We're cooking a paella this week and it's such a happy, festive dish for a crowd that it calls for a Spanish theme to run through dinner. I'm always one for the easy option, particularly when friends come over. I admire but don't quite understand those who try out their most laborious and experimental cooking on guests. Tricksy, weird stuff? That's what my family's for, on sober evenings, when I have my wits about me, not socially stressed and a couple of finos worse for wear.
So if I was thinking a dinner with a paella as the main event, I'd keep the bits beforehand very simple: some slices of jamon, a bowl of warmed olives, maybe a few roasted almonds and always some crudites dipped in romesco, that wonderfully versatile and piquant Spanish sauce.