RODRIGO DE LA CALLE HAS JUST PUBLISHED “PAELLA POWER”
Chef Rodrigo de la Calle (El Invernadero, 1* Michelin) is very happy. He has just published his book “Paella Power”, after 2 and half years of travel to La Albufera de Valencia, the cradle of rice. To get closer to the world of this cereal and “to its majesty the paella”, the famous Spanish dish is known throughout the world.
There are 52 paella recipes, for the 52 Sundays the year has. There is rice with chicken, fish, seafood, as well as vegetables or mushrooms, from the most classic to the most modern paella, as well as rice techniques and secrets to become experts. He learned to make rice from the hand of Quique Dacosta and confesses that he was afraid to make a book about paella. It was even said at the conference that the famous chef Karlos Arguiñano does not make paella books. The presentation was a few days ago, on the central part of Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, where Rodrigo also has his paella stand, with the same name as the book. “One of the reasons we decided to write this book was the San Miguel market, I’m grateful for those wonderful 13 square meters. That’s where the light went on”.
By Fabiola Gálvez
His photographer, Javier Peñas, and Eduardo Torres, owner of the Molino Roca, were key pieces of this book, and they were also on the day of the launch.
“To Javi, who I usually trick for all the photoshoots, I told him we are going to get into the Albufera like two ducks to delve into ‘the secrets of rice’ because we had that fear that a someone from Madrid writes about paella.”
“One of the keys that the stand works well, apart from the San Miguel Market, a gastronomic epicenter, is rice and that man [refers to Edu Torres] is the one who sells me rice”.
“The wonderful rice that he makes is in Molino Roca, which represents the true architects, the farmers, there is a small representation here of the great farmers of La Albufera Valencia, and above all thank to him, because thanks to them, that little inoculated seed inside our hearts has created Paella Power ”.
Chef Rodrigo De la Calle and his team took more than 2 years to write the book, following the four seasons in La Albufera, they wanted to live in their own skin where and how rice is born, and who grows it.
“It was not only about taking pictures but sharing, chatting, investigating, the whys of the paella, where it comes from, how it is made, we have had a fantastic time making rice. The biggest exam of my life on a professional level was to make a paella for 15 farmers in La Albufera, which some did not even understand spanish, and then I said we are on the right track because they ate it and congratulated us on it ”.
This is how he met uncle Vicent, with whom he shared all this research time, and was one of the engines for the realization of his work. Unfortunately, he died more than a month ago. “It would have been very nice that he was in the presentation because thanks to him, this book has been done as it has to be done, with the voice of the farmer”.
“He is, imagine a man who is responsible for managing the engine that irrigates all La Albufera, a man who has lived all his life surrounded by paellas and rice, and a man who has explained things as simple as where the Paella is from, how it was done, and for us who arrived with the book in blank, thanks to him we have been able to write this cool book that may not be the best rice book, but I’m sure it’s the one that is written with more heart and love in the history of rice”.
In the book, there are also several sections: utensils, botanical ingredients, basic recipes to make a good broth of any meat or seafood and aioli of flavors. To sum up, everything that is needed to cook a true Paella Power.
LA PAELLA DE LA ALBUFERA, RECIPE IN TRIBUTE
The “paella de La Albufera”, on page 74 of the book, is a tribute that Rodrigo De la Calle does to the farmers of La Albufera in Valencia, especially to uncle Vicent. Use the rice of the Bombita variety, the chef’s favorite for paellas. “In fact, nobody calls paella, Paella de la Albufera, it’s my own idea, and it’s something that always, uncle Vicent told me: paella is to make rice in the paella pan to the firewood with whatever you have, he told me that the origin of the paella is that it was made with water rat, instead of rabbit or duck, because it was what the farmer had there. Occasionally, he hunted a duck or threw snails, the paella was what he had in the pantry and what could be done with the rice, is the real origin of the paella”.
WHAT DOES IT CONSIST OF?
So, I told him, well, I’m going to make a paella with what you have in the fridge. And it was a spring, I brought him some green asparagus from Aranjuez and he had duck and snails, and he said: “Man, that’s a paella made by you, but that can be called perfectly Valencian paella, because it’s made in Valencia with products from Valencia, and with what’s in the fridge. And I said: “Look, better, instead of calling it Valencian paella, we are going to call La Albufera paella, because we are in La Albufera”, and such beautiful things as that make me remember how incredible uncle Vicent was, and the amount of knowledge that, thank God, is in this book that will not be forgotten.
THE SECRET TO HAVE THE BEST PAELLA IN THE WORLD?
First a good rice, a good paella or paella pan, and a proper stove. Look what I am telling you, it is so important to have a good rice, like a good paella pan, like the fire where you do it, because the paella pan is a container that is very flat and needs to be hot all over the surface and if it doesn’t have fire over the entire surface cooking will not be uniform and no matter how good the broth is, and no matter how good the rice is, and no matter how good the paella is, if the fire is not well distributed, it will not taste as good.
“THERE ARE ONLY 3 CULINARY UTENSILS IN THE WORLD THAT GIVE THE NAME TO A DISH”
As I tell in the book, of the paella or the paella pan, it is one of the few elements that has its own name and that its name gives the name to the dish, the culinary utensil I think I remember that there are only three on the planet: one is the wok, the other is the tajín, and the other is the paella, there is no other instrument in the kitchen, which carries the dish in which it is made, so everything that has not been done in the iron paella is not a paella.
ABOUT THE PRODUCT
What is particular about La Albufera rice?
Very good rice is all over Spain, it is one of the things that we also talk about in the book, and I, in fact, before using La Albufera rice from Molino Roca, I used a rice from Girona, it was the rice from the Pals area that I think is a wonderful rice. The only issue is that I have fallen in love with this variety of rice grown by the people of Molino Roca, especially also when you share with someone something as beautiful as writing a book, more than writing recipes, those are moments, experiences, and when someone gives you everything of themselves, because they have conquered me, first because of the quality of the rice, and the second for the people behind making this wonderful product.
One of the paellas you have presented today is oysters and seaweed, also one of the recipes in the book. Could you mention the producers you work with?
It is a nod to our colleagues here from [oysters] Sorlut, it is a book that is designed for everyone, for people who have no idea of making rice, people who already know how to make rice but want to perfect them, even for professionals, giving them guidelines to be able to make different techniques and improve their rice dishes in their homes or in their restaurants.
Do you use saffron, or paprika for paella?
Yes, but as there are so many recipes, saffron is used for some rice dishes and paprika for others. We have traveled all over the Mediterranean, all La Albufera, and things as normal as saffron, which may be in a specific place, in another place the paella isn’t made with saffron, but a base of fried pepper is added, and there are recipes that just don’t require it, not all paellas have.
Saffron from somewhere you like?
I am a Machengo, there are few areas in Spain, where there is saffron, the one from La Mancha is not only the best one, but it can be one of the best in the world.
PAELLA POWER, THE STAND IN THE SAN MIGUEL MARKET
His right-hand man in Paella Power is chef Carlos López. It was just inaugurated in July last year, in front of the San Miguel market stalls and has been a success.
Chef Rodrigo De la Calle gave us some information about his arrocería. “I’m going to say a tip about a wonderful dry martinis bar, I recommend that you buy the Planeta Gastro book, written by Javier de las Muelas, and apart from being a friend, he’s a super-intelligent gentleman, as he noticed that he was only selling dry martinis in Barcelona, he placed a dry martinis counter, and as we saw that we were only selling paellas, we placed a counter, copying Javier de las Muelas ”
“The counter already marks 17,500 paellas in a year and 3 months since its opening, which translated into rice is 20 tons with husk and 12 tons in clean rice”. An incredible record of rice for a stand of 13 square meters, in such a short time.
THE MEANING OF PAELLA POWER
“Paella Power is the power of paella, the power to get things done and the power to make others happy.”
Thank you very much, Rodrigo! Long live the paella.
Paella Power, is Rodrigo de la Calle’s rice shop located in the San Miguel Market, in Madrid, rice rations are dispatched from 10 to 20 euros. On the menu, there are Valencian paella, vegetable rice, black rice with cuttlefish, seafood rice, Spanish paella, and black fideuá.
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“Paella de La Albufera”, one of the recipes from the book “Paella Power”, here.
Rodrigo de la Calle
Hardcover without s / cub. (board)
RRP: 25.96 euros
On sale since October 29, 2019