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Culinaria Festival Week: Robust Flavor, Culinary Talent!

Culinaria Festival Week: Robust Flavor, Culinary Talent!

grand tasting6

Culinaria’s mission is to celebrate, educate and collaborate with partnering chefs, winemakers and bartenders. Reaching global audiences, and offering a variety of experiences, this week long event is not to be missed. From elegant wine dinners to extravagant tastings and even family fun, there is something for everyone during Culinaria’s Festival Week. This year we have new events and visiting chefs from all over the country and globe. The fabulous 2015 line-up, beginning May 13,  is as follows:

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased a la carte or for an all-inclusive experience, we recommend the VIP pass options by clicking here: CULINARIA TICKETS  Please see more options below.



May 13 and 14  (Prices & Restaurants will be announced)
San Antonio’s finest chefs craft exquisite menus perfectly paired with wine for an intimate dinner out on the town.

May 14, 2015 6  p.m. – 9  p.m.
$10 – per person (21+)
$5 – for under 21, free – 5 & under

Jason Dady serves up his nachos while his daughter, Tessa, watches. Saturday was her birthday.

Jason Dady serves up his nachos.

(Ticket price includes entry and beverages. Food is sold separately.)

San Antonio’s most popular food trucks gather to cook up some local-favorite dishes. With any great cuisine comes great beverages; the H-E-B Wine Garden and a selection of beer will be available to accompany your gourmet finds. For the kids, there’s face-painting and much more.

Food Trucks will include: Crepe Nation, Duk Truck, Sabor Columbiano, Say She Ate, Sir-Wacha, Tailgate Bistro, Where Y’at, Cheesy Jane’s, Slider Provider, B Daddy’s BBQ, Cupcake Vineyards and many more.


Event location (to be announced;  May 15, 2015 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. ; $35 per person (Ages 21+)

Prepare for Best of Mexico in the only way we know how – with tequila. Join us for a delicious and relaxing happy hour complete with tequila tastings, interesting tequila tidbits, and so much more. Make the most of your Friday evening, and sip away at Tequila Happy Hour.

A Paloma Blanca server carves up tacos al pastor at Best of Mexico.

A Paloma Blanca server carves up tacos al pastor at Best of Mexico.


The Shops at La Cantera;  May 15, 2015 7-10 p.m.  $50 per person (Ages 21+)

It’s a little bit spicy, a little bit saucy and a whole lot of flavor. Local and visiting chefs take you on a culinary tour of Mexico – right in the heart of San Antonio. This tasty adventure brings you an evening of flavor, live entertainment from Colao and a silent auction.

Ballrooms 007 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center;  May 16,  1-4 p.m.; $50 per person (Ages 21+)

Experiential, hands-on exploration through the rooms that bring it all together. Interactive cocktail demonstrations, chef deconstructions, wine panels and even a cinema room bring all of the elements together for districts of deliciousness. Explore Culinaria with one ticket as your passport to all of the districts, breeze in and out to learn your favorite processes from chefs and winemakers. Learn a new technique or make your own bitters at home with our how-to cocktail district. Surprises are in store; you never know what will happen in the Tasting Rooms at The Grotto.

Lonesome Dove at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center; May 16, 6 to 9 p.m.
$150 Advance Purchase Only

Only the elite have exclusive access to the whimsical Grand Tasting Bubble Room, and there will be bubbles – lots of bubbles. The VIP treatment for our grandest of events gives you early entrance, chef-prepared small bites and plenty of high-end champagne and spirits to quench your thirst. We recognize your VIP status – and your red carpet treatment also opens the door for your entrance into the Grand Tasting After-Party.

The Grotto at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
May 16, 2015 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
$100 per person (Ages 21+)

The Grand Tasting: a display of the very finest food, wine and spirits brought to you at one spectacular event. This night of elegance will prove itself once you walk through the door. The limited access to the tasting will give you the opportunity to personally engage with some of the top and carefully selected local chefs who bring their premium cuisine.

burgers, bbq and beer4BURGERS & BEER
Pearl; May 17, 1-4 p.m.  $45 per person (21+).  $10 – under 21, free – 5 & under

This casual event provides guests an assortment of local and visiting chefs’ twists to old-fashioned burgers. Pair them with a craft beer, cocktail, or glass of wine and you have a perfect match – all you have to do is pick your favorite amongst the most delicious creations. Add in live music and you have a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Casa Hernan; May 17,  6-9 p.m.

$125 Advance Purchase Only

The food, the booze and the company will all have at least one thing in common – love of agave.  Prepare yourself to sample tequila galore while sending your taste buds on a journey through Mexico one course at a time with San Antonio favorite, Chef Johnny Hernandez. Buckle up! It’s going to be a delicious ride.


Tickets can be purchased a la carte or for an all-inclusive experience, we recommend the VIP pass options at

All-Access VIP Pass: Take advantage of all that Festival Week has to offer with the All-Access VIP Pass! The two exclusive VIP Lanyards that come with this package grant you and a guest priority access to the following events: Food Truck Event, Becker Luncheon Tequila Happy Hour, Best of Mexico, Tasting Rooms at the Grotto, Grand Tasting Bubble Room, Burgers & Beer

The Weekender VIP PASS for 2:

Spend your weekend in a culinary splendor with Culinaria! We would like to introduce the Weekender VIP Pass, so that you can make it to the highlights of Festival Week and still have a chance to rest. Your VIP Lanyards grant priority access for you and a guest to the following events: Tequila Happy Hour, Best of Mexico, Tasting Rooms at the Grotto, Grand Tasting Bubble Room, Burgers & Beer

Visiting Chef Line-Up: This year talented chefs from all over the country and world will be participating in our festival. A sampling of the talent includes:  Eric Yang, Andon Whitehorn, Johnny Hernandez, Rebecca Masson, Renee Ortiz, Michael Sohocki, Jason Dady, Jesse Perez, Brian West, Jeff White, Jeret Pena, James Moore, Robbie Nowlin, David Gilbert, and many more.

Sponsors: H-E-B, Cadillac, Bud Light, Texas Monthly

About Culinaria: Culinaria is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination while fostering community growth and enrichment. Culinaria is a registered 501 c (3) tax-exempt organization. There is a valued volunteer board of directors who represent the community and guide the organization in its mission.

Eat. Drink. Give. Benefiting Culinaria’s Hope for Hospitality umbrella of programs such as Chefs 4 Chefs, culinary scholarships and the upcoming Urban Farm. Follow Culinaria on Twitter or Instagram or like them on Facebook to keep up with their #EatDrinkGive campaign and events.


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The Kentucky Derby’s Coming. Are You Ready to Party?

The Kentucky Derby’s Coming. Are You Ready to Party?

“The most exciting two minutes in sports,” aka the Kentucky Derby, is coming up Saturday!

Are your ready to have some fun?

Here are some local parties celebrating the 141st Run for the Roses as well as some tips and recipes to get you into the spirit. I just wish I had some tips on which horse to bet on.

(Courtesy Bending Branch Winery)

(Courtesy Bending Branch Winery)

Derby at the vineyard

Bending Branch Winery, 142 Lindner Branch Trail, Comfort, has become known for its lavish derby day party, which runs from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

There will be a hat parade competition, live music from Phil Grota and Friends as well as single-barrel blanc mint juleps and food.

Limited seating is available, so people are advised to bring their own chairs.

Advance tickets through April 30 are $40 apiece or $60 a couple, while VIP tables for 10 are $1,000 apiece and VIP tables for 10 with a case of wine and bottle service are $5,000. Tickets at the gate will be $50 apiece.

Ladies, get out your hats

Watch the derby live and in style at Sustenio Lounge in the Eilan Hotel & Spa, 18603 La Cantera Terrace.

Pre-show festivities begin at 3 p.m. During the event, you can:

–Enjoy Sustenio’s own Lavender Mint Julep and other drink specialties.

–Participate in the Best Hat Contest — and possibly win a dinner for 2 at Sustenio.

All women with hats will be treated to free appetizers.

For more information, call (210) 598-2950.
The Brooklynite steps up to the line, too

At 4 p.m. Saturday, check out The Brooklynite’s $5 bourbon cocktail specials and raffle prizes, sponsored by Maker’s Mark and Old Grandad.

Also, three guest bartenders, including: Houston Eaves of The Esquire Tavern, Stephan Mendez of The Last Word, and David Naylor of Park Social will be put through their paces as well.

Derby attire (hats and bowties) is recommended, especially pretty hats.

Address: 516 Brooklyn Ave.

Reservations: 210-444-0707
Give your julep a twist

Kentucky Derby, of course, means mint juleps, which are truly refreshing sippers this time of year.

Marie Zahn, one of Louisville’s leading mixologists, has provided her own twist on this classic in a recipe that uses Basil Hayden’s Bourbon and mint with some apricot preserves instead of sugar or simple syrup.

BH_High Stakes JulepBasil Hayden’s High Stakes Julep

10 mint leaves
2 parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1 bar spoon Apricot Jelly or Preserves

Add 8 mint leaves to a glass and lightly press with the back of a bar spoon.

Add bourbon, apricot jelly and crushed ice into the glass.

Swizzle briefly and add more crushed ice until it is mounding over the top of the glass.

Add a straw and garnish with additional sprigs of mint.

Makes 1 julep.

From Marie Zahn/Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

If you want a recipe for a classic julep, click here.

julep cupThe right cup for juleps

A mint julep is traditionally served in a silver cup presented to you on a silver tray. The cup gets so cold that servers opt for the tradition of wearing gloves. (OK, we Kentucky folks love our tradition, no matter the reason, so the gloves will be worn regardless.)

If you want to get into the derby spirit, you can get silver julep cups at Twin Liquors. I saw these beauties at the one on U.S. 281 near Bitters Road. Call whichever store you’re closest to if you want to see if they’re in stock before making a trip.

They sell for $19.79 apiece. And, yes, they are silver.



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Fragrant Fields at Becker’s Lavender Fest — Soon!

Fragrant Fields at Becker’s Lavender Fest — Soon!

Plowed red earth contrasts with long rows of purple-blue flowers under the brilliant Texas sun.  A lavender fragranced breeze blows gently over the winery’s limestone verandah …

If this sounds inviting, you can experience it as Becker Vineyards hosts its 17th annual Lavender Festival, Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3.  The event will feature speakers and vendors promoting lavender education as well as herb-related products. 

There will also be gardening tips, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, and luncheons.  Business hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.  The event is complimentary; parking is $5.

 Lavender plantThere will also be Lavender Luncheons by Alfred’s Catering of Austin on both days of the festival.  The luncheons will be a three-course meal served with wine beginning at 12:30 p.m. and are $85 + tax, per person.  Reservations required, purchase on-line at or 830-644-2681 x 230. NOTE:  Saturday is sold out.  There is availability on Sunday.

 Becker Vineyards will also have food concessions by chef Jayson Cox for those not able to make the luncheons.  There will also be 35 or more vendors selling lavender products, gardening related items and artisan gifts.
For more information, visit (Facebook and Twitter) for more information on the upcoming 17th annual Lavender Festival or 830-644-2681 x 302.

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Taste of the North Side Rocks On For Fiesta

Taste of the North Side Rocks On For Fiesta

It's Fiesta time at Lily's.

Fiesta is this week!

A Taste of the Northside plans to to live up to its title of “Best Fiesta Event,” which it’s had for the past three years.

Located on the grounds of the private Club at Sonterra, A Taste of the Northside offers guests the opportunity to enjoy entrée samplings from more than 60 of San Antonio’s finest restaurants, sample from more than 35 wine varieties, choose from a large selection of beer, listen to music provided by three different bands and all with the convenience of one ticket price.

This year’s event it Wednesday, from 5:30 – 10:30 p.m. at the Club at Sonterra.

This Elevated Fiesta event attracts 7,000 attendees every year that include business professionals, influential community leaders, elite Northside residents and Fiesta lovers alike.

A Taste of the Northside is a great opportunity for those looking to market their business, entertain clients, appreciate staff, or simply to support a good cause.

All proceeds raised through A Taste of the Northside benefit the Brighton Center, a nonprofit organization that provides the most comprehensive services for children with disabilities and/or developmental delays in San Antonio.

Brighton Center Equips Children and Empowers Parents through a comprehensive approach that includes home-based therapy services, early childhood education, parent education and advocacy services for more than 2,500 children in San Antonio every year

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‘Turn Me Loose’ at Fiesta Oyster Bake

‘Turn Me Loose’ at Fiesta Oyster Bake

Rain or shine, the Fiesta Oyster Bake was happening Friday night. That meant, rain or shine, I was going to be working. Thankfully, the rain held off, for the most part, until I was under the protective cover of the pavilion where the wine booth was located.

Pork chop on a stick!

Pork chop on a stick!

My friends and I felt a few drops and sloshed through some mud puddles on our way around the St. Mary’s campus. But for the most part, the evening delivered on the fun that the event promises each year — down to the fireworks that sends the crowds home.

Before our shift, we wandered the food booths, getting an early fill of chicken on a stick, shrimp on a stick and steak on a stick, holding off on sausage on a stick, pork chop on a stick and even cucumber on a stick until we could fully assess our choices. An oyster shot, chilled and briny, prepped me for the oyster bucket that was to come. Toward the end of the evening, my friend Cindy and I squared off: She purchased a bucket of baked oysters, while I eagerly went for a bucket of raw. The plump Gulf beauties went down easily. And thank you, Kathleen, for being the designated shucker (after I lightly punctured my hand on a particularly stubborn bivalve. Thank goodness for those wet napkins that came with the dozen or so oysters, priced at $7.)

Chicken on a stick!

Chicken on a stick!

This year, the Oyster Bake featured a food truck area that included such favorites as the Duk Truck, Wheelie Gourmet, Saweet Cupcakes and Cheesy Jane’s. From barbecue to bacon-topped tacos, they had you covered.

More music was on the menu, too, as added stages meant you could choose jazz, country, Tejano and hip hop in addition to the headliner, ’80s favorite Loverboy, who had the crowd singing along to “Turn Me Loose.”

This year’s wine booth featured Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge collection, and the lovers of sweet drinks were out in force.

“I want the sweetest wine you’ve got,” was a phrase we heard dozens of times throughout our shift. And when they saw the Moscato being poured in the cup, more than half would ask before taking a sip, “You sure this is the sweetest wine you’ve got?”

What? No oysters on a stick?

What? No oysters on a stick?

In a lineup that included Woodbridge White Zinfandel, Rosatello Rosso, a sweet red blend, and Rosatello Sparkling Rosé, the Moscato won the crown for being the sweetest. And the customers must have agreed, for we had many repeat customers.



We also had folks returning for the dry Woodbridge selections, including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And while they, too, were faithful to their choice, they were simply outnumbered, with Chardonnay and Merlot being the least chosen wines of the evening. That’s a change from years past.

We also had a captive crowd for an hour or so, as the sky opened up and sent those without umbrellas looking for cover.

The Oyster Bake was set to continue Saturday with more oysters, music and fun. Hopefully, the day will be a little dryer. But you may want to wear your galoshes, just to navigate the mud.


More galoshes.

More galoshes.

Happy customers at the wine table.

Happy customers at the wine table.

Fireworks through the trees.

Fireworks through the trees.

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A Few Specials Can Help Take the Bite Out of Tax Day

A Few Specials Can Help Take the Bite Out of Tax Day

You’re taxes are due Wednesday.

taxesIf that depresses you, then news of these Tax Day specials might cheer you up.

Stone Werks is offering a special $2 appetizer and drink menu from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Drink specials include all regular size draft beer, well drinks and frozen margaritas. Chips & queso, spinach and artichoke dip, and 10-inch one-topping pizzas will be available. These specials are available at all three locations — Lincoln Heights, The Rim and The

At Hard Rock Cafe, 111 W. Crockett St., guests can get a free Local Legendary™ Burger if they sing for their supper from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Henry Brun, a Latin Grammy musician, will kick off Sing For Your Supper, and Paseo del Rio River Walk Royalty will be onsite to encourage guests’ participation. “The Sing for Your Supper campaign is an enjoyable way for the brand to give back to our guests and help ease the burden of Tax Day,” said John Galloway, vice president and chief marketing officer of Hard Rock International.  “We hope to see many loyal fans of the brand, as well as new guests, come out to their local cafe, take the stage and try one of our unique local burger offerings.”

IHOP Restaurants are offering a stack of three buttermilk pancakes for $1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Butter and syrup included.

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Tacos and Trucks and Good Times Are Coming

Tacos and Trucks and Good Times Are Coming

The VFW Post 76 at 10th Street and Broadway will host the fifth annual Twisted Taco Truck Throwdown, a taco and food truck competition, on Saturday, May 9, from 4 p.m. to midnight. And the organizers are looking for participants.

taco truckPresented by Twisted Tea, this free event for all ages will feature live music from Finding Friday during the day and Los #3 Dinners in the evening as local taco trucks and food trucks showcase their twisted culinary masterpieces. Attendees can eat their fill from 4 to 8 p.m. when tacos al pastor will be available from all trucks for only $1. Each truck will feature a signature item as well, giving event-goers a variety of eats from which to choose. La Paloma White Wings is the official tortilla.

While the grand champion winner is always determined by the judges’ scores for each trucks’ tacos al pastor, this year the contestants have the option to compete in the new Freestyle category as well. This will give all participants an opportunity to show off their culinary creativity.

The Twisted Taco Truck Throwdown

The Twisted Taco Truck Throwdown

The 2014 Grand Champion, The Grilled Jalapeño, will be in attendance to defend their title. After receiving the most text votes from the crowd last year and being crowned the 2014 People’s Choice winner, Teka Molino will be defending their title as well. Additional trucks confirmed to participate include: 2013 People’s Choice winner Gracie’s Kitchen, 2010 People’s Choice winner Doña Kika Tacos y Gorditas, Mini Tacos El Maicol, Pancho’s Mini Tacos, El Amigo Tacos, Gracie’s Kitchen, Truck N’ Taco, Mr. Mexium, Lady Picoza, Hippie Mommas, Cheesy Jane’s and Sir-Wacha.

The VFW Post 76 is the oldest post in Texas. This event has continually been one of the largest one-day fundraisers for their VFW Post 76 Veteran Relief Fund. Again this year, a portion of the proceeds will benefit this fund that provides assistance to veterans in need.

Persons interested in participating in this event should contact Kimberly Arellano at 210-725-5477 or email

More information can be found on Facebook at

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The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market Stays; Plans to Thrive

The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market Stays; Plans to Thrive

Business was a little slow at The Yard Farmers and Ranchers Market, a couple of the vendors told us as they were packing up to leave at 1 p.m.

But Scott Naegelin, of Naegelin Farms in Lytle and new market manager, said he believed the market would make it despite controversy over the past couple of weeks about an alleged angry exchange of words between a vendor and previous managers Heather Hunter and David Lent.

The market is open each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offers organic produce and a range of other producers only items. It is in the back parking lot of The Yard, at 5300 McCullough Ave.

YardLogo Farmers Market cropped



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Farmers Market Issues Leaves Uncertain Future

Farmers Market Issues Leaves Uncertain Future

The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market will vacate the premises at The Yard, 5300 McCullough Ave., at some point in the near future. There are several reasons involved, including a dispute this past Sunday that reportedly escalated into racial overtones.

YardLogo Farmers MarketAlso, parking problems have been an issue at The Yard. Before moving to the McCullough location, the farmers market had been a Sunday fixture at the Alamo Quarry shopping center, but it was asked to leave a few months ago, reportedly due to parking issues there.

The owners of The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market, F. David Lent and Heather Hunter, argued with the owners of Ming’s Things food stand, Ming Qian and Hinnark von Bargen.

Hunter characterized the argument as as heated words between people who had been friends and colleagues. It began when von Bargen and Qian announced they’d be moving their stand to the new Sunday farmers market at the Pearl Brewery, which opens this coming Sunday.

While The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market has a 90-day option to stay at The Yard, that may or may not happen, according to Hunter.  The Lent/Hunter farmers market has been a successful operation for four years.

The following note was posted on Facebook by Lent and Hunter:

“To all of our loyal customers, market members and followers. This past week has been truly challenging for us as we continue the fight to bring locally grown foods and sustainability to the San Antonio community.

“An unfortunate exchange took place after last Sunday’s market, which we deeply regret. Although it was an isolated incident between long-time business associates and dear friends, the brief altercation has been exaggerated and manipulated in the media.

“From a personal and business disagreement, sadly, this has the potential to have negative impact on the market members who have had no part in this situation.

“We personally have many friends and associates from all ethnicities and wholeheartedly embrace cultural diversity. We lived in Mexico for over five years and have traveled extensively in many countries not as tourists, but as cultural travelers and very much respect the differences and celebrate our commonalities.

“We greatly appreciate all of the support we have received for the market in this difficult situation. As for the future of our farmers market, we are evaluating at this point and ask for your continued support and patience.”

Speaking on the matter Thursday, Hunter emphasized that though a number of vendors will be moving to the Pearl Farmers Market, they still have the “full support of 25 steadfast vendors.”

Hunter and Lent will be considering their options in the weeks and months to come and didn’t wish to discuss their eventual plans either way – to close up shop or stay with their commitment to bring healthy food, produce and products to San Antonio customers they’ve served for the past four years.

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The Gunter Bakery’s Putting on the Dog

The Gunter Bakery’s Putting on the Dog


The Sheraton Gunter’s Market on Houston

The Gunter Bakery, the latest addition to the ongoing renovations at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, is opening Tuesday.

The pet-friendly hotel at 205 E. Houston St. is celebrating with an ongoing fundraiser for the San Antonio Humane Society.

Twenty percent of all sales of Gunter’s Homemade Dog Treats and retail items for dogs will go to the SAHS.

But the hotel isn’t stopping there. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the hotel is hosting a Puppy Hour. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20 apiece, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to SAHS. Patrons will get happy hour food and drinks while having the chance to meet and play with adoptable pets. Guests can bring dogs on a leash and enter through the hotel as well as through the East Houston Street entrance.

Free valet parking is available, and the city garages are free after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Gunter Barkery will be open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and feature an array of baked goods as well as Gunter’s Homemade Dog Treats, which are priced at $3 each. Baked fresh by Market on Houston Executive Chef Rudy Martinez, the Gunter Barkery will offer four mainstay biscuits: Plain, Bacon, Beef and Chicken, all made with whole wheat flour, peanut butter, oats, banana, eggs and a flavored puree.

Other changes at the Sheraton Gunter include Market on Houston, which has a pet-friendly outdoor patio as well as the Bakery. Drinks can also be had at the hotel’s Bar 414.

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