Didn’t Tuesday’s 62 degrees get you thinking about spring meals?   There’s nothing like a paella with spring ingredients and a glass of rosé to herald the bright new season.  A classic spring paella made with fresh asparagus, prawns, and thyme is a combination of delicate flavors that is incredibly satisfying.  See recipe below.

A giant shout-out to José Andrés, renowned Spanish chef, cookbook author and founder of World Central Kitchen, for his recent humanitarian work providing meals to Ukrainians. Read more about José and World Central Kitchen here: https://www.joseandres.com/.

Lopez Heredia Vinos BlancosJust in!   A few bottles of R. Lopez Heredia 2010 Viña Tondonia Reserva Rioja Blanco ($62.00) and 2013 Vina Gravonia Crianza Rioja Blanco ($45.00) have arrived.  These aged white wines are from single-estate vineyards, fermented with native yeasts.  The Tondonia Reserva is 90% Viura, 10% Malvasia aged 6 years in large barrels and shows white floral notes with complex spice notes; Vina Gravonia is 100% Viura aged 4 years in barrel, and offers up a creamy texture and savory notes. Both are very dry, offer up great complexity and are stellar food wines.

By.Ott Rose 2021by.Ott Rose, Cotes de Provence 2021 ($27.99) This is the first rosé from the 2021 vintage and it’s fantastic. While the weather is not overly warm yet, serving a glass of this gorgeous rosé with a plate of shellfish will fast-forward you into warmer, sunnier days. Fresh, bright and balanced with notes of wild strawberry and redcurrants, it reveals a silky, velvety texture that is extremely satisfying. Very rich, dry and elegant. 62% Grenache, 21% Cinsault, 6% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre.    Domaines Ott has been producing prestige rosés since 1912; fourth generation winemakers Jean-Francois Ott and Christian Ott oversee the winemaking.

La Foto Ochoa8A “La Foto 1938” Ochoa Tinto 2017, Navarra ($19.99) is a blend of 30% Tempranillo, 30% Graciano, 30% Merlot, 10% Garnacha, fermented with native yeast aged 9 months in used barrels. This versatile and structured red offers up appealing red cherry aromas with hints of oak. Luscious on the palate with notes of white pepper spice, ripe plums and a hint of cranberry are bright and well-balanced.  A touch of earth adds complexity; with ripe and soft tannins, the finish is fresh and nuanced. Serve this with paella.

Tissot GamayThierry Tissot Gamay, Bugey 2019 ($22.99).  This may be the only plot of Gamay grown in Bugey, an Alpine AOP region between Savoie, the Jura mountains and the Swiss border.  This delightful medium-weight red is a gastronomic wine that pairs wonderfully with anything from charcuterie and cheese to roasted fish.  Distinctive and charming, Tissot Gamay is lively and balanced with perfectly ripened fruit and great mouthfeel. This local expression of gamay comes from a single vineyard planted in 1977 on granitic soils. Certified organic, the grapes undergo semi-carbonic maceration and fermentation in tanks with native yeasts.  With low added sulphur (38mg/liter), this is also a vegan wine and has gained a cult following, only available in exceptionally limited quantities. Give it a try while it’s available!

asparagus-GAMBA PAELLA

ASPARAGUS PAELLA WITH SHRIMP AND PRAWNS (From The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve Winston)  Serves 6
I was inspired to make the broth for this Paella by Patricia Gray’s description of the Catalan shepherd’s preference for wild thyme soups and teas in Honey from a Weed.  If you want to get a sense of what people ate when foraging was still part of European rural tradition, be sure to read that book.  It left me forever with the vision of women patiently peeling dandelion roots.  They marked the seasons then by what edible wild plants, essentially weeds, were available for plucking.

6 cups  Clam Juice or Aneto Fish broth
1 tablespoon fresh or wild thyme leaves
1 head Garlic, ½ the cloves crushed, skin left on, ½ the cloves peeled and chopped
½ cup  Spanish Olive Oil, such as Ybarra brand
1 pound Fresh Asparagus Spears broken into one-inch sections.
½  pound Large Mexican White Prawns
½  pound  Alaska Rock Shrimp
½  pound Oregon Shrimp Meat
2 cups Bomba Rice

Heat the broth with the thyme and crushed garlic cloves in a pot.
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus spears and toss in the pot.
Peel the prawns and toss the shells in the pot.
Let this liquid broth brew over moderate heat while you heat the olive oil in a six-person Paella pan.

When oil is hot, add the chopped garlic and cook until golden brown.
Add peeled prawns and toss in oil.
When prawns turn pink, add the asparagus and toss.
Stir in the rice.
Strain the broth, discarding the asparagus stalk butts, prawn shells, and thyme leaves, and ladle or pour it into the paella pan.
Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done.
Allow the paella ten minutes to dormir before serving.