Paella Bliss in New York

13 01 2010

I’m not the best person for eating paella. While I do like the dish (a lot) it is generally a seafood-laden dish, so my dislike of seafood is a bit of a hindrance.Thus, it’s a yummy dish, and when in Spain… But it’s never really been something I sought out. Until Socarrat.

This past weekend, my good friend Becky visited from Baltimore. Since we hadn’t seen each other in over a year, and on account of the frigid temperature outside, New York exploring came second to lots of chatting and enjoying each other’s company (and trying to stay warm). But Saturday evening, we decided to try a new restaurant, and given the chill outside, a cozy Spanish restaurant with a sizzling pan of gooey rice seemed just the thing.

We were not disappointed. The restaurant is  two rooms, both long and narrow. The first is more of a bar-ish area, though there is no actual bar: high tables where folks can enjoy wine or a perfect sangria while waiting to sit in the main room, that is one long communal table. The menu has a number of tapas options, but the main event is certainly the paella, which is served family style in its huge cast iron pan.

There are eight different options including a paella de carne, which includes every type of meat one could want and no seafood. Amazing seems too small a word. It was rich and full of flavor and decadent. The  name Socarrat means, literally, the “crust that forms on the bottom of the paella pan when the liquid is rendered and the rice reaches its peak of succulence.” And that socarrat was, in our pan, crispy to perfection, a dining experience close to nirvana, and I’m not exaggerating. Certainly going on my list of favorite restaurants, and my list to take guests, for that matter.