Paella and Tapas Traditional Catering has been cooking its paellas with Smoked Paprika from "Caballo de Oros" from La Vera, Caceres, Spain, since the creation of the company in Perth, Western Australia in 2010.
The Secret History of Paprika from La Vera
We will tell you how one of the most important ingredients in our cuisine was born in the most remote corners of the court of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire: Charles V.
Although there are various theories about it, historians have largely unraveled the origins of paprika from La Vera as we know it today. The history of this product is as peculiar as its production. The cultivation of peppers was introduced in La Vera in the 16th century by the Jeronimos monks of the Monastery of Yuste. Little is known about how the red, elongated, sometimes round, often spicy fruit made its way into the kitchens and workshops, initially being used for food preservation through marinating.
It does seem that it was the Jeronimos monks from the Monastery of Guadalupe (Extremadura) who were the first to cultivate the pepper when they received Columbus himself in 1493 after his first transoceanic adventure. Columbus visited Guadalupe to fulfill his vow of thanksgiving to the Catholic kings, delivering the seeds of this beautiful plant, initially thinking it was pepper (which was very valuable at that time). It was in a flour mill along the Guadalupejo River where the first grinding of the dried peppers took place. These monks quickly spread their knowledge of pepper cultivation to other Jeronimos congregations until the knowledge reached the Monastery of Yuste (in the region of La Vera, northern Cáceres), the place that would become the imperial residence of Charles I (Charles V) decades later.
For generations, these monks researched the mysteries of creating the new seasoning until they discovered the current formula for paprika from La Vera, which, of course, was enjoyed by the emperor himself during his spiritual retreat until his death in 1558.
The best-kept secret eventually leaked beyond the walls of Yuste, leading to a significant increase in pepper cultivation that had decisive consequences for the region of La Vera. It was the beginning of a saga that has been passed down from generation to generation, giving rise to an industry essential for the region's population and later for the entire gastronomy of Spain.
The first official registration data of the Caballo de Oros brand of paprika from La Vera dates back to 1938.
Caballo de Oros traditionally prepares that red gold that enhances the flavour of many of our everyday dishes, including our beautiful paella in Perth, and some others that we dare to create, leaving a delicious touch on our palate, thanks to that hint of paprika, that slightly spicy smoked pepper.
A UNIQUE PAPRIKA
Caballo de Oros paprika from La Vera is excellent, among other factors, because they are present in all the stages of the production/manufacturing of their product to ensure that its great gastronomic power remains absolutely intact. The idea is for you to receive La Vera paprika in your kitchen "as if it had just come out of the oven."
When September arrives, the peppers are hand-picked and transported to the pepper drying houses, where they are carefully selected and undergo the traditional drying process of La Vera, known as smoke drying with oak and holm oak firewood, different from those used in other paprika-producing areas. A wood-burning stove fueled by oak or holm oak provides the necessary heat for the perfect dehydration of the fruits. It is a slow process, taking 10 to 15 days, during which skilled hands expertly turn the peppers until they reach the ideal level of drying. This technique is traditionally called "rodear el pimiento" in La Vera.
The traditional drying system imparts the Caballo de Oros paprika from La Vera with its three fundamental characteristics: aroma, flavour, and colour stability.
The smoky aroma and flavour are obtained through the smoke drying process using holm oak or oak firewood. This distinct aroma becomes readily apparent when you savor our paella. As part of our experience, we encourage customers to savor the aroma of paprika, as it allows them to later identify and appreciate the same delightful essence in our paella.
During this time, as you enter La Vera, you start to perceive the characteristic smell of this region and season. The intense aroma of smoked pepper fills the area with magic and tradition, the same tradition you will experience when you engage Paella and Tapas Traditional Catering for your next event in Perth.
THE EXCLUSIVE GRINDING SYSTEM
The carefully selected peppers from La Vera are brought for grinding in traditional stone mills, whose stones are hand-prepared every year by our master millers.
During the milling process, special attention is paid to the temperature reached by the product to ensure the obtainment of a fine, uniform, and high-quality red powder.
Thanks to their grinding system, all the raw materials we use are transported by air from one mill to another through sterilized pipes, ensuring that the product never comes into contact with the outside environment. This prevents premature oxidation and loss of the paprika's qualities before it reaches the packaging.
At Caballo de Oros, they ensure that the product reaches the packaging (can, bag, or sack) with its powerful antioxidant properties intact and the highest level of preservation, fulfilling its primary objective: to be received by the customer with an unmistakable colour, flavour, and aroma, and unmatched quality.