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Oyamel’s chef wows

A night of exquisite Mexican cuisine



Oyamel, Gay News, Washington Blade
Oyamel, Gay News, Washington Blade

Oyamel Taco (photo courtesy Oyamel)

Chef Jose Andres is a powerhouse in the D.C. restaurant scene. Along with business partner Rob Wilder, he owns several renowned restaurants, including Jaleo, America Eats, minibar, Zaytinya, and Oyamel (401 7th St., N.W.) Andres has also won numerous awards including Outstanding Chef from the James Beard Foundation (2011) and Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012. When Andres recently appointed a new head chef at Oyamel, it seemed like the perfect time to dine in this newly renovated space.

Chef Colin King was appointed the head chef of Oyamel after serving as the sous chef at Zaytinya under Chef Michael Costa starting in the summer of 2012. King quickly proved himself a leader in the kitchen. Prior to joining ThinkFoodGroup, Chef King worked at Market Restaurant Group in Tucson, Ariz. He served as the executive chef at Harvest Restaurant and Hacienda de Sol. Since this was our opportunity to experience all that Chef Colin King could deliver we opted for the “Oyamel Experience Menu,” where he took us on a culinary tour through Mexican cuisine for $55 per person. I personally opted to also indulge in the Artisan Bar Pairing for $35.00.

The experience began with chips, salsa, and guacamole made tableside with fresh creamy avocadoes, tomatillo, serrano chile and queso fresco. As we worked our way through the guacamole a plate of tuna ceviche was brought to the table. The tuna was lightly marinated in lime adding a fresh citrusy zip to the fish; avocado, toasted pecans and jalapenos accompanied it. After the tuna ceviche, which was an outstanding dish, we were presented with a plate of “ceviche tradicional” — raw striped bass with lime, onion, tomato, sweet potato and corn. All of these components came together perfectly and each bite erupted with freshness and well balanced flavors. To accompany the two ceviches I was served the “Sagrado Corazon,” which was tequila, cilantro, and toasted coriander gimlet over hibiscus ice. It morphed into a delightfully floral drink as the hibiscus ice melted away.

Spectacular dish after spectacular dish continued to arrive at the table, each one seeming to be better than the last. Then the seared red fish was put in front of us. This fish had a rich and meaty texture, not the flakey texture you expect from fish. It was seasoned perfectly with tomatoes, onions, olives, capers, and jalapeno chilies giving it a deep warm flavor. This was one of the true standout dishes of the evening. After the red fish we sampled a couple of tacos from the menu, including the wild mushroom taco with salsa, shallots and Mexican cream as well as the legendary sautéed grasshopper taco.

We were beginning to feel satiated when the two plates of dessert arrived at the table. The “tres leches con pina” was a cake soaked in rum, three milks, as well as pineapple salsa and it was served with a scoop of caramel ice cream. The other was the “café de olla” which was coffee ice cream, Mexican cinnamon and sugar, caramelized bananas, lime gelatin and Mexican cinnamon shortbread. Both dishes were devoured in moments and we ended up getting seconds of both.

There was not a single dish that was put in front of us that was disappointing. Head Chef Colin King does not let the diner down as he leads you through a delectable tour of Mexico. Each plate is unique and impeccably prepared, allowing the food and flavors to speak for themselves. It was a delightful evening, and the best part was, we didn’t even need to decide what to order, Chef King handled that all for us.



New book explores why we categorize sports according to gender

You can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think



‘Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates’
By Katie Barnes
c.2023, St. Martin’s Press
$29/304 pages

The jump shot happened so quickly, so perfectly.

Your favorite player was in the air in a heartbeat, basketball in hand, wrist cocked. One flick and it was all swish, three points, just like that, and your team was ahead. So are you watching men’s basketball or women’s basketball? Or, as in the new book, “Fair Play” by Katie Barnes, should it really matter?

For sports fans, this may come as a surprise: we categorize sports according to gender.

Football, baseball, wresting: male sports. Gymnastics, volleyball: women’s sports. And yet, one weekend spent cruising around television shows you that those sports are enjoyed by both men and women – but we question the sexuality of athletes who dare (gasp!) to cross invisible lines for a sport they love.

How did sports “become a flash point for a broader conversation?”

Barnes takes readers back first to 1967, when Kathrine Switzer and Bobbi Gibb both ran in the Boston Marathon. It was the first time women had audaciously done so and while both finished the race, their efforts didn’t sit well with the men who made the rules.

“Thirty-seven words” changed the country in 1972 when Title IX was signed, which guaranteed there’d be no discrimination in extracurricular events, as long as “federal financial assistance” was taken. It guaranteed availability for sports participation for millions of girls in schools and colleges. It also “enshrine[d] protections for queer and transgender youth to access school sports.”

So why the debate about competition across gender lines?

First, says Barnes, we can’t change biology, or human bodies that contain both testosterone and estrogen, or that some athletes naturally have more of one or the other – all of which factor into the debate. We shouldn’t forget that women can and do compete with men in some sports, and they sometimes win. We shouldn’t ignore the presence of transgender men in sports.

What we should do, Barnes says, is to “write a new story. One that works better.”

Here are two facts: Nobody likes change. And everybody has an opinion.

Keep those two statements in mind when you read “Fair Play.” They’ll keep you calm in this debate, as will author Katie Barnes’ lack of flame fanning.

As a sports fan, an athlete, and someone who’s binary, Barnes makes things relatively even-keel in this book, which is a breath of fresh air in what’s generally ferociously contentious. There’s a good balance of science and social commentary here, and the many, many stories that Barnes shares are entertaining and informative, as well as illustrative. Readers will come away with a good understanding of where the debate lies.

But will this book make a difference?

Maybe. Much will depend on who reads and absorbs it. Barnes offers plenty to ponder but alas, you can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think. Still, if you’ve got skin in this particular bunch of games, find “Fair Play” and jump on it.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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An exciting revival of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre

Out actor Caesar Samayoa on portraying iconic role of President Perón



Caesar Samayoa (center) and the cast of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (Photo by DJ Corey Photography) 

Through Oct. 15
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Harman Hall
610 F St., N.W.

When Eva Perón died of cancer at 33 in 1952, the people’s reaction was so intense that Argentina literally ran out of cut flowers. Mourners were forced to fly in stems from neighboring countries, explains out actor Caesar Samayoa. 

For Samayoa, playing President Perón to Shireen Pimental’s First Lady Eva in director Sammi Cannold’s exciting revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” at Shakespeare Theatre Company is a dream fulfilled. 

As a Guatemalan-American kid, he had a foot in two worlds. Samayoa lived and went to school in suburban Emerson, N.J. But he spent evenings working at his parents’ botanica in Spanish Harlem. 

During the drives back and forth in the family station wagon, he remembers listening to “Evita” on his cassette player: “It’s the first cast album I remember really hearing and understanding. I longed to be in the show.”

As an undergrad, he transferred from Bucknell University where he studied Japanese international relations to a drama major at Ithica College. His first professional gig was in 1997 playing Juliet in Joe Calarco’s off-Broadway “Shakespeare’s R&J.” Lots of Broadway work followed including “Sister Act,” “The Pee-Wee Herman Show,” and most significantly, Samayoa says, “Come From Away,” a musical telling of the true story of airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11. He played Kevin J. (one half of a gay couple) and Ali, a Muslim chef.  

He adds “Evita” has proved a powerful experience too: “We’re portraying a populist power couple that changed the trajectory of a country in a way most Americans can’t fully understand. And doing it in Washington surrounded by government and politics is extra exciting.” 

WASHINGTON BLADE: How do you tap into a real-life character like Perón?

CAESAR SAMAYOA: Fortunately, Sammi [Connald] and I work similarly. With real persons and situations, I immerse myself into history, almost to a ridiculous extent. 

First day in the rehearsal room, we were inundated with artifacts. Sammi has been to Argentina several times and interviewed heavily with people involved in Eva and Peron’s lives. Throughout the process we’d sit and talk about the real history that happened. We went down the rabbit hole.

Sammi’s interviews included time with Eva’s nurse who was at her bedside when she died. We watched videos of those interviews. They’ve been an integral part of our production. 

BLADE: Were you surprised by anything you learned?

SAMAYOA: Usually, Eva and Perón’s relationship is portrayed as purely transactional.  They wrote love letters and I had access to those. At their country home, they’d be in pajamas and walk on the beach; that part of their life was playful and informal. They were a political couple but they were deeply in love too. I latched on to that. 

BLADE: And anything about the man specifically? 

SAMAYOA:  Perón’s charisma was brought to the forefront. In shows I’ve done, some big names have attended. Obama. Clinton. Justin Trudeau came to “Come From Away.” Within seconds, the charisma makes you give into that person. I’ve tried to use that.  

BLADE: And the part? 

SAMAYOA: Perón is said to be underwritten. But I love his power and the songs he sings [“The Art of the Possible,” “She is a Diamond,” etc.]. I’m fully a baritone and to find that kind of role in a modern musical is nearly impossible. And in this rock opera, I can use it to the full extent and feel great about it.

BLADE: “Evita” is a co-production with A.R.T. Has it changed since premiering in Boston? 

SAMAYOA: Yes, it has. In fact, 48 hours before opening night in Washington, we made some changes and they’ve really landed. Without giving too much away, we gave it more gravity in reality of time as well as Eva’s sickness and the rapid deterioration. It’s given our second act a huge kind of engine that it didn’t have. 

BLADE: You’re married to talent agent Christopher Freer and you’re very open. Was it always that way for you?

SAMAYOA: When I started acting professionally, it was a very different industry. We were encouraged to stay in the closet or it will cast only in a certain part. There was truth in that. There still is some truth in that, but I refuse to go down that road. I can’t reach what I need to reach unless I’m my most honest self. I can’t do it any other way.

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Out & About

HRC’s National Dinner is back

LGBTQ rights organization’s annual gala features Rhimes, Waithe, Bomer



Actor Matt Bomer will be honored at the HRC National Dinner.

The Human Rights Campaign will host its annual National Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The dinner’s honorees include world-famous producers, actors and entertainers whose work spotlights the fight for civil rights and social justice, including Shonda Rhimes, Lena Waithe and Matt Bomer.

A new event, as part of the weekend, — the Equality Convention — will take place the night before the dinner on Friday, Oct. 13. The convention will showcase the power of the LGBTQ equality movement, feature influential political and cultural voices, and bring together volunteer and movement leaders from across the country to talk about the path ahead.
For more details about the weekend, visit HRC’s website.

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