Jul 31st, 2008
Twain Harte is about 2.5 hours outside of the Bay Area and is a popular mountain vacation town with lakes in the summer and skiing in the winter. It’s like Tahoe without the attitude, crowds and prices. Thus the food scene in Twain Harte accommodates the clientele, as it should, and it’s not fancy. So, as a food snob on vacation, I go with the flow of the tranquil town and am delighted to be swept into The Prospector on a special prix fixe paella night which consists of four courses, each with a generous pour of finer wine. Sitting outside on a deck surrounded by redwoods, drinking Spanish wines, watching Bobby Martino work his magic at the wood fired oven is pure heaven.
And then the food comes. He clearly scoured the area for the freshest ingredients that day and used authentic Spanish additions. First is a chunky gazpacho with vivid flavors and colors. The bread in the cold soup has been soaked in aged sherry vinegar that complemented the garlic and tomatoes perfectly. Next comes the prawn crostini with cumin scented zucchini puree. Bobby clearly knows how to properly season and brighten his flavors because this course could have been dull but it is anything but. Then a surprise: the paella is not the shellfish variety like any good tourist will tell you about, but the original Valencian paella of rabbit and snails. Typical of paella, it’s a long time cooking, but we settle in with other local diners and a large bottle of wine and wait for the perfectly cooked entree. It’s beautifully complemented with baby purple carrots, baby corn and chorizo. He pulls off the house-made cinnamon ice cream with strawberry coulis and anisette- pinenut coca flawlessly. It was a perfect palate cleanser and sweet treat after a full meal. All the flavors were balanced and bright.
And at $32 per person, I am guessing he’s mostly doing it for the love.
You can get in on this love too, but leave your schedule and need for pampered service in the city. Rumor has it that the next paella night will be August 7 or 14th. Call to inquire and reserve. Other nights, stop by and try his certified authentic Napolitana pizza. I was not able to try it this time, but it will be my first stop next time I am up in the area.