Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Venezuela Meets Nashville at Caracasville

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Arepas at Caracasville
  • Arepas at Caracasville
Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I have been lamenting the lack of Venezuelan food (specifically, arepas) in Nashville for quite some time. The wound grew deeper when Memphis got their very own Venezuelan restaurant, Arepas and Salsa just over a year ago. So when I got word from the Nashville Farmers’ Market that they had a new restaurant — Caracasville — operating in the Grow Local Kitchen, I got really excited.

Caracasville has been set up in the Grow Local Kitchen (inside the Market House, otherwise known as the food court) on Sundays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. since November and has quickly become popular. The pop-up restaurant is operated by Fidel and Ivonne Vasquez, who are natives of Venezuela. At first, the menu was limited to a few Venezuelan specialties, including empanadas and hallaca (a traditional Christmas dish). But they’ve since expanded and tweaked the menu, and a couple of weeks ago, the magic word appeared: arepas. Grilled or boiled, with a variety of stuffings available.

The menu also offers some breakfast foods for the early crowd: cachitos (baked pastries similar to croissants) and chicha, a boiled rice, milk and sugar beverage topped with cinnamon, as well as arepas and empanadas that are great for brunch or lunch (or early dinner). When I visited Sunday, one of the arepa fillings was an eggplant and mushroom combination in a fragrant tomato and bell pepper sauce. I ordered it with some avocado on top, and it was delicious. (Note: the eggplant filling and black beans are both vegetarian.) All the arepas are made-to-order, and other fillings included sweet fried plantains, ham, chicken, shredded beef and tomato.

In addition to the arepa, I ordered a black bean and cheese empanada, which was also excellent. My husband ordered a black bean and chorizo empanada as well as a black bean and cheese arepa, which comes with the chunky, salty queso blanco. Everything was fantastic. I regret, though, that we didn’t try the chocolate and strawberry cachito. But Caracasville will be at the market each Sunday (except Feb. 9, according to the calendar) through the end of next month, so I will be back soon. I’m hopeful they’ll extend their stay or find a permanent home. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what other foods they add to the menu. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for tequeños, mandocas, tostones, golfeados and cachapas. Though I’m really just happy to have some authentic handmade arepas.

See more photos of Venezuelan specialties and keep up with each week's menu via the Caracasville Facebook page.

Grow Local Kitchen/Nashville Farmers' Market
900 Rosa Parks Blvd.
Sundays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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