Spain has been having a serious moment of late. I’ve had so much fomo as I’ve watched friends wander explore through Barcelona, Sevilla and the Spanish coast. But I’ve never really had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the wide variety of Spanish food culture. It varies so much region to region, and is so rich in history and tradition.
But last week I got to enjoy a taste of Spain – specifically the Basque region at San Francisco’s Aatxe Restaurant with Williams-Sonoma. To celebrate their new Spanish-inspired culinary collection of dinnerware, tabletop accessories and cooking tools, Williams-Sonoma partnered with Aatxe chef Ryan Pollnow to create a bespoke Tapas Party. Chef Pollnow trained at some of the finest restaurants while working in Spain, including Mugartiz – considered one of the 50 best restaurants in the world, but he found himself most inspired by the Spanish pintxos and tapas he enjoyed at small neighborhood places. At Aatxe Pollnow pays homage to that experience by serving Basque influenced pintxos (small bites), tapas and the most epic gin and tonic menu I’ve ever seen.
I got to sample some signature Basque-style bites including Pan con Tomate with Jamon, Croquettes and Olive and Anchovy skewers. As Chef Pallnow explained, the goal of each dish is to present as many flavors and textures as you can in one small bite. Mission accomplished.
The highlight of the evening was the opportunity to screen a documentary about Basque culture – its food traditions, cider production, sports, fishing and maritime history. Its rich culture that reaches back centuries. But I was also struck by how beautiful the region is, nestled on Spain’s northern coast. It’s rugged, a bit rustic and just stunning. I’m planning a trip as I type this.
But Williams-Sonoma could actually take care of that for you because right now they’re giving away a FREE TRIP TO SPAIN! One lucky winner will receive airfare for two, and then two nights each in San Sebastian, Laguardia and Bilbao, dining in Michelin-starred restaurants, cooking lessons and winery tours. Basically a foodie dream trip.
You can enter to win this amazing giveaway RIGHT HERE, but you better hurry. The contest closes this Friday, August 19.
But this wouldn’t be a Tasty Tuesday without a recipe. If you’re feeling inspired, you’ve got to try your hand at Spain’s signature dish – Paella. Of course, this being Williams-Sonoma they’ve upped the ante by adding lobster. You’re welcome.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 live lobsters, each about 1 1/4 lb. (625 g)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
2 cups (14 oz./440 g) Bomba, Calasparra or other Spanish paella rice
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) Pernod
1/4 tsp. crumbled saffron, soaked in 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup (5 oz./155 g) sliced piquillo peppers or roasted red bell peppers
1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
Lemon wedges for serving
Have ready a large bowl filled with ice water. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 Tbs. salt. Add the lobsters one at a time, headfirst. Cover and cook until the lobsters are red, about 7 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to the ice water and let cool completely. Reserve 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) of the cooking liquid.
Separate the claws and tail from the bodies, reserving the bodies to make stock, if desired (see note above). Remove the meat from the knuckles, tails and claws. (You can leave the meat inside the claws, if you like, and use them to garnish the finished dish.) Keep the knuckle meat whole and cut the tail meat in half lengthwise. Transfer the lobster to a covered container and refrigerate immediately. The lobster can be refrigerated up to overnight.
In a large paella pan or a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the rice, the reserved cooking liquid, the Pernod, saffron mixture and piquillo peppers. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Nestle the lobster meat (and the whole claws, if using) in the rice, cover and let stand until the lobster is hot, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and tarragon and serve immediately with lemon wedges alongside.
this post is in partnership with Williams-Sonoma. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. thanks for supporting collaborations that we’re excited about and that keep apartment 34’s doors open.