In case you have a case of the Monday’s, I have some rather stellar news for you. Today kicks off the Ninth Annual Paella Festival at Jaleo, which means for the next two weeks you can treat yourself to as much delicious and authentic paella as you can handle.
I had the chance to try this amazing paella last week at the preview dinner (check out The Washington Lobbyist’s awesome pictures here), and I’ll admit, I went in with some skepticism regarding just how “authentic” paella made in downtown DC can be. But even the Madrid-lover in me was floored after trying five different kinds of paella made by the King of Spain’s very own paella maker, Chef Rafael Vidal.
Chef Vidal, who is here solely to make AWESOME paella for this event, is from Banisano, a small town in the birthplace of paella – Valencia, Spain. His traditional paellas are cooked over a wood-fire and he was a key-advisor to Jose Andres when Andres opened Jaleo Las Vegas – the first restaurant in the United States to use a wood-fire grill to make traditional paella. Long story short – you want good paella? This man will make it for you. It won’t be out of a wood-fire grill (since the DC locations don’t have one), but it’ll be as close as you can get without booking a flight.
That said, he’ll only make it for you until August 1st. So if you want royal bragging rights – get there soon.
What to Know & What to Love
- The festival is kicking off with an event tonight at Jaleo in Crystal City from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The celebration is open to the public but space is limited so get there early or make reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The festival’s signature cocktail is the Valencia Fizz – a unique, totally indescribable,
and completely delicious combination of Plymouth Gin, Benedictine, Spainish Horchata (which is made using Tiger Nut Milk), bitters, lemon, and egg white. You just have to try it – I promise.
- The menu rotates throughout the festival, but you can expect paellas like:
- Paella Valencia: the traditional paella of rabbit and chicken. Yes, I ate rabbit. Don’t judge me, please!
- Paella de Ibérico de Bellota: a paella of fresh ibérico pork ribs and cauliflower
- Fideua Negro: Which was my favorite – a black “paella” of angel hair pasta (fideo) with octopus and garlic scapes.
- Paella de Begavante: Seriously delicious lobster paella.
- Paella de Verduras: Another one of my favorites – made with seasonal mushrooms and vegetables.
- The paellas each serve between two and four people; potentially six to ten if you want to make them “small plates”
- Be sure to make reservations at http://www.jaleo.com early as this event is always very popular! The festival is taking place at each of the three Jaleo locations: Crystal City, Bethesda, and Downtown DC.