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San Antonio Cocktail Conference Premieres


A world of cocktails exists beyond martinis, margaritas and Manhattans. And during the next four days, San Antonio will  be welcoming a host of mixologists, expert bartenders and other libations luminaries to the city. The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is the first of its kind in Texas and will kick off tonight with a splash at the Opening Night Soiree at Bohanan’s, from 7 to midnight.

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is based on the popular Manhattan Cocktail Classic and New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail. The evenings are devoted to parties, of course, but a full, varied schedule of classes from experts in the business are available throughout the conference.  To see the complete list of events and classes, availability and to register, visit the conference’s website.

Friday will bring the first day of classes to the conference—with 14 seminars dedicated to a variety of lessons in cocktail creation offered at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel throughout the day.

“We are hosting some of the best bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts from across the United States and as far away as Australia and Italy ,” explains Scott Becker , general manager of Bohanan’s Restaurant & Bar. “With this kind of world-class talent, the cocktail education experience is sure to be unmatched.”

 

 

It all goes toward a good time, but there’s also has a higher purpose. It is a benefit for HeartGift, an organization that comprises surgeons, pediatric cardiologists, medical personnel and volunteers, and host families, all dedicated to providing  life-saving heart surgery to disadvantaged children. These are youngsters who live in developing countries where specialized treatment is scarce or nonexistent.

Since its establishment in 2000, HeartGift has helped more than 120 children in 22 countries on five continents. For more information about HeartGift, visit the website by clicking here.

At tonight’s opening event, representatives from a number of brands of spirits will be hosting nine bars, making 18 specialty cocktails. And, look forward to some lively bidding on a Fender Stratocaster autographed by all of the band members of Journey. These proceeds, too, will go to HeartGift.

On Friday, start the party with Rio San Antonio Cruises, which will launch from a tiki party at the El Tropicano Hotel. The boats will serve as taxis, providing cocktails and a ride along the San Antonio River, to and from Soho Wine & Martini Bar and Ocho Lounge at the Havana.

On Saturday, it’s the Original Cocktail Competition, hosted by Fee Brothers Bitters and Red Bull at Bohanan’s; the Esquire Tavern hosts the Saturday Night Soiree. On Sunday, it’s brunch at the Gunther Hotel, sponsored by Cinco Vodka.

Click here for three interesting cocktail recipes to make on your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City-wide Cocktail Conference — For a Good Cause


Bohanan’s Restaurant and Bar will be pouring its heart out for a top-shelf cause during the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference to benefit HeartGift.

The fun kicks off at Bohanan’s Restaurant and Bar Thursday, January 26, and concludes with a Bloody Mary Brunch Sunday, January 29, 2012. In between there will be plenty of tastings, seminars and events, all designed to combine cocktail culture education with fun.

“This is not a cocktail festival, it is a cocktail conference,” says Bohanan’s bar manager Carlos Faz. “Fun though it may be, the necessary ingredient of a cocktail conference is that it takes the form of education on the art of classic cocktails, and provides information and instruction for those interested in learning more about the craft.”

Proceeds from the four-day event will benefit HeartGift, a group of surgeons, pediatric cardiologists, medical personnel, volunteers and host families who are dedicated to providing life saving heart surgery to disadvantaged children in developing countries where specialized treatment is scarce or nonexistent. Since its establishment in 2000, HeartGift has helped more than 120 children in 22 countries on five continents.

Presented by Bohanan’s, Soho Wine & Martini Bar, Ocho Lounge at Hotel Havana, The Esquire Tavern and Rio San Antonio Cruises, the event is modeled on the successful Manhattan Cocktail Classic and New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail Event.

The first of its kind in Texas, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference will bring together an impressive list of experts in the fields of classic cocktails, liquors and more. It is sponsored by Republic National Distributing Company and Sheraton Gunter Hotel.

The schedule for the classes and gala can be found at www.sacocktailconference.com.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online. Prices are $30 for a class and $50 for an evening soiree.

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Fralo’s Plans to Add Microbrewery, Plus Eating Vegan and More


Artful pizzas at Fralo's that taste as good as they look.

Fralo’s Art of Pizza, 23651 I-10 W., is expanding at its Leon Springs location.

Owner Frank Hakspiel says he has purchased microbrewery equipment from Sea World and plans to open his own brewery on the property in the spring. The microbrewer from Sea World has agreed to help him get started once the equipment has been moved to the site.

He has already named one of the beers, Grant’s Pale Ale, for his infant son. Grant’s name is also on the caramelized pear and prosciutto pizza the restaurant offers.

Hakspiel is also talking about adding a second restaurant next door. It would offer high-end Italian food prepared by former Il Sogno chef Luca Della Casa, who has been working at the restaurant, making all of the revamped pasta dishes and providing specials each weekend. “He makes all of the pasta,” Hakspiel says.

Della Casa has also added a Torino pizza — Italian sausage, chicken, arugula, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and provolone cheese with a spicy tomato sauce — that was named after his home region in Italy. Torino is also a possibility for the name of the new restaurant, Hakspiel says.

Isn't she a beauty? Fralo's is going to transform her into a catering truck.

As if all that weren’t enough, Hakspiel has plans for the 1940s-era fire truck he has on the property. He plans on adding an oven to the back of the truck and use it for catering. Kids of any age who have played with a miniature fire truck should love having the real thing at a party.

We learned this over a wonderful lunch at Fralo’s with vegan travel blogger Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, who produces and writes HealthyVoyager.com. She was able to get a vegan pizza that she declared one of the five  best she has ever had. In keeping with Fralo’s ongoing desire to please a multitude of tastes and diets, the restaurant also offers gluten-free and whole wheat crusts as well as an off-the-menu feature of a miniature pizza made on a portobello mushroom for those who are avoiding flour.

For more information about Fralo’s, call 210-698-6616 or click here.

 

Exploring more vegan options

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton and her husband, Dan Hamilton: Healthy Voyagers at Fralo's.

Other restaurants Scott-Hamilton and her husband, Dan Hamilton, also her cameraman, visited during their stay were Mi Tierra, the Cove and Adelante. She described the latter, with its riot of color and collection of whimsical Mexican folk art as looking “like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.”

The couple are from Los Angeles and were here on a Convention and Visitors Bureau trip for travel writers. A Boston blogger who writes about women traveling alone and an Orange County mom who writes about traveling with her kids were also invited. All three were part of teams that competed against each other in a series of events that ranged from feeding the lorikeets at the zoo to lassoing a statue of a cow. On Sunday, in the heat, the couple found themselves running from the Tower of the Americas to the Alamo, where they had to start a conga line and encourage as many participants as they could to join in.

If you’re wondering why Scott-Hamilton and her husband didn’t go to Green, Pavani Express or the city’s new vegan restaurant, Vegeria, which opened last week at 8407 Broadway, it’s because she likes to focus her trips on restaurants where vegans are welcome, even if the place is not entirely vegan.

At the Cove, she was able to get the Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger and a Vegan BLT along with a gluten-free beer before heading off to First Friday.

If you are looking for vegan food and are unsure if a restaurant can accommodate your tastes, give it a call first and ask. It’s as simple as that.

Wine Spectator honors area restaurants

Wine Spectator magazine has released its annual roundup of restaurants with excellent wine lists. New this year is Antlers Lodge at the Hyatt Hill Country, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive.

Others to make the list are Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, Biga on the Banks, Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, Coco Chocolate Lounge, Fleming’s, Fogo de Chão, Francesca’s at Sunset, Kirby’s, Las Ramblas, Morton’s the Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Silo, the Melting Pot, the Palm and Wildfish Seafood Grille.

The importance of the list has been debated, but despite any faults, it does bring in customers, which is why you’ll find a restaurant like Morton’s unveiling a new program, the Sommelier Selections of its wine list. This area includes boutique wines and rare gems that include Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain 2005) and Freemark Abbey Cabernet (Napa 2002), which are available only at Morton’s domestic locations.

Wine on tap

We always thought wine sales would go up if you could get a great glass without having to buy the full bottle. This is the secret behind the Boerne Wine Company, 302 S. Main St., Boerne, where you can try such top-shelf wines as PlumpJack and Palmaz by the glass from their dispenser systems that keep an open bottle fresher for longer period of time.

Now, Boston.com is reporting that a few wineries are selling their best by tap. “That’s right, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir from kegs, not bottles, dispensed from a tap like beer and ale,” the article says. “The approach promises to remake restaurant by-the-glass programs by lowering costs, dramatically reducing waste (wine in open bottles deteriorates rapidly), and making the whole process considerably greener. … But a switch won’t happen overnight.”

Costs, of course, are a factor. But if this catches on, it will be a revolution in wine and dining.

 

 

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Treat Dad to a Father’s Day Dinner He’ll Love


End your Father's Day dinner at Morton's with the Legendary Chocolate Cake.

Father’s Day is June 19 this year, which is just around the corner. Don’t make Dad grill in this sweltering heat. Take him out for brunch or dinner. Several of the restaurants featured below are offering gifts in addition to the meals.

Reservations are appreciated unless otherwise stated. Prices do not include tax or tip.

Auden’s Kitchen, 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., 210-494-0070 — Father’s Day brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with dinner from 3 to 9 p.m. The regular menus will be offered along with the following specials: Venison Sausage Pizza with roasted red peppers, grilled fennel and more; and a Beer-marinated 16-ounce Bone-in New York Strip with Horseradish Mashers and Grilled Asparagus. The cocktail of the day will be Lynchburg Lemonade while the beer special is the Black & Tan.

Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, 219 E. Houston St.,  (210) 472-2600 — On Father’s Day, Bohanan’s will feature its full menu, starting at 5 p.m. In addition, all dads will receive a package of golf balls. www.bohanans.com

Crumpets, 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, 210-821-5600 — Chef Francois Maeder is giving Dad a brunch with live music and a host of options during brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Start with an appetizer, such as puff pastry with wine mushroom sauce, Scottish smoked salmon or mousse truffle pâté. Main course options include shrimp salad on avocado, eggs Benedict, chicken breast with Champagne sauce, veal scaloppini with mushroom cognac sauce, fresh rainbow trout amandine, or tenderloin of beef with green peppercorn sauce. The Trilogy, a combination featuring tenderloin of beef Rossini, lobster tail and rack of lamb Provençal, will also be available. All entrées are served with an appetizer, house salad, vegetables, breads, dessert, coffee or iced tea and wine or Champagne. A children’s menu is available for those under 10 years of age. Crumpets will also be open 5-9 p.m. that day for dinner.  www.crumpetsa.com

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Hwy., 210-822-3358 — Two breakfast specials are offered on Father’s Day: Blueberry Pancakes (three thins or two buttermilk), one egg, hash browns, and two slices of bacon or two house-made sausage patties ($10) and an Orange or Cranberry Mimosa ($7). Lunch and dinner specials  include Fried Buffalo Wings, usually reserved for special events or private dining, will be an appetizer; Baby Back Ribs with Earl Abel’s own homemade barbecue sauce; and a Fisherman’s Platter with fried shrimp, fried catfish and homemade hush puppies.  Boston Crème and the Coconut Cream pie are among the special desserts of the day. The lunch and dinner specials will be available after the end of breakfast service, which is 11 a.m. The breakfast specials are available all day, 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, 255 E. Basse Road, 210-824-9463 — A three-course brunch special will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Father’s Day in addition to the regular menu. Dad will receive a $25 dining card for a future return visit to the restaurant.

Las Canarias, La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., 210-518-1063 — On Father’s Day, Las Canarias will serve its Champagne Brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Among the items on the buffet: Applewood-smoked Bacon, country breakfast sausage, chilaquiles, eggs Benedict, Canadian bacon, Vanilla Malt Pancakes and Waffles, chef-prepared omelets, European charcutiere, Ricotta Cheese Tortellini, Bluebonnet Heirloom Tomatoes, Grass-fed Beef Tartare, Green Melon Gazpacho, and Blackened Chicken Penne Pasta. Cost: $49.95 for adults and $24.95 for children ages 6-12. Regular dining will begin at 5:30 p.m.

The Lion and Rose, various locations — Father’s Day brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Some of the favorites from the menu include eggs Benedict, Irish Hash and Eggs, the Breakfast Burger and Wimbledon French Toast. Drink specials include:  Mimosa, $3.49; Bloody Mary, $3; Irish Bulldog $5; Pimm’s Royal, $4.99; and Pimm’s Punch $4.99. thelionandrose.com

Lüke, 175 E. Houston St., 210-227-5853 — The restaurant is offering a three-course tasting menu for Father’s Day. It will be available during brunch and dinner. Each course is paired with a 5-ounce beer.  Appetizer choices are either Spicy Crawfish Pies and the Alamo Golden Ale or Potato Gnocchi with ham hock, local beans and mustard with Ranger Creek South Texas Lager. Entrée options are Potato-crusted Stuffed Soft Shell Crab over Pearl Market vegetables with Breckenridge Agave Wheat or South Texas Heritage Pork Shoulder Steak and frites with Ranger Creek La Bestia Amiable Strong Ale. Dessert is Rhew Orchards Peach Upside-down Cake with sour cream ice cream and Tripel Karmeliet Abbey Ale. Cost: $40.

Mariposa Restaurant, Nieman-Marcus in the Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Pkwy., 210-694-3550 — Brunch will be served on Father’s Day from noon to 4 p.m. In addition to the regular menu, specials will include Ranchero Steak and Eggs ($20), Braised Short Ribs with grits and roasted chipotle sauce ($20) and Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with avocado ($20).

Texas de Brazil is ready to serve a host of meats for Father's Day.

Max’s Wine Dive, 340 East Basse Road, Suite 101, 210-444-9547 — Celebrate Father’s Day with the Ultimate Baconator (braised pork belly, applewood smoked bacon, white cheddar cheese, and garlic aioli with heirloom tomatoes and more sandwiched between grilled New World bakery sourdough bread for $15), Roasted Garlic-Studded Prime Rib with bone marrow au jus for $25 and Max’s Giant Smore for $9. Plenty of wine specials for Dad are also offered. maxswinedive.com

Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., 210-228-0700 — The Father’s Day special begins with choice of a soup or salad: Baked Five Onion Soup Crusted with Swiss Cheese, Caesar Salad or Center-cut Iceberg. Main course choices include  Double Cut Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce, New York Strip Steak, Cajun Ribeye Steak, Broiled Salmon Fillet with Beurre Blanc Sauce and Chicken Christopher with Garlic Beurre Blanc Sauce. Choose a vegetable or potato side dish and end with either Carrot Cake or Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake. Cost: $69 a person. Full menu also available.

Ostra, Mokara Hotel and Spa, 212 W. Crockett St., 210-396-5817 — Ostra’s regular à la carte menu will be available during breakfast and lunch on Father’s Day. Featured specials will be offered during dinner service beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Texas de Brazil, 313 East Houston St., 210-299-1600 — In celebration of Father’s Day, Texas de Brazil will open at 11 a.m. with its full dinner menu and will showcase a display of unique motorcycles and exotic cars for Dad to view along with his meal. The traditional cuts beef, pork, chicken and Brazilian sausage will be offered alongside the salad bar with more than 50 items.

Tre Trattoria Downtown 401 S. Alamo St. 210-223-0401. Dad will love the $5 Bloody Marys and hearty brunch items like Tuscan Steak and Eggs or Breakfast Pizza with roasted potato, red pepper, cilantro, red onion and scrambled eggs at Tre Trattoria Downtown.  Located in the historic Fairmount hotel across from Hemisfair Park, Chef Jason Dady’s Tuscan Italian restaurant will be open this Father’s Day at 10 a.m. for brunch and will begin dinner service at 5 p.m. Reservations are recommended by calling the phone number above; walk-ins are also welcome.

Two Bros BBQ Market 12650 West Ave. 210-496-0222 — Celebrate Father’s Day with beef ribs and specials for buckets of beer, in addition to the full menu of classic Texas barbecue featuring slow smoked brisket and homemade sides.  Open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.,  (210) 493-1600 — Wildfish has several specials for Father’s Day beginning at 5 p.m. The steak and lobster specials start at $44 for an 8-ounce filet and a half broiled and stuffed Maine lobster.  Wines on the cellar list will be offered at 25 percent off.  Plus, all fathers will receive a $25 gift card for a future visit. www.wildfishseafoodgrille.com

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, Suite 25100. 210-690-3334 — Z’Tejas will offer $5 bonus cards for every $25 gift card purchase through June 19. Bonus cards, up to two per visit, may be redeemed June 20 -July 31. Father’s Day brunch will be served from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The weekend fun bar, featuring make-your-own Bloody Marys and mimosas for $3.50, will be available. Reservations not required. sanantonio.ztejas.com.

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Refreshing Watermelon a Trendy Ingredient This Season


Watermelon with strawberries, cilantro pearls and black sesame sponge bread from the RK Group.

What’s not to love about watermelon, especially when it is in season and bursting with refreshing flavor? It’s perfect for a picnic or great alongside a plate of just-grilled meats.

This year, more and more local chefs are using watermelon in salads and entrêes in ways that go far beyond the norm. Chef John Brand of La Mansión del Rio and Ostra on the River Walk served slabs of watermelon alongside hamachi sashimi during a recent Culinaria luncheon at Becker Vineyards, while The Monterey served it in a salad with feta cheese, dried olive and heirloom tomatoes.

The great thing about most of these recipes is that you can make them at home, layering the ingredients mentioned to your taste. Think about a watermelon margarita with a touch of lime, tequila and just a hint of orange liqueur mixed with watermelon juice and ice to your taste.

At a recent fundraiser for HeartGift, five chefs from around the city made various dishes pairing watermelon with everything from jumbo shrimp cocktail with watermelon from Cabo Seafood to a watermelon pavé with cilantro pearls and black sesame sponge cake from the RK Group. Heather Nañez of Bohanan’s seared hamachi and topped with a watermelon salsa, while Patricia Wenckus of Auden’s Kitchen crisped up prosciutto, adding a little salty flavor that the fruit seems to love.

Damien Watel of Bistro Vatel offered up an elegant, easy salad, the recipe for which appears below.

Watermelon margaritas

HeartGift is a San Antonio charity that flies children with congenital heart defects from around the world here so that they can be operated on for free. The event raised $23,000. According to HeartGift executive director Cathy Siegel, “Our spring season of events offered guests an opportunity to participate in a series of fine dining adventures while providing the gift of life-saving heart surgery to a child from a country where treatment is unavailable or inaccessible. With the success of this series of events, we are now able to bring another child to San Antonio for heart surgery.”

For more on HeartGift, click here.

What do you like to do with watermelon? Add a cube or two to a vodka martini? Serve it with fried shrimp? Smoke it in your barbecue pit? (It has been done.) Post your favorite ideas below.

Damien Watel’s Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

Watermelon cubes, to taste
Ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces similar in size to the watermelon, to taste

Damien Watel's Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Rice wine vinegar, to taste
Basil or flat-leaf parsley, to taste
Salt, to taste (optional)

Mix watermelon and tomatoes. Sprinkle feta on top. Drizzle olive oil and a touch of rice wine vinegar. Garnish with some microgreen herbs, such as basil, or finely chopped basil or parsley, to taste. Salt, if desired.

Adapted from Damien Watel

 

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You Gotta Help HeartGift


Jordan Asiimwe, a child helped by HeartGift San Antonio (center), is joined by Joseph Baker (from left), Deborah Miller, Rodrigo Ugartechea and Heather Nanez.

Five San Antonio chefs are getting together Thursday to prepare a multi-course dinner to benefit HeartGift San Antonio, a charity that helps children with heart defects.

Each of the chefs will be preparing a course with watermelon as an ingredient.

The chefs and their dishes include:

  • Heather Nañez of Bohanan’s with Yucatan-style Seared Hamachi and an assorted melon salsa and sour orange vinaigrette
  • Damien Watel of Bistro Vatel with Watermelon, Grape Tomato and Feta Salad.
  • Rodrigo Ugartechea of Cabo Seafood + Bar with Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail plus watermelon tartare, passion fruit with cilantro sauce and crispy rice noodles
  • Patricia Wenckus of Auden’s Kitchen with Watermelon and Prosciutto Salad with goat cheese and basil
  • Joseph Baker of the RK Group with Watermelon Pavé, strawberry dice, cilantro caviar, black sesame micro-sponge cake.

Jordan Asiimwe, a 1-year-old heart surgery patient from Uganda, will be the special guest of the evening. He underwent heart surgery last week, thanks to HeartGift and will be on hand to receive a special cake from Baker.

HeartGift San Antonio brings children from around the world to San Antonio for free surgery to correct life-threatening heart defects.

Tickets for the event are $125 a person. The event is at the home of Deborah and Morris Miller, 777 East Olmos Drive.  For reservations, call Cathy at HeartGift, 210-299-7666.

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What’s Shakin’ This Fiesta? Some Fun Cocktails


Want to keep that Fiesta spirit going? Try one of these cocktails from several restaurants around town. Two come from Bohanan’s Bar, 219 E. Houston St.; a third comes from Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.; and the last from Roaring Fork, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W.

Have fun playing around with the ingredients so you get the drink you’d like. That could mean a little more ginger beer in one, a little less Tabasco sauce in another. And enjoy.

Fiesta Medal-icious

Fiesta Medal-icious

½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ¼ ounces aged rum
Ginger beer
Lime wedge

Pour lime juice and rum in a Collins glass filled with ice.  Fill with ginger beer.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar

FiestaTail

FiestaTail

7/8 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce sugar
2 ounces gin
Mint leaves

In an ice-filled shaker, add lime juice, sugar and gin. Pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with mint leaves, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar

WildFiestaFishTini

WildFiestaFishTini

Cucumber slices, peeled
Lime juice
Olive juice
Rain Cucumber Vodka
Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Bud Light
Cucumber slices, cocktail onion and blue cheese-stuffed olive for garnish

Take a shaker with a little ice, cucumbers, lime juice and olive juice, and muddle together. Fill shaker with ice, add Rain Cucumber Vodka, Zing Zang, a splash of Worcestershire and Tabasco, to taste. Shake well. Serve in a salted rim martini glass with a Bud Light on the side.

Garnish with cucumber, cocktail onion, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive flag.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Wildfish Seafood Grille

Roaring Fork Sangrita

Roaring Fork Sangrita

10 ounces frozen margarita
Roaring Fork Red Sangria (recipe below)
Lime wedge, orange wedge and cherry for garnish

Red Sangria:
4 ounces red wine
2 ounces raspberry purée
2 ounces huckleberry purée or blueberry purée

Take a glass with 10 ounces of frozen margarita in it. Swirl in red sangria. Garnish with lime, orange and cherry.

To make Red Sangria, mix wine and purées.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Roaring Fork

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Welcome 2011 with Parties, Special Menus


New Year’s Eve parties abound in the Alamo City, with restaurants happy to help you raise a toast to 2011. Special menus, Champagne toasts and even fireworks are part of the plans available.

Reservations are necessary unless otherwise noted. And remember not to drink and drive.

Aldaco’s at Sunset Station, 100 E. Hoefgen St., 210-222-2561 — Ring in the new year with a three-course dinner beginning with caldo Tlalpeño with jumbo lump crab or  Tres Maria’s Wedge Salad, followed by your choice of lime-marinated grilled chicken breast over  angel hair pasta with roasted poblano alfredo or grilled rib-eye steak and papas bravas. Dinner concludes with Mexican bread pudding or Mexican hot chocolate with pan de polvo. The cost is $44.95 per person, including a Champagne toast and party favors. aldacos.net

Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., 210-225-0722 — New Year’s Eve seatings will be before  9 p.m. and after 9 p.m. The five-course menu includes some of the following options: lobster bisque, smoky duck breast salad, seared natural scallops, grilled beef tenderloin, rosemary-braised lamb shank, grass-fed veal chop and preserved lemon-roasted poussin. The cost is $100 a person plus tax and tip. The restaurant will be open New Year’s Day but will be closed Jan. 3-7.

Bin 555, Artisans Alley, 555 W. Bitters Road, 210-496-0555 — A five-course dinner is planned with seatings beginning at 6 p.m. Some of the items on the menu include sweet potato soup, Texas quail roulade, seared duck breast with foie gras-chestnut purée, and wood-oven roasted New York strip. Cost is $80 a person or $110 paired with wines. Tax and 18-percent tip not included. Full bar available. Open New Year’s Day.

Bohanan’s, 219 E. Houston St., 210-472-2600 — On New Year’s Eve, the bar will be open its regular hours of 11 a.m.-2 a.m. The restaurant upstairs will be open 5 p.m.-midnight with the regular dinner menu and holiday specials.

Brannon’s Cafe, Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway, 210-558-6500 —  The New Year’s Eve special dinner, from 5 to 10 p.m., will feature four courses for $59 a person. The menu includes sweet potato gnocchi with cinnamon crème fraîche, followed by a Year’s End Salad with torched avocado, compressed English cucumber and petite lettuces with a serrano and mint vinaigrette. The main course is a choice of prime strip steak with Hoppin’ John Mashed Potatoes or pan-seared wreck fish with smoked okra and pancetta risotto. The finale is Before Your Resolution Chocolate Cake with dark chocolate genoise, mint cream and chocolate buttercream. The regular menu will also be available.

Coco Chocolate Lounge, 18402 U.S. 281 N., 210-557-9927 — Three different New Year’s Eve parties are planned for different areas with a Midnight in Vegas theme. One is a five-course dinner with a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight. Live music from Nic Dante and Stan Wayne Band. Cost: $75 a person. Coco XO will offer a video DJ and dancing all night. The cost per table starts at $500 and includes three bottles. The Coco Lounge Patio offers hip hop and an R&B DJ. The cost per table starts at $350 and includes two bottles. There is also a VIP party pass with access to all three parties.

The County Line, 111 W. Crockett St., 210-229-1941 — The River Walk restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-11  p.m or later depending on the crowds. Reservations are not accepted. Closed New Year’s Day.

The County Line, 10101 I-10 W., 210-631-1998 — The barbecue restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Reservations accepted.

Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery, 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, 210-821-5600  — New Year’s Eve seatings start at 5:30 p.m. Entrées are served with appetizer, cup of soup or salad as well as vegetable and dessert. Appetizers include mousse truffle pâté, stuffed artichoke and  Nova Scotia smoked salmon. Soups: New England clam chowder and cream of mushroom. Entrée options, at various prices, include chicken breast with Montrachet  sauce, rainbow trout, Shrimp  Lyonnaise, Beef Wellington, salmon, veal scalloppini, and a Trilogy of lobster tail, rack of lamb and beef tenderloin. (No coupons accepted.) www.crumpetsa.com

814 A Texas Bistro, 713 High St., Comfort, 830-995-4990 — Closed for lunch Dec. 31. There will be two seatings in the evening at 6 and 9 p.m. The four-course prix-fixe menu is offered for $65 a person. Closed Jan. 1-4. Regular hours resume Jan. 5.

Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St., 210-227-1700 — New Year’s Eve hours are 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. for lunch and 5-10:30 p.m. for dinner. New Year’s Day hours are 4:30-10:00 p.m. The cost is $24.50 for lunch, $42.50 for dinner and $19.50 for salad bar only.

Francesca’s at Sunset, Westin la Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway, 210-558-2253 — Ring in the new year with a tribute to Andy Warhol by Dom Perignon. The evening includes a multi-course luxury Pop Art-inspired menu from chef Ernie Estrada plus a glass of Moët and Chandon Imperial and Dom Pérignon’s Cuvée Andy Warhol. Door prizes and other activities planned. Cost is $125 a person plus tax and tip.

Frederick’s Bistro, 14439 N.W. Military Hwy., 210-888-1500 — New Year’s Eve hours begin at 6 p.m. The special four-course dinner includes the following entrée options: pomegranate-glazed duck breast, beef tournedo Rossini, sea bass and jumbo lump crab meat Napoleon, and grilled Maine lobster on a nest of spicy linguini. The cost is $70 plus tax and tip. www.fredericksbistro.com

Frederick’s Restaurant, 7701 Broadway, 210-828-9050 — New Year’s Eve hours begin at 6 p.m. The special four-course dinner includes the following entrée options: pomegranate-glazed duck breast, beef tournedo Rossini, sea bass and jumbo lump crab meat Napoleon, and grilled Maine lobster on a nest of spicy linguini. The cost is $70 plus tax and tip. www.frederickssa.com

The Gazebo at Los Patios, 2015 N.E. Loop 410, 210-655-6171 — New Year’s Eve hours are 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. A holiday special is chicken breast stuffed with roasted bell peppers, spinach and ricotta cheese, served with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables for $9.95. There a different kids’ menu available for $6.95.  Closed New Year’s Day. www.lospatios.com

Godai Sushi Bistro, 4553 N. Loop 1604 W., 210-492-9262 — Dinner service is available 5-9:15 p.m. New Year’s Eve. The party begins at 10 p.m. with food, music and dancing. Included in the cost of $55 a person is a split of Champagne, party favors, an all-you-can-eat appetizer bar including sushi and a dance floor with music. There will also be specials running at the bar all night. E-mail yonggoro@yahoo.com.

Hotel Valencia, 150 E. Houston St., 210-227-9700, ext. 8412 — The party will be in the Vbar and Verona Ballroom. Vbar will feature a DJ while the band in the ballroom will play favorites from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The dinner buffet will include an ice sculpture, sushi and carving stations and be served from 8 p.m. to midnight. The party continues until 2 a.m. Cost is $100 per adult age 21 or older and includes a Champagne welcome, two drinks, and access to all food stations. www.hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com

Hyatt Hill Country, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, 210-647-1234 — The resort is offering a New Year’s package for a family of four. For $369, you get a smokehouse barbecue dinner for two adults and two children, a carnival, a family dance with live music, fireworks with synchronized music and a New Year’s Day breakfast buffet.  New Year’s Day events include a FunZone for kids.

Hyatt Regency, 123 Losoya St., 210-222-1234 — The New Year’s Eve celebration includes a part in the ballroom as well as a room for two. The menu includes standing prime rib of beef, Scottish salmon baked in puff pastry, braised veal loin, salads, artisan cheeses and desserts. The cost is $399 a couple.

JW Marriott, 23808 Resort Parkway, 210-225-0462 — The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the New Year’s celebration, which runs 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. The evening will include cocktails, dinner, dancing, live entertainment and a Champagne toast at midnight. Cost is $150 a person if reservations are made before Dec. 17 or $175 if made after that date.

Las Canarias, La Mansión del Rio, 112 College St., 210-518-1063 — The restaurant will offer a 5-course and a 9-course prix fixe menu for New Year’s, available from 5:30 to 11 p.m. A live band with dancing and party favors will be available after 9 p.m. The cost of the 5-course menu is $100 a person while the 9-course menu costs $150 a person. Price includes a Champagne toast, but not tax, tip or other drinks.   On New Year’s Day, the restaurant will offer a buffet from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The price of the buffet is $26.95 ($13.50 for children, ages 5-12 years) and includes juice and coffee, but not tax, tip or alcoholic beverages. À la carte dining will be available from 1 to 10:30 p.m. Click here.

Limestone Grille, Ye Kendall Inn, 128 W. Blanco, Boerne, 830-249-2138 — The New Year’s Eve menu, served from 5 to 10 p.m., is a multi-course meal with appetizer, salad, and choice  of the following: herb-crusted Angus prime rib, prickly pear and herb-marinated duck breast, pistachio-crusted chicken, grilled mahi-mahi, prosciutto and provolone stuffed pepper-crusted veal chop, and surf and turf (the latter with a $9 surcharge). Dessert is a white and dark chocolate mousse tuxedo cup. Cost is $65 a person plus tax and tip. The hotel is hosting a separate New Year’s party. See details below. www.yekendallinn.com

The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, 1746 Lockhill Selma Road, 210-349-8466 —The Lodge will be celebrating its 10th New Year’s Eve with a six-course menu featuring a number of choices. Seatings begin at 5:30 p.m. A few of the dishes include seared diver sea scallop with celery heart-onion “salad” and “truffle syrup,” rabbit saddle with melted leeks, pan-seared Moroccan salmon, cast iron-seared beef tenderloin with smoked bone marrow pudding. Cost: $100 per person or $150 paired with wines. Tax and 20-percent tip not included. Full bar available. Open New Year’s Day.

Max’s Wine Dive, 340 E. Basse Road, Suite 101, 210-444-9547 — On New Year’s Eve, the restaurant is offering the following specials in addition to its regular menu: Fresh Bacon ‘n’ Beans ($15),  Potato Latke ($17),  Foie Gras Pain Perdu ($19), Max’s Ultimate Foie Gras Kobe Burger ($29),  Veal Osso Buco ($32), Filet Mignon ($38),  and Tres Leches Baked Alaska ($12).

Mike’s in the Village, 2355-3 Bulverde Road, Bulverde, 830-438-2747 — New Year’s Eve hours are 5-9 p.m. The special menu begins with Maine Lobster Bisque with Sherry, followed by a choice of  Pear Salad with Maytag Blue Cheese or House Salad with Craisins, Montrachet Goat Cheese and Roasted Almonds. The third course is a choice of  Dijon Mustard, Pecan and Herb Crusted Lamb Chops, Black Angus Filet au Poivre or Pan-seared Halibut. Dessert choices are  Pistachio-crusted Chocolate Truffles, White Chocolate Bread Pudding or Vanilla Bean Crème Brule with Raspberry Sauce. Live jazz from the Phil Grota Trio. Cost is $75 a person.

Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia, 218 Produce Row, 210-225-1262  — The restaurant is open 24 hours on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Reservations not accepted.

Ostra, Mokara Hotel and Spa, 212 W. Crockett St., 210-396-5817 — The restaurant will offer its regular menu from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Paesanos Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., 210-227-2782 — New Year’s Eve seatings are at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. The multiple-course meal includes entrée choices of Shrimp Paesano, ahi tuna ceviche style, pan-seared sea bass in truffle butter, herb-crusted filet mignon, Parmesan-crusted chicken breast and cheese tortellini.  The cost of the 6 p.m. is $42.95 for adults or $24.95 for children ages 9 or younger. The cost for the 8 and 10 p.m. seatings is $58.95 per adult or $24.95 for children ages 9 or younger. Tax and 20-percent tip not included. www.prg-sa.com

Q on the Riverwalk, Hyatt Regency, 123 Losoya St., 210-222-1234 — The three-course New Year’s Eve menu is served 7-10 p.m. Choices include either am élange of fresh wintergreens tossed with spiced pecans, feta and pink grapefruit or fresh lobster bisque. Entrée options include standing rib roast of Angus beef, fire-grilled filet of salmon or roasted breast of chicken with chevre. Dessert is a New Year’s Eve chocolate trio. The cost is $100 per couple. Complimentary self‐parking available at the Central Parking garage located across from the hotel.

Restaurant Insignia, Fairmount Hotel, 4o1 S. Alamo St., 210-223-0401 — The restaurant is in perfect proximity for the New Year’s celebration at Hemisfair Park with seatings at 7 and 10 p.m. The New Year’s Eve dinner will feature a six-course menu with some of the following options: lobster bisque, king crab risotto, cast iron-seared beef tenderloin and seared duck breast. Cost is $90 per person and $30 extra with wine pairings. Tax and tip not included. (The 7 p.m. seating must be over by 9:45 p.m.) Full bar available until 2 a.m. Open New Year’s Day. restaurantinsignia.com

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 1170 E. Commerce St., 210-227-8847; 7720 Jones Maltsberger Road, 210-821-5051 — The New Year’s Eve parties bring a multi-course meal starting with a choice of appetizer, followed by choice of soup or salad. Entrée choices include filet mignon, rib-eye, stuffed chicken breast or Hong Kong sea bass, each complemented by a 6-ounce lobster tail. Dessert choices close out the meal. Cost is $89 a person plus tax and tip.

Silo, 1133 Austin Hwy., 210-824-8686 — A three-course dinner for $55 a person is available for those who dine before 6:15 p.m. Four courses for $90 a person is available for dining after 6:45 p.m. Entrée options include grilled  and roasted duck breast with duck confit leg, grilled beef tenderloin, pistachio-crusted Gulf snapper, grilled Australian rack of lamb and whole Maine lobster carbonara.

Thai Dee, 5307 Blanco Road, 210-342-3622 — The restaurant will be open noon-9 p.m.  New Year’s Day. Reservations not needed.

Tre Trattoria, 4003 Broadway, 210-805-0333 — Tre Trattoria will host a six-course menu with seatings beginning at 6 p.m. A few of the options include foie gras pastrami with pear mostarda, pan-seared gnocchi with creamy gorgonzola and honeycrisp apples pangrattato, spaghetti amatriciana with house-cured guanciale, local cabrito with polenta, and seared ahi tuna with puttanesca. Cost is $60 a person, $90 paired with wines. Tax and 18-percent tip not included. Full bar available. Open New Year’s Day.

Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, 210-483-7600 — There will be two New Year’s Eve seatings at 6 and 9:30 p.m. for a four-course dinner. The first course includes a variety of choices such as a Mango Avocado Lobster Tower or a Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. Second course includes Heart of Romaine with Artisan Brie or Tarragon-crusted Caribbean Lobster Tail. Saffron Vanilla Maine Lobster is one of the entrée options served prior to a dessert course that includes Chocolate Indulgence Trio among the choices. At the first seating the cost is $75 for the meal. At the second, it costs $95 for the meal paired with Louis Roederer Champagne.

The Wine Cellar at Zinc Bistro, 207 N. Presa St., 210-224-1313 — Zinc provides an intimate setting to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style with a wine-paired five-course dinner beginning at 8 p.m., with the opening of a 2000 Roederer L’Ermitage sparkler from Anderson Valley, Calif., offered with Oregon mushroom duxelles in sour cream tartlets and other appetizers.  At 8:30 p.m., the starters will be followed by a pot pie filled with cold water lobster and wild mushrooms in a sherry and lobster bisque and offered with a Montaudon Rosé Champagne NV from Reims, France.  A 2008 Melville Estate Pinot Noir accompanies the pomegranate and horseradish-glazed quail salad with arugula, frisee and a tangerine vinaigrette. The main course is a choice of Niman Ranch herb-crusted rack of lamb with a chipotle Bordelaise or a center-cut strip sirloin with Portobello compound butter. The wine is a 2006 Cenay Blue Tooth Vineyard Cabernet from the Napa Valley.  A glass of Grahams 10-Year-Old Tawny Port will accompany dessert, a winter-spiced molten chocolate cake with sugared raspberries and Sabyon sauce. Tthere will Champagne at midnight. Limited reservations. Cost: $100 per person.

Ye Kendall Inn, 128 W. Blanco, Boerne, 830-249-2138 — The New Year’s Party begins at 7:30 p.m. with an hors d’oeuvres and dinner buffet, bottle of wine (per couple), live entertainment with the Mo-Dels, dancing, party favors, Champagne toast, black-eyed peas and cornbread. The cost is $79 a person plus tax and tip.  www.yekendallinn.com

Z’Tejas, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, 210-690-3334 — The restaurant is offering a three-course special Dec. 31-Jan. 2. The first course is Baja Shrimp Cocktail, followed by a choice of Z Salad, tortilla soup, soup of the day or Southwestern Caesar Salad. The third course is a choice of prime rib ($34.99) or Fresh Chilean Sea Bass on Papillotte ($41.99).

Zuni Grill, 223 Losoya St., 210-227-0864 — New Year’s Eve seatings are at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. The multiple-course meal includes entrée choices of Shrimp Paesano, pan-seared salmon, prime sirloin chimichurri, grilled chicken Tuscany pasta and grilled vegetable fajitas. The children’s menu  includes a burger or chicken tenders, both with fries. The cost for the 6 p.m. seating is $39.95 per adult or $19.95 per child ages 9 or younger. Cost for the 8 and 10 p.m. seatings is $49.95 per adult or $19.95 for children ages 9 or younger. Tax and 20-percent tip not included. www.prg-sa.com

Restaurateurs, if you are not included on this list e-mail info@savorsa.com and we will update the list.

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Bohanan’s Dresses Up Latkes for Hanukkah


Latkes come in a host of flavors at Bohanan's.

Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, 219 E. Houston St., is sparkling for the Festival of Lights this year.

The restaurant is celebrating Hanukkah by serving up a series of gourmet latkes paired with an international array of vodkas.

“This seemed like a very natural pairing because both latkes and vodka are made from potatoes,” chef and owner Mark Bohanan says. “We have hand-selected premium vodkas that will complement the flavors of the latkes beautifully.”

The five-course latke sampler starts with a potato and caraway latke with Gruyère, green apple and garnished with roasted beet purée. It’s is partnered with Chopin Vodka from Poland. Another Polish vodka, Ultimate, is paired with a celery leaf and potato latke topped with house-cured salmon, crème fraîche and fresh dill before being finished with salmon roe.

Potato and fennel latkes with oven-roasted  San Marzano tomatoes and black pepper are served topped with California Reserve White Sturgeon. Zodiac Vodka from Idaho is on the side. Potato and red onion latkes with cucumber tzatziki and Hackleback American Caviar are paired with Luksusowa Vodka from Poland. Finally, traditional latkes with ossetra caviar are served with Monopolowa Vodka from Austria.

The traditional latkes are on the regular menu Dec. 1-8. To arrange a tasting of the gourmet latkes with the vodka for parties of 10 or more, call 210-885-0538. The cost of the tasting is $65 a person. Click here for more information.

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Chefs’ Corner: Bohanan’s Traditional Hanukkah Latkes


Bohanan's Traditional Hanukkah Latkes

Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, 219 E. Houston St., is getting into the holiday spirit by offering a series of gourmet latkes for Hanukkah. Beets, caraway seeds, fennel and red onion are among the ingredients used to dress up the traditional fried potato cakes.

“This is my favorite time of the year,” chef Mark Bohanan says. “I love pulling out all the stops.”

If you prefer to celebrate at home, the kitchen at Bohanan’s is happy to help by providing the following recipe to make your Festival of Lights more joyous.

Bohanan’s Traditional Hanukkah Latkes

1 large baking potato, peeled
1/2 small white onion
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon flour
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Oil for pan frying
Sour cream, for garnish
Fresh cut chives, for garnish
Ossetra caviar, for garnish

On a box grater, grate the potato and onion into a bowl.

Squeeze out excess liquid and place the dry potato/onion mixture back into the bowl.

Add egg, parsley, flour, salt and pepper; mix well.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a heavy skillet to 325  degrees.

Add 1/2 cup mounds of potato/onion mixture to the hot oil and flatten down to 3/4-inch thick pancakes.

Cook for 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp.

Remove from oil and allow to drain on papper towels.

Serve topped with sour cream (mixed with horseradish, to taste), fresh cut chives and ossetra caviar, if desired.

Makes 4 to 5 latkes.

From Heather Nañez/Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood

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