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Posted at 4:05 PM ET, 07/17/2009

You Have to Try This: Squash Blossom Festival

By Julia Beizer

Squash blossoms fill this quesadilla and a handful of other dishes as part of Oyamel's annual festival. (Julia Beizer - The Washington Post)

Squash blossoms make a brief appearance around these parts in midsummer. And when they do, the chefs at the Penn Quarter restaurant Oyamel are ready to celebrate. The restaurant's in the middle of its second annual Squash Blossom Festival, a two-week event that pays tribute to the edible flowers with a handful of special dishes priced between $8 and $14.

A soft corn tortilla wraps around gently melted Oaxaca cheese, squash blossoms and zucchini in the quesadilla de flores de calabaza. In another dish, the delicate blossoms are stuffed with goat cheese that's flecked with poblano chile and epazote. These creamy pods sit atop a tomato-based sauce. Its blend of olives, capers and pearl onions nods to the Spanish influence on Mexican cooking.

"When you're down in Mexico, they're a very common ingredient," says Oyamel chef Joe Raffa. "Seasonal, still, but very common." He goes on to describe a soup so full of the flowery squash tops that it would cost $500 to make in this country. "Here, we have to be more careful about how we use them."

The small plates are available through July 26.

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | July 17, 2009; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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