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.
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