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Posts tagged ‘bienmesabe’

That’s No Lady

I have a regrettably low tolerance for alcohol.  Typically, I’ll sip a mojito till it’s watered down to nothing or nurse a light Mexican beer most of the night.  I’m that girl.  So it’s odd that I’ve spent this week spiking sorbet with cava, getting a lobster drunk on rum, and now drizzling lady fingers with vermouth and yet more rum for a Bien Me Sabe,  a Venezuelan dessert of lady fingers layered with coconut cream.

Whenever I have people over, I always go to Latin Chic written by my friend Isabel González-Whitaker and co-author Carolina Buia.  Living in the neutral territory of New York City where everyone is from somewhere else, it’s full of simple but great ideas to add a cultural twist that’s honest to entertaining in Latin American style.  Looking for a dessert to bring to a dinner party, I made their version of Bien Me Sabe or “It Tastes Good to Me”.  This one in particular comes from Carolina’s great-aunt Mercedes Camps.  The legend goes that she made it for Venezuela’s future president Rómulo Betancourt when he was hiding from political adversaries in her home.  It’s impossible not to admire a woman who not only offers refuge to those in need but then throws in dessert.  After three weeks, she smuggled out the father of Venezuelan democracy disguised in one of her dresses. Read more

Milking a Coconut

I was looking at different dessert recipes when my cousin sent me one for a Venezuelan bienmesabe, a coconut custard cake that required me to crack one open and extract the milk.  Picturing hammers and machetes and emergency room visits, I thought she was crazy if she thought I was going milk my own coconut.  My next thought was where in New York to find them.  In Miami this would not be a problem.  Though Miami Beach has become unrecognizable in many ways, you still see men pushing grocery carts of fresh green coconuts along red hot sidewalks.  With one balletic move, they’ll swing a giant machete to cut a tiny hole just big enough for a slender straw for a coco frio.  Fresh or dry, I knew my best chance was Essex Market in the Lower East Side.  I found them straightaway at Batista Grocery.  The clerk helped me pick out a few by shaking them to make sure they had water inside and offered to crack them open for me to be sure that the meat inside was still fresh.  For a moment, I was tempted.  It would be so much easier, but I was decided and it seemed a shame not to go through with it.  After all, it was a  pretty common kitchen technique before we were all hooked on cans.  So here are some pictures along with a few things I learned by milking my own coconut… Read more