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Archive | September, 2011

Beer of the Week: Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider Original

Beer of the Week: Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider Original

 

 

Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.

 

 

 

Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider Original

I recently returned from upstate New York where apples were overflowing this season. Markets were filled with all styles and colors, great and small, firm and soft, just waiting to be bit into, cut up for apple pie or churned into apple-cinnamon ice cream.

A few of those who juice their apples still turn the liquid into hard apple cider, which is fermented. But most of us nowadays rely on folks like the good people at Crispin Hard Ciders to do that work for us.

Crispin is, as the name implies, a natural product made with filtered water and natural apple essence in addition to the cider. No malt or spirits were added.

The nose is filled with ripe, fresh apple and slight pear scents and a touch of yeast, all of which you can pick up on the palate. The color is a straw or pale yellow, that pours with just a touch of bubbles that quickly dissipate. (This isn’t beer, really, so don’t expect plenty of head.) One sip and you’ll see just how clean and refreshing this is to drink. The taste is dry but fruity with a zippy feel on the tongue that just makes you want more. The alcohol level is 5 percent.

This is a gluten-free treat for those who want something with a little kick but without wheat or other dietary no-no’s of that variety. It’s also low in carbohydrates with only 12 grams per 12-ounce bottle.

Crispin goes great with every kind of food. At the Lion & Rose, you could pair it well with Bloke’s Mushrooms, its clean taste balancing the fried button caps beautifully. Or try it with the Jester’s Grilled Cheese with some applewood smoked bacon. For dessert lovers, this would be a great match with the Pear William Cake. It would also be good with any of the items on the gluten-sensitive menu.

Most of the ciders in the Crispin line, such as Honey Crisp and Brut, are great as a mixer, with ginger ale, whiskey, you name it. At the Lion and Rose, you can have the Original layered with Guinness in a version of Black Velvet. More cocktail ideas can be found on the company’s website, which featured this potent example:

The Empire Builder

2 ounces Crispin Original
1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce Starbucks Coffee Liquor (see note)
Dash of simple syrup

Mix Crispin, vodka, Starbucks and simple syrup in an ice filled shaker. Shake and pour into a chilled martini glass.

Note: Starbucks works here because its a liquor that’s about the coffee first. Something like Kahlúa is too sticky-sweet and ruins the effect. It’s completely unintuitive, but the Starbucks actually enhances and highlights the subtle apple essence of Crispin Original. Crispin Original has such a subtle flavor (closer to champagne than the typical brewed hard cider); its all too easy to obliterate it – trust me, this works.

Adapted from www.crispincider.com.

 

 

 

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Feast is Open; Bill Miller Opens Second Laguna Madre Seafood Company

Feast is Open; Bill Miller Opens Second Laguna Madre Seafood Company

Feast is now serving dinner

Feast, in Southtown, is now open at 1024 S. Alamo. The restaurant, which is in the location where the former Oloroso was, opened Tuesday evening for dinner, said an employee who answered the telephone Wednesday. Feast is open Tuesday through Thursday, 5- 10 p.m. and from 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Feast is owned by Andrew Goodman. The phone number is 210-354-1024.

Laguna Madre Seafood Company opens on S.W. Military Dr.

A second location of Laguna Madre Seafood Company, owned by Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, is now open at 402 S.W. Military Dr., according to company spokesperson. The first location opened last year at 5123 Rigsby Ave.

The menu is largely fried fish, including catfish and cod, shrimp and combo plates, as well as gumbo,salads, hush puppies, creamy coleslaw, fish and shrimp Veracruz style and chicken Veracruz style. Dessert is cookies or pie —pecan, Dutch apple or lemon meringue. Family meals are available, as are Bill Miller’s famous buckets of iced tea. Most of the dishes are under $10.

Trader Joe’s: Yes? No?

Rumors still flying: Now, we hear that they may be  locating in  Quarry Village later this year. We’ll be checking up on that.

In the meantime, here’s a fun link on the good, the bad and the whatever — at Trader Joe’s.

 

 

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Foodborne Illness Alert from CDC; Two Deaths in Texas

Foodborne Illness Alert from CDC; Two Deaths in Texas

From the CDC

An outbreak of listeriosis has claimed at least 13 lives, and several more are under investigation.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is collaborating with public health officials in several states, including Texas, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of listeriosis.

As of  Tuesday, a total of 72 persons infected with the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes had been reported to CDC from 18 states.  That number is 14 in Texas – and two have died.

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes .

All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011.  On September 14, 2011, the FDA issued announced that Jensen Farms had issued a voluntary recall of its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes after being linked to a multistate outbreak of listeriosis.

The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).

Thirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas. Several other deaths are being investigated by officials as well, according to a report by the Associate Press today.

The CDC recommends that persons at high risk for listeriosis, including older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, do not eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms.

Even if some of the cantaloupe has been eaten without anyone becoming ill, dispose of the rest of the cantaloupe immediately. Listeria bacteria can grow in the cantaloupe at room and refrigerator temperatures.

For more information, check this site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lodge Offers Seafood This Week, Darioush Wine Tasting Oct. 6

Lodge Offers Seafood This Week, Darioush Wine Tasting Oct. 6

From The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills

Jason Dady, executive chef at The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills.

A Taste of the Sea: Wednesday through Saturday, this week only.  This is a four-course pescaterian-inspired dinner with a glass of wine. $35 per person.

Darioush Wine Tasting and Reception:  6:30 p.m. Oct. 6. In the courtyard, a tasting of Darioush’s best selections paired the chef’s favorite hors d’oeuvres. This event is hosted by Darioush President Dan de Polo. Reservations limited. $65 per person.

The Lodge’s 10-Year Anniversary Dinner: 6 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. dinner. Oct. 17. This will be a tasting of some of the Lodge’s original opening dishes, fast-forwarded to today.  $100 per person, includes glass of Champagne.

Reservations for these events can be made by calling 210- 349-8466. The Lodge Restaurant is at 1746 Lockhill Selma.

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Spectacular Brilliance: Food-friendly Wines Great to ‘Go To’

Spectacular Brilliance: Food-friendly Wines Great to ‘Go To’

Troy Knapp is executive chef at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort, including Antlers Lodge. He’s also a Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine. His column, Spectacular Brilliance, appears monthly on SavorSA.

By Troy Knapp

Troy Knapp

“What wine should we bring?”  This is a common question when attending a party, especially when you know the food and company will be outstanding.  Just because the cuisine is uncertain, doesn’t mean the wine selection should be.  When in doubt, a “Go To” wine is your best bet!

A “Go To” wine refers to a wine with friendliness, as it gets along well with others.  It typically offers flexibility to pair with a wide range of dishes, as well as the preferences of a diverse crowd.  “Go To” wines will typically have particular structural traits.  There are two major factors when determining a wine to be “food friendly”: alcohol content and acidity.  Wines from a moderate to cooler climate will typically display lower levels of alcohol and higher acidity, which is prime for “Go To” wines.

My personal favorite “Go To” wine selections are:

Sparkling:  Always a safe bet.  Not only is sparkling wine versatile, it is also a great way to kick off the party.  You can’t go wrong with Cava, Prosecco or Champagne.  Feeling adventurous?  Look for French Crémant de Bourgogne, German Sekt or South African Cap Classique.

White Wines:  You’ll want to look for medium to light-bodied white wines, with racy acidity, good fruit, and even a touch of residual sugar.  My personal favorites include, from Austria, Grüner Veltliner.  From Spain, Albariño and Txakoli.  From Oregon, Germany and North Italy, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio. For something with subtle sweetness, France’s Vouvray or Germany’s, Mosel Kabinett (off-dry) Riesling.

Dry rose wine

Dry Rosé Wines:  This is my favorite category!  Rosé is typically, very versatile, as the slight red fruit character lends itself to a wide range of dishes.  Highly underrated and reasonably priced wines from Tavel, in France, Vinho Verde from Portugal and Spanish Garnacha Rosado, bring a lot of excitement to the table.  One piece of advice: these should not be confused with cheap, pink sweet wine.  As they say, “Friends don’t let friends drink white Zin.”

Red Wines:  Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  The one thing to keep in mind here is to stay away from excessive alcohol and tannin (bio-molecule that contributes to the dry, “puckering” in your mouth you feel with certain wines). Check the label to ensure the alcohol content is not too high — you want to stay under 14 percent alcohol.  The lower the alcohol, the better indication that it will be friendlier to a diversity of dishes, as well as the audience.

Oregon, Washington and the cooler areas of California will offer bright fruit with balanced acidity.  Merlot can be a good option as it is typically rounder with soft tannins.  Zinfandel displays loads of fruit up front and moderate tannin. However, it can be very high in alcohol so keep an eye on the label.  Other exciting options consist of German Pinot Noir, Barbera from North Italy, Cru Beaujolais from one of the 10 highly regarded village /sites in France.

Dessert Wines: Selections such as Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Aqui from Piedmont, Italy, are enormous crowd-pleasers.  Both offer light effervescence with balanced sweetness and acidity.  Low in alcohol with delicate minerality, these selections are sure to intrigue a range of palates.

Now that you have my recommendations, here are some items to avoid when looking for a “Go To” wine.

Big, oaky Cabernet isn't necessarily food friendly.

Wines high in alcohol, tannin and a big oak treatment should be nixed.  With this in mind, you may want to save the big California Cabernets and Chardonnays for an occasion that will do them justice.  As wonderful as they are, they are better suited for specific dishes and certainly have their place in the pursuit of the perfect pairing, just not for the “Go To” list.

Be wary of chasing critic scores or ratings. Remember we are looking for certain specific qualities in a wine that gives it the ability to work well under most conditions. Ratings are far too general and do not speak to the structure of a wine.

Don’t forget to do a little research on the wine; where did it come from, where’s the vineyard, what was the process?  What you discover may add a little something extra to the overall experience, plus, it would make for great dinner conversation.  Keep in mind the theme of this column — to educate yourself on the art of wine pairing, while intriguing your appetite for adventure.  Spectacular brilliance is always right around the corner, sometimes you may have to stroll from your comfort zone to achieve it.


Posted in Blogs, Featured, Wine, Beer, Spirits Q&A6 Comments

Heritage Hog Hoedown: Feasting at South Texas Heritage Pork Farm

Heritage Hog Hoedown: Feasting at South Texas Heritage Pork Farm

Slow-braised Pork Butt Ragu on Polenta, second course at Farm, Food, Friends and Family.

By Chris Dunn

Sunday night, the Jason Dady Restaurant Group presented an outdoor evening of “Farm, Food, Friends, and Family” at the Floresville farm of Mark and Kelley Escobedo, owners of South Texas Heritage Pork.

“Our purpose here is to celebrate the taste and style of the pork they produce,” said Dady.  “They’re the best pigs in the state.”

First course: Ham and biscuits with Honey Butter.

A congregation of crossbred English Tamworth and Large Black hogs, oblivious to his praise, blissfully rooted in the background while chef /restaurateur Dady, his brother, Jake, and several volunteer sous-chefs prepared and passed hors d’oeuvres to the 47 people lucky enough to have a place at the table for this event.

The appetizers, which could have been a satisfying meal in themselves, included pork belly spring rolls with cilantro, mint, basil and nectarines; thin slices of braised pork belly wrapped loin; mini BLT sandwiches with the salty crunch of bacon and the tender sweetness of tomato confit; lardo (yes, pure pork fat) on toast; and one of the evening’s highlights—pork meatballs with bacon, pears, apples, guanciale (pork cheek) and fennel.

Realizing the mountain of pork I had yet to scale, I took a break and chatted with Kelley Escobedo about the farm.  “Taking care of pigs is simple, but not easy,” she said, explaining that the animals only require “food, water, shade, and shelter,” but providing for them takes time and attention.  “We listen to the animals, and they tell us what they need.”

Kelly Escobedo and chef Jason Dady

The Escobedos started raising hogs with the goal of providing healthier and more natural food options for their family. This led to the discovery of heritage breeds, which have largely been abandoned by corporate breeders as not being suited to confinement pens and large scale production.

“Because we weren’t farmers, we had no preconceived notions,” said Escobedo, adding that it worked to their advantage being open to non-conventional farming practices.  She pointed out that even though we were standing 10 feet away from a dozen hogs, there was no odor, because when the animals are unconfined and eat a natural diet, they lead cleaner and healthier lives.

The first course arrived.  House-cured smoked ham, buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, and two fruit jams—black pepper and plum, and lavender and pear—what could be better than breakfast for dinner?

The second course was Slow Braised Pork Butt Ragu with Dutch Oven Polenta, Cherry Tomato Confit, Blue Cheese and Red Onion Marmalade.  Dady pointed out that the ragu itself was very simple, focusing on the rich flavor of the meat.  The juices pooled around the meat and polenta had the mouth-feel of demi-glace.

The third course was served family style—large bowls of rustic, mustardy potato salad, locally grown squash and okra, and heaping platters of sous vide pork chops, cheeks, loins, and legs. It was more than anyone could eat; luckily, Dady provided containers for guests to take the leftovers home.

Approaching our porcine limit, we were presented one more course—Pig Cobbler—that featured scone nougat made with pork lard topped with braised late harvest peaches, nectarines and vanilla Chantilly cream.  Through a pork fat fog I seem to remember it was delicious.

The evening turned out to be an exploration of pork’s potential; what can be achieved in humane and sustainable agricultural practices and what can be gained in return.  Looking at the sun setting behind a group of happy pigs and people, Dady beamed, “This is what we live for.”

South Texas Heritage Pork is widely available in San Antonio, including The Quarry Farmers Market, The Pearl Farmer’s Market, and at several restaurants.

Photographs by Chris Dunn

South Texas Heritage Hogs

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Events, Featured3 Comments

Myron’s Prime Steakhouse Now Open in Alon Town Centre

Myron’s Prime Steakhouse Now Open in Alon Town Centre

Myron's uses corn-fed USDA prime beef. (Photo courtesy Myron's Steakhouse)

Myron’s Prime Steakhouse is now open in San Antonio at the Alon Town Center, at the corner of NW Military Drive and Wurzbach Parkway.  This is the second location of the restaurant, owned by Bill Been; the original steak house is in New Braunfels.

Myron’s has a fine-dining format, serving Midwestern corn-fed USDA prime beef  (the top 2 percent of the nation’s total beef production.) The beef is hand selected and wet aged for tenderness and flavor.

Make reservations by calling 210-493-3031. See a complete menu on the restaurant’s website.

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Teka Molino Opens Second Location

Teka Molino Opens Second Location

Teka Molino recently opened a second location at 1007 Rittiman Road (at Harry Wurzbach). The owner of the restaurant is Ben Stratton.

The Mexican restaurant, which has been in San Antonio for more than 70 years, is distinguished by the fact that they prepare and grind the corn in-house for all of their masa-based products, such as the hand-patted bean and guacamole cups, bean rolls and puffy tacos.

Contact this location at 210-257-5514. The first location of Teka Molino is at 7231 San Pedro Ave.

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Ajuúa a Fun Place to Kick Back and Relax

Ajuúa a Fun Place to Kick Back and Relax

Ajuua's Tortilla Soup

When Ajuúa Mexican Restaurant opened on Huebner Road several years back, the restaurant made a name for itself because of its colorful interior and relaxed atmosphere. It  was a great place to lounge on the patio over a margarita and enjoy life. It didn’t hurt that the food was good, too.

I hadn’t been back since the opening, so I thought I’d drop in for a quick dinner.  Sure enough, the setting was still bold and beautiful, though I don’t remember a TV set or two in the dining room, which I find a distraction and others find a necessity.

Another distraction was the margarita, which was so sweet that I could hardly drink it — even with an extra three or four slices of lime squeezed into it. I can image the majority of the San Antonio, sweet tea-drinking population loving this, but it’s not the traditional blend of tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice that made this cocktail famous. (There was no sweet-and-sour in the original versions, no agave nectar, no Sprite. And I long for the day when I can get a margarita  with only those three ingredients in it.)

Fajitas a la Rajas

The food made up for the unpleasant cocktail. Before my appetizer arrived, I indulged in a good helping of house-made chips with a salsa that had a lively kick to it. That’s always a great way to begin, and it’s even better when the salsa can be used later in the meal, which I did.

I started off with a good cup of tortilla soup filled with plenty of fresh avocado and Mexican cheese under the crisp tortilla strips and a hearty chicken stock.

For the main course, I couldn’t resist the call of beef and chicken fajitas topped with a creamy poblano sauce with a little tang of white wine in it. The flavorful sauce held up better than I would have thought on a sizzling cast iron skillet by not separating and by properly coating the meat. The Fajitas a la Rajas also had poblano strips, mushrooms and onions mixed in with the meat for added flavor. Everything  worked hard to cover up a rather perfunctory, dull chicken breast. (I know, “dull” and “chicken breast” are redundant in most restaurants nowadays. It’s one reason I generally avoid it or order it only when it comes with beef or some other meat.)

Freshly made guacamole, plenty of pico de gallo, handmade corn tortillas, decent borrachos and a fairly good rice helped make some tasty tacos and a most enjoyable meal.

Ajuúa Mexican Restaurant
11703 Huebner Road
(210) 877-0600
www.ajuua.net
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday

Posted in Restaurants2 Comments

Green Vegetarian Cuisine Opens Second Location

Green Vegetarian Cuisine Opens Second Location

Green Vegetarian Cuisine & Coffee will open a second location, Green at Alon. Sunday, Oct. 2, at 10003 N.W. Military Drive, corner of Wurzbach Parkway and N.W. Military Highway.  Hours will be 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.,  Sundays through Thursdays, closed at 8 p.m. Fridays and closed on Saturdays.  The original location of Green is at 1017 North Flores St. The restaurant is kosher as well as “100 percent” vegetarian.

 

An earlier report said Green would be open Oct. 1; the above is the corrected date. Our apologies.


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