Twin Cities Paella
Want your summer gathering to be a smashing success? Think beyond the same old backyard burger party and grilled sausage fest. While everyone else is calling in a food truck, I’m going to tip you to a more personal experience: a catering outfit known as Twin Cities Paella. Frank Machado is the chef behind the pan, and he’s got cred, having run the kitchen at Barrio for more than a year. Tired of the slog of restaurant life, Machado branched out on his own to bring paella to the people. If you’re unfamiliar, paella is that iconic Spanish dish that’s all rice and mixed proteins cooked with a rich saffron-tinged broth over an open flame in a wide, flat pan. It’s a party-pleaser because it’s both exotic and familiar. Machado’s versions run from surf ’n’ turf Valencia style (chorizo, chicken, calamari, shrimp, and the like) to vegetarian (mushrooms, asparagus, chickpeas, and arugula). There’s even a seasonal farmers’ style (with pulled pork, chicken, mushrooms, and artichokes). He’ll also bring salads and platters of Spanish tapas, pan con tomate (crusty bread with tomatoes), and gambas al ajillo (shrimp in garlic butter sauce), as well as pitchers of sangria featuring watermelon and gin, rosé and pomegranate, and other smart concoctions. You can opt to have him deliver the finished product for you to serve, but I recommend hiring him to set up and run the paella station to make it a more interactive experience with your guests. Standing and gabbing over a giant steaming pan of paella is a summer night you won’t soon forget. If you want to taste-test his paella, you’re in luck: Machado and crew will be manning the pan and selling ready-to-eat portions at the Midtown, Kingfield, Fulton, and Linden Hills farmers’ markets this summer. The sangria? You’ll just have to imagine.