Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dado's 44th Birthday Paella Party

We had an amazing party with our French family on Sunday to celebrate Dado’s 44th birthday and Michelle’s 67th birthday. Michelle is Sandra’s mom, and she looks awesome for 67!

We have been looking forward to this party for weeks. Mike had the special request some time ago to have Sandra teach him to make paella. Freshly made paella is common at the farmer’s markets, and he wanted to bring the skill of paella-making back to the US with us. Sandra explained that paella-making is a summer time ritual, but they made a special exception for Dado’s birthday.

Well, we got the coolest lesson in paella-making that anyone could hope for! Merci beaucoup to Sandra, Sabrina, and Jean-Louis!!

And, I had the most delicious Sangria ever. Michelle homemade the Sangria, and I look forward to getting that recipe, too.

Now . . . drum roll, please . . . The Paella Birthday Party!

We arrived at Sandra’s around 11:00am, and the sauce was simmering on the stove. Some of the ingredients were fresh tomatoes, garlic (lots of garlic!), and special paella seasoning. It smelled delicious! Sandra already had the chicken (legs & thighs) and pork (chops) ready for cooking.

Sandra also made guacamole - using Julie's recipe!! Ohmigosh. It was delicious. So delicious that (for me at least) it eclipsed the homemade salsa that both Sandra and Dado made. Yum!

Sabrina arrived soon after. When she arrived, she greeted us with bizous (kisses on each cheek – 3 times for our region) and told us that we are part of her French family, too. Now we’ve been adopted by Sandra & Jean-Louis (and Michelle) AND Sabrina & Franck!! They truly make us feel welcome and loved.

Sabrina is an excellent cook (just like Sandra), and she started preparing the next bunch of ingredients: chopped onion, chopped green peppers and bell peppers, chorizo, and squid.

Meanwhile, Jean-Louis was outside preparing the wood-burning bbq, and Josey was washing the huge paella pan. A paella pan is a special purchase we have to make here to bring home with us.

When the fire was ready, Sabrina put the pan on the bbq and poured in oil. Wow! It was poppin’ hot in a matter of seconds. Watch her toss the chicken and pork in from a distance!

It was so hot that it was flaming – literally. Sabrina started turning the meat, but Dado quickly took over. His superhero coating makes him impervious to the heat. LOL Hopefully you can see the flames in this picture.

And here is Dado's singed hand!

Jean-Louis was smart. He wore gloves!

When the meat was finished, they added the chopped veggies and chorizo.

Next came the rice and sauce.

After everything simmered for about 20 minutes or so, Sabrina added the live mussels. We learned that if you squeeze a live mussel, it squirts! If it didn’t squirt – it didn’t go in the paella!

When the mussels opened and the rice was almost done, Sabrina added the langostinos (similar to crayfish) artistically around the border of the pan. Absolutely beautiful!!

Next came the small paella batch for the kids.

Look how gorgeous everything looked!

And Sabrina made homemade birthday cake, too. She ran out of “e”, so Mike has a new “French” nickname – Miko. Delicious!

There were great gifts, too. Michelle gave Mike a Bouzigues apron and magnet. These were greatly appreciated because it is very difficult to find clothes (like t-shirts, for example) or souvenirs with “Bouzigues” on them. Isn’t that surprising? Franck and Sabrina gave him two great bottles of wine. Sandra and Jean-Louis’ present is great, too, but it’s not here yet.

We gave Michelle a mimosa tree, which she loved! Sidebar: Mimosas look suspiciously like acacia trees!

It was a fabulous day. We love our French family, and we are very grateful for them! Thank you all so much for a great party!!

Right before we left (at 6:00pm!), Noah went back for seconds.

Love to all!

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