On October 31, 2017, while many of you were either out trick-or-treating or offering up candy to eager trick-or-treaters, I was lucky enough to go to Oyamel’s annual Day of the Dead dinner. The dinner commemorates the famous Mexican holiday, where families remember the deceased. While it may sound depressing the holiday is actually quite festive. Those who celebrate make the favorite foods of the departed, and tell humorous stories about loved ones who have passed.
At this year’s dinner, I was treated to a host of delicious sips and bites inspired by Cesar Chavez, known for fighting for migrant farm workers’ rights. Chavez eventually become a vegetarian, so the menu this year has several vegetarian dishes. Every year Oyamel chooses a historical figure, important to Mexico, to highlight. This was the first year a Mexican American was chosen. While I will let the pictures do most of the talking, I will write about some of the highlights of this incredibly memorable five course dinner.
The meal opened with a stunning sliced hearts of palm dish, where the hearts of palm were designed to resemble hamachi. Doused in crunchy corn nuts and a spicy, cucumber studded guajillo chile sauce, this dish started the dinner off with a punch. The dish was complimented by a tequila-lime-concoction that was smooth and perfect.
Next up was one of my favorite dishes, queso fundido, melted cheese adorned with mushrooms, served with fresh tortillas. Gooey and savory, we finished every last bite of this dish. Alongside the fundido came tacos stuffed with potatoes and swiss chard.
Mezcal to Pair
That course was followed by a black bean and sweet potato tamale, drizzled with Mexican crema was just as special, not only because it was delicious but also because tamales are a quintessential Day of the Dead dish. The combination of the beans and sweet potato yielded a super creamy dish, and the sweet and savory nature of the two ingredients complemented each other perfectly. With these dishes we enjoyed a smoky mezcal and sherry drink, and a unique tequila and vanilla beverage that was a favorite at our table.
The Final Course…
For our final courses we enjoy chile rellenos, made with banana peppers that were stuffed in a hearty Mexican picadillo, or a hash, made of two kinds of squash, pecans, and apples and then smothered in a heady tomato and arbol chile sauce. With it came a roasted cauliflower and broccoli dish, with crunchy pumpkin seeds. Dessert featured caramelized squash served with ice cream, orange, and candied pumpkin seeds, a sweet, cool, and texturally diverse dessert that paired perfectly with a brandy and coffee beverage.
Verdict The Day of The Dead at Oyamel
You may have missed out this year, but if you are lucky enough to live in DC be sure to buy tickets for next years Day of the Dead events. It will be your best Halloween yet!
Oyamel, 401 7th St NW, Washington, DC, Website