Tamayo: Far beyond Tex-Mex

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Two words: Tamale Festival. Richard Sandoval’s Modern Mexican restaurant Tamayo, in Denver’s Larimer Square, is hosting its 1st Annual Tamale Festival. The word “tamale” comes from the Mayan word meaning “wrapped.” Today tamales are a traditional Latin American dish made of corn husks or banana leaves wrapped around masa or corn dough and other ingredients. The wrapped creation is then steamed or broiled.

We ate dinner on a balmy spring night, so a glass of sangria was in order. Made with red wine, brandy, and fresh fruit, it was a refreshing aperitif – not too sweet, and flavorful enough to complement the appetizer.

Forgoing the usual don’t-miss dish of fresh-made guacamole, we opted to begin dinner with a Tamale Sampler. A beautiful quartet of tamales arrived: Smoked Chicken Tamale with Tomatillo Salsa, Sweet Corn Tamale with Queso Fresco, Mole Pork Tamale, and a Frijol con Queso with Entomatada Salsa. The four offered four very different flavors and textures – something to please nearly any palate.

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Then came the entrees, paired with Tempranillo wine, Valdemar, “Cosecha,” Rioja, Spain. It was smoky, spicy, and hearty enough to pair with flavorful meat dishes:

* Carne Asada – Achiote Marinated Skirt Steak with Black Bean, Chile Pulla Sauce, Cactus and Green Bean Salad, and a Bacon-Wrapped Requesón Chile. The flavors blended so well it was hard to tell where one flavor ended and another began.

* Skewer of Beef Tenderloin, Chorizo, Bacon, Bell Pepper, on a casserole of Cactus, Mushroom, Avocado, Gouda Cheese, Scallion, and Tomatillo Chile Morita. All of the items on the skewers were delicious, but the real indulgence was the casserole. Pungent and rich, it was the kind of dish where you had to make yourself stop eating.

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Sometimes you can’t pass up dessert, especially when bread pudding is on the menu. We ended the meal with Tres Leches Bread Pudding – Warm Three Milk Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Ice Cream, Tres Leches Crème Anglaise, and Blueberry Compote. A whole other kind of indulgence!

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Tamayo is offering specials for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo weekend. Visit the website to see what “Cinco de Tamayo” has on tap.

Until our next adventure in wine and food…

Tamayo
1400 Larimer Street at 14th Street
Denver, Colorado
Neighborhood: Larimer Square, Downtown Denver

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