Venezuelan Street Food from Hello Arepa

hello arepa truckHello Arepa is one of five food trucks coming to the festival this year. An Arepa is “a grilled then baked corn flour patty, stuffed with tastiness.” It’s based on a Venezuelan recipe for delicious street food. We asked Arthur, maker of delicious arepas, what we can expect from his truck at the festival.

arepa with fetaWhat’s your flavor profile?

Venezuelan food is generally not spicy, it’s comfort food. And being a foodie who’s also approaching two decades as a non-dairy vegetarian, I know how easy it is for veg fair to go bland. I hate that. So, our profile tends to be very flavorful, without heat. We try to honor the tradition of Venezuelan arepas, but we definitely put our own spin on things.

What’s your best-selling item? Aka what should people buy before it sells out?

Our take on Rochester’s garbage plate tends to sell out pretty quickly. It’s a cut-up arepa beneath: local organic black beans, BBQ tofu (chorizo on the non-veg version) and plantain chips, all covered in feta and cheddar jack cheese, sriracha mayo, avocado creme (V), and fresh pico de gallo. Because it relies on the ingredients from some of our more popular arepas (BBQ tofu in particular), our plates don’t stay on the menu long.

Interestingly our most popular item, the chorizo arepa, generally doesn’t sell out, because we almost always have more ingredients in the fridge if we need it.

arepa plate

What’s your favorite item to make? Why?

Probably the Vene Ranchero. It’s our black beans with cheddar/jack cheese, pico de gallo, and an over-easy fried egg. There’s something very satisfying about cooking fried eggs, short-order style. It makes me feel more like a chef than an arepa factory.

Tell us about the most unique [item] on your menu.

I guess that would be our arepa with salted maple tofu, ginger aioli and escarole. It’s something that I just made up after the earthquake in Rochester last May. Everyone was joking about the quake, because lots of folks felt it and it did no real damage. So we wanted to make up something unique to “celebrate.” Since it was spring and maple syrup wash fresh, that’s what I came up with. We called it the “ROC Quake Special” that weekend. But people loved it so much, we bring it back every now and then with the snappy title, “Salted Maple Tofu.”

arepa tortillasWhat’s your signature ingredient?

The masa, no question. It’s the star of the show. There is only one flour that can be used to make genuine Venezuelan arepas. It’s a fine-ground pre-cooked white corn meal. Without that ingredient, we’d be in big trouble.