Friday, October 10, 2008

Arepas — Good Stuff from Caracas

This has nothing to do with knitting but... arepas are soft Venezuelan corn cakes which are lightly grilled and stuffed with different savory fillings. They’re different from the Mexican huarche, which is topped instead of filled, and similar to the Equadorian pupusa which is stuffed first and then grilled.

Last Wednesday I art directed and styled a food shoot for photographer Doug Todd. We shot arepas for a restaurant, Caracas, on East 7th street in Manhattan. Mark, Doug, and I got there around 8:00 a.m. just as the prep chefs started their day. Ilsa, the chef, arrived soon after, then the owners Gato and Maribel.

La Sureña: Grilled chicken, chorizo, and avocado slices served with chimichurri, a classic Veneuelan sauce.


De Pollo: Grilled chicken breast, caramelized onion, and cheddar cheese.


La Del Gato: Guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains, and avocado slices. Gato hightly recommends this one.


La Pelua: Seasoned shredded beef with cheddar cheese.


De Pabellon: Shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and aged cheese.


Reina Pepiada: Chilled chunky chicken and avocado salad, perfect for summer.


It was a long day — creating small sets, hovering over food, overseeing all details. Making food look good for the camera is a small magic act, but it helps when everything tastes so good. Some shots were difficult because the corn cakes and the assembly are very delicate. Everything was absolutely delicious, especially the ceviche. My favorite arepa was La Pelua — seasoned shredded beef with cheddar cheese. Ilsa patiently made everything for the shoot as we needed it, including the tostones.
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