With a degree from Le Cordon Bleu and another in pastry from the International Culinary Center in NYC, Caracas Fusion co-owner Erica Martinez wants to bring a gourmet touch to the finger foods of her native Venezuela.
Situated in a charming spot in downtown New Rochelle, Caracas Fusion gets its name from Martinez’s hometown and from the medley of heritages — West African, indigenous, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and French — that influence Venezuelan cuisine.
Photo by Sibylla Chipaziwa
Having grown up in the restaurant business in Venezuela, Martinez later worked at The Bread Factory in New Rochelle, and founded a catering business with a global clientele. She is well known in New Rochelle for her passionate, hands-on approach to food. When I visited Caracas Fusion, she was taking orders on the phone, greeting passersby, and seasoning and sautéeing in the intimate kitchen behind the counter.
Caracas fusion serves “beach food,” which Martinez describes at “tapas” or “finger food.” Staples include arepas, cachapas con queso (corn pancakes with cheese), and hallacas (cornmeal dough wrapped around fillings), which Martizez points out “are not tamales.”
The cocoada frozen drink has five simple ingredients: fresh coconut, milk, ice, condensed milk, and cinnamon. Photo courtesy of Caracas Fusion.
Arepas include the healthy Reina Pepiada or “pretty queen” with chicken breast and avocado salad, and the Arepa Regional with grilled beef, cheese, and pico de gallo. Both are packed with flavor and quite filling. The Caracas Fusion arepa with garlic shrimp and chimichurri-mango sauce can be made regular or spicy. Other items of note are the cocada frozen drink (essentially a coconut milkshake) and the pan de jamón, or ham bread, a traditional Christmas treat with fried bacon, raisins, and green olives. (The restaurant is currently taking orders for this and other seasonal treats as the holiday season approaches.) Many items can be adapted to customers’ preferred spice levels and are gluten-free.
Having been open for about a month and a half, Martinez says her restaurant has received a positive reaction, especially from patrons who live downtown. “I never expected having families coming here three times a week,” she says.
6 Memorial Hwy
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