Most people have sampled Mexican, Italian, Chinese and--in this area at least--Vietnamese, Indian/Pakistani, Thai, Mediterranean, and perhaps Korean food. But these are just the mainest of mainstream when it comes to so-called ethnic foods. There's a whole world out there of people who need to eat. And what ARE they eating anyway?! I feel like a good one day/per week of this project should be devoted to discovering the answer(s) to that question.
Today's New Activity: A Taste of Venezuela
The Coupa Cafe, in Palo Alto, is a warm and cozy, jumpin' joint. The second I walked in I knew I'd be spending the evening here. In fact, I'd left my computer in the car with the intention of retrieving it after dinner, but when I walked in and saw ample seating and gobs of people on their laptops, I decided to go back and get it and camp in for the night.
I was a little disappointed to find that there weren't a whole lot of traditional Venezuelan menu items offered. Not that I know what traditional Venezuelan fare is (I'm basing this on the relatively small number of choices under the menu heading "Venezuelan Specialities). While I'm sure they eat plenty of salads and pasta in Venezuela--from which there were plenty to choose--I wouldn't count any of those choices if my attempt is to sample new cuisine.
I did go with one tried-and-true: french fries, but only because the menu mentioned that they were seasoned and accompanied by three salsas called guasacaca, salsa trujillana, and salsa ajo.
I have to say that every single one of those dipping options were better than anything else I've ever eaten with fries. Two were spicy, and they were all just full of flavor. I'm a little sad at the thought of ever eating plain fries, or fries with ketchup, after this experience.
The traditional thing I ordered was an arepa, described as a thin white cornmeal giddle cake (similar to a sopapilla, actually, just a little more firm). There were a few vegetarian options, and I chose the one with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes.
The flavor was good, but the ratio of cheese to cake was just insane. I can't imagine a scenario in which that much cheese seems appropriate, and this statement is coming from cheese's biggest fan! I scraped more than half of it off and I was still done with the idea even of consuming more cheese by halfway into the thing. I was kind of wishing at that moment that I'd gone with my instincts and ordered the black bean, cheese, and nata (Venezuelan sour cream) option. I would have been a smidge bit less adventurous, but it'd likely be more inline with how the dish is traditionally eaten, and I generally find that's the best way to go when talking about foreign foods.
Still, there's a lot to celebrate here. I love the atmosphere, the service was good, and the music is perfect. Since I've been here I've heard some Mana unplugged, a meregue from La Machina, and some Buddha Bar selections; it's perfect for the mood here.
And since I'm in for the night, I think I'll wait a while and go for a bakery item, or perhaps the spicy hot chocolate I read about on Yelp. I can't see much going wrong with either of those selections.
And I can't wait to see what region of the world's cuisine will be next in line!