Venezuelan Grilled Cheese Anyone? Arepa! Arepa!

Caracas Arepa Bar

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.”

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