Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jaleo my soul

Jaleo: one of 7 of chef José Andres' restaurants/hotels around the Washington DC environs. My God. Can this man cook. Each restaurant has a different theme. Oyamel: Mexican. Jaleo: Authentic Spanish tapas. And so on. Andres is the host of PBS' Made in Spain series featuring authentic Spanish cooking at Andres house in DC and showing the origin of the food in Spain. If you find yourself in front of the t.v. on a Saturday at 12:30pm I would highly suggest checking out his show. Andres is quite the character and so passionate about food! He has also served as a judge on Top Chef and Anthony Bourdain visited Andres' restaurant Cafe Atlantico on the Washington DC episode of this season's No Reservations.

I took a picture of the sugar packet below since it lists not only the famous restaurateur, but all of his restaurants as well.
Now let us begin the show! My boyfriend and I went to Jaleo with another couple who is equally the food enthusiast. Being a night out, we began with a white wine I had never heard of-- Xarmant txakoli. This is the best white wine I have ever had. Crisp with honey, citrus, and herbs. You know the wine is good when I don't touch my water. This Crystal City location of Jaleo (there are 3 total) has a wine shop on the second floor. We all loved our wine so much we checked out the shop afterward. Of course the restaurant sells it for $34 at the table, but it was a steal for $17 in the wine shop! I'll be saving this momento for a nice night in with a good seafood dinner. (Don't worry-- I'll post whenever this occurs!)
Let's get to the tapas.
Cebolla asada con queso picón
: Roasted sweet onions, pine nuts and picón cheese. These onions were so sweet and delicious. The crazy thing is that they were ice cold! We expected them to be served warm. Oddly enough, after you get past the first cold bite, you find that they're just perfect! Cold, sweet onion paired with tart, creamy cheese. It was so different and a much needed change to everyday fare. Tortilla de patatas: traditional spanish omelette with potatoes and onions. Simple. Clean. Delicious. Traditional chicken croquetas. I fell in love with these when I was in Barcelona. I got them every night I was there! Gambas al ajillo. Shrimp sautéed with garlic and quindilla peppers. We soaked up the sauce with our bread but I assure you picking up and licking the bowl would NOT be inappropriate here. Citrusy, garlicky, amazing. Filete de buey a la parrilla con pimientos del piquillo confitados: Grilled beef sirloin with ‘piquillo’ pepper confit. Just look at that beef. I didn't taste the sirloin but my friend said it had a fantastic flavor, albeit a small entrée portion. Salmón con espinacas a la Catalana: Seared salmon with sauteéd spinach, pine nuts, raisins & apples. I didn't try this one either but my friend seemed to love it. Now for the pièce de résistance. Paella de pescado y marisco: Paella with Norwegian lobster, monkfish, fresh tuna, squid, shrimp, clams and mussels. I don't know how Andres did it but the seafood actually tasted like sea water. I almost expected to see the ocean outside of the window. You only get seafood like that at a seaside restaurant where your food and feet are inches from the sand. And the saffron! I could see beautiful red strands throughout the whole dish, beautifully intertwined with the rice. I must admit that I don't cook with saffron due to the prohibitive price, so it was quite the treat to be eating a dish so heavily flavored with the delicate and fragrant spice. It was served with a rich garlic aioli that added a creamy flavor to the rich paella. Can you tell I'm drooling again? I hope you can live vicariously through these pictures. And the paella mere moments later! The menu said it serves 2-4 but my boyfriend and I had no problem polishing it off ourselves! What can I say? I can't leave good food untouched. Pastel Vasco con helado de leche merengada: Basque cake with semolina cream, cinnamon-vanilla sauce & ice milk. Yum! I have two angles for your viewing pleasure!

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