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Mark Your Calendars: Nutcracker Sweets Returns!

Mark Your Calendars: Nutcracker Sweets Returns!

The popular Nutcracker Sweets holiday tasting event is back – bigger and more scrumptious than ever. The event venue is the cherry on top: the exquisite Tobin Center.Christmas nutcracker

Nearly 20 of the city’s top restaurants, bakeries, chefs and trucks will roll out an evening of holiday delights – from savory to sweet – on Monday, Dec. 8 (2014) from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter.

“Domestic violence has been making national headlines lately,” says Marta B. Peláez, BWCS president/CEO. “But it remains a local issue that knows no socio-economic boundaries – and no particular season.”

Nutcracker Sweets tickets are $50 for adults, $25 for 13 – 17-year-olds, and entrance is free for kids 12 and younger. Tickets are available online at or may be purchased by phone by contacting Brooke Bell at 210-930-3669.

In addition to festive bites and beverages from the city’s finest establishments, guests will be treated to live music and a performance by Ballet San Antonio, plus an upscale raffle.

The retail Nutcracker Sweets Shoppe also returns, filled with cookbooks, culinary specialties and holiday gifts that will make the season of giving even more delicious. Shoppe vendors will donate a percentage of their sales to FVPS.

Dine-around participants include: A La Mode Gelato, Arcade Midtown Kitchen, Biga on the Banks, Brindles Awesome Ice Cream, Citrus, Cordillera Ranch, Cured, Feast, Freddie Covo Truffles, Guerrilla Gourmet, HEB Alon Market, HEB Culinary Academy, Los Barrios, Mi Tierra, Nosh/Silo, Pullin Premium BBQ, Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, Tejas Rodeo Co., and Tim the Girl Catering. Major funding for the event is generously provided by HEB and Valero Energy Foundation.

The beneficiary: The Battered Women and Children’s Shelter provides life-saving services to victims of domestic violence to help them reach self-sufficiency away from abuse.

nutcracker cupcakes

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S. TX Heritage Pork, Chefs Plan Unusual Harvest Dinner

S. TX Heritage Pork, Chefs Plan Unusual Harvest Dinner

A team of chefs along with South Texas Heritage Pork will prepare a dinner with a difference on Dec. 1.

Chefs from Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio will gather and harvest local wild edibles and pair them with pasture-raised heritage pork, from the state’s only Animal Welfare Approved facility.

At South Texas Heritage Pork, the animals roam freely on the farm where they find many wild edibles that make up a large part of their diet. The foods impart their great flavors to the meat of these animals — the original forages on the land.

But, the team of chefs will also be foraging for some of those same flavorful plants to add to this meal, a true wild harvest. They’ll  explore the 100-acre farmland to create a family-style menu from foraged ingredients as well as implementing seasonal items, including free range heritage chicken eggs and artisanal raw milk cheese from a local purveyor.

5-minute kelley escobedo

Kelley Escobedo

“The inspiration for the dinner was cultivated while I was exploring a new pasture and working and I smelled wild rosemary. The  fragrant rosemary made my wheels turn. Since then I’ve seen several things that have inspired me — basil, sage, onions, persimmons …”  — Kelly Escobedo, South Texas Heritage Pork farm owner

The animal selected to provide the protein for the evening will be finished on freshly ground peanut hay soaked in fresh whey from the same cheese aficionado.

You’ll also have a chance to learn about foraging, which is a skill not only for chefs but dedicated foodies as well.

This sustainable meal will be accompanied by special guest Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen from Foraging Texas, a blog dedicated to the craft and science of foraging in Texas. Merriwether will be dining with guests and answering questions regarding foraging to further deepen diners’ appreciation of the meal.

Don’t miss it!  The dinner will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1 at South Texas Heritage Pork, 2890 Lucas Road, Floresville.  Tickets are $125 a seat. All proceeds are benefiting the farm, and tickets can be purchased here.

Chefs preparing dinner include:

Matt McCallister – FT33, Dallas

Randy Rucker – Bramble, Houston

Luca Della Casa

Luca Della Casa

Luca Della Casa – Nosh & Silo, San Antonio

Gabriel Ibarra – Cappy’s, San Antonio

Tim McDiarmid – Tim the Girl

Andrew Wiseheart – Contigo, Austin

Robbie Nowlin- San Antonio

Jeret Pena of The Brooklynite, San Antonio, farm-to-tin inspired cocktail.


About South Texas Heritage Pork:  Set within the green pastures of South Texas, South Texas Heritage Pork is providing the state’s only Animal Welfare Approved, pastured, all natural, heritage pork of its kind. With a mission to educate people on the value of heritage pork raised naturally and to provide the best quality, best tasting pork available, and more importantly to preserve the heritage breeds. Whether it is raising heritage hogs or breeding and caring tenderly for their pigs, South Texas Heritage Pork believes in the number one priority being that of their pigs. They grow them the old fashioned way, with no use of growth hormones, stimulants, or unnecessary antibiotics, ever. Inherently, succulent, incredibly flavorful pork is the end result of such tender, loving care. Their pork can be found in San Antonio at The Pearl Farmer’s Market,  LUKE and Barley Swine in Austin. For more information please visit them here.

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It’s Time for Some Foie Gras

It’s Time for Some Foie Gras

This one has us excited: GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road, is having its annual Duck & Foie Gras Feast from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15.

Make your own foie at home.

Make your own foie at home.

Chef Robbie Nowlin of Citrus and the Hotel Valencia will be leading two classes in how to handle foie gras. One is set for 10:30 a.m., the other for 12:30 p.m. Price is $40 a person.

In addition to preparing a special foie gras dish that guests can sample, Nowlin will take questions from anyone about this delicacy.

Register for the class and you kit a take-home kit for two that will let you create your own foie gras feast. The kit includes two pieces of 2 oz. Hudson Valley foie gras, local organic micro greens from My Father’s Farm in Seguin, imported Italian Amarena cherries by Fabri and a fresh, artisan brioche loaf from The Bread Box.

Several types of foie gras will be for sale.

Several types of foie gras will be for sale.

Other discounts will be offered on additional foie gras must-haves, such as French made frying pans and Alexander Vineyard Sauternes dessert wine, which will beautifully complement any foie gras dish.

Foie gras has long been a favorite treat when dining out. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to bring this treat into your own kitchen.

Duck fans, don’t worry. You haven’t been forgotten in the foie fuss.  All duck products will be offered at 10 percent off on Saturday. The lineup includes whole legs from Rougie, breasts from Hudson Valley and Delpeyrat, smoked breast, duck bacon, confit legs, duck salami, duck sausage and duck fat.

For more information or to register for the class, call 210-454-9861 or email

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Olive Fest! Celebrate the Harvest, Share the Bounty

Olive Fest! Celebrate the Harvest, Share the Bounty

In August and September, Texas olive growers are full of expectation as they harvest their crops.

In October and November, it’s time to relax and share some of the treasures the harvest brought.

This year, the harvest at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, just south of San Antonio, has been nothing less than amazing — the ranch’s best year ever, according to founder and proprietor Saundra Winokur.

Sandy Oaks 2014 Harvest Olives on TarpSo, the team at Sandy Oaks is putting together a day-long, walkaround event that will allow guests to eat, taste, have a glass of wine and educate themselves while enjoying the bounty of local Texas olives.

Celebrate the Harvest, Share the Bounty will be Nov. 15 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At that time, the public has its first chance to taste Sandy Oaks  oil, or the olio nuovo, that has been milled and is now being stored and allowed to settle for a time. (Read about not just the quantity of oil from this year’s harvest but also its remarkable qualitative aspects by clicking here.)

Celebrate the Harvest, Share the Bounty will include a special menu using local ingredients — many of which will come from the orchard’s garden — and locally crafted beer and wine in Sandy Oaks’ brand new wine tasting room.

How can you say no to cage-free smoked whole chicken with truffle risotto and preserved lemon and wines from local vineyards?

There will also be opportunities to take a step back from the food and drink and really educate yourself on the olive growing and harvesting process. Education stations will be set up with actives centering around planting and cultivation techniques, tutorials and cooking demonstrations.

Live jazz provided by the Sandy Oaks Jazztet will be floating along the air as you wander around the nursery and find a tree to take home and plant —  and all the information you need to pick a delicious variety that will grow well.

Jazz on Sandy Oaks patio part of the serene, country atmosphere.

Jazz on Sandy Oaks patio part of the serene, country atmosphere.

Activities and games for the kids are planned, making this an extremely family-friendly event in the cool fall weather on the beautiful, well-tended grounds of this working ranch.

This year’s harvest has produced what the experts are saying will be the most flavorful and complex olive oil ever produced at Sandy Oaks — the public will be able to appreciate not only the culinary value of Texas olive oil, but also stock up on products such as olive jelly, olive butter, olive leaf tea, olivewood dishes and servingware and a full line of skin care, soaps and beauty products made from the olives and oil at the ranch.

PRICE: $30 per adult;  $15 for children 12 and under

WHERE: Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, 25195 Mathis Road, Elmendorf, Texas 78112

Find out more by clicking here.


Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is located on 40 acres in Elmendorf, TX just 20 minutes south of San Antonio. Sandy Oaks is best known for its olive trees, olive oil, and olive leaf based skin and beauty products.  With over 40 acres of olive trees and a nursery that can contain up to 10,000 or more olive seedlings at any given time, Sandy Oaks offers exceptional hospitality and educational services based around the various uses of olive oil.



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Feast in the Autumn Air at Peeler Farm

Feast in the Autumn Air at Peeler Farm

Canadian Thanksgiving logo cropped

This fall there is a plethora of chefs from around Texas and San Antonio sourcing their ingredients not just from the farmers markets but at the actual farm.

Here’s one close to home.

On Oct. 12, Peeler Farm is hosting a first-ever Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. Chefs John Russ of Lüke Restaurant and Tim McDiarmid of Tim the Girl Catering & The Special Projects Social are creating a one-time Sunday afternoon feast at the fabulous farm of Marianna and Jason Peeler.

Tim McDiarmid, of Tim the Girl Catering and Special Projects Social. (Courtesy photo)

Tim McDiarmid

McDiarmid, a Canadian native, has high hopes for celebrating the bounty of this locally raised harvest with fellow chef Russ. Located in the idyllic countryside near Floresville, the menu is inspired by the land which hosts a vast range humanely treated animals, including chickens, cows, lambs and goats.

The evening also includes a farm tour upon arrival with classy cocktails crafted by Jeret Pena and The Boulevardier Group of The Brooklynite.

The seasonal, farm-inspired dinner will end with rustic desserts by Elise Broz of Biga on the Banks. Partial proceeds from this event will go to The Raul Jimenez Dinner, a group that provides a Thanksgiving dinner for seniors who would otherwise have nowhere to go for the holiday.

Tickets are $150 and can be purchased by clicking here.


Welcome Hors d Ouerves: Chopped Chicken Liver, Grilled Focaccia, Watermelon Pickles; Texas Crab Deviled Eggs

Family Style Sunday Supper:  Grilled Broccoli Rabe with Preserved Lemon, Roasted Brussels Both Ways, Turnip ‘Puff’, Sweet Potato Hash, Smashed New Potatoes, White Boudin Stuffing, Herb Roasted Chicken, Cast Iron Fried Chicken, Fresh Cranberry Relish, Chicken & Tasso Jus

Dessert Stand: Fresh Fried Apple Cider Donuts, Mission Valley Grapefruit, Almond & Raspberry Trifle, Love Creek Apple Streusel



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Drew’s American Grill on the Move — But First, a Party

Drew’s American Grill on the Move — But First, a Party

The popular Drew’s American Grill, at 18740 Stone Oak Parkway will close its doors as it opens new ones. The transition begins this week and builds to an all-out party on Sunday, Oct. 5.

“Our final day in this location will be a celebration of our success and the friends we’ve made,” says owner Drew Glick.

Drews American Grill cropped“We’re going to pull out all the stops on an all-day brunch and linner buffet – East Coast style. I don’t think anyone’s going to leave hungry.”

Drew’s is also offering guests half-price bottles of wine all day, every day, until the doors shut, plus daily food and drink specials.

“We’re inviting our guests to celebrate this next phase with us. We’re not closing down, we’re on the move!”

Drew’s executive chef, Charles Bartsch, and other members of Drew’s crew will be taking to the road for the next several months as an oilfield catering team.

“Our oilfield catering business has been booming, so we’re going to explore it as we search for an even better potential location for Drew’s next dining spot.”

Fans can watch the Drew’s Facebook page for additional information, and sign up for an e-newsletter with announcements and news.


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Get Your Thirst On for a Good Cause

Get Your Thirst On for a Good Cause

Raise your glasses as KLRN Public Television gears up for one of their largest fundraisers of the year: the San Antonio Wine Festival. For one weekend, you can sample wines and Champagnes from all over the globe, with a great representation of Texas’ best as well.

wine glassesThe weekend kicks off Sept. 26 at the St. Anthony Hotel, 300 E. Travis St., with the Wine Opener, an intimate black-tie event that serves fine food and a forest of wine bottles waiting to be uncorked. Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz will provide the music. There will also be a silent auction. Tickets are $200 apiece or tables of 10 can be purchased for $2,000.

On Sept. 28, it’s bubbles, brunch and jazz at the Champagne Brunch, also held at the St. Anthony Hotel. A variety of Champagnes and wines will be served along with a full brunch. A live performance by The Jim Cullum Jazz Band keeps the mood just right. Tickets are $75 or tables of 10 can be purchased for $1000.

red wine in glassesLater that evening, the Wine Festival concludes with the Fine Wine & Cuisine Tasting, which will be held for the first time at the Pearl Stable, 303 Pearl Parkway. Guests will be able to walk around sampling delectable dishes and taste a selection of wine from all over the world. Participating restaurants include Nao, Boiler House, Tuk Tuk Taproom, Cured, Southerleigh, The Peach Café, Los Barrios Family Restaurant, Hotel Emma at the Pearl, Green Vegetarian Cuisine, Arcade, Bakery Lorraine and more. Tickets are $100 apiece and include valet parking, a commemorative glass and plate.

The KLRN Wine Festival dates back more than 30 years. This year’s San Antonio Wine Festival is chaired by Carlos Torres and TJ Eshelman.

Tickets for all events can be purchased on-line at All proceeds benefit KLRN, serving South Central Texas, to help fund educational workshops, programming and community initiatives. For more information,  call KLRN at 210-270-9000 and ask for a member of the events department.

Major sponsors of the San Antonio Wine Festival include: the Pearl Brewery, St. Anthony Hotel and United Airlines.

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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.


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

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Vines, Grapes, Harvest and Press: It’s Time at Becker Vineyards

Vines, Grapes, Harvest and Press: It’s Time at Becker Vineyards

Becker vineyards harvester cropped 2014

STONEWALL:  The rumbling of diesel engines is heard in an otherwise quiet, pastoral setting of vines and ripe bunches of grapes.  A blue Braud harvester rolls down a row of grapevines, shaking green grapes off as it goes along.  Yellow picking bins on a flatbed trailer pulled by a John Deere tractor are being filled with the ripe fruit and brought to the winery for processing.

Becker grape harvester 2014 croppedThe 2014 harvest has begun for Becker Vineyards.

This week, Sauvignon Blanc grapes were being harvested in the vineyard in front of the winery.

This past Saturday, grape growers Cap and Diane Holland harvested their Chardonnay grapes from their vineyard located between Bronte and Miles, outside of San Angelo, making them the first of Becker Vineyards contract growers to harvest grapes.

“This will be our 18th grape harvest, “ said Bunny Becker, co-proprietor with her husband Dr. Richard Becker. “Harvest is an exciting time of the year for us.”

The Beckers planted their vineyard in 1992 with the first harvest taking place in 1995.  They began selling wine to the public when they opened their winery tasting room in May of 1996.  Along with the vineyard at Stonewall, they own another vineyard at Ballinger and a third one in Mason. Becker Vineyards also purchases fruit from grape growers.

“We have the largest amount of contracts on Texas-grown grapes in the state,” said Bret Perrenoud, general manager, dumping a bin of grapes into the destemmer-crusher with a forklift.

The winery crush pad is a bee hive of activity. The destemmer-crusher is… destemming and crushing. The white grape varietals are then going – via hoses and pumps – to the press to separate the juice from the skins. The air is aromatic with the scent of fresh, ripe fruit. The juice will then head for a stainless steel tank to be inoculated with yeast.  If it is to be a dry white, the fermenting juice will then go to White Oak barrels and finish fermentation there.  If it is to be off-dry (sweeter-style wines), it will stay in stainless steel.

Winemaker Jonathan Leahy is looking forward to the harvest and said, “It’s been a cooler than normal summer. We have phenolic ripeness without the spiking of sugars. This will make full bodied, well developed and more complex wines.”

“We are all looking forward to the end results,” said Richard Becker, with a smile.

Becker Vineyards is located 11 miles east of Fredericksburg, 3 miles west of Stonewall, off U.S. Hwy 290 at Jenschke Lane.

Photographs, article courtesy Nichole Bendele, Becker Vineyards


And, let the grape stomps begin!

Grape Stomp t-shirtAugust is the month for stomping grapes, one of the Texas Hill Country’s favorite, crowd-pleasing times.  Becker Vineyards’ Grape Stomp is Aug. 23-24 and Aug. 30-31.

Here are more fun places to get your feet into some ripe, fresh fruit. Check out the wineries’ websites for hours and directions.

  • August 2-3 & 9-10 at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
  • August 8-10, 15-17 & 22-24 at Pedernales Cellars
  • August 9 at Texas Legato
  • August 9-10 & 16-17 at William Chris Vineyards
  • August 16 at Westcave Cellars Winery
  • August 16-17 & 23-24 at Texas Hills Vineyard
  • August 16 & 23 at Fall Creek Vineyards
  • August 30 at Messina Hof Hill Country
  • August 30 & September 6 at Chisholm Trail Winery


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Join Sustainability, Food-Issue Discussion: TEDx, Food Policy Council

Join Sustainability, Food-Issue Discussion: TEDx, Food Policy Council

If your concerns about food reach beyond finding the next trendy restaurant or cocktail bar, this upcoming TEDx salon, with the Food Policy Council of San Antonio, has a variety of issues on its menu.

There's nothing like vegetables at their freshest. The salon-type gathering will be Saturday, July 26, at the Urban-15 space, 2500 S. Presa St. from 5-9 p.m. and includes speakers and a potluck prepared by local chefs. The price is $35.

To address ways to support a healthy, sustainable and local food system for all people, in all walks of life, the discussion topics will range from connecting to the environment, our impact on the economy and include community participants in a dialogue about food and the policies that surround it.

Organizers say the target audience can be best described as: eaters.  Real eaters. These are people in San Antonio who care about equitable access to quality food and quality ingredients. This includes farmers market aficionados, green/environmental activists and supporters, buyers of organic produce, restaurateurs and caterers and educators (K-12 and college level).

Speakers include Judith Vega of San Antonio Metro Health, Angela Harsell of Green Spaces Alliance, Elizabeth Johnson, Mitch Hagney and Kerry Meath-Sinking, local chefs and professionals who work with local farmers

The potluck follows with dishes from Elizabeth Johnson, Steven McHugh, Taste Elevated, Gaucho Gourmet, Brook Summers, Restaurant Gwendolyn and more, including sustainable cocktails by The Brooklynite’s Boulvedier Group.

Tickets are in limited supply: Click on this link


Food Police Council of San Antonio

The Food Policy Council of San Antonio serves as a stakeholder forum to support a healthy, sustainable, and local food system for people, the environment, the economy and community; gathers and disseminates information for all who work toward that goal in the San Antonio area; and advocates for policy improvements relating to food.


TEDxSanAntonio encourages and supports events intended to foster discussion and community building around ideas worth sharing in San Antonio.


(Sponsored by Defining Delicious and Urban 15)


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