Every year around Halloween, we have a wine party at my house, inviting everyone we can to join us. We’ve called it the McAdams Wine Party before, but changed it to what we like better, the HalloWine party.
Each year brings a new theme to the party. In the past we’ve done themes that include:
- Southern Hemisphere, but not Australia
- USA, but not California
When we pick the theme, I do the food to match it, from smoked meatballs with pasta and marinara to foie gras and steak au poivre. This year, Dreyfus helped out as my sous chef.
This year’s theme was… drumroll, please… Spain!
The rules of the party are pretty simple: each couple brings two bottles of wine to share, one red and one white, along with information about the wine, vineyard, grape, whatever.
We served several Spanish cheeses, which I was too busy to record or even photograph… duh! But they were great, and Spanish cheeses are definitely worth checking out more. We also served a couple of cured chorizos, one spicy, one not, along with a few loaves of artisan bread. But the main dish was paella, which I made based on a recipe sent to me from my Uncle Mike in Dallas. It turned out really good, once I let it cook the rice enough (the timing in the recipe was a bit short).
One paella was all seafood, with mussels, clams, haddock and shrimp. The other was mussels, haddock, shrimp, smoked chicken and chorizo.
The recipe wasn’t complicated. I started with 4-5 lbs of whole shrimp. i cleaned the shrimp then put the shells and heads in a pot, covered with water and simmered for 30 minutes. The broth went into a skillet to simmer, and the seafood was cooked in the broth, just short of being done.
In paella pans, I sauteed (in each) a medium diced onion and 3 cloves of garlic, then added 3 cups of paella (short grain) rice and 6 cups of the shrimp broth (with added water to make 6 cups). I added diced tomato, saffron that had been soaking in water (1/2 tsp to 1 tbsp water), and the meat/seafood. I loosely covered the pans with foil and put them on my Big Green Egg at 300 degrees for about 25 minutes each. The grill had some hickory wood in it, which added a nice smokiness without overpowering.
The first paella had to go back on, as the original recipe called for 15 minutes, which wasn’t enough.
After eating, we started opening the wines, starting with the reds. There were no really spectacular wines, though several of the reds were very good. However, the consensus was that the whites were, in general, weak. I’d not really heard of great Spanish whites, but it was still worth trying them.
One of our friends also brought a cream sherry to try. However, I don’t think anyone liked it.
Next year’s theme is already being thought up… We’re already looking forward to it!