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Monday October 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday October 7, 2013 MYT 3:02:28 PM
by jade chanphotos by shahrul fazry ismail
Healthy start : Chef Rodriguez with a Tomato, Palm Heart.
Organised by the Venezuelan Embassy, the festival held at Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur’s Eccucino restaurant is featured as part of the Eighth Venezuelan Week in Malaysia.
Venezuelan Ambassador Manuel Guzmán played host on the first night of the festival, as he welcomed Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin, as well as ambassadors from South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.
Guests were also entertained by live music by the Nelson González Trio.
Venezuelan celebrity chef Tamara Rodriguez was back to delight diners with a unique selection of dishes that represents the diversity of Venezuela’s various regions and ingredients.
The Venezuelan Gastronomic Festival featured a selection of Venezuelan dishes, such as Plantain-Crusted Fish on Spanish Tomato Sauce, Chicken Polvorosas, Callaloo, Braised Beef with Chocolate, and Fosforera (seafood and tomato soup).
There were also bite-sized treats such as Arepas, Seafood Empanadas, Tortitas De Auyama, and Carabinas, as well as desserts such as Golfeados, Negro En Camisa, and Conservas De Coco.
Arepa, a cornmeal cake that can be grilled, baked or fried, is a famous Venezuelan dish that features a variety of fillings.
For the promotion, Rodriguez has prepared stuffings such as shredded beef and cheese, black beans and cheese, and chicken and avocado.
“Similar to a pancake, the Cachapa is made from corn and includes fresh cheese,” she said of the treat that was popular among diners.
“Cheese is featured in many Venezuelan dishes and is part of our diet.”
Venezuelan cuisine is one of the most varied in Latin America due to its climatic contrasts, ranging from the Andean and Amazon region to coastal areas, as well as varied influences from Europe, Africa and indigenous cultures.
“The Pisca Andina is a traditional stew from the mountainous parts of the country. Chicken Polvorosas, which looks similar to a chicken pie, is popular in our capital city Caracas.
“Seafood Empanadas, which resembles samosa, is common in the eastern and seaside region of Venezuela; Plantain-Crusted Fish on Spanish Tomato Sauce is usually served on the western side of the country.”
Rodriguez also makes an effort to incorporate a chocolate dish as tribute to her hometown in the Paria Peninsula, a top producer of cocoa in Venezuela.
For the promotion, she prepared the Braised Beef with Chocolate, which she said had a mix of sweet and bitter taste.
“I also tried to make dishes Latin Americans can recognise from their home countries to offer them a taste of home, and incorporate dishes that are similar to what the locals have,” said Rodriguez.
Hence the introduction of a dish called Callaloo — which looks similar to the local dish of pucuk ubi masak lemak.
While this version incorporates spinach, Rodriguez said the dish usually features taro leaves in Venezuela.
On her cooking philosophy, the 57-year-old said she enjoys making comfort food with family flavours and home-cooked touches.
“I cook with local produce and products of the season. I always have at least one dish with cocoa,” she said with a smile.
“I was born in a family where food and family gatherings were important. It was from my family that I nurtured a love for cooking.”
The former journalist said journalism and cooking are topics that are close to her heart.
“I believe that writing, like cooking, can make people happy or sick. Whatever your product is, it is your choice on how it affects people,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who believes in giving back to her people, founded a community radio station which airs programmes on cooking, health and communal subjects targeted at helping the villagers in Rio Caribe cope with the challenges of daily life.
The Venezuelan Gastronomic Festival buffet dinner will be available until tomorrow, and is served from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.
It is priced at RM98++ per adult; children dine free with every paying adult.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.
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Lifestyle, Eccucino, Venezuelan Gastronomic Festival
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