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Outer Boroughs Arepas

My tale of the sensetive, seductive, elusive arepa lady and a tip of the hat to Pat Hammond (unable to help myself long)

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My tale of the sensetive, seductive, elusive arepa lady and a tip of the hat to Pat Hammond (unable to help myself long)

Allen Bank | Jul 20, 2003 03:52 AM

Fellow chowhounds this is a tale of intution, hunger, faith and some factual information here and there that I've ment to relate for a number of weeks. I've not posted here for over a year with the exception of a 12 word inqury that was proptly addressed. I've not, utill now had anything I deemed worthwhile to impart. Maybe not even now; but you all know how to scroll to the next post. A year ago I took a auto trip through Europe that ended up being about 7000 miles of mapless zigzaging and searching food and drink near and wide. The Bouchons of Lyon: Chez Georges aka Le Petit Bouchon, A Ma Vigne for the ultimate steak frites, Chez Marcelle (71 Cours Vitton), Le Mere Jean, Cafe Des Federations, La Meuniere and my favorite, Hudon: Arlette and Henri Hugon are: Prince and Princess, Mama and Papa, artists, ring leaders, people who love to feed people (12 rue Pizay) for real food, real life, music, laughter and never wanting to click your heels - let Auntie Em visit you. Do't pass up the Blanquette De Veau or the Boudin Aux Pommes or... The local joke in Lyon; we've got 3 rivers in Lyon: The Seine, The Rhone and The Beaujolais. I was told this "joke" 6 times as if it was invention. Cassuolet in Castelnaudry, Toulouse is for the tourists pertaining to Cassuolet, (Restaurant Le Trou (90,Avenue Monseigneir - de - Langle www.letrou.com) was the best of the 13 sampled - I cried, I looked around in disbelief it was perfection. As the bowl was placed before me I glanced up at the waiter and he understood I wanted to serve myself. He nodded, smiled a thumbs up. I broke the crust. The aroma filled steam sent a shiver up my spine. I burried my head in the smell almost not knwing what to make of it. If I begn to eat it will I wake up? The duck! The sausage! The heavenly scented beans! Oh the humanity!!! It was bittersweet as I'd found the perfect, adsuradly the world's best cassuolet, but how could I ever eat another. PS: I've tried but I cry for a diiferent reason then I had at Le Trou. It's behind the gas station - you'll smell it, belive me. Morning rolls (petit pain aux lardons et comte) hot from the oven, golden crusted in Paris at Le Boulanger de Monge, 123 rue Monge - ouvert de 7h30 a 20h30 dumardi au dimanche, where they unexpicalby thought it was strange that I would wait for the next batch, hot and oozing cheese and smokey bacon with a thin layer of crusted cheese on the bottom. Beyond belief with morning expresso. A late night meal at Le Rallye Peret (6, rue Dagurre Tel: 01 4322 57 05) of a salade nature followed by a big fat mustard creamed Saucisson Chaud with Pomme lyonnais and washed down with Brouilly Rouge. Ma Maison (passage Ste-Helene) lunch in Beaune in the heart of Burgundy, Nuits St. George for wine and feasting and napping in the sun, Nice for Soucca and Pan Banget. A Fete de la Cuisine, sous les Halles de Beaune (the markets of...) I happened upon where for 2 euros I ate and ate and ate and ate for hours and hours the creations of the best chefs in the region. Followed by hours of dialogue and ferverent debate at you guessed it, a nearby cafe. A highlight was a Gateau d'Aubergnes aux Amandes, Saumon Mrine au Poivre de Pondichery a la Huile d'Argane prepared by, M. Garcin of the Restaurant Le Cheval Blanc in the Hotel Central, 2 Rue Victor Mllot a Beaune. Need I say more? There were about 60 chefs, throngs of devotees with forks around thier necks and poets waxing homages to such as Gelee de Pole, Ecrevisses aux Herbes du Jardin et Creme de Fenouil and Boeuf Cassissum. It was a good Thursday. Marseillaise for Bouillabasisse and getting robbed by a father so team with a plan but that's another story. Cavaillon for the sweetest melon in the world eaten of a mountain top as the ancient sun rose, Barcelona for fireworks, Gaudi and tapas, fat grilled sardines and young green wine in Lisbon. Restaurante Ramires in Guia for Frango piri-piri. Firy chicken and fried potatoes. Guia, the Frango capital has about 8 frango joints and not much else. All must be tried especially when you've traveled 100s of miles tasting piri-piri in your heart. A town who's name I can't remember at the moment who's "deserved" claim to fame is roast suckling pig. Suculent! roast suckig pig. Cordoba Spains' Restaurant El Churrasco for Robellons ala Plancha. Small fabled tables whispered of while catching a breeze, meals of morning foraged mushrooms and hand picked herbs by the singing children of chef / mommies preparing my meal as if they were making love. Following a legendry pistou, smelling the trail. This was a sampling of the trip I'd intended to post about but c'est la vie. I have always considered myself a hound of many sorts not the least of which is a chow. I must apoligise for the following: my spelling, which Chowhound, the site, must except except some of the responsibility (no spell check), along with Mrs. Krisha my 3rd grade teacher and of course myself. My wordiness, that I promise to try to control (I will try my best to make a point now and again) and my bogarting arepas (which I will explain later). So... do you New York Hounds remember the punishing, torents of endless rain we all endured a number of weeks ago? Of course ou do;even in the midst of this "deserved" spectacular run of sun. There was one litteraly one Friday evening that the rains had subsided and the skies were clear. It was a beautiful night shaping up, I had a dinner date and a telephone called which went something like; blah blah, blah blah blah - I can't make it - do you still love me? I cancelled my resevation, walked to The Chelsea Market, got a pint of Ronnybrook Ice Cream and walked to The Little Pie Co. on 14th Street. I think I may have even whistled a bar or 2. I ordered an individual "seasonal" blueberry pie - heated and sat outside watching the cruise ships sail off and the fashionable cruisers promenarding in thier prada pumps spooning mouthful after mothful of blueberries, crispy warm buttercrust and cold fresh vanilla ice cream. Contented as a suckling pig in Shi Town. Unumbrellaed, unencumbered... oh baby! Yes I still love you. Then it hit me. maybe - Maybe - MAYBE -YES!!! The sensitive, seductive, elusive, be bop a loo ba sainted arapa lady WILL be there. Confident as Corvette salesman in Amish Country I gobbled a last few bits of pie, saluted the sailing ships, looked on the ground to see if any of the trendoids had dropped a dollar and I was off walking toward the 59th St. Bridge assured that Paul Simon had once proceeded in this same way and knowing I soon be eating mana (or an arepa) which ever I came upon first. It should be said that at this time, understadably, due to the weather and the general elusiveness of the SAL there had been panicing, jonesing for areapas for some time. As documented on these boards, no sightings, only specuation of permit problems. I will speak more of this later. I walked, I walked, I winked at women, I walked, I walked and walked. I convinced myself that even if she wasn't there: I was enjoying the walk, the evening, I'd have a Donavans' Cheeseburger and a Pint or two. But she WOULD be there. I felt it in my bones. I later realised that it was just a twisted ankle. I felt it in my heart. I later realised that was just a repeating burito. But I felt it! I walked and I walked. Over the bridge, under The El... on and on I walked. As I came upto 63rd Street and Rossevet Ave. PLOP! A bird spoke to me. Not a whisper, a suggestion... a gallon of luck. Eureeka! That was a sign, the sign. My heart raced, my pace excelerated, my ankle straightened like Kiasser Sossas', like Lon Chaneys'. My pie was a distant rememberance... the taste of an arepa was on my tongue. The timing was perfect, 10:45. Is she? Is she? I think... no, I'm not sure... YES - YES _ Yes!!! There she was in all her beautiful serenity. She was just setting up. I kissed her forehead and before she could call the police I told her i'd be back in half an hour (had to let the coals heat up) and she then... Oh man, oh man - yes baby; I still love you. I knew it! I KNEW she'd be there. Now comes the informational part of this post. While I was walking, waiting for the coals to heat up I ran into the guy who'd been helping her set up. We spoke; the guy was actually her son Douglas. We spoke of food, Arepas, "mom", bikes... and permits. He told me as part of the initive of a local councilman "all" street vendors were "if he had his way" going to get the "heave ho". It was a blanket inititive considering no difierension between vice and virtue. People tring to make a living and people of shall we say less reput. Now remember this was about 5 weeks ago, but at that time Douglas had told me this was just an ide put forth by a lone councilman with questionable "pull". There was a merchant / vendor group going to make their case with the community, the councilman and the police. He didn't seem too concerned. That's all I know of the subject. Except that the 2 areapas I had were absolute... just absolute. So much had I enjoyed them, and forgotten how much I did love them and given the lengthy draught and impending rains (this is the bogart part) I asked that if she didn't think it would leave her short would she be able to sell me 10 uncooked arepas, which she gladly did. A note: I again asked her if she was sure it woudn't deprive anyone. She was sure. I ration them sparingly and knowing thier worth. The remaining 5 rest proudly next to the last remaining pint of my grandmothers' chicken soup (a memorial) a Briermer Pie, a pound of Little Richards (Salam SC) BBQ and some other assorted treasures. And a tip of the hat to Pat Hammond.

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