Celebrate Fiesta, Loquita-Style

Santa Barbara’s Sole Spanish Restaurant Shares DIY Recipes for Paella and Sangria

Loquita's Verduras Paella
Courtesy Photo

The trendsetting cuisine of today’s Spain is certainly much evolved from when José de la Guerra left his hometown of Novales near Santander in 1792 and started his trek to becoming one of Santa Barbara’s founding fathers. Yet he’d likely find nostalgic similarities, from the fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables that are so central in modern Spanish cuisine to the sherries and zesty wines from his homeland that are again catching popularity across the world.

As Old Spanish Days kicks off this week, we turn to Loquita (202 State St.), the only adamantly Spanish restaurant in town, for some suggestions on how to celebrate Fiesta. “Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbara brings everything home at Loquita since our restaurant is inspired by the colorful Spanish heritage of our beautiful city,” said the restaurant’s GM, Cassie Foster. “This festival gives us an opportunity to celebrate with paella, tapas, sangria, and so much more. Plus, the flamenco dancing really gets the party going!”

She shares the restaurant’s recipe for Verduras Paella (veggie-style) and a couple of sangrias below. And if you’d rather let the Loquita team do the work for you, buy a $75 ticket ($25 for kids 12 and under) to watch the Fiesta parade from the restaurant on Friday, August 3, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., while eating paella, sipping on sangria, and watching your kids make casacarones. And if you’d just like to see some dancing with a glass of vino, Loquita’s owners are again hosting the Zermeño Dance Academy in free performances that Saturday at 1 and 5:45 p.m. outside the Santa Barbara Wine Collective (131 Anacapa St., Ste. C), which will be selling wine by the glass. See loquitasb.com.

Loquita's Sangria Roja
Paul Wellman

Sangria Roja

For 12 5-ounce servings:

1 bottle red wine

1¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

¾ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

¾ cup Spanish brandy

¾ cup simple syrup

2 Granny Smith apples

6 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, sliced for garnish

Combine wine, juices, brandy, and simple syrup. Add a chopped green apple and 6 cinnamon sticks. Let it sit overnight, covered in the refrigerator. Keep stored in tightly sealed container. Pour over glass full of ice, and stir. Garnish with orange slice and diced green apple.

Loquita's Sangria Blanca
Courtesy Photo

Sangria Blanca

For 12 5-ounce servings:

1 bottle white wine

1 cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

¾ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 cup simple syrup

¾ cup gin

1 bunch fresh mint (reserve some sprigs for garnish)

6 quarts fresh strawberries (reserve 12 berries for garnish)

Combine wine, juices, syrup, and gin. Add mint and chopped strawberries. Let it sit overnight, covered in the refrigerator. Keep stored in tightly sealed container. Pour over a glass full of ice, and stir. Garnish with strawberry wheel and mint top.

Verduras Paella

Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ Spanish onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 cup mushrooms

2 summer squash, cut in large chunks

¼ cup Swiss chard, cut into chiffonade

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup canned tomato

4 cups vegetable stock or water

Pinch saffron

1 cup bomba rice

¼ cup lemon aioli

1 lemon, cut in half

Heat extra virgin olive oil in paella pan; add onion, garlic, and red bell pepper, and cook. Add tomato paste and canned tomato, and cook for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, squash, and chard, and cook until caramelized. Add vegetable stock or water, saffron, and a pinch of salt, and bring to boil. Add bomba rice, and cook on high heat for 10 minutes. Lower to medium heat, and cook for additional 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of rice has reached “socarrat” consistency (crunchy rice layer on bottom). Garnish with lemon aioli and lemon. Serve.


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