“Tortillas are made on the premises and familiar items are noticeably elevated, whether it’s vibrant guacamole or crisp tortilla chips that shatter in layers. Empanadas may be filled with chorizo and potato; enchiladas are plump with duck in guajillo salsa. The surprise in tamales may be chile-citrus braised brisket.”
Pozole is one of the most ancient of Mexican dishes that is still commonly eaten today. It has always been a celebratory dish in Mexico, dating as far back as the 1500’s, and is frequently served at quinceañeras, weddings, birthdays and New Year’s celebrations. All versions of pozole featured nixtimalized hominy in broth, typically pork broth. There are three common pozoles: blanco (white), verde (green) and rojo (red) – we’ll be offering pozole rojo.
It seems that I frequently cut out of work before the end of service, and crave a quick, delicious, and economical bite and a drink before I head home for the night, but there seemingly are very few options that fit the bill. That is the motivation behind adding “Late Night Pozole” to our nightly menu at Comal. After 9 pm every night, for $10 one can purchase a bowl of pozole rojo and a michelada or can of Tecate. The hearty pork and hominy stew which will come accompanied by a plate of goodies to add in, just like one might add bean sprouts and basil to a bowl of Vietnamese pho. Cabbage, tortilla strips, radishes, avocado, cilantro and lime, and an ice-cold spicy michelada to wash it all down – what more can one ask for? Of course, our regular a la carte menu will be available as well, if fish tacos are more to your liking.
Jalapeño Matzo Balls and Beef Brisket in Adobo: Comal to host 4th Annual Mexican-inspired Passover Seders
For the fourth year in a row, Comal will mark Passover with multi-course family-style dinners in Abajo, their intimate private dining room, on Monday, April 25 and Tuesday, April 26. Executive Chef Matt Gandin has created a menu in his signature Mexican style that riffs on traditional Passover dishes. Dinners will follow the more liberal Sephardic traditions, incorporating rice, beans and corn into the meal, and will forego haggadahs for lively conversation at the communal table.
Beef Brisket in Adobo
The dinners will start promptly at 6:30PM. Seating is limited to 22 diners each night and tickets have sold out quickly in the past, so purchase early. Tickets are $75 per person (inclusive of service charge but exclusive of beverages) and can be purchased by clicking on one of these links:
April 25 – http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1133265
April 26 – http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1133269
Passover Seder Menu
Guacamole chips & three salsas
Rock Cod “Gefilte” Fish Cakes chipotle aioli
Lamb Barbacoa Quesadilla Anaheim chiles
Caldo de Pollo jalapeño matzo balls
Beef Brisket in Adobo carrots, raisins, peanut-chile arbol salsa, mustard greens, habañero, lime
Midnight black beans de olla
Blood Orange Raspado tequila whipped crema, Beauty’s chocolate-dipped coconut macaroon
Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley, Phone: 510.926.6300
Each fall, after begrudgingly removing the Juarez Sour from our menu when berries vanish from the market, I struggle to find a suitable winter replacement. It’s nice to have an egg white ‘sour’ style cocktail year round as they provide textural differentiation from the crushed ice tiki drinks and stirred, spirit-forward cocktails on the drink list. In years past we’ve tried Ancho Reyes and pumpkin sours, but making pumpkin-anything after the holidays is like wearing white after Labor Day, leaving a sizable gap. This year we took our egg white bridge to spring, marked annually by the return of the Summer Camp sour, in a different direction: decidedly vegetal.
This is actually one of the few drinks we’ve created that was born in the home bar, an after work favorite of one of Comal’s early bartenders: a tequila sour with a muddled avocado slice. I thought the idea interesting when he described his post shift routine to me, and shelved it in the back of my brain, as it would be near impossible to muddle avocado to order given the volume of drinks we serve; some ideas are just better suited for the home bar. I was reminded of the prospect of an avocado sour a few years later when touring St. George distillery and speaking with master distiller Lance Winters about the process they went through in perfecting a recipe for green chile vodka, which was involved to say the least. Since opening, we’ve limited the cocktail menu to drinks using rum or agave spirits as they naturally make sense paired with Mexican food. When I tasted St. George’s green chile vodka for the first time I instantly thought of Comal’s menu and knew this would be the perfect vodka to break the rules with.
I wanted to amplify the flavor of the distilled peppers with some fresh chile juice, but didn’t want the drink to taste spicy. Poblanos became the obvious choice as they have the added bonus of turning things green, without setting your mouth on fire. Egg white and avocado were included for texture, adding body to the drink, while the remaining ingredients are simply a margarita: tequila, lime and agave. Whether you look at it as a green margarita or an avocado sour, the overriding flavor is just green: vegetal, bright, earthy, but most importantly refreshing. We didn’t want the texture to get too thick as we’re not looking to remind people to eat their vegetables, or create a ‘booze smoothie’. The aim was to let the classic marriage of lime & agave shine through the bright green notes up front.
Great, we’ve now created a delicious recipe for a drink that is prohibitively time consuming to replicate on a large scale; and I thought we were done. When mocking up the drink one at a time, we were muddling avocado into fresh poblano juice extracted with a vegetable juicer – not super efficient, but the results were fantastic. Each time I would try to recreate that flavor in a batch it never turned out quite right. So after a month of R&D, and a lot of time spent with my trusty Vitaprep blender, I finally figured out a method for cranking out avocado sours without the headache, mess, and time expenditure of the home bar method. Come enjoy a Green Mind on our back patio and be thrilled to not be scrubbing the fallout from a blender explosion off your kitchen ceiling. We’ve already done the heavy lifting…
Matthew McKinley Campbell