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Food fusions are a joyful dining experience where master minds in the kitchen create and combine, cross-cultural cooking techniques, flavors, and recipes to create taste-bud fireworks for your mouth. One in particular comes from a French Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara, called Petit Valentien. This restaurant has a mission to serve homemade french-inspired foods that came from recipes previously written on napkins, to craft a quality menu of French and Ethiopian foods! I visited Petite Valentien on a weekend, when their menu solely serves Ethiopian dishes. During the week you can find traditional French dining, such as escargot!
In an effort to satisfy my insatiable appetite for Ethiopian food, I ordered a combination plate that came with my selections of: chicken with a hard-boiled egg, sole fish with sautéed tomatoes/onions/peppers, spicy lentils, yellow and sweet mashed potatoes, collard greens, split peas, and a light salad tossed in an olive oil dressing, all served on top of a large piece of Injera.
Injera is a sourdough risen flat bread that looks and functions as a sponge, yet tastes sour and feels as light as a crepe. This bread is made of teff flour and represents the national dish of Ethiopia and Eritrea because it is the eating utensil of their cuisine. To make injera is a delicate process, as making any bread dough can be. If you want to make authentic injera, you need to find a “mother dough” or a pre-ferment, to begin the fermentation process in injera baking.
Serkaddis, the head chef, kindly made a visit to my table to share with me some exciting details of the menu. I learned that the injera is served fresh at the restaurant and is made of a mother dough from Idaho. She wakes up every weekend morning at 3am to begin cooking homemade Ethiopian dishes to
serve at lunch time. Her mission is to provide visitors with a quality and authentic Ethiopian food experience that will not leave one feeling bloated or uncomfortably full. With the quality ingredients and attention that she puts into her cooking, you know you will be in for an authentic and wholesome treat.
After living in the Goleta/Santa Barbara area for five years, I can confidently say that the food diversity scene is lacking. With a keen eye, you can find gems hidden amongst this subtly generic food scene. One of those gems is Petit Valentien. Dining here will leave you with a stomach full of flavors from around the world.