Saturday, November 15th, 2014
The humble tamale is one of the most egalitarian of all foods. Wrapped in a banana or corn leaf, it is eminently portable to the office or to the fields. Stuffed with either the leftovers from the previous day’s stew or the most decadent of fillings for a celebration, it is always satisfying.
For my family, beef brisket falls into the more celebratory category. Tonight at Comal we will be unveiling a new tamale that is filled with chile-citrus braised beef brisket, carrots and potatoes, sauced with mole coloradito. Perfect for either a filling dinner after a long work week, or a festive night out.
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
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Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Jose Ruiz strikes again!
Preparations are underway for a big weekend at Comal to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Our multi-talented DJ Jose Ruiz has once again graced our front windows with two matching “calaveras” painted with white tempura paint. Jose formerly owned Casa Latina, a panaderia and cafe on San Pablo – one of their specialties is Pan de Muertos, a special sweet egg bread adorned with “bones” on the top baked for Dia de los Muertos. They make countless loaves around this time every year and distribute them to schools, festivals and other gatherings. We will be sending everyone home with a piece of this very tasty Pan de Muerto on both Saturday and Sunday night. We will also be adding other decorations throughout the restaurant, including marigolds and sugar skulls. And in addition to his normal Thursday night DJ slot this week, Jose will also be doing a special Saturday night stint that focuses on songs that nod to the theme of death in some shape or form.
“November 2 Stroll” by Catalina Trunk
We are honored to be once again featuring four special pieces of “papel picado” by noted folk artist Catalina Delgado-Trunk on the lathe walls in the main dining room, including two new ones. One of the new pieces, titled November 2 Stroll, shows a calavera riding his bicycle with a basket of marigolds on his head. Below him is the earth, signified by the flowers, birds, and heart. The dogs are Xoloitzcuintles, Mexican hairless dogs that were believed by the Aztecs to accompany their masters’ souls through the underworld – therefore their depiction on earth and below it in this piece. The marigolds are a symbol of death, referred to as the “flower of the dead”. Marigolds are often sprinkled on Dia de los Muertos altars and also on graves, sometimes fashioned into elaborate arches. In some villages, people leave a trail of marigolds from their front door to their loved one’s grave, so that the deceased may easily find their way back home again. The attractive scent of the marigold is said to draw them back to earth for the yearly Dia de los Muertos reunion. Thanks to Sean Trunk for generously sharing these stunning pieces with all of us. Catalina is a nationally renowned papel picado artist with an upcoming installation at the Smithsonian and several pieces at the Crystal Bridge Museum’s State of the Art show.
Lastly, our two “Matts” – chef Matt Gandin and lead bartender Matthew Campbell – have also collaborated on a new “limited-run” cocktail for the occasion, aptly named “Matts’ Cocktail” which will debut this Thursday night. The cocktail features jelly made from feijoa, a tropical fruit often referred to as pineapple guava but actually not a guava at all – and the fruit happens to come from a tree in Matt Gandin’s backyard. It’s the latest in our line of backyard cocktails, following in the footsteps of the “Plum Loco”, made from Santa Rosa plums picked in our manager Corin’s backyard. For the full backstory, click here to read chef Matt’s blog post. We hope to see you out at Comal this week! JP
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
I recently moved to Oakland, and after many years of apartment and condo living, I was very excited about the prospect of having a yard. I’ve always enjoyed gardening and foraging; the idea of either growing or collecting food I find very appealing. When I first took possession of the new house, it was mid-winter and most of the existing plants in the backyard were barren of leaves, so it was very exciting as spring arrived to discover what had been planted in the backyard. In addition to a citrus tree that was producing both Eureka lemons and Seville sour oranges, my neighbor informed me that I also had a pineapple guava tree along the eastern fence of the yard.
I have to admit that I wasn’t really familiar with this particular fruit. In the spring it produced exotic red and white flowers, and I crossed my fingers that I had one of the self-pollinating strains. Within a month I had received an answer, as the flowers began developing into small, green football shaped fruit. Throughout the summer they swelled and as the first week of fall arrived, the first fruit ripened and fell from the tree.
Not even knowing how they should be eaten, I brought several of the ripened fruit to work at Comal. When Andrew saw them, he exclaimed, “Oh, those are feijoa! My daughter Amelie loves to tear them open and scrape out the insides with her teeth.” Amelie’s mother is Colombian, and after doing some research, I learned that although often called pineapple guava in California, or guavasteen, it is actually not a true guava, and its origins are South American.
Certainly contributing to the confusion, their flavor is often described as a cross between guava and pineapple, or guava and strawberry, with overtones of wintergreen or spearmint. It is a truly exotic flavor that is very difficult to pinpoint. I decided to make a jelly with the fruit, as they are very high in natural pectin, and flavored it with Eureka lemon juice and zest from my other backyard tree along with clove and allspice. The resulting jelly tastes like an exotic lemon lollipop. I started brainstorming ideas for a cocktail with Matt Campbell, our lead bartender, and have come up with what I feel is a truly local seasonal cocktail. Mixing the spiced feijoa jelly with tequila, pomegranate and lemon juices, we ended up with a delicious, tart and mysteriously fruity cocktail.
Thursday, October 16th, 2014
On Tuesday, November 4th, Comal will welcome back Arnot-Roberts’ co-founder Duncan Arnot Myers for another special wine dinner featuring a selection of their newly released wines paired with dishes by executive chef Matt Gandin. Arnot-Roberts’ innovative, ambitious approach to making wine has been garnering growing critical acclaim from both the media and the wine industry for years. In 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine editor Jon Bonné named them Winemakers of the Year.
Dining in Duncan’s company, dinner guests will have the opportunity to meet him and hear the story behind each featured wine. This is the seventh in a series of producer dinners held in Comal’s private dining room, Abajo. Previous dinners have showcased Wind Gap Wines, Bedrock Wine Co., Donkey and Goat Winery and Unti Vineyards.
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, November 4th at 6:30 PM
PRICE: Tickets are $100 (inclusive of food, wine and service charge)
RESERVATIONS: Space is limited – to purchase tickets, follow this link: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/704825
ADDRESS: Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley
Kona Kampachi crudo sea beans, serrano chile, lemon sea salt
Chardonnay, Trout Gulch Vineyard, Santa Cruz 2013
Little gems avocado, pomegranate, Satsuma mandarins
Trousseau, North Coast 2013
Poached gulf white shrimp salsa cocktel
Rose, Luchsinger Vineyard, Clear Lake 2013
Heritage pork chile verde
Syrah, Que Syrah Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2013
Oaxacan chocolate Budin whipped crema