Thursday, February 19, 2009
Arepa & Co - Authentic Arepera in Camden Market
Arepa & Co is one of the few authentic Venezuelan areperas in the UK and a gastronomic experience that global food junkies just cannot miss.
Tucked away in Camden Lock Market, the hippest market in the capital, Venezuelan entrepreneur Gus's small food stall has been turning on Londoners to the true tastes of his native Caracas for four years with the catchy slogan: "Venezuelan Food with a Pinch of Love".
If you've never tried a traditional Venezuelan arepa before, this is the place to start.
The cornmeal arepas are large - about 6 inches across - and come with a variety of stuffings, from play-safe options such as grated cheese to the more adventurous Reina Pepiada, a combination of shredded chicken, avocado and mayonnaise.
Targetting health conscious British marketgoers, the large banners on either side of the stall make much of the fact that arepas are made from cormeal, which is wheat and dairy free, low in gluten, and contains no nuts.
Vegetarians can combine cheese with fried plantains or black beans, which are rich in anti-ageing, health-boosting anti-oxidants.
Gus also serves up hearty portions of Venezuela's other staple dish pabellon criollo , a full meal consisting of white rice, shredded beef, black beans and soft fried plantains. (I'm getting hungry just writing about it.)
The success of the Camden stall has allowed Gus, an enterprising MBA student, to branch out into catering, providing some suitably criollo canapes for the UK launch of Santa Teresa rum and doing the food for Venezuelan expat events.
The lastest addition to the menu is Venezuelan white cheese, which Gus has sourced from a secret supplier in London and tequeños, deep-fried pastry twists filled with cheese, which no Venezuelan wedding party, however humble, should ever be without.
Most Venezuelans will eat their tequenos dunked in ketchup, but they're just as tasty dipped in Arepa & Co's guasacaca sauce, made from avocadoes, garlic and parsley leaves, or the spicy picante (hot sauce).
To be honest, the only negative I could find is that Arepa & Co is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
For Munchies in Bournemouth Try Sandra's arepa bar
Glossary: Eating at an Arepera
La Reina Pepiada: The Curvy Queen of Arepas
Pabellon Criollo - Venezuela's National Dish
Buying Harina Pan in the UK
Recipe: Caraotas Negras - Venezuelan Black Beans
Recipe: Carne Mechada - Venezuelan Shredded Beef