I can remember the first time I had paella. It was in 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it started a love affair with this amazing dish. Like most great dishes, there are several ways to make it, but mostly there are two basic versions: chicken and sausages, and seafood. While both are great, I’m a seafood paella man myself, and I love how so many items can be included, such as shrimp, oysters, mussels, shrimp, octopus, and salmon. I love every one of these items separately, putting them into one dish with sausage, spices and rice takes my taste buds to entire new level of joy.
Atlanta has several restaurants that serve outstanding paella, including The Iberian Pig, Barcelona Wine Bar, Bulla Gastrobar, La Fonda Latina, Gypsy Kitchen, Bar Mercado and Eclipse di Luna. Botica recently opened in Midtown, and we were thrilled that paella is on the menu.
When we found out that Botica is offering paella every Wednesday, we just had to go to the Midtown restaurant to try it out. When I first tasted it, I was blown away. Chef Mimmo takes pride in his cooking, and every dish that I have had there wows me every time.
"After gathering all of my ingredients, between fish and the farmer's market, I pick up my favorite bottle of Albariño and slowly enjoy the paella preparation ritual,” Chef Mimmo says.
He uses Springer Mountain Farms chicken, vegetable refrito, tomato fume, saffron broth, fish, shrimp, rabbit, chorizo, mussels, clams and seasonal vegetables. Even the decorative flowers are edible!
Sounds amazing, right? I think so!
The key is in the preparation and not rushing the magic.
"It usually takes about 20 hours of preparation and only 12-15 minutes to prepare a paella for two, perfectly paired with a Spanish Tempranillo,” he says.
Chef Mimmo, who was born in Lebanon but lived in Spain and Italy, says that both the Spanish and French claim paella, and while he won’t take sides, most people believe it was started in Valencia, Spain. Paella is a Valencian word that means "frying pan," and paella is brought to the table in a pan with two handles.
Right now Chef Mimmo is making his paella in dishes for one (and the paella is so big that one order can be shared by two), but he eventually plans to cook it in a big pan and have a paella celebration every Wednesday. Trust me. Chef Mimmo will wow you with his paella, and if it’s your first time ordering it, he will quickly turn you into a fan. Not only is Chef Mimmo an amazing chef, but he also truly cares about his customers. So go to Midtown, sit on his patio and let Chef Mimmo wow you with his hospitality and cook — especially the Wednesday night paella.