One of the best parts of being a food blogger in Charleston is the amazing chefs/fellow foodies you get to meet. In the case of the Castejóns, they are a chef/foodie power couple that I aspire to be when I grow up. I met them through #TastemakersCHS (a group of top culinary social media influencers) and they were kind enough to host the group at their pop up restaurant at Charlestowne Fermentory. Their authentic Spanish cuisine with a sprinkle of the Lowcountry was so delicious I want to shout it from the rooftops (but I guess posting it on here is a better/less obnoxious option).
the dynamic duo #goals
In addition to being kick ass chefs, the Castejóns are probably two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, which makes you feel at home when you’re enjoying your Spanish feast. In traditional Spanish style, we started with a few appetizers to warm us up for the star of the show: the paella.
We started out with the fritos (fried goodies) which included croquetas de pollo (fried chicken croquettes) and empanada de verduras (vegetarian empanadas). The croquetas were crispy on the outside and had a tender,flavorful pork/chicken filling. The best part of the dish, however, was definitely the spicy aioli it was served with. I wanted to take a jar of that home to put on everything I eat from now on.
The empanadas de verduras were filled with goat cheese, caramelized onion, eggplant, and collard greens (shout out to the Lowcountry). The goat cheese made the filling incredibly creamy and the caramelized onion added a nice sweetness to it. They were served with a refreshing dipping sauce chock full of herbs, so it balanced out the richness.
Give me all the pork
Although it was hard to resist eating 20 of the croquetas, we moved on to the next course: the Serranito. The Serranito was a sandwich composed of marinated pork loin, poblano peppers, cured spanish ham, and a fried quail egg to top it all off. This sandwich struck the perfect balance between spicy, salty, and porky goodness. The runny yolk from the quail egg acted as a sauce and added a nice richness. Did I eat the entire platter of them?…maybe.
the star of the show
The last savory dish of the evening, the paella, was the masterpiece we were all waiting for. The paella is stunning in both flavor and presentation. It is presented in the cast iron skillet it is cooked in to preserve the socarrat. As Alfonso explained to us, the socarrat is the flavorful, crispy rice stuck to the pan. It is a staple in a well-made paella and I felt transported to Sevilla (their Spanish hometown) when I plated it up.
To put a Lowcountry twist on their paella, the Castejóns add in local seafood. The fresh shrimp and clams were my favorite part of the dish by far. Along with local ingredients, they also import paprika, olive oil, and saffron from Sevilla to ensure an authentic flavor.
If you haven’t had the chance to yet, head over to Charlestowne Fermentory and check out the Castejóns. You can’t go wrong with the combination of authentic Spanish food and local craft beer. Follow their adventures on their website and social media!