Chorizo Paella at Portobello Market, London

Really it's Paddington Bear's fault, not the white rabbit's. Paddington's the reason I fell down the rabbit hole in the first place, and every time after, into the whimsical wonderland of Portobello Market.

He lured me into 'Alice's' on Portobello Road, inviting me to explore a warren of curiosities.

Paddington Bear outside Alice's at Portobello Market, Notting Hill, London.
"Do come in," said Paddington.

Fifteen annual trips to London and fifteen adventures in Portobello Market later, its charm never ceases. It continues to grow curious and curiouser every time. That's probably what draws me to return time and again.

You would think that doing the same thing over and over again each time might soon get old. But it never does. Plus, it's never really the same, is it?

While there's something to be said about familiarity greeting me with all the warmth and comfort of a long lost friend, there are also new sights, sounds and smells to discover each time at Portobello. 

Seafood paella full of king prawns and mussels at Notting Hill's Portobello Market, London.
"Off with their heads," I cry before devouring a plate of seafood paella teeming with King prawns at Notting Hill's Portobello Market. My paella recipe is at the end of the post.

Tips for Navigating Portobello Market

"Begin at the beginning" the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end; then stop."

Very good advice indeed. I follow it.

I always get to Portobello Market early on Saturday. Why, sometimes, I've done as many as six impossible things before breakfast.  And breakfast is always had at the end of Portobello Market at the food stall vendors selling freshly baked delicious breads and baked goods.

Which is why I always approach Portobello Market from Notting Hill Gate and walk down Pembridge Road to the start of Portobello Road so I have plenty of time for adventures before I arrive at the other end with "eat me" signs all over the place that tempt me to no end.

At the start of Portobello Road, I know my time-hallowed friends will be awaiting my arrival on the well-worn corner around a wall-sign in huge Scrabble letters that aptly says 'Made Your Look.' Yes, you did. There's just so much to see.

SuThe Secret Garden at Sun in Splendour at the start of Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London
The Secret Garden at Sun in Splendour at the start of Portobello Road

What are my enduring friends wearing this year? Coats of canary yellow or pastels in pale shades of sunset colors, bedecked with baskets of flowers spilling out of window boxes?

After passing the neat rows of pastel shaded houses, one of which George Orwell lived in from 1927 to 1929, I am greeted by Alice's trinket shop in post box red that sets the tone for the next few blocks on Portobello Road as delicate shades make way for jolly primaries.

Paddington Bear outside Alice's at Portobello Market, Notting Hill, London.
Paddington Bear lures me down the rabbit hole into Alice's at Portobello Market, London

A brief sighting of Paddington Bear at the front door of Alice's has me rushing into this wonderland of vintage bric-a-brac, signs, posters books, old toys  and other curiosities. Deeper down the rabbit hole I go. 

Just look, do not buy this time, I caution myself. 

But that's just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it. I agree with Alice as I struggle out of the shop with my purchases. 

I wonder which way I ought to go.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," I hear a little voice whisper.

Antique stores, stalls selling vintage ware, bargain shopping, restaurants, pubs, food stalls, books, maps, music, public toilets, fashions, fresh food stalls, cheese, fresh fruit and flowers? Where did I want to get to?

Keep walking. 

Follow the tourists and the locals alike. 

Follow the rows of over a thousand stalls, deviate behind the stalls to wander through the arcades and passages that take you deeper into the rabbit hole. 

Follow your eyes.

Be tempted by all the 'drink me' signs around that beckon to you. 

It's usually too early for me to stop for a pint. It would be bound to disagree with me sooner or later. But I do stop for a cup of tea at a corner shop, where I while away time looking out the window at the motley crowds swirling around with a vibrant energy. It's quirky. It's mad. 

The Distillery, Portobello Market, Notting Hill, London
If you look for them, you'll see "Drink Me" signs every where.
Heed them.

A huge Hugh Grant fan and an even bigger fan of the movie, "Notting Hill", no trip to Portobello market is complete for me until I pay homage at "The Notting Hill Bookshop."

The book shop from the movie "Notting Hill" was inspired by "The Notting Hill Bookshop" at 13 Blenheim Crescent in Portobello Market.
The book shop from the movie "Notting Hill" was inspired by "The Notting Hill Bookshop" at 13 Blenheim Crescent in Portobello Market.

Two hours later, I'm about half way down Portobello Road heading towards Golborne Road and I think it's about time to start following my nose. 

I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is 'what'?

There's just so much choice.  Italian, Spanish, North African, Carribbean street food. Churros, bratwurst, crepes, curry, paella. Or should I buy breads, pastries, croissants, danishes, cakes, cheese, olives...

The choice is endless, but after spending 20 minutes watching the Spanish cooks prepare different varieties of paella in their humungous pans, I feel I owe it to them to try a plate of steaming hot paella.

That's logic!

Man cooking paella at Portobello Market, Notting Hill, London
Seafood paella with king prawns, mussels, squid rings, garlic, onion, chopped tomato, sweet smoked paprika, green peas and Spanish rice prepared outdoors in Portobello Market, London.

Chorizo Paella at Portobello Market

It really is special to watch paella prepared outdoors at Portobello market. The most popular options are seafood paella filled with king prawns, mussels and squid rings, Valencian paella with chicken and runner and butter beans and chorizo paella with pork sausage, red bell peppers, green beans and peas.

Chorizo paella cooked uncovered with chorizo sausage, red peppers and green beans.
Chorizo paella cooked uncovered with chorizo sausage, red peppers and green beans.

With my tummy full, I continue meandering until I stumble upon a new find. A Spanish grocery store! I peruse the shelves at Garcia's and Sons- Food and Wines of Spain to find everything that I need to make a delicious chorizo paella myself- the special Calasparra Spanish rice, picante chorizo pork sausage marinated with paprika, a tin of sweet smoked paprika, saffron and a bottle of Paella stock. I add fresh green beans, red bell peppers and frozen peas to my grocery basket and check out.

Ingredients for an authentic chorizo paella: Calasparra rice, saffron and paella stock.
Ingredients for an authentic chorizo paella: Calasparra rice, saffron and paella stock.

I'm eager to make a chorizo paella for dinner tonight. 

It's time to head home. Yet again, Portobello Market has not disappointed.

When I get home, I shall write a book about this place.

Essential Ingredients of Traditional Paella

The make an authentic paella, one needs a couple of authentic ingredients, without which you couldn't really call the dish a true paella. L'Espanola's guide outlines the importance of these essential ingredients.
  1. Olive Oil
  2. Bomba or Calasparra Spanish Rice
  3. Saffron, that gives paella its yellow color and aromatic flavor.
  4. Sofrito, a flavorful mixture of onions, garlic, tomatoes and peppers.
  5. Fumet, a flavorful broth to cook the rice in.
  6. Vegetables/Meat/ Seafood

Recipe for Easy Chorizo Paella


☐  2 cups of Calasparra or Bomba Spanish rice
☐  Chorizo sausages, cut into pieces
☐  2 handfuls of raw green beans, trimmed
☐  2 onions, chopped
☐  1 red bell pepper
☐  2 tomatoes, chopped
☐  4 cloves garlic, chopped
☐  3 teaspoons paella stock
☐  2 teaspoons sweet paprika
☐  Olive oil
☐  4 cups boiling water
☐  Pinch of saffron strands mixed in a little water and set aside
☐  1 lemon, cut into wedges

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Sofrito

Heat olive oil in a paella pan. Add chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes and bell peppers and fry lightly until softened.

Step 2: Add the sausage and rice

Add the sausage and fry lightly. Then add the rice and paprika. Fry lightly. Add the boiling water to the mixture. Add the paella stock and saffron strand mixture. Stir. Add salt if required.
Then add the green beans on the top of the rice.

Step 3: Cook

Reduce the flame and continue to cook until the rice has absorbed all the water and has cooked. Add frozen green peas and allow the rice to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with lemon wedges.

For more of my travelecipes, just click on the "TRAVELECIPES" tab below. 
It's logic!

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