This last weekend to celebrate Lisa’s birthday, it was time for an autumn event to perhaps match the same splendor as our summer experience at Gjelina.
We were invited by our friends at LaEspañola Meats, to enjoy an exclusive tour of their facility, and a spectacular meal of authentic Valencian paella. Our meal was prepared by founder Dona Juana (pictured in photo), and her son-in-law Alex was our host for the afternoon.
As we arrived, Juana (in photo) was putting the finishing touches on the gigantic pan of paella for 80, so we suited up for our tour rounds with Alex. The day just got better and better.
LaEspanola’s story began when Frank Faerone, an Italian-American from Ohio met and fell in love with Juana Gimeno from Valencia, Spain. The couple moved to southern California to raise their family.
Juana shopped at a small deli, owned by a Spanish couple who made their own sausage and cured meats. When the elderly couple retired, Juana and Frank bought their business, and LaEspanola Meats was born.
Today, the two-generation family have a thriving enterprise that is truly one of southern California’s finest treasures! LaEspanola Meats is an importer, distributor, retailer, and wholesaler of fine Spanish foods and in true tradition, they manufacture premium Spanish sausages and cured meat products.
Jamon Serrano & Chorizo Bilbao
On our tour, Alex showed us the entire manufacturing facility where everything from Jamon Serrano, to the Chorizo Bilbao used in paella, is made. We ogled at everything from the fine Euopean grinding units to the vast drying rooms to the huge warehouse of imported products. In awe for the duration, we anticipated how we’d love to create an exclusive event here for Melting Pot Food Tours.
At the table, our sacred time included a bottle of sparkling water and fine red wine, a plate of charcuterie and cheese, amazing Spanish bread, olives, the fantastic paella, dessert, espresso ... and Alex’s wonderfully gracious company. In the dreary, drizzly weather, their tented patio made us feel safe, warm, and perhaps like we were VIPs in Spain!
On Saturdays, with reservations in advance, everyone is welcome to enjoy Juana’s exquisite paella at their Harbor City location, or for takeout. Consider shopping in their grocery store, which offers tasting samples on Saturdays. Take home some irresistible Spanish cheeses, breads, olives, wine, chocolate, pantry goods, and their amazing sausages and cured meats. You may also shop online!
If you happen to be in mid-city LA, our Original LA Farmers Market boasts their own Little Spain, which offers imported groceries and, authentic paella and tapas at their restaurant as well. Monsieur Marcel, Tusquellas Seafood Market, and Huntington Meats can most probably complete your shopping for the best paella ingredients in town!
To be personally directed where to shop, may I gently suggest our ever-popular Melting Pot Food Tour of the Market and West 3rd Street?
I also heartily encourage you to consider exploring LaEspanola with us! We’d love for you to delight in this authentic, delicious Spanish experience we shared with Alex, so please let us know if you'd like to join us!
Until next time, I remain ~
Your Chef and Tour Maestra,