Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
After hosting popular Passover Dinners each spring for the past three years, Comal is adding a new twist on the Jewish/Mexican mash-up theme with a Mexican-inspired pair of Oaxanukkah Dinners. The multi-course family-style dinners will take place in Abajo, Comal’s intimate private dining room, on Monday, December 7th and Tuesday, December 8th. Executive Chef Matt Gandin has created a menu in his signature Mexican style inspired by classic Hanukkah dishes. Dinners will follow the more liberal Sephardic traditions, incorporating rice, beans and corn into the meal.
The dinners will start promptly at 6:30 pm. Seating is limited to 22 diners per night, and based on past events, tickets are expected to sell fast. Tickets are $70 per person (hospitality included but beverages excluded) and can be purchased through one of the following links:
December 7 – Ticket link
December 8 – Ticket link
Oaxanukkah Dinner Menu
Tequila-cured Salmon avocado, endive, radish, cilantro oil
Potato-Jalapeño Latkes crema, spiced apple salsa
Braised Beef Brisket ancho chile adobo, carrots, raisins
Rapini w/chile arbol and garlic
Midnight Black Beans de Olla
Bunuelos bitter orange marmelada
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Jews have a long history of immigration to Mexico, the first arriving soon after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. This group, known as “Crypto-Jews”, practiced their religion in secret. They were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition, but many viewed the opportunity to come to the new colony in Mexico as a way to maintain their identity in secret further from the intense scrutiny of the Spanish crown and the church. Most of this initial wave of immigrants ultimately assimilated fully into Mexican society, discarding their Jewish identity. While few of them practice the religion, 20,000 modern-day Mexicans have traced their heritage back to these “Crypto-Jews” or “Conversos”- persons who had converted to Catholicism to avoid death. The surnames Mendoza and Garza were common names among Jews in Spain, and those in Mexico with such surnames today are likely descended from “Conversos”.
A second wave of Jewish immigrants arrived during the second half of the 19th century, after religious freedom was granted in Mexico. The majority of the 50,000 or so Jews that identify as such today are descended from immigrants that arrived between 1881 and 1939. Two distinctive groups, Ashkenazi Jews that fled pogroms in Russia, and Sephardic Jews fleeing from the collapsing Ottoman Empire in Syria and Turkey (they had previously fled here from Spain during the inquisition) arrived during this period, setting up their own communities and following their differing customs.
While there are Jewish communities today in Tijuana, Guadalajara, and San Miguel, 75% of Mexican Jews live in Mexico City. While initially settling in the historic center of the city, after establishing themselves as merchants many moved to the tree lined suburban neighborhoods known as La Condesa and Roma, two of the hipper neighborhoods in modern day DF.
Hannukah is definitely one of the lesser Jewish holidays, but its chronological proximity to Christmas and the sense of exclusion among American Jewish children has built it up in American culture beyond its historical importance. The holiday celebrates a small band of soldiers known as the Maccabees who defeated their much more powerful Greek rulers. Amidst the siege occurred a miracle: what should only have been enough oil to keep the eternal lamp lit for one night in the temple lasted for eight days and nights. It is for this reason that Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights, and why a candle is lit on the menorah each night. The oil is represented in the foods that are eaten as well. Fried foods are called for, such as potato latkes and donuts.
Passover Dinners have become a yearly tradition at Comal. This year, we will be hosting 2 nights of Hannukah dinners. Taking the lead from the Jewish immigrants in Mexico, the idea is to create a mash-up of traditional dishes and Mexican flavors. This is a fun, secular event; the dinner will not be kosher, but obviously no shrimp or pork will be served. Dinner will be served family style in our private dining room, “Abajo”. Seating will be limited to 20 per night on Monday, December 7 and Tuesday, December 8. Purchase your tickets early, as based on the popularity of past Passover dinners, it will likely sell out quickly. I look forward to seeing many familiar faces, and hopefully some new ones too.
Thursday, October 8th, 2015
Day of the Dead Mezcal Dinner with Jake Lustig at Comal
On Monday, November 2nd, Comal will welcome Jake Lustig from Don Amado Mezcals for a special dinner showcasing several of Jake’s offerings (as well as a surprise or two), paired with a menu of Oaxaca-inspired dishes by Comal’s executive chef Matt Gandin. Dinner guests will have the opportunity to engage in conversation with Jake and learn first-hand about his extensive experiences in the world of agave spirits.
The dinner will cap off Comal’s two night Day of the Dead celebration, which will take place on both Sunday November 1st and Monday November 2nd. In addition to the mezcal dinner, Comal will also welcome DJ Jose Ruiz on Sunday November 1st, for a special night of songs that nod to the theme of death. As in years past, Comal will feature several stunning examples of papel picado by Catalina Delgado-Trunk, façade window art (also by Jose Ruiz) and complementary pan de muerto for all diners on November 1st and 2nd.
A native Californian, Jake Lustig renovated an Oaxacan mezcal distillery in 1995, which he has since developed into one of the most ecologically sustainable examples in the industry. He has developed numerous mezcal and tequila brands, spent over a decade managing Latin American spirits for the world’s largest liquor distributor in the US, and currently runs San Francisco’s 160-year old import-wholesale house, Haas Brothers. Jacob’s Mexican company, Las Joyas del Agave, consists of various projects including the Selección ArteNOM Tequila line, Mexico’s 130 year-old bitter Fernet and Angostura liquors, and the mezcal marks Mina Real Mezcal and Don Amado Mezcal.
This is the latest in an ongoing series of producer dinners (previous dinners have featured wine companies like Bedrock, Arnot-Roberts, Unti, and Wind Gap and beer companies like Fort Point, Henhouse and Social) held in Comal’s private dining room, Abajo – but it is the first dinner featuring mezcal. All previous events have sold out in advance.
DATE/TIME: Monday, November 2nd at 6:30pm
PRICE: Tickets are $70 (inclusive of food, mezcal and service charge)
RESERVATIONS: Space is limited – to purchase tickets, follow this link: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/978981
ADDRESS: Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley
Guacamole, Chips and Three Salsas
“Palomaesque” Cocktail – Don Amado Rústico mezcal, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit, lime, honey, salt, soda
Chilpachole de camarón (spicy shrimp soup)
Don Amado Rústico
Turkey and camote tamale with mole negro
Don Amado Reposado
Arroz con leche with piloncillo candied pumpkin and pepitas
Don Amado Añejo