While traveling through Central and South America, Luloo Flynn came across an array of exciting cuisines. But as a vegetarian, she resisted indulging in a great deal of the local food. “Empanadas in most Latin American countries are made with animal lard, so even the veggie-filled ones were a no-go for me,” she explains. “Food is obviously so important and is a true reflection of a region.”
To address this struggle to connect with Latin American food culture, Flynn embarked on a mission to create a booth selling her own empanadas made from homemade dough and fillings that added a vegetarian twist to the traditionally meat-centric savory pie. Empaniñas debuted at the Hester Street Fair this past weekend.
The empanada featuring, of course, kale is a great choice for vegetarians. “The ‘Kale Mary’ is my favorite!” says Flynn. This crispy handheld mouthful of amazing features what the chef describes as “earthy kale, sweet corn, nutty gruyere cheese, and smoky paprika.”
But fear not, healthy-haters and those of us who are serious about our Sunday meals having a sufficient amount of grease to soak up a hangover — Empaniñas are always fried. “Baked may be the health conscious choice, but fried tastes so much better,” says Flynn. Right on.
Of course Empaniñas also offers carnivorous selections galore. Flynn says the “tried and true” taste tester favorite is the “Cubano”: a tasty fry-pie filled with “pulled pork, sliced ham, and stinky swiss cheese served with homemade pickles.” Dang.
And though meats abound, Flynn still maintains a commitment to her environmentalist ethos. “More important to me than trying to stop the consumption of meat,” says Flynn, “is buying healthy, chemical free meat that was raised on a pasture farm by hardworking folks who feel a responsibility to do right by the animals and the environment.” Accordingly, Empaniñas are made using locally sourced meat from the Heritage Meat Shop in the Essex Market, and Applegate Farms.
Last weekend at Hester, the empanadas, and Flynn’s special concoction of homemade peach-mint-iced-yerba-mate-tea, were sold out by 4 p.m. So if you plan to munch, get there at a reasonable hour. Just note that our friends at Hester will be taking the weekend off this upcoming Sunday, but will resume normal operations September 28th.