Oyamel Specials Celebrate Mexican Holiday
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana at 401 7th St. NW is celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead, which focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, with a special menu and new drinks from Oct. 21-Nov. 3.
This year, Oyamel will honor José Guadalupe Posada, a turn of the century artist and political cartoonist known for his satirical skeleton illustrations. Posada portrayed many poignant issues of his time and in particular the details of bourgeois life. Posada died penniless in 1913 in obscurity. It wasn’t until the 1920s that his work resurfaced and became recognized on a national and international scale. In the same way that Posada’s work satirized his subjects, Oyamel’s culinary team will create specials that take refined ingredients and reimagine them into traditional Mexican humble dishes.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to observances dating back hundreds of years to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery, bringing marigold flowers and candles to decorate grave sites. Gifts and foods, such as bottles of tequila are also placed on tombs. Families sit on picnic blankets next to grave sites and share their loved ones’ favorite foods
Oyamel’s menu was inspired by the pre-Hispanic foods set out as offerings on traditional Day of the Dead altars, said Chef Colin King, who has been at the Penn Quarter restaurant about a year. These historic foods are a mixture of ancient cultivation techniques, collecting indigenous foods and the art of the hunt. King described the dishes on the menu as “peasant foods made with a really nice product.”
Last week, we previewed the specials, which include pato frito en chile seco, a crispy Hudson Valley duck confit with Chihuatl mole, wild mushrooms, kabocha squash and a pomergrante pico de gallo. Other specials include caviar de chapala with caviar, cilantro, onion, Serrano chile and green tomatoes in a warm corn tortilla; ostiones pimenton with a lightly poached oyster, bay leaf, black peppercorn, garlic and lime with a touch of caviar served in its own shell; jaibas rellenas, a stuffed crab shell topped with sea urchin butter; chilchilo negro, slow cooked beef short rib with black mole and seasonal vegetables; and sopa de calabaza, a pumpkin and squash soup with spiced pumpkin seeds and chile and annatto oil with foie gras. The specials are priced from $10 to $20.
Special cocktails include the rescuito with Maestro Dobel Diamond tequila, Cocchi Americano Rosa, lime leaf and grapefruit bitters; cempasuchil with house-infused lavender, Pueblo Vierjo blanco tequila, creme Yvette, mint and lemon; pato borracho with house-infused duck Gran Centenario Anejo, Chihuatl chile, pomegranate and pineapple with an almond air; and atole rico with Del Maguey crema de mezcal, Pueblo Viejo tequila, house-made atole, canela, piloncillo, vanilla, pineapple and lemon. Drink specials are priced from $11 to $13.
The specials will be available during dinner with rotating specials during lunch. Oyamel is open Sunday and Monday from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-midnight. The bar is open until 1 a.m.