8/2/11

Squash Blossom Festival at Oyamel in DC

Last night I had a great pleasure of dining at Oyamel, one of Jose Andres' many restaurants in Washington DC. This was not my first time at Oyamel, but the first time to experience the menu specifically prepared for the Squash Blossom Festival.

Big thank you to Heather Freeman PR for the dinner invitation!

From the restaurant:
Join us this August for the annual celebration of the this most delicious flower. Special antojitos created by José Andrés and Oyamel’s Head Chef Joe Raffa will feature squash blossoms in every form.
The festival goes through August 14th, so make your reservations and go!

I will highlight some of my favorite dishes from the night.

As soon as I walked into the private room, I was handed a Honeydew Punch. Look at the photo on the left: is this one of the prettiest drinks you've ever seen? The answer was a YES for me. The cocktail consisted of Siembra Azul Blanco, Neisson Rhum Agricole, honeydew melons, squash blossom and lemon mint shrub over hand-cracked cucumber  ice. The most important thing, however, was that the cocktail was light, sweet and refreshing.

One of the regulars on the menu at Oyamel is guacamole prepared table-side, and no meal at Oyamel should be without this creamy dish.


While we sampled the dishes on the menu, we got to sip on the Matthiasson, Ribolla Gialla-Sauvignon Blanc-Semillion from Napa Valley (2010). In fact, Oyamel is planning on giving wine a bigger role on its menu and focusing more on wine cocktails and wine/food pairings. This bottle of white wine not only had a gorgeous label, but was slightly on the sweeter side and had a very fresh and crisp taste. It went great with some of the spicier dishes.


Below is a photo of Empanadas de flor de calabaza estilo Tlaxiaco. It's a house-made corn tortilla filled with squash blossom, house-made requeson cheese, costeno chiles and epazote. This dish comes from the mountainous regions and is quite hearty.

The chef even gave us the recipe for the requeson cheese: heat a gallon of milk, add 2 cups of sour orange juice and let it sit and separate into solids and liquid. The "solids" would be your cheese. The process reminds me of making Indian paneer.


Then we moved to Tamal de flor de calabaza: a house-made corn tamal with squash blossoms, braised pork, queso fresco, corn, zucchini and epazote. I wish there would be a bit more pork in this dish, but other than that the flavors, textures and even colors were well balanced.


The last savory dish of the night happened to be my favorite: Flores de calabaze Veracruzana: squash blossoms filled with Westfield Farm goat cheese, poblano peppers and epazote, served atop a Veracruz-style tomato and caper sauce. The mild smooth goat cheese was a great contrast to the salty tomato/caper/olive sauce. I could have had 10 of these!


And finally, there was dessert. When I read that we'll be eating a Mexican popsicle, I wasn't quite sure if I'd like it. And guess what? I loved it. This was a Paleta de flor de naranja: house-made Mexican popsicle with orange blossom and vanilla cream. This was the perfect dish to end the meal: sweet, cold, and not at all heavy. Plus, I really liked the presentation.


What are YOUR favorite dishes with Squash Blossoms?

3 comments:

Megan said...

I think that last dish would be my favorite too! I love fried and stuffed squash blossoms.

nicole said...

love that last pic of the menu :)

wendy said...

Sounds like a lovely dinner, but then, I always like his food! And, I love squash blossoms - loved hearing about the different ways they used them.