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Bruce Auden’s Cooking Up a Storm at the Gage This Weekend

Bruce Auden’s Cooking Up a Storm at the Gage This Weekend

The Gage Hotel

The Gage Hotel

No other time of the year lends itself to a road trip like summer. And what better destination than the Gage Hotel?

Located in Marathon, Texas (where it is usually about 10 degrees cooler than San Antonio temperatures) near Big Bend National Park, The Gage is a historic, mission-style hotel that will be hosting chef Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks on Saturday as a part of the “Grilling at the Gage” series.

Auden and his right hand man, chef Martin Stembera, will be cooking up a storm in the Gage’s kitchen and will be joined by Auden’s wife, Debra, who will be baking bread for the event. After dinner will be a performance from singer/songwriter Kelley Mickwee.

Auden’s menu is as follows:

–Hill Country wild boar cooked with Asian spices wrapped in lettuces with bean sprouts, cashews and spicy sauces

–Jerk Scallop with Texas cheesy grits and pineapple rum relish

–Bandera Quail and grapefruit salad with avocado, walnut and bleu cheese

–Axis Venison and Lamb on corn pudding with “massaged” kale, fig relish and juniper sauce

–Sticky Toffee Pudding with bourbon fruit and English Custard

For  more information, visit or call 800-884-GAGE.

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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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Les Dames d’Escoffier Bring Food, Film in Grand Style to Fundraiser

Les Dames d’Escoffier Bring Food, Film in Grand Style to Fundraiser

Meals on Reels table cropped

It was all glitter and pearls, top-notch auction items, perfect wine and food and a party to remember Thursday night as San Antonio’s chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s fundraiser filled a ballroom at the St. Anthony Hotel.

Meals on Reels, presented by members of the culinary organization for women, was one of this year’s events to bring in cash for scholarships and other support and opportunities for women who are in, or wish to become professionals in culinary pursuits of all kinds.

“It just went really smoothly, it was a great night, a really excellent collection of silent and live auction items – everyone did a great job,” said Les Dames President Kathy Shearer. She and restaurateur Dame Blanca Aldaco co-chaired the event. Debbie Gonzales, also a member of Les Dames and a manager at the St. Anthony, coordinated arrangements.

Planning began months ago, but the real push on site started a day ahead of the event as Dames and helpers set the stage, from auction room to banquet hall.

Grand Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Some 186 guests attended. The theme, Meals on Reels, was a posh take on a night at the Oscars. Tables gleamed with gray and aubergine linens, flowers, crystal candlesticks and swag bags. The entertainment was clips of foodie scenes from famous movies, shown on screens around the room and narrated by Dame Cynthia Guido and Ron Bechtol. The evening’s MCs were dames Tanji Patton and Leslie Komet Ausburn.

And of course, there was popcorn.

In the kitchen, St. Anthony Executive Chef Michael Mata and his staff cleared the way for Dames whose restaurant and cooking backgrounds prepared them to create and execute the ambitious menu Thursday night. The menu items matched those mentioned in the featured movies — ranging from Lobster Bisque and Grilled Quail to Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon.

Much of the prep work was done on Wednesday, under the guidance of Dame Naylene Dillingham, chef and owner of the renowned Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery in Tarpley.

Meals on Reels quail dish cropped

Grilled Quail with Silky Rose Petal Sauce

Dillingham was assisted by restaurateurs and chefs, including dames Nancy Fitch, Cathy Tarasovic, Lisa Wong, Jenny Mattingsly and Denise Mazel, as well as Central Market Cooking School Manager Mary Martini. Dessert was prepared by Dame Anne Ng, of Bakery Lorraine.

A group of five female culinary students from the Culinary Institute of America, enrolled in Dame Julia Rosenfeld’s writing class, also made an appearance. They, along with Rosenfeld, Cathy Tarasovic and I pitched in to help with the cheese course for the event.

Photographs by Susan Jaime and Bonnie Walker

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Silent auction items were collected by dames Di-Anna Arias and Erica Hanchey.

Live auction items, which provided fun later in the evening, included a one-week stay in a picturesque San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; a three-day culinary trip to New York for two, including dinner at the James Beard House; a chef-prepared dinner for 10 at Osteria Il Sogno in San Antonio; a private party for up to 30 people at the Don Strange Ranch; and a gourmet dinner prepared by members of Les Dames for 10 people at the home of Dame Pat Mozersky.

This fundraiser might be over, but the culinary expertise of this active local chapter of the international Les Dames d’Escoffier is planning another event, The Plate Changer,

for later this year.

About Les Dames d’Escoffier International: This year, Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Antonio Chapter (LDEI-SA), celebrates its Twentieth Anniversary. Our membership consists of dedicated professional women in the culinary arts, hospitality, agriculture, and other related fields. Our emphasis is on education and philanthropy and through our efforts, we are strengthening our community by following in the footsteps of legendary members both past and present from around the country such as Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Marcella Hazan, and Alice Waters. We are especially inspired and encouraged by our own chapter’s premier trail blazer and San Antonio star, Rosemary Kowalski, founder and CEO Emeritus of the RK Group.

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

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Wine, Spirits Notes: Hill Country Symposium, Wine Dinners, More

Wine, Spirits Notes: Hill Country Symposium, Wine Dinners, More

Fredericksburg hosts wine symposium

Highlighting the expanded goals for Texas Hill Country Wineries, the association will be hosting the first ever Hill Country Wine Symposium in 2015. Topics from vineyard to winery and business to hospitality will be covered over the two-day conference on March 24 and 25 at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg.

“Our committee has put together a great lineup of industry experts and we are expecting over 100 attendees from all over the state,” says Executive Director January Wiese. The Symposium is bringing in speakers from California including Clark Smith of WineSmith, Don Brady of Robert Hall Winery and Al Wagner of Clos du Val.

red wineTexas wine industry expert speakers include Fredrik Osterberg- Pedernales Cellars; Rae Wilson, Wine for the People; Tim Drake,  Drake Consulting; Dr. Julie Kuhlken, Pedernales Cellars; Dr. Russ Kane, Vintage Texas; Tammy Boatright and Lindsay Kana, VingDirect; Kimberly Frost, Martin Frost & Hill and more.

The Grape Exchange Wine Reception at the end of day 1 will be a chance for growers around the state to share wines from their vineyards with wineries looking for more fruit for 2015 and beyond.

Exhibitor tables will provide wineries and growers the opportunity to meet new vendors for their businesses as well. Sponsors for the Symposium include Hill Country University Center, C&C Sales & Marketing Glass Tech, Frost Bank and Marquee Event Group.

For more details and topics to be discussed, see here. Registration is open now. Non-members $125/one day or $200/both days.  For additional information on Texas Hill Country Wineries visit the website here.

McInnis joins Bending Branch Winery in Marketing

Bending Branch Winery is proud to announce that Jennifer McInnis has joined its team as the company’s marketing and sales manager. McInnis will be responsible for marketing initiatives, social media and on premise restaurant sales.

bendingbranchwinery_ corks 2021McInnis comes from the San Antonio Express-News, where she reported on the Texas wine industry for six years before being promoted to food & drink editor of the Sunday Taste section in April 2014.

“I am proud to join the Bending Branch team during this exciting time for the winery and the Texas wine industry. It’s impressive what they have accomplished in a little more than five years, and I’m thrilled to play a role in helping them achieve their goals for the future,” McInnis said.

Bending Branch Winery, a boutique winery near Comfort, Texas, is a sustainable practices and organically focused operation with 20 acres of vines, comprising 16 varieties. For more information, news and events, visit

Remy Martin Louis XIII dinner, a high-end experience

18 Oaks at the JW Marriott San Antonio will feature a rare and special dinner on Feb. 27. The steakhouse has partnered with Remy Martin for an exclusive Louis XIII Dinner Experience for a select number of guests.

Remy Martin box croppedGuests will dine on items such as a duck confit salad, Texas Wagyu filet and pan-seared scallops and a grapefruit mint sorbet paired with a perfectly matched wine selection.

Dinner, which starts at 7 p.m., will be followed by a guided tasting of Remy Martin’s Louis XIII.  18 Oaks at the JW Marriott is at  23808 Resort Parkway.

The price per person is $195 (includes dinner, wine and Louis XIII tasting).  Reservations are required; call 210-491-5825.


Single malt Scotch tasting coming up at Crumpets

When it comes to single malt scotch, age isn’t just a number; it’s the number that matters. Join Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery for an evening of elegant food and perfectly aged scotch on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Scotch glass illustrationEnjoy five single malt scotch selections paired with five equally rich dishes. Dinner will begin with a 12-year-old Glenkinchie paired with a Fromage de Chevre in Puff Pastry followed by a 16-year-old Lagavulin matched with Smoked Salmon Canapés.

The mid-dinner meal will include a 12-year-old Cragganmore and Prosciutto-Stuffed Mushroom followed by a 10-year-old Braichladdich and Lamb Chops with Fresh Rosemary and Dijon Mustard before dessert, Chocolate Florentine and a 14-year-old Oban.

Call 210-821-5600 to reserve your seat at $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery is located at 3920 Harry Wurzbach, San Antonio, TX, 78209.



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How Over the Top Are You Prepared to Go for Valentine’s Day?

How Over the Top Are You Prepared to Go for Valentine’s Day?

The cliché about everything being bigger in Texas may not always be true, but when it comes to Valentine’s Day at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, there’s no question.

ValentinesDinnerYou and your Valentine can immerse yourself in Texas-sized romance courtesy of the resort’s over-the-top Heart of the Hill Country Valentine’s dream package. It features a weekend stay at the resort’s Sunday House, a private residence on property; a private helicopter tour of the Texas Hill Country that includes a wine tasting in Fredericksburg; unlimited use of the resort’s Windflower – The Hill Country Spa; unlimited rounds of golf at Hill Country Golf Club; and a private, chef-prepared, personalized dinner for two at the Sunday House, as well as private executive limousine transportation to and from the resort to make your weekend worry-free.

Heart of the Hill Country is an exclusive offer available first-come, first-served for $5,000 and may be booked by calling Julie Sabor at (210) 509-1415 and mentioning offer code “DRMVA1”.

The resort is offering other packages that include guestroom accommodations with a Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and a rose petal welcome paired with a romantic dinner for two at Antlers Lodge.

For more information, call (210) 647-1234.


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Tre Enoteca, Shuck Shack on the Horizon for Dady Group

Tre Enoteca, Shuck Shack on the Horizon for Dady Group

From the Jason Dady Restaurant group come two new concepts geared towards families. Tre Enoteca and the Shuck Shack will be added to the Dady’s list of eateries this spring.

Tre Enoteca, a Tuscan ristorante that will be located at The Alley on Bitters Road, will feature house-made extruded dried pasta entrees, a mozzarella bar, as well as wood-fired pizzas and a bar program that features old- and new-world wines and signature craft cocktails.

Oysters on the half shell.

Oysters on the half shell.

The Shuck Shack, which will be close to downtown on Grayson Street, will offer oysters galore, as well as a great outdoor play area for the kids. With menu items like fish and chips, clam chowder a la minut, lobster rolls and oysters (both raw and baked) and a bar menu that will offer craft beers and carefully selected wines, guests can enjoy fresh, vibrant seafood with expertly paired drinks all in one location.

Both establishments will offer the fresh, creative cuisine the Dady Restaurant Group is known for, while keeping the atmospheres effortlessly balanced between elegant and family friendly.

Tre Enoteca

555 W. Bitters Road

Shuck Shack

520 E Grayson. St.


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Becker Wines: Hilltop Cafe Vintner Dinner; TX Winery Picks

Becker Wines: Hilltop Cafe Vintner Dinner; TX Winery Picks

Another dinner, with fine food, fun and great wine is scheduled in the Texas Hill Country, at the Hill Top Cafe outside of Fredericksburg on U.S. 87.

This Hill Top Café Vintner Dinner with Becker Vineyards will be Sunday, Jan. 25 beginning with a 5 p.m. reception.

Hill Top Neon SignProprietors Johnny and Brenda Nicholas will be welcoming guests during the reception before starting the several course dinner. Along with being co‐proprietor of the Hill Top Cafe, Brenda Nicholas is also the culinary director. She is creating the seasonal menu to pair with Becker wines. Also attending will be Johnny Nicholas and Drew and Laura Tallent.

Richard and Bunny Becker, proprietors of Becker Vineyards, and Nichole Bendele, public relations and Tasting Room coordinator for Becker Vineyards will also attend.

The dinner will be $75 plus tax and gratuity. The reception is at 5 p.m., dinner is at 5:30  p.m. For reservations, please contact the Hill Top Café at 830‐997‐8922. Or, email at

Menu and wines follow.

Reception:  Becker Vineyards’ 2013 Provenςal

First Course: Duck Confit Spring Rolls served with C-4 Ranch Beet Greens with Becker Vineyards’ 2012 Autumno (60 percent Merlot, 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon)

Second Course:  Sunshine Honey Bee Farms Mixed Greens with C-4 Ranch Beets, Texas Rio Star Grapefruit, Texas Chevre, Lightly Toasted Native Pecans and Prickly Pear Vinaigrette with Becker Vineyards’ 2012 (50 percent Barbera, 50 percent Merlot)

Third Course: Bandera Semi Boneless Quail stuffed with Louisiana Crawfish Dressing and served with C-4 ranch Roasted Winter Vegetables with Becker Vineyards’ 2012 Raven (75 percent Malbec, 25 percent Petite Verdot)

Grilled Gulf Catch of the day with Sweet Ginger Chimichurri with Becker Vineyards’ 2013 White Wing (Sauvignon Blanc)

Fourth Course: Brenda’s Dark Chocolate Valrhona Cake and Chantilly Cream with Becker Vineyards’ 2012 Primavera (70 percent Merlot, 30 percent Syrah)


Becker, McPherson make top 101 winery list from

Becker Vineyards 2013 Provencal croppedTwo Texas wineries made the “101 Best Wineries in America” list released by Microsoft’s

At No. 87 was McPherson Cellars, in Lubbock. Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, was No. 93.

Check out the rest of the list here.



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The Witte Wants to Help You Stick to Those New Year’s Resolutions

The Witte Wants to Help You Stick to Those New Year’s Resolutions

The Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway, wants to help you stick to those resolutions to eat better this year. So, they’re offering a little help from a local chef as part of Salud! Culinary Nights, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14.

culinary nightsThe tasty and interactive evening will feature chef Zach Lutton, executive chef of Zedric’s Fit With Flavor, which has two San Antonio locations. He’ll be offering healthy foods for the new year: Zedric’s Chicken Tortilla Soup with an Avocado Relish, Pecan Crusted Chicken with Brown Rice Pilaf and Ratatouille with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Organic Peanut Butter Chocolate Chews with Fresh Berries.

Enjoy conversation with tips for a healthier, new you while sipping wine from Bending Branch Winery that has been paired with each menu item. Bending Branch Winery is a sustainable practice and organically focused operation with award-winning wines, including their Petite Sirah, Picpoul Blanc, Cabernet and more.

Set in the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Demonstration Kitchen in the brand new H-E-B Body Adventure Powered by University Health System, Salud! Culinary Nights programs continue the H-E-B Body Adventure’s mission to provide the community with healthy lifestyle alternatives through local chefs and a diverse array of cuisines and topics focusing on empowerment, health IQ and wellness. Meet local chefs, farmers, ranchers and food historians in an intimate setting as they present information, history and stories about the selected Salud! Culinary Nights menu.

Each program will also feature a wine, beer or cocktail pairing from Texas winemakers, brewers and mixologists.

This class is limited to 60 guests per evening and tickets start at $50 per person, $45 for Witte members and include a souvenir wine glass. For more information, call (210) 357-1910 or visit

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The Yard Welcomes Farmers & Ranchers Market

The Yard Welcomes Farmers & Ranchers Market

A collection of colorful canopies, organic veggies, food and drink and best of all a good crowd welcomed the new Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market to their new location Sunday.

Yard crowd dogs croppedHeather Hunter and David Lent, founders of what just last week was called the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market, were glad to have not missed a beat in the transition to the new location about 1.3 miles away in Olmos Park at The Yard, 5300 McCullough Ave.

Most of their vendors came along with them, setting up shop in a space behind the coffee shop, Olmos Perk.

“I didn’t even know these were back here,” said one woman, holding her child with one hand and her dog by the leash with the other, looking at the collection of shops and eateries at the back of the lot set in a series of boxcars.

A group of culinary students sampled sausage sandwiches and more from Ming’s Thing as they sat on nearby steps and La Panaderia had sold out of its tortas before noon.

The only blip in the smooth move came with some shoppers having trouble parking, said Hunter.

“But, we’re working on that and expect to have more space by next week,” she said.

Patricia Meier, left, discusses the new farmers market venue at Olmos Park with vendor Jon Badger.

Patricia Meier, left, discusses the new farmers market venue at The Yard with vendor Jon Badger.

In fact, at the nearby Shudde Ranch Beef booth, the chairwoman of the Olmos Park Planning and Zoning Commission, Patricia Meier, was discussing solutions with vendor Jon Badger. Having the farmers market at The Yard, she says, fits right into a larger picture of plans for the area.

“We are trying to make this area, along McCullough, become a go-to place, not a get-through place,” she said. She says already neighboring businesses along the street have offered parking at their businesses for the overflow.

She also pitched the idea that a shuttle might be a possibility, to bring shoppers parked down the street to the market and take them back to their cars.

Despite any initial issues, Badger was positive. “For opening day this is good,” he said.

The farmers market had been at the Alamo Quarry Shopping Center for more than 3 years, but they were abruptly asked to find a new home by the owners a few weeks ago. Hunter and Lent were showered with a number of good options to consider and at the time their goal was to make the move “without a hiccup.”

On Sunday, they were relieved that not only did that happen, but it happened in an area appears to want to support them.

“We’re really focused on making this viable,” said Meier.

Heather Hunter, co-founder of what is newly named The Yard Farmers and Ranchers Market sells her Cowgirl Granola at the market.

Heather Hunter, co-founder of what is newly named The Yard Farmers and Ranchers Market sells her Cowgirl Granola at the market.


Yard Culinary Students cropped

Culinary students take a break on the steps of one of the boxcar shops at The Yard Sunday.


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Tamales at Pearl Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Tamales at Pearl Celebrates 5th Anniversary

The fifth annual Tamales! Holiday Festival returns to Pearl on Dec. 6, noon to 6 p.m.

Sponsored by Cadillac, C.H. Guenther, H-E-B, and Silver Eagle, the event offers guests an afternoon of savory tastes, great sounds, and sights of the holiday season.

Tamales at Pearl 2013 Tray“In its fifth year, the Tamales! Holiday Festival has evolved into a holiday celebration for the city of San Antonio and beyond,” said Pearl’s chief marketing officer Elizabeth Fauerso. “It’s so amazing to see people from all over Texas come together for a day full of entertainment, culture, and cuisine.”

Unlike in the past four years, this year’s festivities will not include the tamale-making competition.

“Due to a smaller footprint, and a lot of logistical complexity due to activity and construction on site and the opening of the hotel, we have put the contest on hold for this year,” said Shelley Grieshaber, culinary director of Pearl.

Guests will be able to explore a full range of tamales from more than 20 different tamales vendors, ranging from traditional San Antonio classics to South American and everything in between as culinary students, restaurants and chefs showcase a blend of innovative twists and classic techniques with tamales.

While savoring the treats on hand, guests will also be entertained by live music from the all-star Selena tribute band, Bidi Bidi Banda, and Grammy award-winning Max Baca & Los Texmaniacs at the Pearl amphitheater. For the little ones, there will be a crafts and activities area, presented by The Do Seum, where kids can create corn-husk dolls, participate in fun games and more.

The event is free and open to the public, no ticket necessary. Food and beverage prices range from $1 to $5 per vendor and there will be ATMs available on site.

Pearl is located at 303 Pearl Parkway in San Antonio, Texas. For more information about Tamales! Holiday Festival at Pearl please visit here.

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