Where to Shop for Venezuelan Ingredients and Food
Updated: Apr 29
Venezuelan cheeses from Sabanero, prepared foods from Arepas Grill, frozen churros and tequeños from Sweet Churro and Pacheco's VSF, and of course where to find staple ingredients, like plantain, banana leaves and Harina PAN in shops.
Arepas Grill. Photo: Oscar Zambrano
1. Sabanero Cheeses
Started in Galway in 2015 by Dayana Maltese, Sabanero makes authentic Venezuelan cheeses and "nata", a delectable version of sour cream using Irish milk. They are the only cheesemaker in Ireland making Latin American cheeses. You can buy Venezuelan nata, hard cheese, semi-hard and "Galwegian," which is similar to Guayanés. Their cheeses are low in fat and salt.
Sabanero's cheeses are similar to a Queso de Burgos from Spain but more flavorful and tangy.
Perfect for arepas, as a filling for empanadas, or simply fried or baked in any Latin American recipe they are worth a try.
The range also includes frozen tequeños, (that you fry at home), harina PAN, and fresh corn dough for cachapas (a sweet corn patty filled with cheese). Tequeños are a crisp pastry dough wrapped around melted cheese, that can be served with various sauces.
Dayana's older sister TV chef Jeeny Maltese has taught us you can bake tequeños instead of frying them by brushing them with egg white.
I love to grill the semi-hard cheese on a griddle pan and serve it sprinkled with chili and olive oil. I also serve rice and black beans with the nata and home-made arepas.
2. Arepas Grill
Arepas Grill has positioned itself among the best street food purveyors in Dublin. Now in their shiny new location they continue to supply a 'corn fix' to all Latin American aficionados and to the gluten-free crowd.
Always delicious, and originally found in key locations like the original Eatyard and food markets, brothers Oscar Leonardo and Oscar David Zambrano are the pioneers of Venezuelan food in Ireland. Check out their instagram @arepasgrill for some great shots crafted by the multi-talented Oscar David (who also cooks).
Their arepas are legendary and their menu accessible and so, so delicious with tequeños, plantains, cachapas and Venezuelan burgers.
I would kill for their coconut gluten-free tres leches recipe which comes with edible flowers and beautifully piped coconut whipped cream which they sell by the slice but that you can order whole for special occasions (they won't check whether it's a "special occasion", so order your cake with abandon).
I'd love it if they also did pepito sandwiches (Venezuelan beef sandwiches that come with mix and match sauces and toppings).
39 South Richmond Street, Dublin. www.arepasgrill.ie
3. Pacheco VSF
The girls from Pacheco VSF (Venezuelan Street Food) have been working the local markets for three years and now deliver their frozen Venezuelan foods straight to your door. Partners Andrea Olivo and Andrea Figueira, who met in Caracas studying design, are the kind of people you are going to want to party with when Covid ends, but meanwhile, their instagram live cooking demos are tons of fun with Latin catchy tunes, cocktails and Venezuelan recipes. Expect to see them cooking on TV very soon! They define themselves as "cocineras del corazón" (chefs of the heart) and cook family recipes they have collected growing up. They are the only supplier who have frozen arepas, yuca, beans, pulled beef and chicken and patacones (how convenient!).
4. Sweet Churro
Nigely Massud from Sweet Churro brought Venezuelan-style churros to Ireland and has the only dedicated churrería in Ireland. They are based on Crow Street in Temple Bar. Although other places are making and selling churros, these are definitely the most scrumptious (and instagrammable) we have tasted (and seen) in Ireland. Their online shop has frozen empanadas (beef, chicken and cheese), frozen tequeños, Mano cheese, cachapa dough and cachapa making packs along with dulce de leche, ready made dipping sauces and drinks and sweets from Venezuela. They have click and collect and delivery and have recently opened a food truck in The Avon in Blessington, Co. Wicklow.
3/4 Crow Street. Temple Bar, Dublin. www sweetchurro.ie
5. Pinoy Sari Sari
Filipino food shares some common ingredients with Latin American given their latitude and Spanish heritage so it is not a surprise that you can find your staple ingredients in this shop. Green and ripe plantains (essential in Pabellón, Venezuela's national dish), chayota (used in sweets and similar to a courgette), Harina PAN, yuca (cassava), banana leaves for making hallacas, black beans and avocados for making guasacaca, Venezuela's answer to guacamole are all available at reasonable prices. While you are there pick up some Filipino breads and pastries like pan de sal and pan de coco from Golden Ribbon bakery.
25-26 Little Mary Street. Dublin 7
112-113 George's Street Lower, Dun Laoghaire. Co. Dublin
6. Indian stores
Most Indian stores have a great selection of Latin American ingredients (some are also used in Indian cuisine) like plantains, banana leaves, Harina PAN both white and yellow, cassava, banana leaves, limes, sweet corn flour also from Harina PAN and chayotas.
Arepa: a disc made with cooked corn flour (Harina PAN). They can stuffed or served on their own. Similar to a pupusa from El Salvador, or gordita from Mexico.
Cachapas: a fresh corn dough patty filled with fresh cheese.
Chayota: a type of small green squash used to make sweets or salads.
Empanadas: Fried Venezuelan empanadas made with corn dough and filled with cheese, pork or chicken.
Guasacaca: Venezuelan avocado sauce made with cilantro, chili and avocado. Less textured than a guacamole.
Hallacas: A corn soft dough stuffed with pork, olives, raisins and wrapped in banana leaves that is very popular during Christmas. Similar to a tamal in other Latin American countries or humita in Peru and Argentina.
Harina Pan: a pre-cooked corn flour used to make arepas or empanadas. Comes in 2 colours yellow and white.
Harina PAN maíz dulce: sweet pre-cooked corn flour used to make cachapas and similar preparations.
Galwegian cheese: a cheese similar to Guayanés made in Galway by Sabanero.
Nata: a salty and a slightly tart cream served with cachapas and arepas. Delicious also with bread.
Banana leaves: Leaves used to wrap hallacas. They impart a subtle aroma of citrus to the hallaca and protect the dough when steaming. Use them as a compostable wrapper for a Latin flavored fish papillote.
Patacones or Tostones: double-fried green plantain chips.
Plantains (ripe): used to make a mash, or served baked or fried.
Tequeño: crisp wheat pastry dough wrapped around melted cheese, that can be served with various sauces.
Yuca: cassava. Excellent prepared boiled or fried. Can be bought frozen and cooked to speed up preparation.