Weekend Foodie Warriors- Take 56!
Hello hello, again, Foodie Friends 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great week so far! For this edition of Foodie Adventures, we’re taking you on a culinary trip to Spain (locally) for our review of Abanico Tapas Bar, and celebrating Pi Day last weekend with homemade pizza!
Abanico Tapas Bar
Downtown Greenville, SC
Food can transport you to anywhere in the world! 🌎 One of my favorite parts about having this blog and traveling with it is being able to bring little bites of other cultures’ culinary customs to our palates here at home. There’s such a great big world of flavor out there, and I’m so happy to get to share it with all of you!
A couple of weeks ago, we were contacted by one of the owners of Abanico Tapas in downtown Greenville, whose name is Amador (Ama for short). He let us know that Abanico’s had just brought in a brand new chef from Spain, and we should come to review the new menu and meet him in person.
Abanico has been known for its Spanish tapas for a long time. The first time I visited was in 2019 during SC Restaurant Week when I fell in love with their braised oxtail and amazing options for small Spanish delicacies. By the way, their sangria is dangerous, absolutely fantastic and you’re going to need a cab driver if you drink too much of this. 😂🍹 Of course, I hadn’t been back since Restaurant Week a couple of years ago though, so I knew it was a good time to stop by and have another go at their small plates.
This is definitely a restaurant suited for bringing friends and family and enjoying it as a group, or maybe splitting a couple of tapas with a date! I was curious to see how the menu had changed and how the new chef, named Javier Zamorano, would have updated the menu with his new arrival. Knowing how much food was going to be involved with this trip, I invited Jackie from Off the Grid Greenville to come along, as she is also a big fan of experiencing the world through food.
We started out with something simple from their 1st course small-plates menu – Fried Spanish almonds, called Alemendras, and Jamon Serrano, which was a plate of sliced Serrano ham. It was along the lines of what Iberico ham tastes like, however, this was from a different region in Spain.
The great thing about this trip was the restaurant knew we were coming (for once). Typically, when Jamie and I review a restaurant, we let them know after we’ve already had our meal, that we will be adding the restaurant to our blog or social media to review. This way, we get a more authentic experience as to what a typical trip to an establishment would be like.
In this case, though, Abanico had a variety of dishes specially picked that Chef Javier had prepared for us, including what you see on the table here, and brought to us by the lovely Liz in the picture. She has worked for Abanico for almost as long as it’s been in downtown Greenville and saw the restaurant go through various chefs and changes before finally securing Chef Javier. She told us how excited she was to see some of the new dishes and ideas that he is planning on bringing to Abanico Tapas.
He was well known at some great restaurants in Spain, including one called Cabo Mayor in Madrid, where he worked for quite a long time before moving his family stateside.
Javier joins existing Abanico chef, chef Heather Smithgall, whose background is in Mediterranean, French, and Italian cuisine! She has been with Abanico Tapas since January of last year, and is looking forward to being more creative with Javier‘s collaboration on the new menus. He plans on changing the menu to have each section feature specific regionally inspired Spanish cuisines and dishes, so you can quite literally taste your way around Spain (in tapas form). Tapas are super popular in Spain, which translates to “little plate”, although each culture around the world seems to have some version of tapas or small appetizer-sized portioned meals.
I was also happy to be able to practice my Spanish when I was introduced to Chef Javier, as he does not speak any English. Of course, “Spain” Spanish is a lot different than Mexican Spanish, the latter is what I studied for seven years. However, I could still understand about 85% of what he was saying! The rest of the restaurant staff are bilingual and speak English as well as Spanish. However, it definitely elevates the experience when you know the chef is legit and is making dishes that are from somewhere he grew up making and has a ton of experience in.
Some of the ones that we picked out and loved were the Paella Negra, which is squid-ink paella with squid and shrimp (first picture), and the Paella de la casa, (the house paella) complete with Sofrito rice, saffron, chicken, and pork (second picture). We also tried the Papas Aromatitadas Queso y Trufa, which were potatoes topped with truffle oil and Manchego cheese. As a non-dairy person, I was super happy to see how prevalent Manchego cheese was on the menu, which is a very traditional Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk. It tastes along the lines of an asiago cheese from Italy if you’ve had that before, or a Parmigiano-Reggiano. We also tried the Patatas Bravas (on the right-hand side of the last picture above) which were Spanish-style spicy potatoes.
Next up were the Croquetas de Pollo, hand-rolled traditional fried chicken croquettes (top left); the Rabo de toro, which is braised oxtail and potatoes (my favorite from the first time that I visited); along with something I loved but hadn’t tried before now, the Tuetano de Res – bone marrow with mushrooms and baguettes.
We also tried all three of Chef Javier’s weekly specials, which included Delicias de Elche, which were bacon-wrapped almond stuffed dates. My gosh were those to die for, I probably could have eaten about 12 of those if you stuck them in front of me.
Next was Higada de Pollo, which I wasn’t a huge fan of – chicken livers in an onion reduction sauce. I love a good onion reduction, and I have tried chicken livers before, but there’s something about the texture and that iron-y taste of the liver that just doesn’t jive with me. For me, it’s more of a texture thing than a taste thing. I loved the onion reduction but I couldn’t get past the texture of the liver. It was nothing against the chef, simply personal preference. Ama mentioned that with this version, they were trying to get very close to the original flavor, based on tradition.
Last but not least was a seafood option, Bechamel stuffed mussels called Tigres. We absolutely loved all of the weekly chef specials and thought those were some of the best bites of the day!
This was definitely an amazing time and we can’t wait to go back! Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook (here) for the new weekly specials from Chef Javier, and stay tuned for more special Spanish dishes from these folks. 🙌💜 They will have outdoor seating and brunch in the works for the future as well, so definitely a restaurant to keep your eye on moving forward!
PI Day Pizza Making 🍕
Lake Norman, NC
What better way to celebrate Pi Day than by making your own pizzas! 😋🍕My mom just got a new bread maker for Christmas and we hadn’t gotten a chance to test it out yet. It actually has a gluten-free setting, so we ended up making both regular pizza dough and gluten-free pizza dough, along with a loaf of bread for her (GF) as well.
We made everything family style, and started with the sauce and some chopped up veggies including tomatoes, onions, and peppers. We also threw some mushrooms in there for good measure!
We also had both pepperoni and linguica (pictured in the skillet above), which is a Portuguese sausage, somewhat similar to chorizo. If you grind it up and put it on pizza, it caramelizes and gets super crispy and crunchy. It’s absolutely delicious and something I definitely miss having since we moved down from New England. You can find it at Publix though, which is awesome, so I do get it occasionally and put it on pizzas or add it into omelets.
The round pizzas you see here are the gluten-free ones, and the big square looking pizza was using the normal pizza dough.
Making food with family was definitely a lot of fun, since we hadn’t visited for a while. It was great to be able to have made something that everyone could enjoy, mom with the gluten-free pizza crust, and me with adding non-dairy cheese to our pizzas.
How did you celebrate Pi Day this year? Are you more of a traditional pie fan or do you include pizzas in the mix? Let us know in the comments below! 🙌
So how was your weekend, Foodie Friends? Have you tried Myles Pizza Pub yet? What did you think of that cheese pull? What’s the next restaurant we need to review? Sound out in the comments below to let us know your suggestions of what dishes to make or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗