Sure the heat index is 116 degrees. But Jaleo does have air-conditioning, and with several locations in the D.C. area, those of you who can make it to the 9th annual Paella Festival ought to do so this week—the festival (really, a special menu of limited-time varieties of exotic paella) is going on now at Jaleo restaurants until the end of the month.

Last week a colleague and I were honored guests at Jose Andres's flagship Spanish tapas restaurant in downtown D.C. and were treated to an array of sumptuous paellas, ranging from Paella de verduras y setas (seasonal mushrooms and vegetables) to the traditional Paella Valenciana (with chicken, rabbit, and lima beans) to the Paella de pescados y mariscos (seafood paella) to the stunning (and table favorite) Paella de Fideo negro con pulpo y ajetes (Spanish vermicilli with octopus, ink, and garlic). Hungry yet?

Or perhaps you're asking what the heck is paella? It would be too simplistic to call it Spanish risotto. So this demo starring Jaleo's superstar chef Ramon Martinez on the local CBS affiliate provides a better (and visual) explanation. In case you are wondering, Señor Andres himself was not there—at this point he is running an empire from here to Las Vegas to Los Angeles. But he does make the rounds, I am told, and his energy is uncontainable. (This 60 Minutes profile sums him up well.) Yes, this is a shameless plug to thank our gracious hosts. But Andres does deserve much credit—he opened the first Jaleo (on the corner of 7th and E, NW) at a time when streetwalkers were still common and crime was still high. The novel Spanish tapas restaurant was a lone culinary outpost. But the risks and sacrifices paid off.

And did I mention the paellas are really, really good?

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