Sunday, February 01, 2009

Paella à la Pendsé

Although I have enjoyed many very good meals prepared by friends over the years, it is not that often that I am served something made in the kitchen of someone I know that tastes so good I can imagine eating it at a fine restaurant. Such was the case last night, when we were invited to dinner at Chris and Anna's and Chris served up the most amazing home-made paella, complete with fresh octopus, squid, mussels, chicken, chorizo and prawns (along with a little rice and chili). When we arrived at around 6:00 pm, things didn't look so promising. Chris greeted us with a question: "Do you know if you can eat the eyeballs of an octopus?" "Erm, not too sure...." (more importantly, would we want to?!). He did, in fact, have a whole octopus that he'd bought at his local fish shop, and much Googling ensued to determine which parts were edible and which were not. There was a lot of discussion about whether the octopus would need a lot of cooking or just a little, so that it didn't end up too chewy or tough. In the end, the group decided on the long cook, which turned out to be the right decision. It also emerged that this was in fact an experimental recipe, and in fact Chris was working from 2 different sets of instructions for making paella. Oh dear. Anna, Matt and I went into the lounge while Chris stayed in the kitchen slaving over the stove, and about two hours later, we were feasting on some of the best paella I've ever eaten: loads of morsels of delicious shellfish and meat, plenty of rice to soak up the succulent broth, and just the right amount of spicy kick provided by the chili. It was a fantastic meal, but definitely not an easy one. If you're wondering, I think the eyeballs got left out in the end...

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