Dia de Los Muertos at Oyamel
Starting today, Oyamel in Chinatown will feature a limited-time menu to celebrate Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. José Andrés' Mexican tapas restaurant shows Washingtonians how to commemorate the dead through inspired pre-Hispanic dishes. The Day of the Dead is an ancient Mexican holiday that entices dead souls to stay a little longer through food, drink, and festivities. Traditionally, an altar is set up, and families offer a variety of dishes to loves ones passed.
This year, Oyamel is celebrating the Day of the Dead a little differently by honoring K'inich Janaab' Pakal, or Pakal the Great, a Mayan leader. In the restaurant's words: "His reign lasted from 615 BCE, which he turned twelve, until his death in 683 BCE. Pakal is credited for overseeing some of the most notable surviving Mayan inscriptions and architecture. His (somewhat controversial) tomb was uncovered in 1952, and a replica of it can be seen today at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City."
Look forward to very creative cocktails (the norm at Oyamel) and hearty little dishes. Be on the lookout for "Sacrifice," a smoky cocktail with house-infused turkey tequila, or "The Zombie Apocalypse," a play on the classic Tiki drink served with a bright sprig of mint. My favorite is the "Casa Oaxaca Sour," a delicate and foamy drink made with Mezcal, pineapple juice, lime juice, chapuline, peanuts, and an egg. It's light and airy and provides a nice complement to heavier Mexican dishes.
Food-wise, there is a lot to anticipate. You must try the "Tamal Mukbil," a classic Day of the Dead tamal filled with rabbit confit, tomato, and habanero. It's topped off with chopped grape and epazote pico de gallo. It's warm and filling, and the habanero is not overwhelming so that spicy-averse eaters are tingled but not shocked. The tamal is rich with rabbit, and it's a dish to hit the spot when you are hungry. For those of you who are more adventurous, order the "Carne Apache de Corazon de Venado." It's a venison tartare with sweet onion, pickled cactus, serrano chile, cilantro and pasilla de Oaxaca chile oil. Here's the adventurous part: It's venison heart.
Oyamel will celebrate the 2012 Day of the Dead starting today until November 2.
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