Friday, April 19, 2013

Tallahassee's Real Paella Offers Authentic Spanish Cuisine

Gorgeous Real Paella
Spanish paella is a traditional dish made from a mixture of seafood and saffron infused rice, cooked in a flat, round pan. Living in St. Augustine, Florida's Spanish founded in 15 65, I am lucky to find it locally.  But, when I visited the state capitol of Tallahassee, I discovered paella to beat all others. My meal from Real Paella was served on the grounds of the historic Spanish Mission San Luis.

Real Paella is not a restaurant but a catering service specializing in Spanish foods. Real means royal and this creation was certainly fit for a king or queen. Even my photo shows how stunningly gorgeous the presentation appeared.

Real Paella Chef Juan Ten
Chef Juan Ten, a native of Valencia, Spain uses an original family recipe that's more than 200 years old. Juan told me the secret to paella was to use the freshest seafood and vegetables and pearl rice, the highest quality olive oil (he uses only oil imported from Spain) and real saffron.

His ingredients are always all natural and fresh, no MSG, no artificial color, flavors or preservatives. The paella is also gluten free.

Choices from the catering menu include a variety of tapas, sausages, cheese, olives, salads, legumes, soups, pastas and, of course, paellas. For dessert my group enjoyed flan, another Spanish traditional treat. 

Real Paella can book an event for as few as 20 people or larger parties up to 250. The paella is cooked onsite so set up begins about two and a half hours before serving time.  Guests are invited to watch the preparation; it's like attending a cooking class. Best of all, your senses are aroused by the aromatic scent of roasted garlic, spices and saffron rice.

Real Paella with saffron rice
Should you choose, Chef Juan will arrange for live Spanish musicians to include guitar strumming and flamenco music.

If I lived in Tallahassee and wanted to throw a party, I would absolutely contact Real Paella.  Parents with students at Florida State University should take note.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Green Jacket Salad for a Masters Party

Green Jacket Salad
Every April thousands of fans descend on the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia to watch top golf professionals battle for the coveted prize- a green jacket.  Only Tournament winners and members of the elite club may own the specialized green jacket. Many consider the Masters golf tournament the most prestigious competition in the world.

I was most fortunate to be invited for a visit and found the grounds of the impeccably groomed Club more beautiful in person than on television.  Azaleas, dogwoods, wisteria and camellias bloom as if set in a botanical garden rather than on a golf course.  Every view was photo worthy- except I had no camera.

The Augusta National shrouds itself in secrecy and Club decrees become the unquestioned law. No cell phones, cameras or electronic gadgets allowed on the property—period, end of discussion. Obey golf etiquette while in attendance or you will be immediately escorted off the premises. Yet, the atmosphere is still very welcoming and dignified. The Masters is tradition at its finest.

For many years a restaurant named the Green Jacket was a neighbor of the Augusta National Golf Club. Their distinct house salad earned a grand following. The recipe below is considered the original according to the cookbook: Par-3, Tea-Time at the Masters.

I made it for my guests to enjoy as we watched the exciting overtime finish to the Masters 2013. Tasty, tangy , traditional and green.  Perfect!

Adam Scots wears his new Green Jacket
Photo Credit: Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports

Green Jacket Salad
Courtesy of Par-3, Tea-Time at the Masters and the Augusta CVB

Pita bread for croutons
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 bunch green onions, green part only, chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 tomato, diced
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pita bread into small pieces and spread on a baking sheet.  Bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. (I toasted mine in a toaster oven.)
Whisk the oil, vinegar, parsley, seasoned salt, oregano and green onions in a bowl.  Combine the pita croutons, lettuce, tomato and cheese in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss to mix.

Serves 6-8.