Non-threatening Dinner
By Lydia on July 9, 2008 12:19 PM| | Comments (3)
My days are running together. I guess that's what summer is all about. I haven't paid any attention to what day it is, I'm staying up late, running around town. Its been all moped rides and drinks out, dancing and eating and telling embarrassing stories with my friends. Its been awsome. 

Yesterday Troy and I took our usual Moped Navy run, and went to the Chez to abuse my discount. One of the nicest things about that place is the sweet deal we get. We have this great new vinho verde called "Gazela" that's really cheap and good. Its a very mildly sparkling white and its refreshing and grassy. Vinho verdes are young wines from a certain area in northern Portugal. The name means "green wine" which refers to it being meant for drinking very young. Mostly its white, as ours is, and I really reccomend it. Troy and I ended up splitting a bottle, which is the economical way to drink at the Chez, their cocktails being delicous, but exorbitabtly priced. 

We also made the decision to splurge on paella, something I never ever do, even though it is one of my favorite dishes. (I never get biriyani either, why is that?) But that comes later in the meal. We started with white anchovies, which are served with capers and chopped raw garlic and onion. I like to pile bits of this mixture onto bits of bread for eating. I love anchovies. They are like the essence of fish. They have such a deep, funky, fishy flavor, but also that tang and salt from proper marinating. The salty-sour capers pop in your mouth, and there's a little heat from the garlic, and crunch of onion chunk. Of course, I smelled like it all night, but that's the price I am content, no, pleased, to pay. 

I wanted to get the pimientos de Padon, but Troy didn't seem too excited about them. Padron peppers are from the Galician region of Spain, and are small and green. The funny thing about them is that the majority of them are mild, and even sweet, but that one in ten or so will be really incredibly spicy. Eating them, therefore, is a bit of a gastronomic Spanish roulette. There's even a little saying that goes, "Os pementos de Padron, unos pican e outros non," basically, some are hot, some are not. They are seved sauteed in olive oil with garlic, dusted with coarse sea salt. But I digress, no peppers for us. We had instead a stuffed portabella mushroom with spinach and cheese and other stuff. Its ok, but just such typical, banal, West Michigan, cheese covered, Chez tapa fare. 

I think the secret to the Chez is careful ordering. Anchovies, olives, jamon serrano, and roasted garlic? All good. Blue cheese fritters? Ick. Whatevs, I ate the damn mushroom, so why am I complaining?

The paella came, and the foodrunner, Christy, plopped it down, intoning, "paella," as she wiggled the spoons in it. Half in my cups I thought this was a hilarious departure from the normal San Chez Paella Routine, which involves a 5 minute sermon on the finer points of arborio rice, saffron, socarrat, and seafood, while doing a neat little stirring and serving manouver. I've been a foodrunner, and I know how satisfying it is to Not Do That for once. 

That said, I should probably do the lecture here. Paella is rice casserole of Spain, as biriyani is to India, risotto to Italy, and even jambalaya to the American South. It is made with short-grain arborio rice, which gives it a good sticky texture, and contains any number of meats, seafood, and vegetables. Saffron (more expensive by wieght than gold!) gives it a distinctive golden color and amazing flavor. Side note, I made a really awsome lemon saffron martini the other day at work.

The damn paella was so good I ate way too much of it and almost ruined my night. It was all gooey rice and crawfish niblits. Troy and I didn't even use the small, personal plates, opting instead to shovel the mess into our mouths straight from the pan. Also, we were using mussel shells for scoops. And we made the squidlets dance before eating them. It was all very primitive. After that I was pretty much down for the count. But I still had a couple of hard hours of summer fun to put in, watching Japanese game shows at a pub, and band practice after. Plan for tomorrow? Buy myself some topsiders go to the beach. Summer of Lydia.

you don't like the blue cheese fritters?! my god, those are my fave!

its true! everyone else i know loves them, but they make me shiver. its a texture thing i think...

I went to the most amazing Thai place yesterday. Can the moped make it down?