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CARACAS AREPA BAR - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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CARACAS AREPA BAR

Christina Tosi’s East Village


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Christina TosiPhoto courtesy Christina Tosi

We wouldn’t expect anything short of an inspired list from the woman who has introduced “crack pie” and “cereal milk” to a passionate fan base in the East Village and beyond, and happily Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar does not disappoint. The pastry chef with a Willy Wonka imagination has worked in the East Village for over five years, and appreciates what she describes as the neighborhood’s “open mind and ‘don’t take yourself so seriously’ approach to things.” It’s a perfect philosophy for Tosi’s unexpected approach to desserts, which will soon be revealed in her first cookbook, “Momofuku Milk Bar,” out in October.

“I hope ours are recipes that carry people through bake sales, sleepovers and celebrations for years,” explains Tosi via email on a typically busy day in the kitchen. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a salty pretzel-studded Compost Cookie at the local potluck. In the meantime, on to Tosi’s favorites! Read more…


At Caracas, The Holy Arepa


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CaracasIan Duncan Caracas Arepa Bar, 93½ East Seventh Street.

Caracas Arepa Bar, at 93½ East Seventh Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, is just about the only restaurant in the East Village which is crowded at lunch — at least the only one worth eating at. This came as a huge surprise to the owner, Maribel Araujo, who told me the other day that she never thought the place would develop a lunch crowd. I said, “There’s no mystery — you’re the only place that’s that good and that cheap.”

Caracas is a tiny, clattering little restaurant which specializes in arepas, the soft corn-flour pocket bread eaten all over Venezuela. The arepa at Caracas has always struck me as the perfect combination of pliability — to hold the filling — and crispness. Maribel explained that while all arepas are cooked on a griddle, Caracas puts theirs in an oven for an additional 10 minutes, so that the dough on the underside fully cooks without losing its springiness, while the outside reaches the proper state of crunchiness. I have no source of comparison, but I once brought arepas from Caracas to Penelope Cruz, and she pronounced them completely authentic. To be strictly factual, I shared them with an extremely beautiful woman from Caracas who looks as much like Penepole Cruz as a mortal can. She was very impressed. And that was recommendation enough for me.
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