Sauce Graine, also known to others as Palm Butter or Banga Soup, is one of my favorites Ivorian traditional dishes.
Growing up, it was prepared in our home on the weekends, once or twice a month.
Avec un bon Foutou Banane (Plantain Fufu), of course!
Prior to my arrival in Abidjan, I spoke with my Dad and shared a list of dishes with him that I ABSOLUTELY had to devour during our stay.
And let me tell you, he scored SUPER brownie points by taking us to Aboussouan, which was more than a delightful dining experience, one that I will never forget.
Aboussouan, in the Akan tribe (originally from Ghana) means Family.
Opened in 1978 and owned by the renown, Francois Adou Sapim, this family restaurant takes you on a journey through Ivorian Specialties.
Upon our arrival, we were warmly welcomed.
I heard Dad say to the host: “Table 11, please”.
He must be a regular!
The décor, simple yet beautiful, with features such as African masks hanging on the wooden walls, wooden-carved chairs, with African fabric.
Our selections were:
Grilled Fish + Igname Frites + Alloco
Sauce Graine with Machoiron Fumé (smoked catfish) + Foutou Banane
Kédjénou with Chicken + Attiéké
Sauce Gouagouassou + Attiéké
Are your tastebuds tingling yet?
Dad and his friend, Mr. Bright, who also joined us for lunch, selected our wine pairing:
Victor Berard, BROULLY, 2014
I am not big on reds but I have to say that I enjoyed a couple of glasses of this not so dry wine selection.
During our little chat at the table, I mentioned the blog and its purpose to Mr. Bright.
Astounded and intrigued, he mentioned that Mr. Sapim had a wine cave next door and that he would request a tour after lunch.
I WAS SUPER EXCITED but FIRST, I needed to eat my Sauce Graine!
The server, dressed in a black suit, white shirt black bowtie and dress shoes, informs us that they are OUT of Foutou!
My world literally ended.
Dad: You are OUT of Foutou? How come?
Waiter apologized, went back to the kitchen and returned a few moments later, with music to my ears.
“Someone just cancelled their side order of Foutou so you can have it Ma’am”.
Y O U P I (I screamed on the inside), almost jumping out of my seat!
Eating Sauce Graine with another side other than Foutou is an insult in my book!
Our entrées, served.
If I could only get a drop of this delight in my mouth right now.
This dish was made with love, I could feel it.
It was so freakin’ good (excuse the language here)!
I ate the whole Foutou bun. YES I DID and I am not ashamed.
The Sauce Graine portion was huge and enough for two to share.
I had never had this dish with Machoiron Fumé and it did not disappoint.
The smokiness of the fish added another layer of flavor to the sauce.
I can seriously go on, and on, and on, and on, and on about this dish.
Can someone stop me, please?
Now that I had gotten my craving out of the way, I was ready for the private wine cave visit with Mr. Sapim, who by the way, came to our table on a few occasions to ensure we were well taken care of.
His wine cave, “L’Esprit du Vignoble”, opened in 2000, is one of thee best in West Africa, with wine bottles ranging from as low as 5,000 FCFA (est. $10) to 5,000,000 FCFA (est. $1,000).
In 2011, Mr. Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of Agriculture, honored Mr. Sapim as one of the best Ivorian Ambassadors of French Wines.
Pictured below is Mr. Sapim, holding the bottle of wine that our dear Napoléon Bonaparte savored in the ancient days.
Isn’t that amazing?
A mini wine museum in the Treichville neighborhood of the city of Abidjan.
Aboussouan is also known to host dignitaries, ministers, even presidents.
Félix Houphouet Boigny (former President of Cote d’Ivoire), May His Soul Continue to Rest In Peace, used to highly recommend the restaurant to his hosts who were visiting Abidjan.
You can only imagine the caliber of Houphouet’s hosts:
Jacques Chirac (former President of France), Edith Cresson (former First Prime Minister of France and only woman to hold that title in the history of France) , Alain Juppé (former Prime Minister of France), just to name a few.
Mr. Sapim also took us to the VIP room of the restaurant, which hosts Ivorian VIPs.
Mr. Sapim, pictured with Mr. Juppé (right). Right above, is his Agricultural Merit Award, received from the French Republic.
This is one of many achievements and recognition that Mr. Sapim hols.
It was such an honor to be in the presence of such a humble man.
Pictured below, the Honorary Mr. Sapim and my family.
Mr. Sapim plans to take Aboussouan to Paris.
What about Washington DC, Mr, Sapim?
That would be lovely!
If you are looking for home cooked, traditional dishes with outstanding customer service, please check out Aboussouan, a family restaurant that serves Ivorian delicacies with love.