Monday, August 5, 2013

Jaleo 11th Annual Paella Festival Launch!

By: Lauren Rosalanko

The 2-week long 11th Annual Paella Festival at all three DC-metro area Jaleo locations, Penn Quarter, Crystal City and Besthesda is going on now. During the festival they will offer many limited edition paellas that are not typically on Jaleo's menu. I was able to sample six paella dishes and each one brought a unique taste that I had never had in a paella before.

Our first course kicked off with "Arroz de Verduras de Temporada" which featured summer vegetables such as squash, cauliflower and peppers and "Arroz Seco con Pichon" with squab. I had never tasted squab and it was leaner than I expected. This paella was fabulous and Ramón Martinez, Jaleo's head chef described that it marinades with onions, garlic and peppers for about eight hours to create one of the most flavorful paellas I have tasted.

The next course featured "Arozz Meloso de Bacalao con Verduras" a creamy paella served in a soup-like presentation with cod jowls and vegetables. It was very rich and different from what I have usually eaten. I never had paella in served in a bowl with broth.

The third dish included "Arroz de Pollo, Conejo y Acelgas" which contains chicken, rabbit and swiss chard. The combination of meat was unique and I really liked the swiss chard because in the broth

By the fourth course I was starting to get full, but I could not help but continue trying each paella! There was "Fideua Negra con Gambas" and "Arroz Ibérico Bellota." Besides the squab dish, the black fideos and shrimp dish was my other favorite! Fideos are fried pasta and came with black squid ink. The shrimp were served with the heads on, furthering the authenticity of this Spanish dish. The final plus to make this one of my favorite dishes was the light spread of garlic aioli which paired perfectly with the fideos.

I fell in love with Jaleo the first time I visited last year for two main reasons. First, I think that Jaleo has  interesting decor that allows it to stand out from typical restaurants. Secondly, the food is very authentic, especially with the head chef coming from Barcelona. I have been lucky enough to visit Spain twice and I can contend that if you can't make the trip across the pond, this is the closest you can get to authentic Spanish food in Washington, DC. If you are a paella-addict or have not ever tried it yet the 11th Annual Paella Festival is worth the trip to try multiple paella specials that are not on Jaleo's regular menu!

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