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Abyssinia, wonderful and exotic and very close to home

Armchair travelers and anyone who chomps a bit can hop on a plane and visit an exotic place, try new foods and once again, see the world, discover and enjoy gastronomic offerings of one of the oldest cultures currently brought by a charming man and his daughter here in Sonoma County. The new owner, Dawitt, recently took over the restaurant from his mother, who opened the establishment in 2008. The daughter, Minin brings a young and cheerful atmosphere to Abyssinia and is involved in cooking and greeting guests. One can feel as if they are welcomed into a very friendly and gracious family circle.

When our favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Haight disappeared several years ago, we were deeply saddened. We have missed the flavors and spices in the delicious dishes of Ethiopia that we enjoyed so much, food that leaves such a wonderful flavor in one’s mouth, and a very delicious memory that our taste buds carry on. When we came across Abyssinia on the fourth street near the library, these [few] Years ago, our spirits improved, realizing we could make our own Ethiopian food very close to home. One of our fondest memories of visiting Abyssinia was watching the original owner roast and grind the coffee himself in time immemorial, to make us a very special cup of brew.

Ethiopian food is different from India, Thailand or any other spice-loving culture and its importance in the spice trade, for thousands of years, gives it a unique status and an understanding of the delicate spice blending for cooking. One of the oldest and most widely used spices, berberi delves into the roots of Ethiopian history. It also varies from region to region, so if you visit one of Berkeley’s Ethiopian restaurants, Doro We’t, Ethiopia’s national dish can taste a little different than Abyssinia, here in Santa Rosa. It may contain a mixture of hot peppers, garlic, fenugreek, allspice, cinnamon, or any other spice that is representative of the region.

When we ordered our entree the other day, we chose the Abyssinia Combo, a great mix of vegetarian and meat options with Doro We’t featured in the middle of it all. An Ethiopian delicacy, Doro We’t is a spicy chicken stew cooked in a sauce made with barberry.

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One of the many things that make eating Ethiopian food so interesting is the bread, injera, which is a sourdough flatbread with a slightly spongy texture. Injera is made from teff, one of the world’s smallest grains and the oldest domesticated plant on Earth. Everything in the meal is beautifully laid out on injera and one cuts off pieces of bread to scoop the food with one’s fingers. A little messy but good finger licking.

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In Sonoma County we are very fortunate to have a variety of great cuisines from other parts of the world and to have the only Ethiopian restaurant located miles away. It makes visiting Abyssinia more beautiful. Sometimes I think of a world where there is only one type of restaurant or one type of person, and that makes me so grateful that our world is made up of a diverse group of people, a mix of spices, and so many different ways of looking at the world. And thanks to Dawit, Menen and Abyssinia, we can enjoy the truly unique and exotic cuisine of Ethiopia right here in Sonoma County.

Togo:

913 Street 4

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

(707) 568-6455