Next stop on Eat Around the World in NYC isssss…
Ain’t no better way to explore a new cuisine than with the people who have eaten it their entire lives. Take Victor and Mariana of The World We Travel, an awesome Venezuelan couple who arrived to JFK New York International airport from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, a mere six months ago. They found me, the little hungry and lost Casiedilla in search for some good arepas, took me under their wing, and led me to Brooklyn. Or Venezuela? Once I stepped foot into the restaurant, I wasn’t quite sure.
It’s called Caracas Arepas Bar and it’s actually not in Venezuela. It’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
But first, let’s talk about the basics.
What is Venezuelan food?
No, it’s not spicy. If you know what it is before reading this post and you’re not Venezuelan, I give you a cookie. There’s one extremely important word you must know and worship in order to be Venezuel-“IN.” It’s AREPAS, and it’s all you ever really need to eat in order to have a full Venezuelan diet. Well, almost. What’s an arepa, you ask?
[Arepa: A corn-based flat cake stuffed with whatever your hungry little imagination can conjure up. However, the most typical fillings are shredded beef, sweet plantains, avocado and queso guayanés (a flavorful white cheese).]
Mariana and Victor described Arepas as their “breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.” Yes, they do eat arepas with shredded beef for breakfast. And not just one. Two…or three. #ReasonsToMoveToVenezuela anybody?
The next hot items we must discuss ARE:
Guasacaca– It’s Guacamoles’ brotha from anotha motha! A dip made with smashed avocado, garlic, and onion. Now, don’t confuse this delicious staple with its Mexican friend/foe. That’s one sure way to get on a Venezuelan’s bad side…
Tequeños– The go-to social food. Fried dough wrapped around queso blanco, or white cheese. No friends, this is not a mozzarella stick! It’s better. If there ain’t tequeños, it ain’t a party.
Tajadas– commonly known as fried plantains, these succulent banana-like fried strips of G-o-d are maybe my favorite things since sliced bread. Eat ’em soft or crispy, salty or sweet, put ’em in an arepa, eat them plain…the options are endless.
Asado Negro– slow cooked roast beef with a savory sweet glaze. Oh yes.
Pabellón Criollo– It might be less known than the arepa, but it’s actually the national dish! It’s slow roasted beef, pulled to a perfection, and mixed in with all sorts of yummilicious things (spices, rice, beans, plantains, you name it).
Remember when I said once I stepped into the place I wasn’t sure if I was in Brooklyn or Venezuela? Well, minus the Brooklyn hipsters dispersed throughout the place, it truly feels like the real Venezuelan deal. The little culinary gem mixes traditional Venezuelan, with that ever-so-endearing trendy Brooklyn vibe. It’s intimate but not too intimate, it’s got a cozy inside and an adorably charming outside, enclosed with greenery and funky carribean-vibin’ lights. But just the right amount of lights so that I can see my food, but my camera can’t focus on a damn thing (yea, wait till you see the quality of these photos. Let’s call this collection…mysterious?)
What you should get:
I let Mariana and Victor do the ordering. My only request? Order what you would eat at home in Caracas. None of this Venezuela meets trendy New York/Mexican/ whatever other country fusion you can stuff in an arepa. So, here’s what you must get if you wanna eat like a true Venezuelan in Nueva York…
3) Finally, its time to get to business with arepas. We ordered two timeless classics, and one with a Mexican- American twist. Can you guess which one of the three doesn’t belong?
Arepa #1: De Pabellón
The national dish beautifully stuffed with love and affectionate into an arepa. Quiz time! If you can recall a brief 1 minute ago how I described a pabellón, you win!! But if not, that’s ok too. We’ve got here spicy shredded beef, black beans, salty white cheese, and of course…plantains. Can I get a YUMMMMM?
The infamous guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantain, and avocado. Hungry yet? Well, if you’re not…
Now, did you guess which one doesn’t belong in Venezuela? If you guessed…
Arepa #3, La Mulata –
You’re right!! Jalapeños are NOT in the Venezuelan diet. If you recall me explaining in the very, very beginning of this post, I explain that spicy foods are not a part of Venezuelan cuisine. This arepa is a fusion of Mexican- Venezuelan. Why? Because it’s New York! The melting pot of the world.
Here are the cold, hard facts if you want some good old Venezuelan without leaving NY’s 5 boroughs.
WHAT:Caracas Arepa Bar
WHERE: 291 Grand St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
GET THERE (without a passport): Take the L to Bedford ave or L to Lorimer st. or G to Metropolitan ave, JMZ to Marcy ave.
HOURS: Everyday 12-noon to 11-pm
Andddd that’s a wrap for our time in Venezuela! Or should I say, that’s an arepa. Grab your metro card and your appetite…next stop? South Korea in Koreatown!
Have you tried Venezuelan cuisine? Do you want to? Did you get the arepa quiz right?! What country would you like to see in the #EATWNYC challenge?! Comment your country below and I will accept the challenge, find it here in NYC, eat, and conquer!