What will rice have that any time, ephemeris or event serves as an excuse to give us a tribute, for example, the International Day of Paella, which is celebrated on Wednesday, September 20. In Madrid there are a good handful of addresses where they make luxury this and other recipes starring the most consumed cereal in the world. Here are four rice processing specialists.
Seafood paella, in St. James.
We started in this house that has been working rice for more than 50 years with a good hand and great product, a hallmark of the three spaces it has in the capital (the flagship in Juan Bravo, 26; Rosario Pino, 14-16 and Alcalá, 12, in Food Hall Canalejas Gallery).
Its offer includes about 30 recipes with different styles (dry, soupy or mellow), all with signature bomba rice, from the Albufera de Valencia and an exclusive harvest for the hotel group. Here there is Valencian paella, mixed, with lobster... Also rice with carabineros, lobster or with boletus and foie and even seasonal suggestions. The best seller is the St. James band, accompanied by Norway lobster shellfish, carabineros and prawns.
The key to the elaborations is, according to José Luis Armengol, owner of the ensign, in using "the best raw material and our fumet, which we elaborate by hand and distribute it to our premises"... And also to the most cooky individuals, since it is on sale in restaurants and in the online store.
In this adaptation to the times, evolving and reinventing oneself, there is no lack of a unique socarrat rice for which foreign diners sigh above all. "Our foreign client likes to choose a fish (sea bass, turbot, monkfish...) and eat it in paella on a thin rice base. For the outside public this is an accompaniment to the dish, "concludes Armengol.
The price of rice -also sold via delivery- starts at 23.50 euros per person (minimum two).
Cuttlefish rice and red shrimp, in Volley.
From one historical to another with less years -three-, although its name is already synonymous with good rice and has crossed the walls of the paddle club where it is located. Do not look here for the classic Valencian paella, because they do not make it, but five other recipes, among them, that of senyoret, a dry rice with monkfish and squid, which is the most demanded of the house.
"In all the dry ones we use the variety Bomba Rey de Molino Roca, super polished, very worked and only with the grains of the center of the pod, which helps it to be loose," explains Óscar Portal, a chef tanned in a thousand kitchens (Gran Casino de Madrid, Akelarre, Zalacain, Piñera).
Must of the house is the pigeon rice and black sausage, a very mountain recipe and unusual in our region. The secret is to prepare a farce that requires a lot of time to elaborate. "We worked for hours on the sausage, bacon and vegetables, which we poured into a chicken broth with stale wine. With it we wet the rice and end up with some pigeons on top."
In the vegetable garden, the success has to do with a very concentrated broth and the vegetables roasted in the oven and in the honeyed squid, garlic and Norway lobster, as well as with the first grilled marine product, with a carnaroli rice aged five years.
We close with the latest creation of Portal, whose protagonists are cuttlefish and red shrimp. "We launched this rice a couple of weeks ago and it's been a hit," says the chef. In this recipe the black color and the saline flavor of the cuttlefish ink are present.
Price: between 19 and 22 euros per person (minimum two). Address: Pedriza, 6 (Mad4padel, Pozuelo de Alarcón).
Senyoret rice, in Samm.
As the saying goes: "Experience is the mother of science". And both things are in this restaurant specializing in rice and Levantine cuisine. Experience, that of the Asunción family that has been running this house for half a century that opened its doors on September 25, 1973, today with the second generation at the head (Sergio in kitchen and Vicente in sauce). And science, which carry their rice recipes, which they make with care, time, fresh products and faithful to tradition.
They always have available the senyoret, which is the hit of the place, and the black (both minimum for two people). The rest (from four diners), whether the Valencian paella, vegetable rice, broths ..., are made to order "because their preparation requires more preparation. We are a classic rice restaurant, here everything is done at the moment, ex profeso. A sofrito for a black rice is not the same as for a paella; times are different," says Vicente.
The cereal they use is Bombita, a variety from Valencia, where the origins of the Asunción are found. "It comes from a local supplier. We always look for it to have an excellent and regular quality, which guarantees the optimum point of the rice, essential for it to absorb all the flavors. The harvests are not mixed because if it is a coupage of several sites, the cooking times vary, "says Vicente.
Price: 23.90 per person (except for some special rice whose ingredients are subject to the market). Address: Carlos Caamaño, 3.
Leek rice and monkfish, in Berlanga.
More rice dishes to celebrate, in this case in front of the Retiro. José Luis García-Berlanga is the patron saint of this food house that has a varied offer -in some cases on request- of paella and other dry rice dishes that are around ten and that has in the funds much of its essence. For example, with meat broth they prepare the classic Valencian paella and "the rice of prey, bombitas of Iberian bacon and green pepper. With one of artichoke leaves, very dark, which took us three days to prepare, we make the vegetable paella and the artichoke hearts and foie gras", details this gastronome and chef.
For seafood rice, the substance is a worked fish broth with which they give life to the band; senyoret, with red mullet, dogfish, cuttlefish and shrimp; to the red mullet and garlic tender or to the black, where he uses a dirty cuttlefish to use his ink and his interiors. "The most demanded is the senyoret, which the people of Madrid love," explains Berlanga, for whom the stars, in general and as a rice grower, are the a banda, the Valencian paella and the rossejat in winter (which in season he also usually has in his restaurant).
Restless mind and hand, Berlanga is creating: "The leek and monkfish and the tirabeques and foie I have invented. The prey too. Let's see which one I can think of this year so we don't get bored," he laughs.
The rice used is of the Albufera variety, from Herederos de Viel. "It's a tiny grain, but very grateful." And so much, because between February 2020 and December 2022 "we spent six and a half tons. From that date, we stopped counting," he concludes. Most are also available for delivery. Price: 22-26 euros per person (minimum two consumers). Address: Av. de Menéndez Pelayo, 41.