sábado, 24 de diciembre de 2011

The killer Paella

Time flies! You don't realize and suddenly its another month and another one...
This city is already all dressed up for the holidays. Xmas has come this year very soon, I started seen Christmas cards in the shops in late September, and the decorations in October. I love this city, and its ability of opening its arms to everyone, sometimes it seems that it is elastic. It holds everybody who comes here and the city population grows and grows. And counting! London is an excellent city, a megacity. It's innovating, extremely tolerant, traditional and modern at the same time. Strolling along its streets you can tell that History is another Londoner who breaths and lives. We are able to coexist with the past and at the same time, witness the birth and growth of what will be the tallest building in Europe. In my opinion, diversity is one of the best qualities of this exciting city. not only because of its wide array of nationalities but because of its gastronomy. I love that you can visit the world enjoying international food in London. Delicatessen and all kinds of shops, there are few things you can't find here in London. And as everybody, I have have my favorite places, which I love to show everyone who comes to London. and this is exactly what I've been up to lately. Christmas atmosphere everywhere you go, cold weather one day, mild one the next, a walk along the riverbank is something not to be missed and the many ice rinks cheer everybody up. Many churches host Carols concerts, like the one I attended at
Temple Church, the gorgeous and so difficult to find medieval building where you can see the graves and effigies of some templars. A must see.

Borough Market is another place not to be missed, and these days it's busy and very lively. It's a wonderful market which unfortunately has become a tourist attraction, and a massive food court, not everybody buys food there, most of the visitors are there just to look and take photos, and grab a bite, which can be a bit annoying for the people like me, who loves going there and buy my ingredients. I try to go early on a Saturday, or very late. There is one stall where they serve what I call "The killer paella", a mix of rice (if it's like the one in Greenwich the rice and veg are frozen) and they keep on stirring and stirring (you DON'T stir paella one the rice is cooking) and the only thing I can do is write about it here. This "paella" is surrounded with what it seems to be cooked prawns. another no-no, but the people who buys this as a quick lunch, the don't seem to care. It may be nice, I don't know, and I will never know because I will never have the courage to try it.

I've seen more "culinary offenses" like this one, regarding to what is one of my favorite dishes. E.g, skinless and boneless chicken is added to the paella, and balsamic vinegar and white wine! (Gordon Ramsay, yes, the man himself) and of course lots of chorizo..Someone asked for ketchup when I cooked Paella at work. And I saw John Torode, one of Masterchef judges, his vertion of Paella, he added precooked rice to the pan. Rick Stein, in and episode of his newest television series about Spanish cuisine he of course, gave his personal touch, emptying a can of peppers. Another incredible new product I saw in the well known Marks&Spencer food hall, Paella soup....I had to look twice. And rude and ill-mannered Jeremy CLarkson made a joke of the dish emptying the leftovers from the tin in the paella pan. Finally, I was told about a couple who at the Spanish shop in Borough Market, a couple asked about what was the cheese you use in the paella!

One has to see and hear many, many culinary sins, and is even more outrageous when is something close to your heart, like Paella. I think, that the correct thing after all this is to keep on honoring our Gastronomy and cooking as always, and hoping that one day, someone stops putting balsamic vinegar and cheese to the pan ...
Today's entry, and coinciding with the holidays, is a delicious and elegant starter, very easy to make and very impressive. Perfect for serving it before a meal with a toast. The recipe is an adaptation from mighty Martha Stewart's. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone a very Merry Christmas and let's hope that next year is not as bad as many predict.

Crown of Camembert


One Camembert cheese
A ripe pear, peeled and diced
A handful of chopped walnuts
fresh thyme
Two cloves of garlic
Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon of honey
Olive oil
One tablespoon of butter
Toast or bread sticks


Cut the cheese in half crosswise and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan and slightly fry the pear for about three minutes, add the thyme and remove from heat. Put some cheese on the serving plate, cover the surface with half of the pear mixture.

In a small saucepan mix the honey and balsamic vinegar and heat until it forms a syrup. Cool for five minutes. Cover the cheese with half the syrup and cover with another layer of cheese, put more syrup on top and cover with the remaining pear mixture. Decorate with chopped nuts and more fresh thyme.

Serve with toast, toast or bread sticks.

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