Monday, June 10th, 2013
On my most recent visit to Mexico City, I arrived in the late afternoon on a Sunday, and after checking in to my hotel in Centro Historico, I hit the streets to explore the neighborhood. Upon hitting the streets, my senses were completely assaulted by the throngs of people out for a Sunday stroll. It was as if all 22 million residents of the city were walking along the same sidewalks.
I squeezed my way slowly through the crowds to my first destination, the legendary Pulqueria Las Duelistas. In Mexico, the pulqueria is truly an egalitarian establishment. Professionals sit elbow to elbow with laborers and students, all joyously imbibing the pulque, a fresh-fermented agave brew with similar alcohol content to beer. While I chatted with an American ex-pat English teacher from Atlanta and one of her students, to my left sat a young couple speaking sign language, and to my right was a kid with a mohawk sporting a t-shirt that read “Legalize Gay”. Amazing pre-Colombian inspired graffiti covered the walls and ceiling, and the frosty mugs flowed freely as Creedence’s version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” pulsed on the jukebox.
After several mugs were downed, and a good buzz was rolling, I hit the streets for a bite to eat and stumbled upon an incredible sight: the front window display of Taqueria Tlaquepaque. This Jalisco-style restaurant is a carnitas palace, offering carnitas from every part of the pig. I chose tacos featuring meat from the mountainous pile of pig snouts, or “trompas”. I ate these rich, porky tacos with a smoky red salsa that was truly memorable.
Tonight we will debut on the menu Tacos de Trompas, with a smoky arbol chile salsa, and pickled onions. Now if only we could find some fresh pulque???
Monday, June 10th, 2013
Friday, June 7th, 2013
Our latest cocktail has been a long time coming. Sometimes drinks come together quickly, other times less so. In this case, the original concept for Beta Test came from a brainstorming session between Matthew Campbell and Scott Baird months ago.
Much more recently, Matt C was juicing beets and thinking about naturally occurring pigments. What about a drink that is the color of juiced carrots? Ideally it wouldn’t taste much like juiced carrots, but still have that bright yet earthy orange hue. First, lemon and ginger were added to the mix to brighten, lighten and offset the vegetal profile of the carrot.
Matt then chose Calle 23, a classic highland reposado, to push the “green” agave flavor – highland tequila is generally more fruity/vegetal than lowland tequila. Further, this repo is stored in French oak, which imparts a slight vanilla across the mid-palate.
At this point, Scott suggested the addition of Aveze, a French gentian liquor that smells and tastes like old books cellared in a chateau and adds some bass notes to the cocktail.
Overall, this cocktail is based on the same flavor balance of our sangritas: sweet, savory, tart and spice. In this case, the spice comes from a house-made black pepper tincture that lingers on the finish and resets the palate, bringing you back for more.
Despite the somewhat unconventional elements comprising Beta Test and its long road to prime time, it’s surprisingly approachable. I’m not sure what the final tweaks were, but it has recently evolved from an “interesting” drink that was not quite “there” to a delicious drink, full of depth and complexity.
Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Arnot-Roberts’ innovative, ambitious approach to making wine has been garnering growing critical acclaim from both the media and the wine industry for several years. In early 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine editor, Jon Bonné, named themWinemakers of the Year.
On Tuesday, June 18th, Comal will welcome co-founder Duncan Arnot Meyers for a special dinner showcasing a selection of Arnot-Roberts wines paired with dishes by executive chef Matt Gandin. Dining in Duncan’s company, dinner guests will have the opportunity to meet him and hear the story behind each wine selection.
A notable offering from Arnot-Roberts is their galvanizing Clary Ranch Syrah, to be served with Gandin’s wood-roasted pork loin. This particular wine is the perfect example of the winemakers’ approach: utilizing an unconventional area to harvest a particular grape varietal or seeking out “vineyards on the edge,” then finding that careful balance and between flavor and alcohol content.
This is the second in a new series of producer dinners (the first one featuring Wind Gap’s Pax Mahle) held in Comal’s private dining room, Abajo.
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, June 18th at 6:30 PM
PRICE: Tickets are $100 inclusive of food, wine and gratuity
RESERVATIONS: Space is limited – to purchase tickets, follow this link:
ADDRESS: Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley
Ahi tuna crudo nopal salad
2012 Chardonnay, Watson Ranch
Tomato-cucumber gazpacho cured King Salmon roe
2012 Rosé, Luchsinger Vineyard
Rabbit and English pea tamal mole amarillo
2011 Trousseau, Luchsinger Vineyard
Wood-roasted pork loin mole coloradito, seasonal vegetables
2011 Syrah, Clary Ranch
Oaxacan Chocolate Budin Maldon salt, whipped crema
Founded in 2001 by childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, Arnot-Roberts focuses on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay, as well as several other varietals uncommon in Northern California vineyards, including trousseau. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
Monday, May 27th, 2013