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Finer Dining: Scotch Dinner, Passport New Zealand, Karbach at Boiler House


Scotch glass illustrationCrumpets’ Single Malt Scotch Tasting and Dinner

Join other lovers of single malt Scotches in this dinner and tasting at Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery on Friday, (Jan. 31) at 7 p.m.

Chef Francois Maeder will prepare each course to serve with a different Scotch. The menu includes: Aperitif — Oban 14 year; Glenkinchie 12 year served with Baked Brie; Talisker 10 year with Smoked Salmon Canapes; Cragganmore 12 year with Prociutto-stuffed Mushroom; Lagavulin 16 year with Lamb Chops with fresh rosemary and Dijon mustard; Dalwhinnie with Chocolate Florentine for dessert.

Reservations are required. The price is $55 per person plus tax and gratuity. Please call 210-821-5600. Crumpets is at 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road.

Sandy Oaks Passport Dinner sets sail for New Zealand

Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard invites you to come out and enjoy an evening of pairing olive oils, wines, cheeses and typical dishes that best display the gastronomic arts of some of the worlds finest olive-growing regions.

oliveoilThe next dinner features the food of New Zealand, renowned for its bountiful fresh produce, lamb and of course, olives and world-famous wines.

The dinner will be on Feb. 7, at Sandy Oaks, 25195 Mathis Road, Elmendorf. This is just a 25-minute drive from downtown San Antonio. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. and costs $65 per person. To make reservations call (210) 621-0044. For photos, information on the olive tree nursery, gift shop, the Kitchen at Sandy Oaks restaurant and more, visit the website at www.sandyoaks.com.

Boiler House has fun and Karbach on tap

Boiler House at the Pearl, 312 Pearl Parkway, is having a Karbach beer dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

In honor of the dinner, chef Jeff White has created five courses of playfully named dishes to go with the playfully named beers.

beer icyThey include Jonny’s Beer Nuts and Deconstruction Zone Pastrami Sandwich with duck pastrami and foie gras spread paired with Karbach Hopadillo Negro IPA, followed by Strong Man Chowder with Karbach Weekend Warrior Pale Ale.

That’s How Jeff Rolls, a lobster salad with cider beer bacon on a bun, will be served with Karbach Weisse Versa Wheat, while Pig in a Poke, melted pork shoulder, will be with Karbach Rodeo Clown Double IPA. An Ice Cream Manwich and the Karbach Hellfighter Imperial Porter close out the meal.

The price is $55 a person plus tax and tip. For reservations, call (210) 354-4644.

 

 

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Griffin to Go: Mac and Cheese Me, Please


What comfort macaroni and cheese brings.

The second annual San Antonio Cellar Classic drew hundreds to the Pearl Brewery Stables Saturday to sample a wide variety of wines that they could then take home at a discounted rate.

Taking tastes at the San Antonio Cellar Classic.

Shoppers looking to shore up their cellars with some age-worthy bottles or those just wanting to get an early start on holiday treats lined up before the doors opened and then lined up at the end to collect their purchases.

In between, there were dozens of wines poured alongside some small plates available from a series of restaurants, both established and soon to be on the dining scene, offering proof once again that fine wine loves great food.

A floral Terrazas Torrontés 2001 offered a nice balance to Feast chef Stefan Bowers shrimp ceviche, while Bending Branch’s new Cabernet Sauvignon and the Col Solare, Washington state’s answer to Italy’s Super Tuscans, both went well with sous vide flank steak from Jesse Perez’s upcoming Arcade. The tangy Ripa delle More 2008 from Castello Vicchiomaggio and veal polpette from chef James Moore’s soon-to-open Boiler House Texas Grill. Clint Connaway of Max’s Wine Dive offered a strata that was made for the Ruinart Rosé Champagne.

Jesse Perez plates his dish.

Urban Taco, NAO, the Bright Shawl, H-E-B and Ms. Chocolatier also offered treats ranging from flautas and gazpacho to salted caramel cake balls and red velvet cupcakes.

Cake balls.

While the guests were sipping and snacking to their hearts’ content, the real work was taking place in a corner under the staircase. Five of us had to judge seven different macaroni and cheese dishes from the participating restaurants. TV and web personality Tanji Patton, food writer Chris Dunn, Suzanne Taranto Etheredge of Culinaria, Lenny Friedman of Los #3 Dinners, which provided the great background music, and I were all set for the difficult task, while food writer Julia Celeste Rosenfeld served as tie-breaker, if one were needed.

How  do you judge macaroni and cheese, we asked ourselves. Quality of the pasta counts, of course. So does the nature of the cheese. Is it creamy and velvety? Does the cheese complement the rest of the ingredients? How well do the rest of the ingredients, whatever they may be, fit in with macaroni and cheese?

A judge reaches for a sample of macaroni and cheese.

The choices we were faced with ran the gamut from two made with bacon to one that featured duck confit and spinach. One was more like a casserole, in that that the meat took over, leaving the cheese in the dust. Some had breadcrumbs on top, others arrived under the protection of a crispy shield of cheese.

In the end, we were almost unanimous in our agreement that Feast’s Stefan Bowers had come up with a winner with his smoky, spicy mac and cheese with shishito peppers folded in. The smokiness carried over into the cheese. Not that the others were slouches by any means, but in Bower’s version, everything played together to provide that pure comfort that comes from a top-notch macaroni and cheese.

And the not-too-hot spice in the dish would have been perfect with the fruity Tortoise Creek Grenache Rosé d’Une Nuit 2011, a French rosé with a very New World label and approach.

Hard work, folks. Just be glad there are folks willing to sacrifice time and taste buds for a good cause.

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‘Wine and Food – Something We Can All Enjoy’


This Friday and Saturday brings  the second annual San Antonio Cellar Classic, sponsored by Max’s Wine Dive and the upcoming Boiler House Texas Grill.

More than 80 wineswill be poured during the event, which brings together additional restaurants, all in an effort to showcase how well wine pairs with food.

Max’s executive chef, James Moore, sat down recently with chef de cuisine Clint Connaway, wine sales manager David Hood and online wine director Greg Steiner to discuss the event.

Q: What wines will be featured at Cellar Classic?

Hood: We have one of the most carefully constructed wine lists in the city, with more than 150 varieties from around the world, and we’re always adding more wines to that list, some of which we’ll be debuting at Cellar Classic. We’re working with more Texas wines, like Bending Branch — we’re the only San Antonio restaurant where you can find them. There’s a lot going on with Texas wines. We’re seeing a departure from conventional varietals and more experimentation with reds and whites like Picpoul Blanc, Tannat and Petite Sirah. Texas wineries are looking at other parts of the world, matching soils and climate to what we have here and venturing into those areas. It’s not just Chardonnays or Cabernets — they’re playing it less safe and we’ve got some interesting things to feature for Cellar Classic.

We’re also adding more Spanish wines to our portfolio, and we’ll be featuring those at Cellar Classic. But people shouldn’t come to Cellar Classic just to taste one wine or because we’re featuring a certain winemaker — they should come because we’re featuring so many wines and winemakers, names they don’t know but will want to once they taste them.

Q: How do you select the wines for Cellar Classic?

Steiner: Our staff works with wineries, importers and distributors to see what’s available, what’s hot and what we like, and we select from there. We leverage our buying power to come across opportunities that others can’t offer and ultimately, the deals are terrific. Our volume drives great prices, so if someone tastes something they like at Cellar Classic, they can take it home for a great deal.

Our buying power also means that we have the chance to work with wineries to make specific requests — for instance, maybe we ask them to leave the wine in oak for a little longer, or they create labels specifically for us. At times, we’ll even buy out an entire vintage, so there’s no where else you can get that wine other than from us. We work so closely with them — our relationship with them is truly a partnership that can create unique wine finds for our guests.

And of course, we like to feature things that are unique and cool: we’ll be including a Vicius Albariño that’s been aged at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The movement of the ocean actually helps the aging process and there is an ever so slight impartation of ocean salt water flavor that finds its way into the cork and therefore in the wine which gives the wine an amazingly addictive salinity. The result is maybe the greatest bottle of Albariño wine you will find. That’s something you won’t see at a typical wine tasting! It’s also one of the reasons that Cellar Classic is great place to discover new wines to add to your collection or the perfect spot to start a collection of your own.

Q: Why does Cellar Classic feature food alongside the wine tasting?

Moore: Food and wine are the perfect marriage because they enhance each other so well. Characteristics in wine change the flavors and dynamic of food while you’re eating and food can bring out nuances in wine. Wine that might taste flat in one note changes when paired with the right food. The right pairing can make the wine more full-bodied and more dynamic. We wouldn’t think of doing a wine event without including food.

Q: What makes Cellar Classic so great?

Moore: Cellar Classic is helping establish and nurture a culture in San Antonio that hasn’t existed before — featuring food and wine in one event. Being such a wine-centric company, hosting an event of this nature allows us to share our exploration and appreciation of wines and how they accompany food.

Connaway: It’s far from the typical wine tasting. I’d say it’s the antithesis of the typical wine tasting. And it’s a window into what we do and what we’re about. Cellar Classic gets people out sampling wines in a cool atmosphere, outside of a restaurant setting in a fun, free-flowing event. Food, wine and music — it doesn’t get better than that. And you can take home the wines you like.

Hood: We’re in a unique position: we order and sell a lot of wine. In fact, we are one of the largest purchasers of wine in Texas, so we have the opportunity to feature wines that you wouldn’t see in other places. You can explore different grapes, different makers, and wines from different parts of the world all in one building. Cellar Classic lets us feature the unexpected and wines people haven’t had the chance to experience. And our team will walk you through what you taste and what to look for in the wines we’re featuring. It’s sampling wine and great food with very knowledgeable wine friends and even though it’s only the second year to hold it here in San Antonio, we know it’s already become a tradition.

Q: What are the rules of wine today?

Connaway: The idea of whites with fish and pork, reds with beef—all of that is gone. A really nice light red could go with salad or fish . . . the way we’re cooking these days, its more variety. At Max’s Wine Dive we have big, bold flavors, so you need wines that can stand up to that.

Of course, you can’t serve dessert wines with dinner, but as far as reds and whites, you could have a fish dish that’s blackened that goes well with red. There are Sauvignon Blancs that hold up to a steak dinner or a burger.

Moore: You have to pair based on the components and structures of the dishes, not because someone thinks you should. But you need to drink what you like: there are so many different wines and grapes; it’s about your preference and personal tastes.

Q: What’s the Cellar Classic Reserve Dinner?

Moore: The dinner is an opportunity to expand what we do every day — pair great food and wine — and raise it to a different level. With five courses, we can explore more pairings and flavors. It’s not just each course, but how the courses all work together.

Connaway: With five courses, it’s more expansive than what we normally do at Max’s, but it’s going to be fun to do that within the Max’s environment. It’s going to be something unexpected from us—we’re really looking forward to it. I like to heat things up with spices and then cool them down building up to the entrée. We may even toss in a palette cleanser with a surprise sixth dish. I like to mess around with the senses. Sweet and savory, hot and cold . . . it’s another play on juxtapositions which is what Max’s Wine Dive is all about.

Q: The Grand Tasting includes other restaurants rather than just featuring MAX’s and the new Boiler House Texas Grill. Why?

Moore: Events like this help expose more people to better restaurants, different cuisines, chefs they haven’t experienced, so we want to share this opportunity with other chefs and restaurants. This event is not about us, it’s about the culinary scene in San Antonio. An event like this can expose you to a wider audience. By including other establishments, it helps them gain exposure and talk about what other wines they have as well and maybe reach a different audience than what they may usually see.

Connaway: It’s a way we can work together to build more interest, support and appreciation of wine and food — something we can all enjoy. It’s also fun to get out of the kitchen, walk around the “yard,” visit with the other chefs, see what they are doing, and talk with our guests. Cellar Classic is a celebration of food and wine for the staff as well, we enjoy it just as much as our guests. San Antonio is a cool city and we need a food scene that matches that — Cellar Classic helps better define us as a destination for great food and wine.

San Antonio Cellar Classic’s reserve dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Max’s Wine Dive, 340 E. Basse Road. The price is $125 per person or $225 per couple and is limited to 40 guests. Saturday’s grand tasting is at the stable at the Pearl Brewery from 1 – 4 p.m. Wine, food and music will be available. Tickets are $40 per person for general admission or $90 per person for VIP. For more information, click here.

 

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