Dia des los Muertos or Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in Mexico during November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones. In most villages, beautiful altars are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, flowers (wild marigolds), fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the weary spirits. Little folk art skeletons and decorated sugar skulls, purchased at open-air markets, provide the final touches. Local folk believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village band and reminisce about their loved ones on this day.
Dia des los Muertos and its Sugar Skulls have long fascinated me and I was excited and intrigued when I received a call from Bodega inviting me to a bloggers meet to celebrate Dia Des Los Muertos- The Day of the Dead from 31st October to 5th November 2016 for the first time in Kolkata with Gusto, Bacardi & Jameson as their alcohol partners. We were promised a grand Mexican experience with games, music and lots more, paired with amazing alcohol and great food with a special customized menu exclusively for the festival as well as the regular a-la -carte one.
We were invited on Halloween Night and on offer were eight new cocktails such as Calabera Hombre, Marigold Martini, Frozen Avocado Margarita and Corpse Reviver along with twenty new dishes such as Chicken Mole, Andalusian Marinated Olives, Champiñones Al Ajilo, Pista Machengo and Chickpea ‘n’ Spinach to name a few and four desserts such as Churros, Dolcé Delicé, Crème Catalana, and Chilli Chocolade Mousse exclusively curated for the festival.
We reached Bodega for dinner and what followed was an evening of pure adulterated fun, wonderful cocktails and great food. By coincidence all the bloggers who attended were members of our very own Kolkata Food Fanatics and it ended up feeling like a mini meet up, full of warmth and laughter.
To get down to business the cocktails were brilliant. They were beautifully presented and perfectly balanced by Bodega’s expert mixologist Uttam Singh who was mixing up a storm behind Bodega’s bar. I ordered Calabera Hombre which had citrus flavors which I am partial to and it was fantastically presented in a beautiful skull shaped cocktail glass. The other bloggers ordered various other drinks so I got to taste the Corpse Reviver which was a killer cocktail and I loved the syringe full of alcohol that was sent with the glass with a further serving of alcohol to push into your drink or have as a shot! The Ultimate Sangria was delicious as well. I did not sample the other cocktails personally but my fellow diners seem to be in “high spirits” over them so they must be spot on.
Chef Sagar Chandra cooked up a plethora of amazing food for us. The Sticky Pork Belly Bao was to die for and the bao itself was simply perfect pillowy soft and delicious. The Pescado Fritter was my other favorite the texture of the dish was beautiful … a perfect batter with flaky fresh fish. It was really good with the dip that it was served with. Next were various tacos. I found the Lal Maas Taco rather spicy but for those of you who like spicy food I am sure this dish will be a winner. The Crispy Fish Taco and Pork Pibil Taco were both really delicious and went very well with our cocktails. The Mushroom Fonduta was a treat for mushroom lovers and a must order dish for them. The Tortilla Chips with assorted dips was a great munch and I really liked the dips they served us. The highlight for me was Muertos Rancheros a rather simple rustic dish of a flatbread with beans , salsa and eggs on top but the eggs were skull shaped and everyone flipped for the presentation.
The main course followed and though we were stuffed we all tasted most of the dishes which were served up as a one bowl meal …. Nasi Goreng , Lamb Tagine ,Chicken Mole , Chorizo Fried Rice all of which I had exactly one bite of as I was too stuffed by then, All the dishes were good but the two that stood out were the Lamb Tagine with Cous Cous which was lovely as well as the Chorizo Fried Rice which we all really liked. The simple fried rice was perfectly pared with the smoky intense flavor of the chorizo and the richness of the egg yolk of the egg on top. All mixed together it was absolutely delicious.
Dessert followed and tough we were in food coma we all shared the two lovely desserts. A Chilli Chocolade Mousse that was rich and dense with the gentle teasing warmth of chilli that one got. I would have loved some more of the raspberry sauce on the plate because I feel it would have created a lovely bouquet of flavors sweet, salty and citrus. The other dessert was from their regular menu and one of their signature desserts. It’s called Sunday Movie Night and is so innovatively plated that it seems almost a shame to dig in but the lure of chocolate is too much for most of us so dig in we did. Chocolate, Popcorn, Caramel, Peanut Butter … it was a total blockbuster in every sense.
There are drinking games, adult piñatas, great music and fantastic decorations to add to all the fun. This is one outing you will regret missing if you don’t visit Bodega this week so head out and celebrate life.
To Urvika Kanoi and Team Bodega …. Please take a bow we had an absolutely wonderful evening and look forward to coming back often.
DISCLAIMER : The Culinary Commentator was invited for a Bloggers Meet by the Management but the views expressed are entirely their own.