Monday, March 30th, 2015
It was our pleasure last week to welcome Chris Cottrell and Morgan Twain-Peterson from Bedrock Wine Co. to Comal for a pair of dinners that highlighted Mexican flavors inspired by their terrific wines. This was our second time hosting Bedrock, and one in a continuing series of special dinners that celebrate holidays or some of our favorite wine and beer producers. Bedrock is certainly busy these days as Morgan was named 2014 Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. So we certainly feel honored that they took time out to spend two evenings with us at Comal.
I always look forward to our wine dinners. While many people don’t believe that wine works with Mexican food, I completely disagree. Our wine director, Corin Weihemuller, carefully curates a dynamic list of wines that drink wonderfully with our menu. Whenever we host a wine dinner, I take it as a personal challenge to dispel this myth. Normally, I will taste several of the winemaker’s wines and then reverse engineer the menu based upon what I taste in the wines. Even so, as these dinners are often one-off events I also have a sense of discovery as I taste the dishes that evening with the wines for the first time. While my mental palette rarely lets me down, sometimes a pairing is transcendent. That was the case this past week.
When I tasted Bedrock’s 2012 Cuvée Karatas, a Sémillon-Sauvignon blanc blend, I noted citrus in the mid-palate with a bitter finish that reminded me of raw artichokes. Of course, artichokes are another food that is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. For the pairing, I prepared a small salad of shaved raw artichokes and asparagus, tossed with toasted almonds, epazote, lime and olive oil. This was served with lemon zest-spiked requesón, or Mexican ricotta, which was smeared onto warm corn tortillas. Diners then stuffed the asparagus salad into the tortilla. It turned out to be a truly delicious dish when paired with the wine, flavors intersecting and complementing each other as I had hoped that they would.
To stay on top of upcoming events, please subscribe to our email list. Mexican Passover seders are scheduled for the second week of April, with more winemaker dinners to follow. And of course we look forward to welcoming Bedrock back next year.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
Hard to believe, but another year has passed as we prepare to host one of my favorite events, our 3rd annual Mexican Passover Seder at Comal. This year we will be celebrating Passover on two nights, Monday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 7.
There will be a few new twists to the menu this year, but for those who prefer to stick to tradition, we will be serving Comal’s “traditional” Jalapeño Matzo Balls and Beef Brisket braised in Ancho chile adobo. As was the case at past dinners, each ingredient from the Seder plate will be represented in one of the dishes served.
We will once again be following the more liberal Sephardic tradition that allows for corn, beans and rice. It will be a fun, secular celebration, a cultural mash up. There will be no Hagaddahs, and the dinner will not be kosher (meat and dairy will be served), but it will be both festive and delicious.
Last year, many members of the Comal family returned for the second consecutive year, but we would love to see some new faces around the Seder plate as well. We expect both nights to sell out quickly, so don’t hesitate to secure your tickets!
Saturday, March 7th, 2015
This year it seems oddly appropriate that the last of our autumn/winter cocktails is hitting the menu the night before we change the clocks and spring forward. In what feels like the shortest winter of my lifetime it’s been a mad dash to get all of our favorite seasonal fruit on the menu before its time to eat strawberries and go swimming again. This drink is my attempt at a stall tactic to trick the seasons into dragging their heels and letting me enjoy baked apples for a few weeks.
Hachiya persimmons came to us via a suburban foraging project in the North Bay. We let them ripen on the racks in the prep kitchen until they turned to delicious mush and cooked them down with cinnamon, allspice and cane juice. Persimmons tend to lend more texture and color to cocktails than flavor, and the syrup we made has a soft, slightly tannic feel that helps offset the lemon’s brightness.
Dried Fuji apple-infused tequila was a project I started months ago for a previous drink. The two ideas came together when I wanted another sour (egg white) cocktail to bridge the gap before we bring back the ‘Summer Camp’. The vermouth and spiced syrup combined with the dried apple infusion add up to one delicious baked apple, tin foil and campfire not included.
Wednesday, March 4th, 2015