The gloves were off, the knives were drawn and with reputations as the world's best paella maestro at stake, it was time for the great #paellaoff between Monty and Vinnie.
This is what happens when friends who have known each other for over 30 years, get together on New Year's Eve.
Monty fired up the burners in the kitchen while Vinnie took over the barbecue. There were complaints about a lack of heat from the barbie but Vinnie soldiered on.
While the judges waited, mouths drooling as delicious aromas constantly wafted past, Micki showed her culinary stuff with a pissaladière from the oven and a huge platter of rock oysters generously topped with freshly ground pepper and lemon.
Here's some top tips from the chefs on how to make the perfect paella. One thing on which they both agree, is that you need to have a beer in your hand while cooking.
- Use fresh, homemade stock but Campells Real Stock is also good.
- Paella pan has to be the right size for the number of people you'll be serving.
- A basic steel pan that you can use on the barbecue is fine.
- Invest in good saffron.
- Have someone else do the preparation (Thanks Sam).
- Ensure a good, even heat source.
- Buy your saffron from a spice trader in Istanbul.
- Use a combination of home made chicken and vegetable stock
- Stir the stock in to distribute all the yummy ingredients, then don't stir it again.
- Layer the seafood, bit by bit, so that it doesn't become overcooked.
- Finally, make it look pretty.
In the interests of group harmony we didn't declare an outright winner. The paellas were different and there was little left of either by the end of the night! Both were winners.
We finished with a New York cheesecake made by Eat,drink+beKerry. I used this recipe from BBC GoodFood website. It was a straightforward recipe and I was pleased that there were no cracks in the top. The recipe said to leave it cool in the oven for two hours with the door open for a soft cheesecake and that's exactly what I got. I put some fresh, seasonal fruit on top.
The challenge is now out to K2 and Jimmy to come up with the next dinner-off.
Disclaimer: Just having fun with friends.