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Have Dinner in Rioja, Spain: Sandy Oaks’ Passport Adventure

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A few of the French wines served at the Sandy Oaks Passport dinner.

It doesn’t involve a flight over the Atlantic — just a pleasant drive into the countryside south of San Antonio.

But, at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard’s upcoming dinners, you’ll experience wines, food and especially olive oils that abound in the Spanish region of La Rioja. (And, you’ll do so for one of the best wine dinner prices around — $35 per person.)

The next Passport Adventure at the orchard will feature not just dishes from Spain, but also wine, olive and olive oil tastings and information on the products that come from this famous area. The event will be held on two evenings, tonight and Saturday beginning at 7.

Harvest has just ended at the orchard, one of the first commercial olive-growing ventures to be established in Texas. Owned and operated by Saundra Winokur, Sandy Oaks is about 30 miles south of San Antonio, set in a peaceful farming area dotted by ancient live oaks.

Appetizer of crostini with goat cheese spread and tapenade, made of olives.

While Sandy Oaks is known for skin care products, olives and olive oil, and even olive leaf products, it also has cooking classes, tours and educational seminars — and lunches and dinners.

Tables are set as guests tour the olive orchard prior to the Provence dinner in August.

In August, the Passport Adventure Series drew a crowd to stylish setting in the ranch’s spacious barn. The theme was dinner in Provence, France. Chef Cathy Tarasovic, assisted by Cynthia Guido, led the cooking team in making and presenting a sumptuous meal with educational highlights.

While France isn’t a major producer of olive oils, its products are of high quality.  We tasted a series of the oils from Provence, noting the tastes and aromas, almost as one does with fine wines.

Tasting the oils, along with food, cheeses, olives and wines from the region, it was abundantly clear how agricultural products from a certain climate or region, grow up with a delicious, natural affinity for one another.

Summer flavors of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and more are served in this elegant version of the Provencal dish, Ratatouille

The meal included an appetizing presentation of the vegetable dish, Ratatouille. Summer vegetables were cooked in olive oil, drizzled with oil at the finish and beautifully garnished with microgreens and tomatoes.

The second course was Daube de Boeuf Provençal, an aromatic, slow-cooked dish of tender beef made with wine which was accompanied by a creamy purée of parsnips and potatoes. At the end of the meal, Almond Nougat and Calisson d’Aix were small, sweet bites that made a perfect finish.

While we learned wine names, olive types and brands of oils during the tasting, we didn’t have to take notes — these were provided by the Sandy Oaks team. And, the same materials will be handed out for the upcoming dinner in Rioja, Spain.

If you’d like to attend this next Passport Adventure Series, make your reservations by clicking here. Or, you can call Sandy Oaks at 210-621-0044.

Olives and cheese plates await one more type of cheese as they are set up in the Sandy Oaks kitchen.


Completed cheese plate, with olives.


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