- The Main Attraction:
- The Atmosphere
- The Venue/Location
So just last week, I was invited to a great little cooking event over at Pimenton. So what’s for dinner tonight? I was very fortunate to be a part of a cooking class held by owner and Chef Jose Arato to learn how to cook Chicken and Seafood Paella the authentic way. So I definitely want to thank Jose Arato(@PimentonTO), Mary Luz Mejia(@MaryLuzOnFood) and another Mary (@citrusblack) for the invite. It was truly my honor in attending the cooking class which gave me the chance to learn and improve upon my cooking skills and knowledge. So many many thanks.
681 Mount Pleasant Rd
Toronto, ON M4S 2N2
Pimenton is located along Mount Pleasant Road just south of the intersection of Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant. Now this isn’t your typical restaurant or shop. Sure they do serve some food, cater and sell great products for all your Spanish and Mediterranean needs, but they also offer cooking events/classes. This is where they really shine. Pimenton’s owner and Head Chef Jose Arato, comes from Venezuela and knows authentic Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. As well, he’s an awesome pastry chef spending a few years working at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto. So if you ever get the chance to take up a cooking class or go in for one of their cooking events, you are in for a major treat.
The night started off with a simple mix and mingle where delicious appetizers were served. Knowing dinner would be served a little late, Chef Arato took care of us with some nice Spanish app tapas. From flaky Phyllo Triangles to tasty tartlets, they were all fantastic. In fact, they have classes to teach you how to make these Spanish tapas at home.
Once everyone has arrived, Mary Luz welcomed us all and gives a few instructions for the night. PS, she is definitely one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Can’t thank you enough. So for the night, Chef Arato started off by preparing the Turrón ice cream which we will all enjoy later. Knowing the time it took to get ready, this was definitely needed. There’s an interesting twist to his Turrón Ice Cream which he adds sea salt and olive oil…. interesting eh? No expert on ice cream, but I welcome the twist which later proves to be a perfect balance. More to come later.
With dessert basically done, it was about time we begin the hard work. Being a cooking class, we were provided nice aprons which some attendees ended up wearing it backwards (Patricia, (@luxual), lol. =P). I was slotted right next to Chef Arato which will later prove to be disastrous… as I kinda butchered the chicken, sorry guys. The ingredients for a serving of 6-8 for their Chicken and Seafood Paella are as follows after the jump:
2 cloves garlic, peeled 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped coarsely 1 good Pinch of saffron, infused 4 chicken breasts, boneless cut up 2 squid, cleaned, cut into rings 16 very small clams, soaked to remove sand 16 shrimp, shelled and deveined Nice Spanish Oil for cooking and finishing touches 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 red pepper, finely chopped ½ cup of Sofrito 3 cups Bomba rice 6 ½ cup Chicken or Fish broth, kept hot 1 tablespoon salt (however add more as required) ½ cup green beans ½ cup frozen peas ½ cup lemon 2 Sweet roasted red peppers 2 dozen mussels, steamed Lemon wedges (for decor)
Yours truly was responsible for the red peppers, parsley, chicken breast which I definitely cut into smaller than preferred pieces and the squid. Once all the prep work was completed, we were able to see Chef Arato in action once again as we started to cook the Paella.
During cooking Chef Arato shared with us a few tips when cooking Paella at home… not all of us have Paella Pans, but definitely try and use flat-bottom pans as even heat distribution is vital. He advises to constantly taste the flavours and even the shrimps =P to ensure what you’re cooking isn’t too salty and caters to your guest. However, a key thing is before the Bomba Rice is added, it can/should taste a little saltier as the rice will absorb some of the saltiness. I guess after a few tries, you’ll know how salty or non-salty you’ll like your paella. Chef Arato advises strongly to use Bomba Rice as it expands 3 times larger than your typical rice. As well, it’s very hard to overcook and with Paella, using normal rice can ruin the dish quickly. Pimenton has great Bomba Rice, so look no further. As a rule of thumb, when pouring the Bomba Rice pour it from one handle of the Paella Pan to the other. That way you won’t have too much cause it’s better to have too little than to have too much. And lastly, always make sure you have extra chicken or fish booth, if you do run out yes you can always add water.
Once all the cooking was finally done, we were able to enjoy it. This was by far the most rewarding part as the smells during the whole night made it nearly impossible to quiet our stomachs of what was to come. But as the saying goes, it was definitely worth the wait. The Paella was accompanied with an Escalivada which is a eggplant and pepper salad. We were also served a nicely made sangria which just continued to widen our smiles across the whole table. I personally loved the Chicken and Seafood Paella so much I just had to get seconds… but waittt, we were also served dessert. We were given the Turrón Ice Cream that was prepared earlier in the night. As well, Chef Arato served up some Santiago Cake which is an almond cake that he made gluten free. I was extremely happy that night as Chef Arato spoiled us good.
Overall, I really enjoyed Pimenton. When you’re surrounded by great people such as Chef Arato and Mary Luz who genuinely have a passion for food and spoil you whenever possible, you know you’re in for a treat. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to check out some of Pimenton’s cooking classes. I’ll be honest as I didn’t know much about Paella let alone that there are classes you can take. But after tonight I’m definitely glad I got invited out to Pimenton for their paella cooking class. Pimenton is a gem that’s hard to beat. It’s hard to beat not because of just the high quality of food and care Chef Arato puts into it, but it’s because of Chef Arato that makes it a gem