July 5th was Venezuelan Independence Day, a.k.a. Cinco de Julio, and there was no better way to celebrate than with a little Diplomatico rum, some beautiful Santa Carolina wine, and a lot of food and great stories from Toronto’s first true Venezuelan restaurant on Queen West, Arepa Café.
South American food is indigenous food that has been influenced by the old world. Venezuela and Colombia make arepas as a staple food – made with corn meal, it’s an ancient dish that’s been done for generations. The hierarchy of rich and poor has engaged the creativity of culinarians across these regions, transforming the arepa from a humble, filling bread as a side, to part of a complete, fully rounded dish. Arepa Café is taking the history of the old world and bringing together the international influence of countries like Italy, Portugal and Spain into a modern context.
Owner Eduardo Lee, who hails from Venezuela himself has traveled extensively throughout the past few years, diving deep into the origins of his native cuisine and the way it has developed as a result of colonization, immigration and cultural assimilation. Tonight, he and Chef Rafael Badell have created a unique menu that showcases a modern touch of Venezuelan cuisine, integrating flavours and preparations from many of the nations that have heightened and helped Venezuelan cooking evolve.