When the spring came this year, I was missing two things: Spain & my friend Kat. In order to kill two birds with one stone, Kat and I got together one night to eat paella at Socarrat. We'd been talking about this restaurant for years and though she'd been without me, this was my first experience. There are three locations in Manhattan - Chelsea, Nolita, and Midtown East. Kat and I met up at the Midtown East restaurant on 2nd Ave between 50th & 51st and were seated on the upstairs balcony which made for a pleasant environment to enjoy our dinners - my ninth official entry in my Global Bites without the Flights series.
When my family had been in Spain, everywhere we ordered a drink we received free tapas, so in order for me to enjoy my sangria this night, I needed said tapas - although these were not free. We ordered the Datiles (bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with valdean cheese, almonds, and roasted apple puree) and the Alcachofas fritas (fried artichokes with lemon caper remoulade). While these two choices may not be the most traditionally Spanish on the menu, they were still incredible.
Socarrat has many varieties of paella, most with more than one type of meat, though vegetarian is available. Valencian paella is thought to be the original recipe, and the Valenciana Paella at Socarrat has pork ribs, rabbit, snails, asparagus, and scallops in it. I've never had two of those ingredients before (guess which two), so I thought maybe I'd save that for another time. Because we knew we'd like it, we ordered the Pescados y Mariscos (Fish & Shellfish) with shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, cockles, white fish, and English peas.
We made the right choice with the seafood paella. I thought my favorite part about the dish would be the clams, mussels, and shrimp, since I love all kinds of shellfish. My actual favorite part was all the rice that stuck to the pan after it had been sitting for a little on our table. I later learned that this has a name, and that name is SOCARRAT! Who would've thought?! Socarrat's website explains this a little more glamorously than I did, as the "seductive carmelization of the bottom layer of a perfect paella when the liquid is absorbed and the rice is done."
When I return to Socarrat I'd like to go with a group so that I can sample a few other types of paella - perhaps even the traditional Valenciana Paella. And several more tapas. And much more of the "seductive carmelization of the bottom layer." YUM.