When I mention paella as one of my favorite things to eat, many people nod their head in agreement. Going a layer beneath, you find that most fans know that the key to a good paella is the rice and having a crispy, crunchy rice makes it authentic. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can have this experience by attending the Paella Wine and Beer Festival on Oct 7 in Downtown LA.
This is a Spanish saffron-infused rice dish that marries bold flavors and delightful textures. Combined with a variety of meats, shellfish and vegetables, paella was originally a peasant’s meal cooked over an open fire in the fields and eaten directly from the pan using wooden spoons. Today, paella recipes have become somewhat of an art form – ranging from decadent meats and seafood to vegan and vegetarian.
Last month the same sponsoring organization held their first Paella Wine and Beer Festival at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. My wife and I both attended and enjoyed ourselves. Please note that the recap I provide of the Orange County event may differ from the upcoming event in LA.
Recap of the First Annual Paella Wine and Beer Festival (Costa Mesa)
As you entered, Spanish dancers were available to take a picture of you against the Step and Repeat Backdrop. Many had fun with their poses and it was a nice way to begin the Spanish adventure.
Twenty vendors vied for top paella of the festival. They had four on-site judges tasting and scoring each vendor. Each of the twenty vendors had samples of their paella for the attendees. Spanish wine and Tsingtao beer was provided.
My wife purchased VIP tickets for us. That entitled us to: 1) early entrance, 2) designated area with chairs and shade 3) wine station 4) light tapas and 5) a front row seat to watch one of the contestants make their paella.
Live Spanish musicians performed, which greatly added to the ambiance of the festival. Many festival goers got into the mood and danced to the beat of the music.
The paella varied widely. Some had seafood, others had familiar proteins like pork or chicken. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a vegetarian offering (which was actually quite tasty). My wife and I selected the paella from El Coraloense, a restaurant in Bell Gardens. They used rabbit, pork and chicken. The overall taste and the consistency of the rice was probably what placed them at the top of our list.
While the VIP attendees could remain during the entire time, there was a noticeable break between before the regular admission attendees could enter. Paella vendors made a fresh batch and given the amount they made, this took awhile to prepare. As a result, VIP attendees had a break in the action before the second round began.
The above is what my wife and I experienced during the recent event in Orange County. Because I don’t have detailed information about the LA event, it’s possible that this event could vary. Needless to say, if you enjoy paella, this event is worth attending.
Saturday October 7, 2017 – 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Paella Wine and Beer Festival
532 South Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013