12/23/15 12:31pm
coquito

Coquito, it’s like eggnog—con sabor.

As a kid I grew up sipping egg nog at Christmastime, the stuff from the container, not the homemade kind. With a dusting of nutmeg, the rich brew was kind of tasty, even better with a splash of rum. To tell the truth, I always thought that my brother, John, liked it better than I did. Sometimes I wish I grew up Puerto Rican, then I’d know how to dance, and, instead of store bought egg nog, I’d have had coquito. For those who haven’t heard of it, think of this festive libation as the love child of the piña colada and egg nog, that is if the pineapple gene was recessive.

Third generation barman Giuseppe González—the mastermind behind the Lower East Side’s Suffolk Arms—has spent more time behind the stick than I have at the bar and he was kind enough to share his thoughts on his home country’s national holiday drink. With the tropical weather we’ve been having coquito seems more appropriate than eggnog anyhow. Best of all you can make several bottles and lay in a supply for the upcoming New Year’s Eve festivities. Take it away Giuseppe!

Coquito. It’s basically three ingredients: Puerto Rican rum, evaporated milk and cream of coconut. Spice it how you want (cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, etc).  Simple. Work your way up and incorporate what you want.  All variations should have something that resembles those three.  (more…)

12/22/14 1:01am
TUAREPAXMAS

Tu Arepa Pizza Café’s plato navideno.

PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED

One of the coolest things about pizzerias in Queens is ethnic hybridization. Sometimes it takes the form of outright fusion—witness the falafel slice—and sometimes a separate cuisine coexists with the pizza. The latter is the case at Tu Arepa Pizza Café a spot that sells slices side by side with such Venezuelan specialties as cachapas and arepas. (more…)

12/24/13 10:17am
HALLACAS

Tu Arepa opened just in time to start selling hallacas for Christmas.

PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED

Tu Arepa Pizza Cafe stands in the grand tradition of Queens pizzerias with a sideline in ethnic eats. At Tu Arepa, that sideline is the griddled corn cakes known as arepas and other Venezuelan specialties. Come Christmastime that means hallacas ($8) and pan de jamon ($28), both yuletide favorites back home in Puerto La Cruz. A mixture of pork and chicken studded with raisins, green olives, chopped potato, and peppers fills the rustic hallaca at Tu Arepa. (In case you are wondering about that pan de jamon (ham and olive bread) all of tomorrow’s 18-inch loaves are presold, but the shop will be taking orders though the end of the year.) (more…)