Since the first day Adam and I became a couple, we committed to seeing each other as much as possible despite the fact that at the time, I was living in New York and he was living in Boston (we met in college and were friends for 5 years prior). We took weekly turns on the bus to/from New York/Boston to spend the weekends together (and I’m proud to say in nearly a year, we only missed 2 weekends because of work and school related travel!). For any of you that have been in long distance relationships, you know how hard it is to be apart during the week. Of course that also made the weekends that much more special. We took advantage of every minute together. It was like honeymooning every single week
Between Boston and New York, New York was decisively the cooler of the two, and I made sure to show Adam the best the city had to offer. We spent our days eating and drinking all over New York, enjoying perfectly pressed sandwiches oozing with goat cheese and plump tomatoes; feasting on ice cream, cookies and pastries while exploring new neighborhoods (ok the pastries part was all me ); and finishing our nights with indulgent dinners and cocktails at fancy restaurants. It is then that dining out became the core of our relationship. Good food really does bring people together (oh yeah, and love).
Eventually I developed an interest in cooking, but our love for eating out never died – it remains to be our favorite past time. Unfortunately due to my lack of income at the moment, our eating out budget has been cut significantly (it has been the hardest part of our transition). To “ease the pain,” I’ve been trying to recreate memorable meals out at home.
This dish of fideos with ham, shrimp and clams (recipe here; I halved it and it still made about 8 servings!) was inspired by a dish I had in a (surprise, surprise!) New York restaurant, Casa Mono (<—Mario Batali’s Spanish tapas restaurant in Union Square). It was my first time trying fideos which are thin noodles, replacing rice in this paella-like dish (yes, I know paella actually refers to the pan – not the dish – but in my mind rice, seafood and meats all cooked together with safron and Spanish spices = paella, regardless of the vessel they are cooked in). We were so blown away by Casa Mono’s fideos with chorizo and clams – we ordered round 2!
When Kerstin, Shannon and I decided to make a Spanish inspired feast, instead of going out to eat, I was eager to try my hands at a fideos dish myself… and I have to say it came out absolutely perfect – as good, if not better, than the fideos dish at Casa Mono!! Side note: Kerstin made manchego stuffed meatballs and fantastic potatoes and Shannon made some crazy brown rice milk cupcakes with almond cream cheese frosting, and her boyfriends supplied some home brewed beer and hard cider – oh yeah, we ate well that night!).
This dish is a little time consuming but it’s mostly inactive time. You can also make the ham hock broth ahead of time, and then the whole thing will come together leisurely in about 45 minutes. Easy peasy. It was my first time cooking with ham shanks/hocks (I found them in the frozen section at Whole Foods) – they lend an incredible smokiness to the whole dish since the noodles and seafood are cooked in the broth they produce. Oh and I also couldn’t find “fideos” so I bought angel hair pasta and broke it up into smaller pieces – it worked like a charm! This dish was hearty, smoky, briny (from the olives and clams) and buttery (from the shrimp) – I thought it was an incredibly impressive dish that is just perfect for company. Pair it with a simple salad or make a few other tapas, and your guests will be happy. I promise
Have you ever had fideos? Do you like recreating meals out at home?
PS – If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to enter my giveaway!