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Arepera arepas, for your black bean and plantain fascination needs

Working at Renard makes it kind of hard to ignore the disparity between the legitimately special food I get to eat at work, and the shite that goes on in my fridge.  While I would love to slow-cook vats of carefully peeled vegetation and braise beef cheeks and spin corn-griddled crepes from my pinky whilst wearing an apron and some shit-kickin’ kitchen boots to match, let’s face it,

We’re busy people.

Busy enough even, to let someone else work the miracles, albeit totally attainable ones and realistic ones too.  What the heck is she talking about?  Arepas, my friends.  At least, ones at Arepera du Plateau, which has the resounding consensus of online-Venezuelan’s everywhere as having the kiss of authenticity.  The crowd I witnessed this weekend doesn’t lie… it’s a colourful and busypants place, casting out aroma-tendrils of smoky beans and toasted corn, and populated by basically everyone from casual alterna-brunchers to the aforementioned down-home true arepa lovers who came, inhaled, and left in minutes.

Cloudy and me, well, we lingered, getting our fingers into everything and then licking them clean, giddy with housemade sauces – one red (spicy!) and one green (that tasted spookily like my poor man’s ripoff of Peruvian Huacatay sauce- ie, super yummy, slather-on-everything-type-fluid).

Keeping to it’s roots, the fried-to-order crunchy starter-thing on the menu at Arepera was NOT FRIES OR CHIPS BUT yes YUCA! (4$). heehee.  Thicker cut, totally fresh, molar-threatening and delish, especially with that green sauce to dunk dunk away with on the side.  A papelón con limón (sugar cane juice with lemon), and a Lolo (? – okay my ears cut out when our server described this one, but it tasted like guava and supposedly is traditional Venezuelan) juice kicked off the liquid side of things (3$ each).  Both excellent, and not too sweet… but still really sweet.  Fruitsplosion, and perfect foil for…………

Aw yeah.

Between us, we shared a straight-up arepa stuffed with boar chorizo, peppers and onions (7$), and a Pabellón criollo platter (11$) – pretty much the national dish of Venezuela, involving white rice, stewed black beans, (incredibly juicy) shredded beef, fried plantains and cheese.  A perfect amount of food, a playground even (tear a bit from here, mix sauce, top+proteins, stuff in mouth, trade sauces, make spicy, EAT MASA GOODNESS HOLY HELL IT IS GOOD).  I’m not going to bore you with too many adjectives, just go, and try this, and thank me later.

Oh, and the arepas (just the tortillas themselves) themselves are worth writing home about.  Gee, have I even mentioned what these things are yet?  I s’pose I haven’t, okay, here goes.

They’re made from a special kind of pre-cooked corn flour which is different from the more common nixtamal or hominy (a.k.a. regular tortilla flour).  Instead of removing the inedible outer pericarp of the corn kernel with an alkali cooking process (nixtamalization), it’s removed by pounding that pericarp right off, manually, and incidentally this means it’s only nutritious by half.  But dayyyum, if it isn’t tasty stuff.  You heard it here.  These puppies are serious, crazy tender insides and charred crispy crust-chewy outsides and madness with all these salty and fatty things they dare to stuff inside.  Arepera du Plateau also offers a wide array of Vegan and Vegetarian options, which makes them super awesome and earns them big shiny star sticker from me.

Of course, the kicker is that they’re probably easy to make, but I wouldn’t make them anywhere near this good, so I’m just gonna continue to eat them on Duluth street and leave my fridge happy to contain leftover bottles of wine and 27 jars of jam.  Life is too easy!

Arepera du Plateau on Citeeze

Arepera on Urbanspoon

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11 comments on “Arepera arepas, for your black bean and plantain fascination needs

  1. I lost you & now I’ve found you!!! When you slipped away from Kamutflake I thought you were done with blogging–so glad to have found your new home! And wait, wait, BOAR chorizo arepas?! I’m moving to Canada right now. Seriously, I’m dying to try some boar chorizo & arepas are just the best. Anyway, hooray for finding old blog friends!

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    • Jes, eek – hi hi hi, and wow, it’s been a while and I’m glad you’re still logging, too. Mm I miss the days of stuffed squashes and, well, to be honest, the distinct community web of the vegan world. But otherwise, things have been great! If you ever *are* in Canada, I know a bunch of veg friendly spots in Montreal (Chuchai Thai would head my list). And um, I’m on my iPod right now, bit Ima link to you and follow and all that stuff. Hurray! This made me smile, to see your message on Monday. :)

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      • I’ll take any recs you have for the next time I’m in Canada (I roadtripped to Nova Scotia last August–it was crazy, but not really your neck of the woods) :) And I’ll take any recs because, like you, I’m not a vegan, I’m blogging vegan recipes with omni reviews. My how the might have fallen? hehe :) Have a great Monday!!

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      • And by Monday I meant Wednesday…I have no idea what day it is. Oy!

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      • So… what made you make the switch? If it’s ok to ask.

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      • I was a vegan for environmental/sustainability reasons and in Atlanta it was economically impossible for me to eat meat/cheese/eggs. So after moving to a local farm region where I can get eggs and sausage and etc. from my friends down the road, I decided to start reintroducing non-vegan products into my diet. I tend to eat a vegan/veg diet with some meat mixed in, mostly when I go out to eat. I got a lot of flack for it (told the vegan world awhile after the switch), but things seem to have settled down a bit. Why the switch for you? I know a lot of have, always interesting to hear why.

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      • I guess, for the most part, it’s for cultural reasons. I hated the idea of blocking off a huge section of humanity/history/socializing, not to mention the whole world of tastes and sensations I’d never experienced (and would never, if nothing changed). Travelling would change so much – it would be about where to be *able* to eat, finding accomodation, worrying about fish stock, etc… and not about living.

        That’s not to say that I don’t have spiritual qualms about it… I think eventually (after I feel like I’ve tried enough things) I might go back to vegetarianism, and happily.

        The second reason is creative. *sigh* I think I’d made about as many versions of that handful of vegan cake recipes that I could have, and wanting to be a pastry chef, I needed somehow to understand what eggs, real butter and gelatin could do in a recipe. (the added bonus to pastry as opposed to regular cheffing is that I DO have the option of vegetarianism eventually, if I go for that!)

        I knew another friend who was about as pure vegan as they come, and she had to start eating meat back in high school, lest she suffer malnutrition. She basically did what you did – sourcing from friends, farms, and known places, and she looked SO much healthier afterwards.

        Is it weird that I felt somewhat more robust after switching? A bit less ethereal? It’s a tradeoff – for some, that lightness might be just what they want, but for me, I think it was a bit too ungrounded… anyway, there are as many reasons as there are people, and there’s a whole lifetime to explore the options!

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  2. Hey! My coworker Alberick told me about your blog when we were talking about food blogs today. Looks yummy!

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