Calasparra RiceCalasparra rice is back in stock!   Considered by many top chefs as the best rice for paella, Calasparra is the only rice in the world that carries the “Denominacion de Origen” certification, which recognizes its quality and distinctive characteristics.   Unique for the way it is cultivated, it is gown in the mountains using natural pure cold water irrigation during its maturing process, which produces a superb premium hard grain rice with a higher starch content.   It needs 2 ½ to 3 cups liquid to one cup of rice, and holds up well to longer cooking times.  The culinary applications of Calasparra rice are many, but for many, it is the preferred rice in the world for paella.

EscargotNothing seems more emblematic of French cuisine and culture than escargot.   Considered a delicacy in France, snails are often served as an entrée, or starter to a meal.   In Spain, caracoles (snails) are widely enjoyed on their own or in the classic Paella Valenciana.  In fact, we had a memorable meal of caracoles and seafood at Restaurant Ibèric, near the ceramic town of La Bisbal on the Costa Brava.    While there are several different ways to prepare escargots or caracoles, a favorite is baking the escargots in a garlic butter sauce.  Pick up your snail essentials here at Paris-Madrid Grocery, and choose from canned or frozen prepared snails and serving utensils.  Impress your guests at your next dinner party!   If preparing Paella Valenciana (see recipe below), you can get the essential ingredients here, including Calasaparra rice, beans, and snails.

Ardi Gasna with Espelette PepperNew in our cheese case – Ardi Gasna with Espelette Pepper $26.99/lb
This sheep’s milk cheese is a recent addition to the Agour range. In fact, Ardi Gasna is a Basque term meaning “sheep’s milk”. What differentiates this cheese from the delicious Ossau-Iraty, is the addition of the famous Basque Espelette pepper. Aged 4-6 months, Ardi Gasna is semi-soft in texture with nutty, sweet red pepper flavors, and a touch of heat imparted by the Espelette pepper.  A tasty French cheese that is full of Basque flavor!

Castillo de Sajazarra RiojaSALE!   2008 Castillo de Sajazarra Reserva Rioja ($16.99)  Regular price $27.99   We thought this wine was fairly priced when it was $27.99, but when the distributor slashed the price, we snapped up multiple cases!    A traditional-style Rioja, it’s dried plum and cherry notes are complimented by hints of tobacco.   Well integrated cigar box spices, balsamic hints and silky tannins have aged gracefully together over the last nine years, giving a seamless texture.   Excellent with paella, lamb or pork, it is drinking beautifully right now.    Stock up on this for holiday parties!

paella valencianaPaella Valenciana (based on recipe from “La Paella” by Jeff Koehler),   Serves 6 to 8


20 threads saffron, crushed (about 1/4 tsp.)

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes

1/2 rabbit (about 1 lb.), cut into 6–8 pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lb. shucked lima beans, fresh or frozen and thawed

1/2 lb. green or romano beans, trimmed and halved crosswise

2 tsp. smoked paprika

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 medium tomatoes, minced

7 cups chicken broth

36 live or canned snails (if canned, rinse and boil for 3 minutes and then drain)

2 1/2 cups short-grain rice, preferably Valencia, bomba or Calasparra


Put saffron and 1/4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Season chicken and rabbit with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 16″–18″ paella pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and rabbit and cook, turning often, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the beans, paprika, garlic, and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft, about 5 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture, broth, and snails; season with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce heat to low and cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes more. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.