Every Wednesday and Saturday at the Cherry Creek farmers' market, and again on Sunday at the City Park Esplanade farmers' market, Igor and Beckie Panasewicz feed Venezuelan arepas to the masses from their vendor booth littered with bags of Harina P.A.N. white corn meal, plates of plantains, vats of black beans and heavy pans harboring aromatic stewed meats scenting the open air.
And now the couple, who began hosting Venezuelan dinner parties in 2009 before opening El Caribe, a Venezuelan arepera, are launching a street-mobile. "We just bought an old Royal Crest Dairy truck, which we're in the middle of converting into an arepas truck," says Beckie. "We're hoping to get it up and running in November, and since we're traveling people who love to cook, we're probably going to do a mobile route that changes every day."
Igor, who was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, moved to the United States more than 20 years ago, and the dearth of Venezuelan cuisine -- specifically arepas -- inspired him to do his own. "No one was making arepas when I moved here, so out of necessity, I started making them myself," he explains.
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His booth swings with signs displaying descriptions of the different arepas he and Beckie peddle at the markets.The freshly made, thick, griddled corn cakes, split and packed tight with everything from ham and locally smoked salmon to smoky black beans, avocado and mozzarella, are crisp-edged -- almost crackly -- smoldering, messy and obscenely good.
When the truck starts motoring, the menu will be a simple board of arepas and fresh-squeezed juices, says Beckie. "We're going to keep it super simple and use as many local products as possible, including produce from the farmers' markets."
Beginning next week, the couple will also start hawking their arepas at Denver Urban Homesteading, 200 Santa Fe Drive, Wednesday through Saturday. For more info, call 720-276-0888.