ABC - Arepas, Blizzard, Chocolate - Orinoco and the Snowy Day

Head out in blizzard? For brunch?

(view from the bus stop) The Silver Line goes practically door to door from the Leather District next to the Boston Sports Club, and goes right down Washington Street, one block off Shawmut.

There is a saying in Venezuela "Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Every head is a world, everyone has their own way of thinking. So maybe we're odd for going out on the snowiest of days, but we love it. One snowstorm we had afternoon tea at the Park Plaza. Today we head South.

Brunch 11 - 3


Yes, that's a palm tree on the door....

Orinoco is the name of one of the longest rivers in South America, emptying in Venezuela. It's also the perfect place to spend a snowy afternoon.


Our Snowy Day Adventure

We blew in amidst swirling snow, stomped our feet on the mat inside the door in an attempt to minimize the slush we dragged in. We were greeted by warm smiles as I announced "Just like the last time I was in Caracas!" We were quickly offered hot chocolate Venezuelan style. A nice way to warm up.

Since it was our first visit, we sampled our way across the menu, Tequeños (pastry-wrapped fried cheese), Empanadas trio, Hallaca "a traditional Venezuelan Christmas dish" and Ensalada Palmito (hearts of palm.)

Hallaca - pork and chicken, raisins, capers, spices, baked in a plaintain leaf, like a tamale. Served with an Ensalada Gallina (chicken, vegetable cold salad), and pan de jamon (bread stuffed with ham, raisins, bacon and baked with sweetened crust, usually baked, here a slice of fried heaven.)

Of course we had to have an arepa. And my luck, they had one today with chicharrones. In this case softly stewed ones. Along with a soft cheese.

Each of the dishes showed a delicate balance of sweet and savory. The subtlety was enticing. What was in the mojo sauce? What made the ketchup spicy?

Before we headed back out into the snow, we enjoyed mugs of deep, dark Columbian coffee. We noticed some house-made products. I was most intrigued by the chutney. My Español is far less serviceable than our host's English - but I still only managed to find out that he would recommend the chutney is used as condiment for chicken.

Turns out, it was a wonderful accompaniment to our pork roast I braised in the Carnitas de Lia style. I rubbed it with a spice rub I mixed up from what was on hand. Lia's recipe calls for chipotle powder and I didn't have any. I do have chipotle peppers in adobo, so I used some of that. I used smoked salt from Chef Robert Parker's C-Food collection. Added a few cloves of garlic.

The salsa in the foreground went untouched. The Chutney Caracas in the bowl behind it, was exceptional. Green mangoes, cinnnamon, and more it was the perfect complement to the carnitas. I rolled mine with the coleslaw, too.

I'm looking forward to using the Chutney Caracas in other ways, too. Chicken and pork seem the best choices.

Orinoco has two locations the South End at 477 Shawmut Ave. and Brookline Village, 22 Harvard St.

These would make great gifts for any foodies: Chutney Caracas (green mango) $9.75, Picante Sauce $7.95, Adobo Rub $8.75


? Speaking of holiday gifts, you may want to donate to Ricesticks & Tea the Asian Food Pantry run by Tufts Medical Center volunteers. See Skirting Hunger. I'm giving a gift on my birthday, there's still time to kick in!