Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Friday Lunch from Arepa Cafe

Just when we think we have tasted it all, something different comes along.  A Latin American specialty, an arepa resembles a fluffy grilled cross between a pancake and a flatbread.  It can feature toppings, or as the Venezuelan version we sample, stuffings.
The Designated Courier opts for adobo roasted pork and the reina pepeada--chicken in avocado sauce.  We are expecting red-tinged pork since the major ingredient of the adobo marinades we are used to are usually built on paprika so we are disappointed by this wan version.   However, a bit of research reveals that in Venezuela the term just refers to a mix of salt with herbs and/or spices. Though pale, the pork is still tender and juicy, enhanced by caramelized onions which could have been cooked a little longer.  The DC makes a big mistake by glomming on lots of the accompanying side sauce which he thinks is romesco.  Au contraire! It is a hot sauce, a very, very hot sauce.

The chicken version is more avocado with chicken than the other way around.  This is not something one should complain about since this suave sauce is utterly delicious.  Unlike guacamole where chunks of tomato or onion can distract from the avocado, the avocado flavour zings right through from what must have been a perfectly ripe fruit.

The arepas themselves have enough body to contain the filling but are ethereal enough to melt in the mouth. Besides a pancake/flatbread cross, they are also reminiscent of a well-made grilled polenta.  After the shock of the hot sauce we are a little reticent in trying the salsa verde.   A tiny side of coleslaw is completely pedestrian.

If you want to eat in, the high-ceiling-ed space is welcoming and comfortable. We will be back for more of these and to sample some the of seafood varieties.

Price for two arepas: $17.52

Location: 490 Queen Street West (near Augusta)

Phone: 416-362-4111

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