So why did we spend three hours at Caracas last night?
Can you say Roneria? You gotta roll the Rs a bit, but you’ll get it. Ron, of course, is the Spanish word for rum. I would say Rum is making a comeback, but I’m not really qualified to be the guy that tells you. After last night, however, I’m just the guy to tell you that it should.
My college lacrosse teammate, NYC bartender, and aspiring Jersey Shore cast member Scott Tami recently got me into Scotch. He’s a huge scotchhound and he taught me about the complexities of this drink over many sips last summer. I’ve been drinking the most interesting scotches neat all summer and have made it my go-to man-gift of choice. My college roomate, lead engineer, and witness-protected friend Dan Wilkens got me into Tequila. He handled my finances when I was on my motorcycle tour of Central America, so on my way back from Mexico, I brought him some 25 year-old Don Julio. This stuff has to be tasted to be believed – it’s not hard to understand why they charge what they do for the bottle.
Now here I am, in Brooklyn of all places, trying some of the most ridiculous rum on the planet with a bunch of people I’d never even met five hours prior, and I was converted. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t have some kind of flight on their menu – these have been my favorite things of the project. The Tuna Flight, the Pork Flight, and now the Rum Flight (top). The reason these work for me is because I like discovery, but the reason they work for everyone is because we can taste the nuances (or stark contrasts) of the artist’s take on what characteristics the subject is supposed to exude (a’la Iron Chef).
We had a Mojito (Jessica’s pic), a Dark and Stormy (my pic above, Jessica’s pic), a Rum Manhattan (pic) , and three of Miguel’s (our bartender) favorite sips from the bar (top). #1) Mojito, #2) Rum Manhattan, #3) Dark and Stormy. The mojito had a dash of bitters, rimmed with an anise syrup that set off the mint very nicely. I am a bourbon guy, so the rum Manhattan was up against some stiff competition. I liked their take on it with the flambÃ©ed orange zest (OK, you need to click on this picture that Jessica took NOW) the sweeter spirit. It worked. Something’s gotta come in last. I had a Bourbon/Domaine de Canton Dark and stormy at The Gibson in DC and couldn’t get that awesomeness out of my head as I tried the D&S here. I might have been asking too much; The Gibson’s Cricketer was one of the best drinks I’ve had in the last year.
The Rum Flight: Atlantico Private Cask, Santa Teresa 1796, and Vizcaya (from right to left in the top picture). I remember the Atlantico as vanilla on the nose with a peppery spice on the tongue and some heat on the finish. The Santa Teresa smelled like egg nog and was more vanilla-y on the palate than the Atlantico. The Vizcaya’s scent was caramel with more toasty heat than of the Atlantico. I’d asked Miguel to go easy on us so I could still write when I got home, so he gave us just a taste of each. I’m now wishing my tolerance was a bit higher so I could have had more than just a sip, but I was pretty productive last night. Trade-offs.
The Tostones Mochimeros were inspiring. So much so, Jessica is going to recreate the recipe on her website (link at the bottom). This dish seemed like it was designed with me in mind specifically. The description reads; fried green plantains topped with mojito mayo, a squeeze of lemon, and white cheese. I didn’t know what this cheese was, and unless the name of the cheese was actually aged cheese, neither did Miguel. When you have to cut the last of anything in half, you know it’s good.
Arepas (pic)? Oh yeah, the arepas. They were awesome. Come on, you knew this already. You can’t possibly be hearing about Caracas for the first time from me, can you?
The Obleas (pic) look too much like pac-man for me to seriously include in this post. Dulce de leche in between two giant wafers of sacrament – not a huge fan, but Jessica seemed to enjoy them. Next time I think I’ll try the chocolate mousse.
The parting shot to this gorgeous meal was a coffee-rum spiked latte (left). Maribel (the owner) wanted me to come here to check out the Roneria; it’s a slice of Caracas you can’t get on the island. I don’t know if I am subconsciously writing about this because she wanted me to or because it was goddamn amazing. Either way, it’s nearing the end of this post, and I am still typing away about the drinks.
Back to the lattÃ© … Fuggedaboudit. Order it. Jessica admitted that if Miguel hit us with another one of those that she would be passed out at the last stop on the L train for the evening. Coffee and frothiness with a nice latin kick to round it out. This ain’t your standard kahlua/tia maria BS, this is coffee rum. You absolutely must finish your meal at Caracas with this drink, even if you share it.
If you know Caracas, and you haven’t been to the spot in WIlliamsburg, it’s a completely different experience. Let the bartender take you away on a rum flight and order the Tostones Mochimeros; they’ll make a mayo lover out of anyone.
The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank Caracas for providing this meal.
291 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211