I was happy to hear that Miss Venezuela had won the Miss Universe title for a historical second year in a row. Though I don’t follow the pageant and can’t speak for the universe, they do seem to want it more than any other country. I think it was seeing this in the news that reminded me of a Venezuelan restaurant I had wanted to try for a few weeks. When I read in the New York Times about the patacón Maracucho served in El Cocotero, I felt deprived. Having grown up on fried plantains, how could I have not come across this version using flat green plantains as sandwich bread for shredded ropa vieja, lechón asado, chicken, black beans, and sometimes, even more plantains. When I finally made my there, I was surprised at how small the restaurant felt inside; yet with only a few open tables, the restaurant expands. As the waitress explained, it was designed to include every region of Venezuela. A wall covered with sepia toned photographs from Maracaibo faces horned masks from Oriente while a tiled roof over the kitchen represents the Andes. Looking over it all, there is not one but two altars to Simón Bolívar and Venezuela’s patron saints. I had the pabellón – a patacón of shredded flank steak, black beans and sweet plantains – a little bit of everything you could want in one perfect combination, not to be missed.