Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
La Palapa began as a question posed to our very busy friend Scott Baird: “banana liqueur in ten words or less.” I’d been trying for two years to get his recipe and it seemed like something always came up, derailing my plans. But the rapid fire approach worked, and what I got in response was more than enough to make a liqueur that’s equally delicious in a cocktail or poured over pancakes: White rum, dark rum, Sherry, sugar, vanilla, coffee bean, banana.
There’s something about Mexican food, an outdoor bar and an open-air patio that makes one crave a refreshing, crushed-ice cocktail. And while it’s easy to bring the tropics in the middle of summer when seasonal fruit abounds, winter has always been tricky to pair with island drinks. Knowing that we had to say goodbye to the Zip Line as watermelons are now hibernating for the winter, having a banana liqueur in our arsenal now provides us with perennial “tiki” possibilities. In this instance I kept it simple and reverted to childhood memories of ‘vacation juice’ and making banana bread: Pineapple, orange, banana and walnut bitters.
-Matthew McKinley Campbell
Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Click here to read the full article. New Year’s Eve tickets are available at this link.
Monday, December 8th, 2014
2014 began for me at the Mercado San Juan in Mexico City. It’s a dizzying maze of stalls packed with the best of all things culinary, and naturally where DF’s top chefs hunt down ingredients. I was being shown around by Iván Saldaña Oyarzábal, a botanist-turned-distiller, and the man behind Ancho Reyes – a new full strength ancho chile liquor (the brainchild of our friends the Bon Vivants).
Ivan had graciously let me tag along as he shopped for his family’s New Year’s feast, which included numerous pit stops for tapas and tiny plastic cups of wine. The ensuing three-hour lunch that followed may have gotten him in trouble with his wife, but I got to pick his brain about all things agave (he makes Monte Lobos mezcal and Milagro tequila as well) as well as the new Ancho Reyes project.
I left DF with a notebook full of ideas and a plan to incorporate Ancho into the menu. It took almost a year for the idea to coalesce, and one of our bartenders bringing in a pumpkin syrup he was working on at home, for the light bulb to go off.
Ancho chiles are deep, savory and almost sweet with a subtle back-end heat. The thought of spicy pumpkin pie immediately came to mind, and the texture from the egg whites made perfect sense.
Though I just compared it to a dessert, it drinks like a traditional sour – bright and acid forward, with accents of heat and spice. We didn’t want to make a caramel-chai-pumpkin-latte, as a certain Seattle coffee company has that covered.
Matthew McKinley Campbell
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Click here to read the full article.
Monday, November 24th, 2014
This New Year’s Eve, Comal will once again clear out the tables, turn up the volume on their Meyer sound system and transform into a dancehall. Doors will open at 9pm and longtime Bay Area DJ Jose Ruiz (KPFA, KPOO), who has an ongoing residency at Comal on Thursday nights, will spin his infectious mix of Latin and funk into the wee hours.
Chef Matt Gandin and his team will keep a steady stream of antojitos (little snacks) flowing throughout the night – expect some familiar items from Comal’s menu along with a few wild cards, with an emphasis on Oaxacan-style street snacks like quesadillas, de eses and flautas.
Matt Campbell, Comal’s lead bartender (and 2013 SF Chronicle Bar Star), will be twisting up an original NYE cocktail for the occasion. This, along with Comal’s current list of craft cocktails, draft beer, wine and extensive selection of tequila and mezcal, will be on offer.
Tickets are $45 and are on sale at http://www.ticketfly.com/event/728673. All food offerings are included in ticket purchase. All previous parties have sold out in advance, so advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended.
Please make special note: BART is open until 3am on NYE and Comal is less than a block from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Also, Comal’s large beer garden is uncovered, so use of this space is weather dependent. Additional tickets may be released December 30th if weather permits the use of the beer garden for the occasion.
Book Your Holiday Party at Comal
Whether for an office party, a family dinner, a birthday or for no particular reason at all except to gather for a feast, we offer two family-style, fixed price group dining options: Abajo, our private cellar dining room that seats 12-22 people, and Table 30, our community table that seats 8-10. Slots are filling up fast for the Holidays, especially in December.
We hope to see you soon at Comal!