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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 NutcrackerSweetsSA.org 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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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.

oliveoilABOUT SANDY OAKS:

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.

 MENU:

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 www.saWINEfest.com. 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.

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

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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

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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Wine Dinners: Bliss Sparkles, Sandy Oaks Does White Wines

Wine Dinners: Bliss Sparkles, Sandy Oaks Does White Wines

Mark Bliss

Mark Bliss

Chef Mark Bliss will present an elegant five-course dinner paired with champagne and sparkling wine from around the world on Wednesday, July 30 at Bliss, 926 S. Presa St.

Wine experts will join guests on a culinary-inspired exploration of the versatility and luxury these special wines impart. Some of the wine selections will be available for purchase as well. The cost is $165 per person, all-inclusive. For reservations, please call 210-225-2547.  To see the menu, check this link.

 

An evening of sipping and dining at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

One of the best ways to endure a hot, humid, Texas summer evening is to sip a cool, refreshing glass of white wine. Better yet, pair that glass of crisp, white wine with delicious food and you have ingredients for a memorable evening.

Sandy Oaks Chef Chris Cook has put together a meal pairing each course with a selection of white wines from some of the best Texas has to offer, including Pedernales, William Chris and Hye Meadow Wineries.

The event is Friday, July 25. There is a 7 p.m. reception and 7:30 p.m. dinner. Cost is $50 per person plus tax and gratuity. For reservations, call 210-621-0044. For more information on Sandy Oaks, visit them at the link here.

Sandy Oaks Olive Oil Ice creamMenu:

Reception:  Lump Crab Croquette with Grilled Strawberry Sauce and Sandy Oaks Fig Vinegar Reduction/ Pedernales Rosé 2011.  Second:  Fresh House-pulled Mozzarella and Compressed Cantaloupe, Fresh Honey and Garden Basil/William Chris, Mary Ruth 2012;  Third: Local Chicken Ballotine with House-made Pancetta and Garden Doughnut Peaches/Hye Meadow, Viognier 2012. Fourth: Crispy Skin Redfish with Apple Mint Orzo, Radish and Herbs/Pedernales, Cinco 2013; Fifth: Smoked Almond Country Bread Pudding with House Olive Oil Ice Cream and Vanilla Blackberries/Hye Meadow Trebbiano 2013.

 

Sampling the wines of Spain, at Crumpets

Crumpets, at 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, will be celebrating some of the excellent wines of Spain at this wine dinner on Aug. 8,  beginning at 7 p.m.  The cost is $70 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Call for reservations at 210-821-5600.

On the menu:   Gazpacho, served with Ostatu Rosada; Paella de Rioja/Ostatu Blanco; Jamon Serrano/Ugarte Cosecha; Pierna de Cordero Asado (roast leg of lamb)/Tres Ojos OV Garnacha; Helado de Avellana (ice cream)/El Maestro Sierra Pedro Ximenez

 

 

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Luckenbach, Food Trucks, Wine: Who Can Resist!

Luckenbach, Food Trucks, Wine: Who Can Resist!

If ever a Hill Country location was made for food trucks, music and wine, it’s the tiny — but renowned — town of Luckenbach.

The event will be the first annual Hill Country Food Truck Festival, featuring more than a dozen food trucks, Texas Hill Country wine and a lineup of live music starting at noon and continuing until 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2.

Hill Country Food Truck FestivalNearly a dozen Hill Country wineries will offer wines for purchase by the glass and bottle from noon until 9 p.m. Wineries include 4.0 Cellars, Messina Hof Hill Country, Kerrville Hills Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, Texas Hills Vineyards, Singing Waters Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, Texas Legato Winery, Westcave Cellars Winery and William Chris Vineyards.

More than a dozen food trucks will also be in attendance with plenty of food truck fare for purchase. Participating food trucks include Cheesy Jane’s, Clear River Pecan Company, Come and Get It Chuckwagon, Crazy Carl’s, KHILL BBQ Company, Mr. Meximum, Red Bud Roasters, Ritts Twisted Brisket, SaWeet Cupcakes, Slider Provider and SpiceSea Gourmet.

The Americana live music schedule headlines The Greencards, performers include Milk Drive, Martin & Lewis, Paul Cauthen, Bonnie Bishop, Dan Dyer, Steve Poltz, Rosie Flores, and more.

Wine bottles and corksProceeds will benefit the Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts (TCWCA), a planned 30,000 square-foot facility which will be located in downtown Fredericksburg.

In addition to the TCWCA, event organizers include Luckenbach, Texas, the San Antonio Food Truck Association, the Texas Hill Country Wineries and the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Tickets for the Hill Country Food Truck Festival are $15 per person for adults and children ages 12 and under are free. Tickets are available online here.

The TCWCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the awareness, understanding, and celebration of Texas food, wine and agriculture through educational programming and hands on experiences for wine and culinary enthusiasts, for food and hospitality professionals and for high school and college students.

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