Naples is not known for a wide variety of ethnic food so my desire for all things tapas would have to wait. Or so I thought. My opinion changed back in October when I attended a dinner at Hotel Grand Angiolieri in Vico Equense, not far from Sorrento. It was there that I met Spanish chef Carlos Peña for the first time. Peña, who after nearly 18 months in Italy was about to open up his own restaurant in Naples. And not just any restaurant...one featuring Spanish cuisine, particularly tapas and paella.
September 28, after a lot of sacrifice and Neapolitan red tape Milagros Paella Gastrobar opened its doors for the first time. About 10 days later, I decided to pay a visit and see what it was all about.
I was greeted by a smiling Marina Delle Monache, part owner/graphic designer/interior designer/hostess and, coincidentally, the chef's fiance.
Marina invited me in, and I chose a seat in this casual, colorful corner of Spain.
I was handed the bright menu which promised to take me on a small tour of this large country .The menu explains everything- tapas traditions, paella, Spanish wine classification, etc etc etc.
I was lucky, that day, however, to have the chef sit down a bit and explain his beloved Spain, his love for culture, tradition, and good Spanish food.
One thing I have tasted before is Spanish ham. So I was excited when Peña sent me a plate of some of the best his country had to offer...starting with the big boy: the Jamón Ibérico...the 'pata negra'. It shared a plate with a spicy chorizo and the 'lomo coroda', which is a a flavored pork loin...
I had to wash it down with something, so I chose of of Spain's best beers (one that I later learned was voted the best in the world for 2012) - Estrella Galicia 1906 Reserva...
I could of spent a week just tasting those specialties, but I was very curious about what was to come next.
I learned from the chef himself how il tapeo is a way of life in some areas. Sort of like bar hopping in my college days :-)..
So at Milagros, he chose some typical tapas offering clients the choice of a small portion or a heartier one...
I was served
|chorizo sausage in red wine|
|croquettes di jamon|
A real paella prepared by a Spanish chef in the heart of Naples....
I chose what Peña informed me was the 'true' paella...one prepared with meat. The meat of the day? Rabbit mixed with artichokes, green beans, and the amazing riso bomba...crucial for the perfect paella...
It was lunch, so I didn't want to overdo it...but a Spanish sweet dessert I had to try.
Peña put together a simple (his words, not mine) dessert. Crema Catalana - a delicious cream flavored with citrus and spices...then the chef carefully caramelizes it with a mini blow torch.
My little trip to Spain was short...but sweet. An introduction to a gastronomic world that I could visit whenever I wanted...
now that Peña is in town...
|Chef Peña and Marina Delle Monache|
Tapas per tutti!
Milagros Paella Gastrobar
ia S.Maria in Portico, 15
tel: 081 032 0143