You ever have one of those moments where you think everything happens for a reason? It may sound a wee dramatic, but I think that’s exactly what happened the day I came across Caracas Arepa Bar‘s Instagram and saw a post they’d just put up for a farm dinner they were having featuring traditional Venezuelan food being served at a quaint little farm in Far Rockaway called Edgemere Farm.
Why does this seem like fate? Well, for one, I don’t happen to follow them on my own Instagram account and just so happened to stumble upon this post. Two, some of my family is from Venezuela, so it holds a special place in my heart. And three, we all know how timely anything on social media is, so if you weren’t in the right place at the right time, you’d most certainly miss an announcement such as this, so I really do think that it was meant for me to have seen this and I’m so happy that I did.
You don’t exactly put the words New York City and farm together, but more and more, these amazing places are popping up throughout the city and are bringing people closer to their food sources, which I think is so important. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there are many fruits and vegetables that I eat that I have no idea how they’re grown, so I really do appreciate initiatives such as this.
Anyhow, tucked between rows of small, multifamily homes and just a block away from Rockaway Beach is where you’ll find Edgemere Farm. As many an urban farm story goes, what once was an abandoned, overgrown lot is now a flourishing, green space growing fresh, organic vegetables that are sold at its farmers market every Friday and Saturday and which served as the backbone to our meal that evening. It was so inspiring to see what could become of a once neglected space, and I couldn’t have asked for a better location for such an occasion.
Being not too well-acquainted with Venezuelan food, aside from my beloved arepas (which I’ll be featuring in post later on this week), it was such an experience to be able to try other some of the other delicacies that this country is known for. With a menu put together by chef Alonso Nuñez, a New York City-based Venezuelan chef, we started with a smoked queso blanco from Breezy’s BBQ, a sweet tomatillo chutney, a summery Pira de Auyama, which is a traditional squash and eggplant spread topped with purslane, an unbelievable crispy cassava (aka yucca) bread served with a compound butter, a peppery gazpacho topped with culantro (pictured above), and of course, arepitas (little arepas, which are grilled corn patties). Everything tasted so fresh and I loved that they used vegetables grown right where we were eating! It truly doesn’t get much better than that.
The main course consisted of something I’d never heard of before known as bollos pelones, which translates to hairless buns that were actually more appetizing than their name suggests. They’re little buns made from corn flour and stuffed with a pork stew and by the time they arrived I was probably just as stuffed as they were from all the food I’d just eaten, but I still managed to get a few hearty bites in before dessert arrived. We ended the hearty meal with an lip-puckering tart passion fruit mousse and a shot of coffee and orange rum liqueur that was just a little too strong for my taste, but something I stilled enjoyed because it was all part of the experience.
With perfect weather, music by Neal Ochoa to set the mood, delicious food, great company, and a full stomach, I think it turned out being one of those beautiful, memorable summer nights. What this farm is doing and providing for the community is amazing and I loved that this dinner helped shed light on a cuisine from a part of the world that people aren’t too familiar with.
Maribel Araujo, the owner of Caracas Arepas Bar, Chef Alonso Nuñez, and the rest of their team worked their butts off to make this night happen and their hard work definitely paid off. Not only do I appreciate them using local produce for the meal, but the fact that they also worked with other local businesses, including Herb and Dye Rockaway to decorate the tables with flowers and hand dyed napkins, creating a space that was welcoming, one-of-a-kind, and their own. So thank you, Maribel, if you ever get a chance to read this!
As the sun set and the evening came to an end, I knew that this experience would be hard to top.
Looking at Edgemere Farm’s calendar, I only see one more dinner on September 11th planned in honor of NYC Honey Week, so I definitely recommend snagging some tickets before they’re all gone! Until then, buen provecho!