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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.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Shaela King Messenger

    June 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    While I am slightly biased, I had a similar amazing experience at Oyamel. Thank you for recognizing my brother's culinary abilities! Everything we tasted was beautifully presented & delicious. Can't wait to go back.

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Civil rights film fest celebrates transmasculine activist

March on Washington Film Festival runs Sept. 30-Oct. 4



AFI Docs, gay news, Washington Blade
Pauli Murray (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

“I chose as my senior paper, ‘Should Plessy vs. Ferguson be Overruled?’ My little argument went to the Supreme Court,” said influential queer civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray in a powerful documentary featured in the 2021 March on Washington Film Festival.

The annual D.C. film festival runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 and features both in-person and virtual events, including a commemoration of Murray, a transmasculine activist often overlooked in history textbooks.

“Our mission is to tell the mistold and untold stories of the people who motivated and moved the civil rights movement,” said Artistic Director Isisara Bey, a longtime LGBTQ ally who has been with the film festival for eight of its nine years.

Murray was a poet, activist and legal scholar whose writings were the underpinnings of decisions by late Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Thurgood Marshall.

“A film festival like this is extremely important because none of us leads lives outside of a historical, cultural, political and spiritual framework,” Bey said, noting Murray was the first African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.

The film festival, founded in 2013 in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, uses film screenings and panel discussions to educate audiences about civil rights pioneers and raise awareness on pressing current issues, such as environmental justice.

This year’s festival commemorates Murray’s legacy at an in-person event at the Eaton Hotel (1201 K St., N.W.) on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., which includes presentations and a dramatic reading of Murray’s speech to the National Council of Negro Women on Nov. 13, 1963.

Virtually, more than 20 films will be available on demand beginning Sept. 24, including “Flint: The Poisoning of an American City” about the city’s water crisis; “End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock” documenting the indigenous women who fought against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline; and “To the Plate,” a short film about a lesbian restauranteur and her girlfriend who struggle to keep their business open in the face of anti-Asian hate.

Robert Raben, the festival’s gay co-founder, told the Washington Blade the LGBTQ community should come out and support the festival because the civil rights and gay liberation movements were “intertwined.”

“The gay civil rights movement relied enormously on the methods of the African-American civil rights movement,” he said. “You can’t have a gay liberation movement without a civil rights movement. And the number of gay people involved in the civil rights movement was pretty high.”

Raben told the Blade this “lost” history, including that of Murray, is empowering to learn, particularly for LGBTQ youth of color.

“Stories of gay people need to be focused on history because it inspires our young to make change in an intersectional way.”

Raben called the festival, which also includes panel discussions, music, art and dance, an “uncensored” platform for sharing an “honest picture” of historical events.

“Textbooks have never told the truth with regard to Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans,” he said. “Attacks on ‘critical race theory’ is just a latest effort to restrict what we learn about history. The strength of the festival is we’re giving people stories that they suspected were out there.”

Ticket prices include an all-access pass for $149, a virtual film pass for $79, a discounted pass for students and educators at $19, and an option to pay what you can to attend virtual festival events.  

Attendees for in-person events must present proof of vaccination at check-in, wear masks during events and utilize socially distant seating.

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PHOTOS: DC Frontrunners 40th anniversary

Awards ceremony and party held at Jack Rose Dining Saloon



(Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ+ and allies running, walking, and social club DC Frontrunners held its 40th anniversary celebration and awards ceremony at Jack Rose Dining Saloon on Saturday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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‘Doña Rosita’ marks reunion of three Spaniards at GALA

An excellent cast and dynamic staging elevate stellar production



Ariel Texidó and Mabel del Pozo in Doña Rosita la soltera. (Photo by Daniel Martínez)

Doña Rosita la soltera
Through Oct. 3
GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th Street, NW

In the 1930s, Federico García Lorca, 20th century Spain’s greatest poet and dramatist, was writing plays about a woman’s place in the world. In fact, Lorca, who was gay, was exploring women’s souls in an unprecedented way for Spain, or anywhere really. His insight is frequently credited, in part, to his sexuality.  

Now at GALA Hispanic Theatre, Lorca’s “Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Spinster)” tells the story of Rosita, an unmarried woman who subsists on definite hopes of marrying a long-distance fiancé. Whether it’s to keep the populace at bay or to feed a romantic fantasy, isn’t completely clear, but years — decades, in fact — pass, and very little changes. 

Set in the conservative world of middle-class Granada (Lorca’s native province), the 100-minute play, performed in Spanish with English surtitles, spans the 1880s through the early 1900s, constrictive years for women in Spain. When Lorca wrote “Doña Rosita” in 1935, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, he appreciated the recent gains made surrounding women’s rights and foresaw further, imminent progress. Then, just a year later at age 38 and at the top of his game, Lorca was unlawfully arrested and murdered by Franco’s rightwing thugs. All was lost. 

Adapted by out writer Nando López, GALA’s offering strays from Lorca’s original in various ways: there are fewer characters, and the older Rosita serves more as a narrator, interacting with her younger self. Lorca’s glorious poetry remains mostly intact. 

Still, the title character’s tale is clear: Orphaned as a child, Rosita (Mabel del Pozo) goes to live with her devoted aunt (Luz Nicolás) and uncle (Ariel Texidó), an avid gardener. As a young woman, she falls in love with her first cousin (also played by Texidó), and they’re engaged. Despite the fiancé leaving Spain to join his aging parents on their sizeable farm in Tucumán, Argentina, the young lovers remain betrothed. 

Domestic life goes on. With the support of relations, and the family’s devoted but skeptical housekeeper (Laura Alemán), Rosita assembles a first-rate trousseau, and the affianced pair continue to exchange heartfelt letters. At one point, there’s talk of marriage by proxy – an idea scoffed at by some of the household and neighbors. 

The sameness of the unchanging household is offset by out director José Luis Arellano’s dynamic staging, an excellent cast, actors nimbly changing characters onstage with the help of a hat or cravat fished out of a chest of drawers, Jesús Díaz Cortés’ vibrant lighting, and incidental music from David Peralto and Alberto Granados. Alemán, so good as the shrewd housekeeper from the country (a place Lorca respected) also assays a spinster who comes to tea. And Catherine Nunez characterizes feminine youth, scornful of Rosita’s unattached status. Delbis Cardona is versatile as the worker and Don Martin, a teacher charged with educating the ungrateful offspring of Granada’s rich. 

After a rare outdoor excursion to the circus, Rosita wrongly claims to have seen her would-be groom working with the troupe, but the housekeeper is quick to point out that the well-built puppeteer is by no means her stoop-shouldered barefoot fiancé, adding that more and more Rosita is seeing her faraway love in the face of the men about Granada. Swiftly, the aunt reminds the housekeeper to know her place – she’s allowed to speak, but not bark.

Visually, the passage of time is indicated by the hemline and cut of Rosita’s dresses (designed by Silvia de Marta), and the mid-play dismantling of the set (also de Marta), opening the family’s rooms and garden to what lies beyond. 

After intermission, six more years have passed and the narrative is more straightforward and patently compelling. Rosita’s aunt, now a pissed-off, generally miserable widow in reduced circumstances, is packing up to move. It’s been hard running a house, she says. And it’s harder scrubbing the floors, replies the faithful housekeeper. 

And it’s here that del Pozo shines with Rosita’s revelatory monologue, a searingly true, passionately delivered speech worth the price of a ticket. 

“Doña Rosita” marks a collaborative reunion of three Spaniards – writer López, director Arellano, and actor del Pozo – who all worked on GALA’s 2015, multi-Helen Hayes Award-winning production of Lorca’s politically controversial “Yerma,” the story of another complicated Spanish woman. 

GALA Hispanic Theatre safety policy

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