Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Brooklyn Chronicles - Caracas Arepa Bar & BBG

Answer me this, dear readers. Are we not well into May? Why yes, I do believe we are. Pray tell then, why o why is it only 11 degrees C and raining out there?! It's been like this for a week. Did I not move down from Canada to Long Island in order to at least feel a wee bit warmer? So how come I find myself shuddering with cold both inside and outside my house? (by now you've caught on that all these are rhetorical questions) ... I'll tell you why. Because a week ago, we had gloriously warm weather, and my apartment complex management consequently turned off the central heat and turned on the A/C. Which was fabulous ... for a day. Then we got hit with this miserable cold front, that has stubbornly stuck around for much too long already. Hence, my freezing digits and posterior. Also my grouchy mood.

*Sigh* - ok, I had a good whine there. Got it out of my system. I should at least be grateful that we did have a few amazing spring days last week. And I got to avail them properly. I explored an area of NY that I've been meaning to dive into for a long time - Brooklyn. Intensely crowded and absolutely mad in parts, this area is also dotted by oases of serenity and beauty. If you're an outsider, navigating through its streets will drive you insane. But luckily, my trusty GPS came through for me yet again! (I'm no spokesperson for this technology, but I LOVE it, and my life has changed for the better since I got it)

First stop, the
Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Although I was a wee bit early to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, I did enjoy every minute of my time there. And by now you know how much I love to share with you, so here's a taste:

I'd also been meaning to try this place that sells Venezuelan arepas. I saw how the girls from Caracas Arepa Bar beat Bobby Flay in the Arepa Throwdown episode, and I knew I had to have one (or three) for myself. They have two locations currently - one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. I'm glad I had one of my girlfriends with me, so that we could sample a few of their amazing arepas together. I'd never had one before, and for those of you who're not sure, an arepa is a round, puffy, unleavened patty made of cornmeal which can be grilled, baked, or fried. Originating in parts of South America, it can be filled with all kinds of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Observe:

La Jardinera - grilled eggplants, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions and guayanés cheese

De Pabellón - shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese and sweet plantains. The same one that beat Bobby's version!

Reina Pepiada - chunky chicken and avocado mix salad. My favorite of all three!

I will go back to Caracas Arepa Bar, this time with DH, because I know he'll really enjoy it. The restaurant is a small, very unassuming, cozy space, in a pretty, tree-lined Brooklyn neighborhood. Our waitress/bartender was a sweet little thing and helped us first-time arepa tasters quite a bit. The food was simple, hearty and wonderful. Those arepas are crave-worthy, but even more so was the mango-habanero sauce that goes on every table. Ohhhhhhhhh mama, I need a bottle of that stuff. I was slathering it on every bite, because it was just that good. Note to self: another reason to love living in NY - it introduced you to arepas.

More exciting Brooklyn adventures coming up in the next few days ...

10 comments:

Scate said...

My dear god - these look amazing. I've never had an arepa before - it's hard to find decent ethnic food in MN that's not scandonavian! thanks for sharing both the food and the flowers. It will be a few weeks before things bloom here!

Sweetie Pie said...

Oh my goodness! The arepas look amazing. I think I'd really like them all, but the avocado one does look especially good. How delicious! I love all of the cool photos from the botanical garden too.

I'm also dismayed that the weather is colder than it should be this time of year in the DC area. Bleh. Here's wishing you hot tea and warm fingers!

Cathy said...

Beautiful pictures! Spring finally hit Calgary last week - and I helped my tulips along by digging them up so they were closer to the top of the dirt :) Hope it warms up for you!

Pooja said...

Amazing shots! All the dishes look delicious :)

Donna-FFW said...

The arepas look amazing. What a fun time you must have had. Ive been to the Botanical Gardens also. It is absolutely beautiful there.

5 Star Foodie said...

It is too cold here! I was so happy to spend a weekend in the warm LA and now back to the rain again :( The arepas look wonderful!

Teanna DiMicco said...

Hahah my building did the same thing in DC! And whenever I come up to Long Island(every weekend), it is even worse!

I went to their arepa place in Manhattan right after I saw that episode! It was fantastic! VERY long wait, though!

catherine @ www.unconfidentialcook.com said...

Love those arepas. There's just no place like New York for food...

Natashya said...

I haven't had an arepa before either, they look so yummy! Suddenly I have an urge to eat out of a plastic basket..

Anonymous said...

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