Valanni Introduces “Forks + Corks” Series with a Wine and Paella Dinner on Jan. 20, 2009

A few months back we visited with Valanni when they hosted a Belgium Beer pairings dinner, well Valanni is at it again with another fantastic pairing this time with Wine and a Paella Dinner. The dinner includes four courses – tapas, cheeses, family-style meat and seafood paella and dessert – each paired with a Spanish wine. Turney added that there will be a vegetarian paella option available upon request. There are two seatings available on Jan. 20, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The cost is $55/person. Reservations for “Forks and Corks” are strongly encouraged, and can be made online at or by calling 215-790-9494.
Tuesday night a few people in the food industry media gathered at the invitation of Valanni’s to try out their new “Forks + Corks” Series with a Wine and Paella Dinner which they are going to be featuring on 1/20/09 at two seatings. Sometimes before a restaurant debuts a new menu or a special menu night, they invite the media or foodie people for a sampling, so they have an idea about what they may be writing about in order to promote an event if they desire.I love going to these events, not for the meal as much as really enjoying spending time with my peers in the media biz. When I photograph people, celebrities etc in NYC, I have a lot of company in the sense that there are alot of photographers, fans & autograzzi’s at the events I attend, but here in Philly it can be kinda lonely as I have no one really doing my thing at the events, so I really enjoy these nights. Plus when I shoot events, I try not to talk to too many people so I don’t miss a shot that might manifest itself.

On January 20, not only will we be celebrating Change in the White House, but also celebrating Tapas for the Table and a new creation “Rabbit Wings” cooked in a chipotle-barbeque sauce, fresh cilantro and mint (it was very good, I wanted more, but it was a tasting darn) Plus the first course included ground lamb meatballs and crispy chickpeas and Chorizo, hmm hmm good. I missed the next course as I was talking too much, and well I had a captive audience in Drew Lazor from the City Paper and his friend Matthew Siwek (who was the perfect plus 1 as he works at El Fuego.) I have to say I am just blown away that I get to meet the people behind sites like the Foobooz duo Arthur Etchells and Kristen Henri and Lauren McCutcheon from Philly Mag, in the way back Philebrities Joey Sweeney & Ruth Carpenter, which I read two or three times a day.

Philly Style Magazine’s Sarah Schafer, Where Magazine’s Laura Burkhardt, Bruce Yelk and NBC10’s Megan Stecher (Last week Megan filled in at the traffic desk did you see her, she’s a natural.)

Matthew Siwek, NBC10’s Mac Francis, Zelinda O’Hora, Jimmy Contreras, Valanni publicist Mathew Vlahos, and photographer Christopher Gabello, who takes a lot of the food photos for many restuarants in Philly including Valanni’s.

“When I went to Spain, there was this little restaurant actually called ‘Paella’ in Madrid. They were known to have some of the best paella in the country – and I fell in love with the stuff, even bought my first paella pan right there from the restaurant,” said Executive Chef R. Evan Turney. “When I came back to the states, I started playing around with my own dishes. They use different rice in Spain, and I think the secret to our paella at Valanni is our rice. It has so much more flavor than traditional varieties.”

The well rested Philebrity, Joey Sweeney, Ruth Carpenter, Philebrity & Phoodie writer Collin Flatt and Laura Burkhardt

Breaking NBC10 news, are you listening Brooke de la Villanova I think there’s something going on here, could you look into it please?

Although I was present for the entire meal, as I mentioned I was running my mouth for the entire meal, until this dish came out and I picked my jaw off the ground. OMG it was as delicious as it looks. I’m not kidding, I am a Seafood Paella expert, my fav dish used to be at a restaurant in NYC (and I would travel there monthly to have it), but no more this Seafood Paella was beyond spectacular, it was smooth, lightly spicy, chock full of seafood and did I mention delicious. I will be back, probably on January 20, 2009 because my Mike has got to have this. Megan also loved it stating “Lots of little surprises with each mouthful” (I didn’t take this photo, it was provided by Valanni)

Desert wasn’t on the table long enough to photograph: Oreo Beignets, with ice cream and warm Carmel. Drew loved it, Megan again with the winning quote “Best ever. 1000 times better than the ones on the boardwalk.” So after you ring in the new year with our new president, I would highly recommend you enjoy this special night with the special someone and go to Valanni’s and enjoy a four course dinner with a Wine and a Paella Dinner.