Tag Archives: megan

Caracas Empanadas

Empanada Mmmpanada
Location: Library Mall
By: Megan

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Brett from Food Carts Portland (yes, in Oregon) and enjoying, what else but, some great cart food and even better conversation. We got in touch with Brett when he tweeted that he was looking for a good cart to try in Madison – we provided a recommendation, and asked if he’d like company! Isn’t social media just plain wonderful? He also agreed to do a guest post for us, so I’ll only give you his couple-sentence story before I get to the emmmmpanadas we ate.

Brett was in Madison for a city planning conference, as I understand it. Portland is set up similar to Madison (from what I can tell) in terms of city planning goals, ideas, and what not; so he had a great deal to contribute to conversation regarding how to build “effective” working cities. Portland, however, has OVER 600 food carts. Woah. He told me that the city will use closed-down parking lots and have only food carts set up there, which creates a sense of “community” when everyone gathers to meet there – so you can imagine the great perspective he had to bring to the conference. I’ll let him talk more about that though!

Caracas cart

Caracas' Cart

Though I was maybe more hungry for “blog talk” than lunch, I ended up picking one of the better food carts for smaller entree options. I’d heard great things about the empanadas here, so I was anxious to try one! They had one for $2.75 or 2 for $5 – I placed my order for one Veggie Empanada (made with potatoes and roasted red peppers). There was a bit of a wait to not only order, but also to get your food – which was probably a combination of him preparing them in the back and the line of about five people waiting for theirs. I didn’t mind this time around, though – I had Brett to chat with!

Once we received our brown bagged lunch, we found a shady spot and dug in. There was a green sauce included, and though I’m not totally sure what it was, I was glad to have it. Don’t get me wrong, the empanada was extremely tasty (I definitely said “mmmpanada”!) – the ingredients didn’t spill all over, the bread was delicious, and it was nice and warm! But, as should be expected I suppose, the empanada was extremely greasy – and I found the sauce helped cut that for whatever reason. I was also a bit surprised to see that the filling more looked like a mush than veggies.

Veggie empanada

Veggie Empanada with "green sauce"

For those with smaller appetites, one empanada was perfect – I certainly walked away full. But as a person who also does not normally eat a lot of greasy food, I also walked away with a bit of a stomachache for the rest of the day. I blame this on not being used to the amount of grease in the food – but definitely may deter me from heading back to Caracas Empanadas.

Deliciousness: 3/5

Price: 4/5

Speed: 1/5

Authenticity/Originality: 3/5

Overall: 2.75/5

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Filed under Venezuelan

Surco

Surco Super
Location: Library Mall
By: Megan

Upon approaching the Peruvian food stand, Surco (which, thank you to Google translator, means “groove”), I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated to try the new type of food for the first time. Looking at the menu, I was impressed to see that they had their options written in both Spanish and English. They only had four entree options, and I settled on the arroz con pollo – simple ingredients and lighter for lunch, not much they could do to chicken and rice, right?

Surco's painted cart!

But before I get to the food, I have to tell you about the service. There were two patrons ahead of me, and I couldn’t help but listen in as the young woman in the cart explained the various dishes to the first gentleman. As his food was being prepared, she pointed out their three specialty sauces, explained their ingredients, the spiciness of each of them, the different peppers they were made from and encouraged him to try all of them before deciding. The next patron only spoke Spanish and I listened to the woman speak to her to her in perfect, beautiful Spanish explaining the dishes. I was excited I even understood her!!

When it was my turn to order, I too was greeted with a smile, ordered my food, paid $6 and waited less than two minutes before it was in my hand! The gentleman who ordered before me enjoyed the different sauces so much, he ended up putting all three on his dish! Silly me, I was so distracted and excited to try my food, I forgot to add any to my own! (next time I guess!) I met up with Stephanie (check out her Thai Riffic review), we found a spot on Bascom Hill and dove in.

El arroz con pollo - que delicioso!

I opened my to-go container and was a little bit disappointed with the chicken-to-rice ratio. There was just a small piece of chicken and a ton of rice… but also a large pile of colorful, seasoned and cooked vegetables (carrots, zucchini, broccoli, etc). After the first bite, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. I grabbed a little of each part of the dish – chicken, vegetable and rice – and WOW was I impressed with all the flavor that the single bite had. The vegetables were perfectly cooked, the rice had it’s own seasoning, and the chicken wasn’t at all dry. I ended up finishing it way to fast it was so yummy! It was the perfect amount of chicken to compliment the assortment of vegetables, though I did have quite a bit of rice leftover.

Can’t do much with chicken and rice? Wrong. Surco did it. After eating this dish, which I thought would be simple and a safe bet to try for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised and am anxious to taste their other dishes! (Side note: they use all natural, organic ingredients. Bonus!)

Deliciousness: 5/5 plates

Price: 3/5 plates

Speed: 4/5 plates

Authenticity/Originality: 4/5 plates

OVERALL: 4/5 plates

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Filed under Peruvian