This post has absolutely nothing to do with tea or desserts, but I still have to tell you about it! Today was Victor's and my second anniversary! We had brunch at Oyamel, in Penn Quarter, here in Washington and we loved every minute and every bite!
First of all, the name of the restaurant refers to a fir tree in Mexico where monarch butterflies stop during their migration south each year. The trees become full of the butterflies and according to the website:
...Draped in gold, its branches bent with the weight of thousands of butterflies, the otherworldly shhh created by the flapping of the monarchs’ wings, the oyamel forests in the winter are a place like no other.
The restaurant is decorated in bright shades of orange from chrome to tangerine and accented with cobalt blue. And there are not only metal butterflies suspended from the ceiling, but also many fun Day of the Dead figures. It's a very happy and beautiful place to enjoy a meal (and spend an anniversary!).
But the most important reason I'm posting about Oyamel is the food. This restaurant is one of several run by the brilliant chef Jose Andres and his creative touch makes this place very special. The menu is comprised mainly of Antojitos (described as "the little dishes of the streets"). Our waiter, Kenneth, was very helpful in explaining approximately how many dishes to order. There are so many tempting dishes on the menu, but we managed to narrow our selections to these (for this visit, anyway!):
We each started with a special drink. Since I don't drink a lot of alcohol, I tried one of the Aquas Frescas, which is a Mexican drink of fruit juices, water, sugar and ice. There are several flavors each day (today's were Mango, Pineapple and Tamarind). I ordered the Tamarind and loved it. It was sweet, tangy and very refreshing. Victor had a Santa Muerte, which was an amazing blend of tequila, fresh grapefruit and passionfruit juices, piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar), vanilla and anise. It was decorated with a small blossom of marigold, the symbolism of which was lost on me until I got home today and did some research and found that marigolds are the traditional flowers of the Day of the Dead. We had great freshly made chips and the yummiest salsa with our drinks.
Because the plates are small, we each ordered several items. Victor ordered Cayo de hacha con pipián de chile pasilla
(Seared scallops with a pasilla chile and pumpkin seed sauce, orange segments, pumpkin seed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds) and two tacos, Tinga poblana (Stew of shredded chicken with potatoes, chorizo, and chipotle, topped with white onion) and Cochinita pibil con cebolla en escabeche (Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange). I had Huevos revueltos "Migas" (Scrambled eggs flecked with crumbled tortilla chips, parmesan cheese, tomatoes and serrano chile served with black bean and tomatillo sauces) and the fresh fruit salad, which was accompanied by a half a lime, dipped in cayenne pepper. When you squeezed the lime juice over the fruit, there was a small bite of heat added to each piece by the pepper.
For dessert, we had the Mexican coffee, which was black coffee which seems to have been simmered with cinnamon sticks, cloves and a fairly large portion of the piloncillo sugar. It was delicious, warm, spicy and sweet. We ended the meal with two of the desserts both of which were amazing. Victor had Cajeta tradicional y moderna (traditional sweet caramel made from goat’s milk,with crumbled Mexican shortbread, sprinkled with caramelized cinnamon, fresh mango and fresh lime zest. Served with a scoop of passion fruit sorbet and a scoop of coconut sorbet) and I had Pastel de tres leches con piña (traditional cake soaked in Myers rum and three kinds of milk, with a rum and milk foam, fresh pineapple gelatin, a pineapple salsa and served with a scoop of dark caramel ice cream).
Everything was delicious and the food, the atmosphere and the service all made for a fun and special anniversary brunch!