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I first met Noemi Garcia at this year's inaugural SBS Food Journey Festival. Basically, a slightly negative critique of her food at the festival resulted in a group of food bloggers dining at her house. You can read the full story here. What I can say is that I applaud Noemi for wanting to prove herself and it takes a brave and strong person to take this risk. We all make mistakes, but people who try to correct them are the ones who get my respect.
So let me give you some background about Noemi. She's of Spanish heritage and started her catering company, Casa Pepe, a couple of years ago. She found that her passion for food kept nagging at her, and although she enjoyed her social worker job, she felt that she needed to pursue this aspect of her life. Noemi took a big risk and put all her money into her catering company and quit her job. The food she serves is of Spanish heritage, from family recipes that she inherited from her family. The name of the catering company is even derived from her father Pepe.
When we arrive to Noemi's home, she leads us to a beautifully decorated table. We sit down and chat while Noemi tells us that she will be in the kitchen preparing the food. We start off with some Pizza, Spanish style. The pizza was excellent, with a thin crispy crust and beautiful grilled vegetables. I'm sure my regular readers will know that I do not like vegetables but I lapped up this pizza. The next item we had were Tarts with Cheese and Quince. Everyone eats quince paste with cheese already, so why no one has put them into a tart is beyond me. But the combination works beautifully. You first taste the cheese and then eventually you hit the quince paste at the bottom to finish on a sweet-ish note. The Fried Calamari was also excellent, crispy but still soft.
When we finally arrived at the main event of the night, we all gasped. It looked absolutely amazing and smelled so good. I dug the first spoon into the paella and had a taste. Perfection. The rice was full of flavour, with individual soft grains and great burnt bits at the bottom which I love. The chicken pieces were soft and the prawns full of flavour and still bouncy. I don't eat mussels but the others tell me they were really fresh. It was a huge pan of paella and I was shocked that the six of us managed to eat through all of it. It was that good. We also had it with the fresh tomatoes which Noemi said is how it is traditionally eaten. From this dish alone, Noemi proved that she can definitely cook, and cook well. It turns out the the SBS festival was her first major festival, there was lots of confusion with the organisation of the festival, which is why the food may not be at it's normal best with such conditions. But this meal showed how good the food can be. We finished off the wonderful meal with a divine dessert, a Pedro Ximinez ice cream that Noemi made, with nougat swirled through it. Look at all the food bloggers snapping at the food, so funny.
We all had a great night and it was fantastic to hear from Noemi about herself and her dreams. I'm so happy that Noemi got to prove to us that she can cook great food. I'll definitely be looking out for her Casa Pepe stall at the next festival. Now I just need to find a reason to hire her for a catering function. If you need a function catered for, I can't recommend Noemi highly enough. You will just fall in love with the food.
Thank you Noemi for hosting us and treating us to such fantastic food.