Monday, October 27, 2014

Arepas arrive in London's hipster-haven Brick Lane

All text and photographs copyright Russell Maddicks
Follow me on Twitter: @venezuelaguide

It's only fitting that one of East London's trendiest hipster hangouts now has a food truck selling this year's hottest new street food: arepas.

In Venezuela and Colombia these fluffy corn-dough pockets are stuffed with tasty savoury fillings like beef, chicken and cheese to make snacks you can eat anytime of the day.

Now Venezuelan expat Giacomo Tomaselli and his Polish partner Inga have brought their own twist on classic arepa recipes to the Brick Lane area.

It's not hard to find them: a massive sign announces "Arepa: Venezuelan Street Kitchen" and some very tropical multicoloured stripes decorate their shiny black Arepazos Bros food truck in Ely's Yard. This otherwise unremarkable car park round the back of the Old Truman Brewery (E1 6QL) comes alive from midday as the food trucks open up and the area fills with diners taking a break from browsing the market stalls, pop-up art galleries, vintage clothes shops, and racks of vinyl in the Rough Trade indie record store.

The menu features a choice of three arepa fillings: the traditional pabellon (shredded beef or chicken with plantain, black beans and cheese), the vegetarian domino (black beans, grated cheese, pico de gallo, and guacamole), and the Peruvian inspired ceviche (fish marinated in lemon juice).

Giacomo explained that after much experimentation he had decided to add a fresh-tasting Mexican-style pico de gallo sauce to his arepas made from roughly-chopped tomato, onion, and coriander.

He also serves a thick avocado guacamole, rather than the runnier Venezuelan sauce known as guasacaca.

The day I went I had the pabellon. The shredded beef was just right, the guacamole was thick and creamy, and the plantain fries were crispy.

A set of benches in front of the stall offers covered seating for customers. Five other food trucks sell a variety of burgers, chicken and pulled pork if there's somebody in your party who wants an alternative to arepas.

You can even bring your own booze if you want to wash down your arepas with a few cold beers bought from a local corner store (always a great way to save a few pennies).

Giacomo is originally from Caraballeda, a town on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela near the capital Caracas. His grandfather ran a famous ice-cream parlour called Helados Tomaselli near the old Macuto Sheraton. The food truck is Giacomo's very own creation, made from an old horse box.
If you come from Liverpool Street Tube station the route takes you past the old Spitalfield's Market and entry to Ely's Yard is from Hanbury Street, or Dray Walk if you're coming from Brick Lane.
Once you've eaten your arepas you can check out the Brick Lane clothes market and some of the street art in the area. 

There's at least one Banksy painted on a wall in Brick Lane. The street is famous for its Bangladeshi curry houses, although if you come on a Sunday when the local markets are in full swing, be ready to to wade through the hordes of hipsters in skinny jeans and Doc Martin boots that fill the streets.


Anonymous said...

I popped around with some clients, as we wanted a quick bite, they were super impressed with the area and food. Service super friendly, Arepas were delicious and affordable, including bits on the side.
Ralph Lauren Media Team approves. Thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Really well written article. This article makes great justice to one of the most contemporary areas of London (Brick Lane)in which you can find amazing street art as the article explains and amazing artists repping various crafts (i.e. architecture, IT, fashion, music, etc) and Giacomo is an artist too and his craft is the food, I mean the Arepas. An example of his innovation on the art of the food, it's stated on the article "after much experimentation he had decided to add a fresh-tasting Mexican-style pico de gallo sauce to his arepas made from roughly-chopped tomato, onion, and coriander..."