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Tamales! At Pearl a Festive First

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It’s free, it’s new, and it could become a San Antonio pre-holiday tradition.

Tamales are the stars of the show at the new Tamales! festival at the Pearl.

“Tamales! At Pearl … A Holiday Family Festival” was a huge success Saturday, said organizers.

“I knew we had a winner when we got 210 entries for the tamal-making contest,” said Shelley Grieshaber, culinary services director for the Pearl. It was her job to taste all of the entrees, then screen the best five selections in each category for judges.

While judges went into a conference room at the nearby Culinary Institute of America, it was a typical crowd scene outside, with kids in strollers, dogs, and families enjoying a beautiful day and plenty of food and drink.

The tamales unwrapped at the contest ranged from traditional pork and chicken to “wild card” entries. A sweet dessert tamal, with pineapple and almond-flavored masa, took that category. (Winners will be announced on SavorSA.)

In addition to tamales, folks enjoyed empanadas, beef anticuchos, rib-eye fajita tacos, chicken-stuffed poblano rellenos, bacon-wrapped chicken and jalapeño bites, rajas (roasted chile strips), desserts and Mexican coffee and hot chocolate. Vendors enjoyed long lines outside their booths, with caterers such as RK Group and Don Strange of Texas also contributing some of their popular specialties.

Mariachis played most of the day, including an all-woman group, Mariachis Alteñas, whose tight rhythms and strong vocals drew a crowd of its own.

“This is a great event,” said Cheryl Mijangos, who, with her husband Alberto “Beto” Mijangos, were at their booth for their restaurant, Beto’s.

Photo by Tracey Maurer.

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