: danieljdwyer

            Bomba Rice is available at the Village Gourmet on River st in Milford. I always by my saffron at an Indian Grocery store, Last time at Cosmos International IN West Htfd for $85 for a full oz

          3. Not sure about up by New Haven, but the local ShopRite in Stamford carries Goya brand Valencia rice...plain rice, no other additives. See the product link below:


            1. I just remembered that the Costa del Sol Restaurant in Hartford has a small store that sells imported Spanish foods. I bought a number of items there last year. Check it out. I have not gone back since my Spanish aunt could not tell the difference between the items I bought there and the ones we bought at Stop & Shop. Also note that Costa del Sol makes an excellent paella. It rivals what my grandmother made and what we have had in New York and Spain. Jay

              1. Thanks to everyone for their advice. There is a limit, however, to how far I'll drive for two cups of rice. Found nothing at Whole Foods. I ended up WALKING to my local C-Town and buying Goya's Valencia Rice-- it worked fine!

                1 Reply
                1. re: JackNH

                  I saw 'Spanish" rice at one of my Stop & Shops just a few days ago. I'd never seen it before...
                  As I recall, short and fat, looking a little like Arborio.