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Chef Hamlet Dishes Up a Simple, Sensual White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet Dishes Up a Simple, Sensual White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet's White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet’s White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet Garcia, or simply Chef Hamlet to the lovers of TV food programs, was in San Antonio Wednesday as part of a fundraiser for KLRN. The star of “Vme Cocina” presented a cooking demonstration of the various dishes that were presented in a lavish dinner held at La Taquilera del Patron, 17776 Blanco Road.

One of the dishes from his Venezuelan homeland was a velvety white bean soup topped with queso fresco, bacon, chives and the earthy brilliance of a few drops of truffle oil. The soup is easy to make, though it takes a day to let the beans soak.

White Bean Veloute

12 slices of bacon
2 pounds of white beans, preferably soaked in water for 24 hours and drained
2 large ribs celery
1 large white onion, chopped in squares
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh thyme
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 gallon chicken broth
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Queso fresco, cut into small cubes, for garnish
1/2 cup sliced chives, for garnish
4 tablespoons truffle oil, for garnish

Chef Hamlet speaks with guests at the KLRN dinner.

Chef Hamlet speaks with guests at the KLRN dinner.

Cook the bacon in the oven or in a pan until it is very crisp. Remove from the pot and save the fat for later. Finely chop or crush the bacon in a food processor; reserve for garnishing the dish.

In a saucepan, add the bacon fat and briefly cook the onion and celery in it; stir constantly without browning. When the onions are translucent, add the drained white beans, thyme, garlic, butter, cream and chicken broth. When the liquid is boiling, simmer the beans for 90 minutes, stirring and mixing the ingredients occasionally in the pot. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

When the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for one hour. Then, reserve a little of the broth and add the mixture in a blender or food processor; blend until it achieves a velvety texture. Then add the reserved broth and add salt and pepper as necessary to achieve the desired texture or taste.

Garnish each serving with queso fresco cubes, chives, bacon pieces and a few drops of truffle oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Chef Hamlet

Posted in Featured, Recipes0 Comments

Tuk Tuk Taproom Offers a Feast for the Eyes and Taste Buds

Tuk Tuk Taproom Offers a Feast for the Eyes and Taste Buds

Bahn Tom Ha Noi are yam and shrimp fritters you fold up in a lettuce leaf and top with herbs and fish sauce.

Bahn Tom Ha Noi are yam and shrimp fritters you fold up in a lettuce leaf and top with herbs and fish sauce.

Time is running short on Culinaria’s Restaurant Week, which runs through Saturday. There’s still time to grab the special dinner at Tuk Tuk Taproom, which runs long on flavor.

Chef David Gilbert’s menu is a feast of small plates worth sharing. He presents a riot of colors, Asian-infused flavors and textures, all of which are perfect with many of the beers available, such as the Hitchitano Nest Real Ginger Brew or the light, seasonally welcome Wasatch Apricot Hefeweizen. If beer’s not your think, try the Proseccco on tap or the kombucha that’s made specially for the Taproom.

Rather than sing the hymns of the many dishes we sampled, here are photos of several to whet your appetite. Surprising flavors abound, but for this one time, we’ll let the photos do the talking.

 

Ya Rou Mian is a crispy noodle salad with tofu, Sichuan chiles, scallions and a sesame-soy dressing.

Ya Rou Mian is a crispy noodle salad with tofu, Sichuan chiles, scallions and a sesame-soy dressing.

Gat Tod Samoon Prai is Thai-style fried chicken with lemon grass and other seasonings.

Gat Tod Samoon Prai is Thai-style fried chicken with lemon grass and other seasonings.

For an extra $10, you can add a plate of pork belly to your table.

For an extra $10, you can add a plate of pork belly to your table.

Kaeng Matsaman Curry featured stewed lamb in a sauce with potato, eggplant, clove, cinnamon and peanuts.

Kaeng Matsaman Curry featured stewed lamb in a sauce with potato, eggplant, clove, cinnamon and peanuts.

Che Chuoi Chung is a refreshing mix of poached bananas, tapioca pearls, coconut soup and litchi.

Che Chuoi Chung is a refreshing mix of poached bananas, tapioca pearls, coconut soup and litchi.

Tuk Tuk Taproom
1702 Broadway(210) 222-TAPS (8277)
tuktuktaproom.com

 

Posted in Featured, Restaurants0 Comments

Restaurant Week Lunches Offer Excellent Food, Bargains

Restaurant Week Lunches Offer Excellent Food, Bargains

Chez Vatel's chicken with pasta (Photo by Bonnie Walker)

Chez Vatel’s chicken with pasta (Photo by Bonnie Walker)

Two recent lunches during Culinaria’s Restaurant Week illustrate what bargains can be had during this week-long celebration. Think about it: You get a three-course meal for $15. When was the last time you paid that for fine food?

Zinc's Meatloaf

Zinc’s Meatloaf

At Zinc Bistro & Bar, some friends and I settled in among the attorneys and downtown professionals having their power lunches to enjoy a three-course menu that will largely vary by the day on which you visit.

You can choose a cup of the day’s soup or the house salad. Either should be a good choice, if you have the luck we had. The soup that day was a curried tomato with plenty of spice and a complex series of spices bolstering the fresh tomato flavor. The Zinc Salad featured a lively mix of greens, grape tomatoes, nuts, pears and goat cheese tossed in a bright orange sherry vinaigrette.

As good as both of these dishes were, they couldn’t hold a candle to the day’s special, which was meatloaf with a mushroom-laden sauce. If you’ve had Zinc’s burger, known as the “crack burger” to its addicted following, then you might consider this the meatloaf equivalent. It was that rewarding. Credit also goes to a healthy array of vegetables and starches on the side, including pan-fried potatoes with blue cheese crumbles, roasted red pepper, cooked red onion and sauteed yellow squash. If Zinc ever features this again as a special, don’t think twice; just order two helpings and have at them both with gusto.

Dessert was listed as a peach cobbler, but it was more like a rustic cupcake with peaches baked in. The batter was suffused with warm spices that offered the promise of cooler fall temperatures to come, and it left a smile filled with the pleasure that comes from something made with love.

Chez Vatel's seafood chowder

Chez Vatel’s seafood chowder (Photo by Bonnie Walker)

Chez Vatel & Bistro had a chalkboard full of options and, since we were early, a couple of unadvertised specials. So, before the restaurant filled up, we started with a comforting bowl of seafood chowder, a refreshing vichyssoise and a salad tossed in a basil vinaigrette that let the herb, not the vinegar, dress the greens in flavor.

From the main course options, we feasted on skate that practically melted on the tongue, braised pork butt that was tender, and chicken served up with a welcome helping of house-made pasta. The big surprise was how good the vegetables were. Once again, there was a generous array that included snow peas, carrots, broccoli, broiled tomatoes and french fries that approached perfection. The vegetables varied from plate to plate, but all were fresh in a way that really satisfied. So much so, in fact, that this diehard carnivore will give chef Damien Watel’s vegetarian plate serious consideration the next time I’m there.

Dessert was the French classic, Far Breton, a prune flan-style cake that arrived with a gorgeous splash of color on the side , thanks to berries, creme anglaise and a coulis. Beautiful as it was, it was no match for our forks. No trace of it was left behind.

It was yet another reminder why fans of the restaurant have voted Chez Vatel & Bistro the No. 1 restaurant in San Antonio in the recent Zagat guide.

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week continues through Saturday. Several restaurants have announced extensions, including Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse, Arcade Midtown Kitchen, the Boiler House, Tre Trattoria Alamo Heights and Umai Mi.

Zinc Bistro & Bar
207 North Presa St.
(210) 224-2900
www.zincwine.com

Chez Vatel & Bistro
218 E. Olmos
(210) 828-3141
www.bistrovatel.com

Chez Vatel's skate

Chez Vatel’s skate

Posted in Featured, Restaurants0 Comments

Analyzing Restaurant Week Strategy Over Seared Halibut at Bolo’s

Analyzing Restaurant Week Strategy Over Seared Halibut at Bolo’s

Sink your teeth into Bolo's Cubano.

Sink your teeth into Bolo’s Cubano.

A record number of San Antonio restaurants are taking part in Culinaria’s Restaurant Week this year, and the approach differs from place to place.

Seared halibut with Peruvian potatoes

Seared halibut with Peruvian potatoes

Some load up on options, so you and your dinner companions can have your choice of courses offered. Others, like Bolo’s at the Omni in the Colonnade, have a single choice on the menu, one appetizer, one main course and one dessert, for $35.

Which works best?

That’s what Bonnie Walker and I pondered as we had dinner at Bolo’s.

We could appreciate being able to try a place new to us that offered an array of choices, because who knows when we’d be able to return. So, we might have a lingering taste of several small plates, several entrees and who knows how many desserts.

But when you have only one choice on your menu, someone in your party can branch out and sample the regular menu — and who knows what surprises that might yield.

In this case, smiles abounded with most every bite, no matter which menu the dish came from. We could also limit the amount of food somewhat because, to be honest, a week of three-course meals can take their toll, even on old pros like us.

Texas morel and hazelnut crusted scallops

Texas morel and hazelnut crusted scallops

We started the evening by sharing the Restaurant Week appetizer, a pair of Texas morel and hazelnut crusted scallops served over melted leeks. The scallops were firm, pleasantly on the rare side, with a crumble of mushroom and nut sprinkled over the top of each. The leeks had been melted, as promised, and every last bit of solid food disappeared. Neither of us cared for the sweet sauce that accompanied the dish, which undercut the sweetness of the leeks, but it was easy to eat around.

Our entrees may have seemed like a study in contrasts, but each worked well. The Restaurant Week menu promised seared halibut over purple Peruvian potatoes and a saffron sauce. Little did I realize that the dish would be a riot of color that included microgreens on the fish, a light purple from the potatoes, the buttery yellow of the sauce and more. Helping it were the inclusion of roasted carrots and asparagus spears wrapped in some type of ham or prosciutto, both of which offered added textures and, of course, flavor. The centerpiece, a beautiful slab of halibut, had been cooked through, so that it flaked easily with a fork and yielded a solid sense of the sea.

Bolo's Chocolate Bombe

Bolo’s Chocolate Bombe

Bonnie had been craving a Cubano ever since she saw the movie “Chef” earlier this summer, and the pressed sandwich is a staple of Bolo’s menu. After making sure the roast pork had been freshly made in house, she ordered the traditional favorite, which arrived with plenty of ham, Swiss cheese and pickle all melted together with the roast pork. The bread was ciabatta, not the traditional Cuban bread. It was a little crustier than expected, but not a bad substitution.

For dessert, Bonnie ordered a peach cobbler, which more like a crumble with oats, dried fruit and brown sugar over slices of caramelized peaches that practically melted on your tongue. Of course, there was some butter permeating the warm serving, while a scoop of vanilla ice did its best to melt in.

My Restaurant Week offering was a called a Chocolate Bombe, and it was “da bomb,” to use some slang from a few years back. It wasn’t a traditional bombe, but was it ever tasty. Instead of chocolate mousse encased in a chocolate shell, this was a dome-shaped, dense chocolate cake, frosted and covered with Texas pecans. A little mousse had been piped around the outside of the cake and in a nest on the other side of the plate, which served as the home of a truffle. It passed the welcome excess test, and what I couldn’t eat made for a nice breakfast the following morning.

The restaurant wasn’t overly busy, so our chef came out to greet us after dinner and ask how the special menu was. That’s always welcome when you’ve had food that’s satisfying. And it makes me want to head back to Bolo’s again and try a few more items on the menu. Isn’t that what Restaurant Week is supposed to do?

Bolo’s at the Omni Colonnade
9321 Colonnade Blvd.
(210) 691-8888
http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/SanAntonio/Dining.aspx

Peach cobbler

Peach cobbler

Posted in Featured, Restaurants0 Comments

Hot Joy Makes Bon Appetit Top 10 List

Hot Joy Makes Bon Appetit Top 10 List

Congrats to one of San Antonio’s newer restaurants, the all-over-the-plate inventive Hot Joy at 1014 S. Alamo St.

Hot Joy logoBon Appetit released its Top 10 Best New Restaurants — and right at No. 7 is Hot Joy.  It edges out an Austin food truck called Thai-Kun, at No. 8. (This is something we’d like to see become a trend!)

Described by writer Andrew Knowlton as a pan-Asian stoner-food temple in San Antonio, the slide show starts with Hot Joy chicken wings and meanders through the menu by chef Quealy Watson. Chad Carey is one of the restaurant owners.

Watson may not have ever been to Asia, but the food of this restaurant is described as a “new sub-genre” which, “when executed with passion and skill, rewards the pleasure center of the brain just as much as some preciously foraged $100 tasting menu.”

Before choosing their top 10 best, Bon Appetit also placed San Antonio’s Cured, at the Pearl and owned by chef Steven McHugh, to the top 50 best new restaurants in the country.

The other 10 restaurants can be seen here, with slideshows, at this link.

 

Hot reds and cool stone welcome guests to San Antonio's Hot Joy.

Hot reds and cool stone welcome guests to San Antonio’s Hot Joy.

 

 

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Look for ‘Barbecue Lover’s Texas’ Now in Bookstores

Look for ‘Barbecue Lover’s Texas’ Now in Bookstores

East Texas barbecue, such as this three-meat plate from New Zion Missionary Baptist, is one of several styles of barbecue in Texas.

East Texas barbecue, such as this three-meat plate from New Zion Missionary Baptist, is one of several styles of barbecue in Texas.

It was tough work, but someone had to do it, just to make your lives a little easier. So, San Antonio authors and SavorSA co-owners John Griffin and Bonnie Walker spent a little over four months on the Texas barbecue trail last fall for publisher Globe Pequot Press.

Barbecue Lover's TexasThey sampled a lot of pit-smoked meats from the Panhandle to Brownsville, from El Paso to Port Arthur. They took hundreds of photos and put thousands of miles on their cars, all to write “Barbecue Lover’s Texas” (Globe Pequot Press, $21.95), a guide to some of the state’s most popular and beloved food.

Along the way they found restaurants and food trucks, converted gas stations, plate lunches sold from residential yards and even a church-run operation — all offering Texas’ great brisket, ribs, sausages, sandwiches, side dishes and more.

In “Barbecue Lover’s Texas,” which is officially released Aug. 19, you’ll read about the people they met, hard-working folks with histories to tell about what they do and how they do it, people who taught themselves and folks carrying on traditions handed down through generations.

Also, the book differentiates areas of Texas and how the concept of what exactly is considered “barbecue” changes from region to region and sometimes by ethnicity.

Lovers of Texas barbecue can find the book in stores now. SavorSA will also post book signings and more over the next months.

Indulge your inner carnivore with this mouthwatering tour of Texas.

Indulge your inner carnivore with this mouthwatering tour of Texas.

Posted in Featured, News3 Comments

Q Pours on the Bourbon to Go With a Barbecue Dinner

Q Pours on the Bourbon to Go With a Barbecue Dinner

When you think barbecue, you might not think bourbon, but you will on Monday, August 18, from 6-8 p.m. when Q Kitchen | Bar unveils its first Third Monday Bourbon Dinner Pairing featuring Knob Creek.

“Excluding vodka, bourbon is the hottest spirit trending right now,” says Stephen Drew, Hyatt Regency San Antonio Food and Beverage Manager. “The flavored bourbons in particular are on fire.”

Tickets to this unique event are $45 per person and can be obtained by calling 210-510-4477.

Getting in the Spirit

San Antonio hasn’t had a bourbon bar—until now. Q Kitchen | Bar is home to more than 50 bourbons so creating a monthly dinner around the flavor of this popular spirit seemed like a natural fit.

“Bourbon can be tough to pair because of the high alcohol content,” explains Drew. “But it goes great with barbecue.”

Executive chef Russell Young explains that the reason for the somewhat unlikely pairing can be found in the flavor profiles of each. Bourbon has caramel, cherry, vanilla, wood, and smoky properties that enhance the bold flavor of barbecue.

To showcase that, he has created a unique feast that will begin with a reception in Q Bar and feature an array of appetizers including Duck Rillette on Brioche Toast with Apple Butter, a House Cured Salmon Lollipop, and Smoked Brisket with Corn Fritter. These rich flavors will be enhanced by Knob Creek’s signature Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Made in small batches, it takes over the palate with big notes of oak, caramel and fruit, with expansive notes of maple sugar, toasted nuts and oaks.

Guests will then enjoy a sit down, three-course dinner that will begin with a sweet and spicy Vanilla BBQ shrimp served with fresh corn grits, spicy tomato jam and popcorn shoots. Complementing this combination will be the warm, spicy taste of Knob Creek Rye, which features undertones of vanilla and oak.

Next, diners can sink their teeth into the main course of a Bourbon Brined Bone-in Pork Chop, served with sweet potato and house-cured pork belly hash, and creamy collard greens with a bourbon and cider glaze. Something so hearty deserves a bourbon that can hold its own and the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve fits the bill. Deep, complex flavors of vanilla nuts and oak, this dark spirit is perfect for sipping.

Dessert will consist of a warm toffee pecan cake with a smoked apple ice, topped with apple chips, bourbon and bacon crumbs. Wash it down with the smoky smooth and slightly sweet taste of Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple bourbon with rich vanilla and caramel flavors.

“Each of these courses was created to be specifically complemented or enhanced by the selected Knob Creek bourbon,” says Young. “The combinations are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before.”

 

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Restaurant Week Begins, and Safe Rides Are Available

Restaurant Week Begins, and Safe Rides Are Available

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week begins Aug. 16, and that’s a cause for celebration, especially given the large list of participants this year.

Kirby's  Prime Steakhouse

Kirby’s

If you celebrate too much, you don’t need to drive home, though.

Culinaria has teamed up with Uber to provide safe and convenient rides for patrons enjoying dinner at any of the participating restaurants.

What’s Uber?

Uber is a technology company that created an app that seamlessly connects users with a personal driver at the tap of a button via their smartphone. Transactions are frictionless, ETAs are transparent, and route tracking is a breeze. It’s simply the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient way to move around town.

Click here to access a new user promo code good for $20 off your first ride during San Antonio Restaurant Week. The code is: SARW14.

Below are a list of the restaurants taking part in this year’s Restaurant Week:

18 Oaks
Acenar
Antler’s Lodge

Arcade Midtown Kitchen

Arcade Midtown Kitchen

Arcade Midtown Kitchen
Azuca
Bella on the River
Biga on the Banks
Bite
Bliss
Boardwalk Bistro
Bob’s Steak & Chop House
Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden
Bolo’s
Boudro’s

Brio Tuscan Grille

Brio Tuscan Grille

Brio
Canyon Café
Chez Vatel & Bistro
Cibolo Moon
Citrus at Hotel Valencia
Cocina Heritage
Cured
El Jarro de Arturo
El Machito
Esquire Tavern
FEAST
Fig Tree Restaurant
Grey Moss Inn
Habanero’s Grill
High Velocity
Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse

La Frite Belgian Bristro
Landry’s Seafood
Las Canarias
La Paloma Riverwalk
Little Rhein Steak House
Luke – A Chef John Besh Restaurant
Myrons Steak House logoMariposa
Market on Houston
Max’s Wine Dive
Mellow Mushroom
Mid-Point Grill
Morton’s The Steakhouse
Myron’s Prime Steak House
NAO
Oaks Crossing Bistro & Bar
Ostra
Paesanos – Riverwalk
Paloma Blanca
Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille
Piatti – Eilan

NAO

NAO

Piatti – The Quarry
Q on the Riverwalk
Restaurant Gwendolyn
Ruth’s Chris Steak House Concord Plaza
Ruth’s Chris Steak House Riverwalk
Scuzzi’s
Speisen
Starfish
Stella Public House
Sustenio
Texas de Brazil
The Granary
The Fruteria
The Melting Pot
The River’s Edge Café and Patio Bar
Tre Alamo Heights

Tre Alamo Heights

Tre Alamo Heights

Tre Trattoria Alamo Heights
Tre Trattoria Downtown
Tui Steppi’s Osteria
Tribeca di Olmos
Tuk Tuk Tap Room
Two Step Restaurant & Cantina
Umai Mi
Va Bene
Wildfish Seafood Grille
Zedric’s – Colonnade
Zedric’s – Broadway Commons
Zinc Bistro & Bar
Zocca Cuisine D’Italia

For addresses, phone numbers and some menus, click here.

Restaurant Week on The Move
On Tuesday, Aug. 19, Travis Park will be the location of a Restaurant Week food truck event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants include:

Cheesy Jane’s
Crazy Carl’s
Saweet Cupcakes
South Texas Grilling & Catering
Spice Sea Gourmet
Tailgate Bistro
The Duk Truck
Teka Molino

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A Taste of Something Different: Owner’s Dinner at Sandy Oaks

A Taste of Something Different: Owner’s Dinner at Sandy Oaks

Sandy Oaks 3Saundra Winokur, owner of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard and Ed and Susan Auler, owners of Texas renowned Fall Creek Vineyards, offer you a unique farm-to-table experience on Friday, Sept.19, at 7 p.m.

Join Winokur and the Aulers as they present a unique dining event featuring local and seasonal bounty prepared by Sandy Oaks Executive Chef Chris Cook, paired with Fall Creek wines — and all showcased in Winokur’s home that overlooks the fields and sprawling live oaks dotting this working ranch.

The cost is $90 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are strongly suggested, as this is a limited-seating event. To reserve your place, call 210-621-0044. Read more about Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard here.

Menu

FIRST
Gulf Snapper and Blue Crab Bouillabaisse
Fall Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, 2013
Red_wine_closeup_in_glassSECOND
South Texas Black Heritage Pork – Floresville, TX
Apples and Mustard
Fall Creek Vineyards Chenin Blanc, 2013
THIRD
Home Sweet Farm Lamb – Brenham, TX
Tapenade and Tomato
Fall Creek Vineyards GSM, 2012
FOURTH
Broken Arrow Ranch Antelope – Ingram, TX
Quail Egg and Foie Gras
Fall Creek Vineyard Meritus, 2010
FIFTH
Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard Honey – Elmendorf, TX
Panna Cotta and Pecans
Twin Springs Moscato

Posted in Daily Dish, Events, In Season0 Comments

It’s More Music for the County Line on Aug. 20

It’s More Music for the County Line on Aug. 20

Have you been undergoing music withdrawals since the County Line’s music series has come to an end?

Two Tons of Steel

Two Tons of Steel

Well, you’ve been given a one-time reprieve.

The County Line, 10101 I-10 W., is presenting Two Tons of Steel in a free concert from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20.

According to the restaurant, “There is no opener and no sponsors … just two hours of FREE music from Two Tons of Steel.  However, County Line’s commitment to the San Antonio Food Bank never stops, so guests are still encouraged to bring canned good donations.”

Free music, a chance to help the Food Bank and plenty of time to enjoy some barbecue. Who could ask for anything more?

Posted in Daily Dish0 Comments

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