The first thing Jonathan Schuyler does when I walk through his door is hand me a glass of bright white Rioja. This shouldn’t be a surprise—he’s the wine-and-beverage director at 2941 restaurant in Falls Church.
It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon, and Schuyler is cooking with his wife, plus a line cook and pastry chef from the restaurant. Schuyler worked as a chef for several years before switching to wine, and his days off are a chance to play in the kitchen again.
Schuyler and his wife went to Spain last year and he misses it, so tonight he lays out charcuterie, olives, and crostini rubbed with roasted garlic and tomato. His friends chat while he chops carrots, onions, and jalapeños into precise cubes.
When the charcoal grill is ready, Schuyler hands each guest something to bring outside—more wine, spices, and chopped vegetables. He oils a paella pan, sets it atop the grill, and sautés the carrot and onion until they turn soft. Long-grain rice—less starchy than the short-grain variety typically used in paella—goes in next, followed by seafood broth.
Schuyler gives the paella a stir and takes a break to open a bottle of Cava by using a long, flat knife to saber the top off. He holds the bottle at an angle, slides the knife along the seam on the neck of the bottle, and slices the bottle open with dramatic flair.
He then returns his attention back to the paella, throwing in some saffron, smoked paprika, zucchini, ramps, bay scallops, and shrimp. He stirs the mixture until it’s almost cooked through, then turns the wooden spoon over to a guest. Inside on the stove, he sears sea scallops and skate wing until they’re caramelized. Those get added to the paella pan, too, along with scallions, Himalayan sea salt, and lemon.
Everyone picks up glasses, empty Cava bottles, spices, and the paella and heads inside. And I leave them to enjoy a perfect spring Sunday.
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