Venezuelan Grilled Cheese Anyone? Arepa! Arepa!
When planning a lunch or dinner meeting, there is obviously business
to be taken care of. Personally, I tend to try and lead people to a
good eating establishment, since so many great things happen around
food. Last night’s meeting brought me to Caracas Arepa Bar in
Manhattan’s East Village.
For those of you into food, an arepa is a Venezuelan specialty that
acts as a stand-in for bread and can be prepared with a wide variety
of fresh ingredients. For those of you not so much into the details of
food – or who are a little scared about trying new things – it is a
Venezuelan Grilled Cheese.
For attention span’s sake, I’m going to cut to the chase. On every
table is a squeeze bottle of an amazing tasting reddish colored sauce.
It has hints of sweet and hints of spice and despite plenty of
begging, I still could not get the server to give up ONE ingredient in
the sauce (I quizzed her). Take my word: Put this sauce on everything.
We started with the Yoyos, which are deep fried balls of sweet
plantain stuffed with white cheese. To me, they looked like a
Venezuelan version of Chinese Pork Buns. A little sweet, a little
cheesy and an interesting flavor all around. We also had the Guasacaca
& Chips, which is Venezuela’s version of guacamole and chips. It is
your standard guac, but served with plantain chips. Again, add the
secret sauce to it. Next, my partner in crime and I split the
Muchachos Arepa and the La De Pernil Arepa. The Muchachos had some
sliced chorizo, white cheese, sauteed peppers and jalapeños. A good
smoky quality with a nice little kick from the jalapeños. The La De
Pernil was roasted pork shoulder with tomato slices and a spicy mango
sauce. Did I mention to put the secret sauce on these?
For dessert, we got the Obleas, which are described on the menu as
“very thin wafers with dulce de leche in between. Perfect when you
want just a little sweet after your meal.” They could not have
explained that any better. The Obleas were 6-inch round paper thin
wafers with the lightest amount of dulce de leche (milk candy) in
between – a perfectly sweet end to a meal, but not too sweet.
There is a Caracas Arepa Bar To Go next door that I am definitely
planning on checking out. To end on the three favorite words that all
restaurants love to hear…”I’ll be back.”