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Griffin to Go: A Saturday Filled with Savory Aromas, Flavors


Tellez Tamales serves a hot tamal at the Pearl Brewery.

What’s better than one food-filled event? A day with three, of course.

A paella gift basket at GauchoGourmet.

Such was the case Saturday.

It began in the late morning with a trip to GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road, where Bonnie Walker and I were signing copies of “Food Lovers’ Guide to San Antonio” (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95) while managing to get in a little Christmas shopping at the same time.

The gourmet warehouse is a fun place to find everything from stocking stuffers to full-scale gifts, and the Ciorciari family will gladly package your items for you. They offer an assortment of gift baskets, too, which you can stock with everything from Spanish fig jam or a bottle of Cuisine Perel Spicy Pecan Vinegar. If you want to let them do the picking for you, you can get any number of themed baskets, such as the paella assortment, which comes with everything from rice to chorizo arranged in a pan to cook it in.

Dirk Troop

GauchoGourmet brings together food lovers from all backgrounds and offers them the chance to talk about their favorite topic. Philippe Wilhelm from the Westin La Cantera brought in the resort’s new executive chef, Dirk Troop. The chef, who is from Puerto Rico and who spoke at the Culinary Institute of America’s Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conferences a few years ago, mentioned that he wanted to meet the area’s farmers, so it was his good fortune that Heather Hunter and David Lent of the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market happened to be there as well and took the opportunity to talk.

Leslie Garcia of the Rockhill Cooking Academy dropped by, as did food writer Ron Bechtol and a number of people who mentioned how much they enjoy the pleasures of cooking at home. Out front was the Primo Passo Pizzeria truck, which was dishing out plenty of pies, many of which feature ingredients from the store.

What tamales are your favorite?

From there, it was on to the Pearl Brewery, where the third annual Tamales! Holiday Festival had taken over a large portion of the property. The lot in back was filled with tamales from the likes of Tellez on South General McMullen, Los Reyes from Castroville Road and Tejas Barbacoa of Bandera Road in Helotes.

Out by the Lab Building, there were more tamales from Tamahli on Wurzbach Road and Paloma Blanca on Broadway. For those who could only eat so many tamales, there were also dishes such as a fiery posole from Jesse T. Perez’s upcoming Arcade Midtown Kitchen, which should be open after the first of the year in the Pearl, and sopes from Citrus’ Jeff Balfour. He heaped the corn cake with shrimp and an achiote coleslaw. The aroma of the corn cakes frying in a paella pan at the back of booth provided its own intoxicating element.

At the tequila tasting.

Those in search of liquid intoxicants could be found in a lengthy line that curved out of the Stables, where a tequila tasting was being offered. El Milagro, 1800 and Tanteo Jalapeño were all part of the lineup.

Thousands of people packed the area, filling the walkways under strands of brightly colored papeles picados and giving the whole event the feeling of being an autumn version of A Night in Old San Antonio.

Coffee from around the world.

La Villita, the regular home of NIOSA, was busy hosting its own event, the San Antonio Coffee Festival, which you could smell long before you arrived on the scene. A number of coffee roasters were on hand to grind, brew and pour all manner of coffee to the energetic crowd. Seminars on everything from iced coffee to civet cat coffee were on the menu, but the tastings were what caught people’s fancy.

Discussions of certain brew’s acidity levels, aromas and aftertastes were reminiscent of the talk at wine tastings and were delivered with the same vigor. And even though temperatures were in the 80s during the afternoon, hot cups of joe made with beans from countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Kenya and Costa Rica were consumed by most everyone present.

It was a great way to finish off a day filled with fine flavors.

Fine brews fill the San Antonio Coffee Festival.

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Burgers, BBQ and Beer — a Match Made in San Antonio Heaven


Michael Alvarez of the Grand Hyatt offers braised beef on a wheat bun.

Culinaria wound up five days of celebrating the finest in San Antonio food and spirits scene with an event that is tailored made for Texan tastes: Burgers, BBQ and Beer.

Sure, some wine and alcohol were thrown for good measure, but the highlights for the hundreds who thronged to the Pearl Brewery were treats such as the Wagyu beef burgers and lobster rolls that John Brand’s team from Las Canarias and Ostra served up.

Chef Jesse Perez of the upcoming Arcade restaurant offered up a chorizo burger, while Steve Warner of Two Step Restaurant served pulled pork with slaw on a buttery bun. Chef Michael Flores from Sur la Table offered pulled pork, too, but he complemented his with pulled shrimp.

John Brand is engulfed in smoke as he prepares burgers.

Jeff Balfour of Citrus won fans with a decidedly different rabbit burger with cheese and Dijon mustard; the bottles of Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale that he and his staff used to fight off the heat were not chosen because of the meat, Balfour said with a laugh. Shere Henrici of the Rolling Pig had an Asian-influenced sweet and sour pork dish with peanuts adding crunch to the sauce.

Michael Alvarez was part of the Grand Hyatt team, which  served up three-day braised beef with house-made giardinara and a raspberry gelatin  shooter that had a touch of chocolate in it.

The array of burgers included patties made of sausage, venison and other meats came from the likes of Magnolia Pancake Haus, the Esquire Tavern and EZ’s, while barbecue came from Ben E. Keith and Q on the Riverwalk among others.

For those who partied a little too much the previous night at the Grand Tasting or wherever the party may have been, Jason Dady offered Bloody Mary’s with a smoky barbecue flavor.

Pet the possum? Sure, just not around the head.

Bakery Lorraine and Flour Power were among those offering sweets, with macarons in several flavors, brownies, cookies and cake bites drawing snackers of all ages.

For those in search of something a little different, Kameron Bean of Wild Times Edutainment brought a possum, a hedgehog and a non-fragrant skunk for people to pet. The shaded area drew plenty of interested visitors, as did the mister area, which helped take an edge off the warm day.

The sun made an icy beer all the more welcome, as Culinaria closed out its festival season on a high note.

 

 

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A Grand Tasting with Room to Spare


Chef Jesse Perez talks with patrons at the Grand Tasting.

Culinaria’s Grand Tasting, sponsored by Ambhar Tequila Saturday night, was a grand mix of glitz and glamor, side-by-side with  a casual ambience that gave the event more the feeling of a gathering of friends. Where last year’s event was something of a noisy mob scene, this year’s audience was scaled down, with plenty of space to mingle, taste and talk.

The food, while small in scale in terms of portion size offered diversity as well as a great variety of flavors, from tenderest breaded calamari with a sweet and sour sauce from Citrus to Jesse Perez’s scrumptious albondiga on an unexpected base of creamy white bean hummus; from molecular sorcery to whole-grain cookies. Within a few steps you could down a tiny, open-faced meatloaf slider from the JW Marriott, then sip a watermelon-based gazpacho with seafood from 20nine.

Culinaria CEO Suzanne Taranto Etheredge (left) and Jenny Niemann enjoy the Grand Tasting.

While strolling through the grotto area under the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, we found plenty of treats to love, including the strips of tender beef in a cognac cream sauce, served on a rich spoonful of mashed potatoes from Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse. The restaurant also offered dessert right at the next table — three delicious varieties of hand-rolled chocolate truffles — chile, tangerine and walnut.

Chef Steven McHugh, of Lüke San Antonio presented a colorful, updated chicken salad, sans mayonnaise, but bursting with flavors from tiny tomatoes, sprouts, mini-croutons and a light, spiky dressing.

Peeler Farms chicken in a salad from Luke San Antonio.

Chicken tinga tostadas from Paloma Blanca and Chile en Nogada from Picante Grill were among the Mexican flavors of the evening, while Jason Dady offered a tequila ice made in a smoky bowl of dry ice.  It was a fun feat of molecular cooking, though his Thai-infused treat of coconut, curry and various spices tasted even better.

Chef Jason Dady swirls some dry ice to cool off his drink.

Flour Power Cafe and Lux were among those offering sweets to finish off the tasting.

Numerous other restaurants and wineries kept patrons happy, while the lines moved quickly, whether they were after food or wine, tequila or beer. An icy glass of Kim Crawford Saugivnon Blanc from New Zealand, a chilled California Chardonnay from  J. Lohr and some Hogue Cabernet Sauvignon with winery founder Gary Hogue himself on hand were some of the wines on hand, while Ambhar offered tastes of silver, reposado and añejo tequilas and explanations to guide you through what makes each special.

And again the weather cooperated with the event, providing a gentle breeze.

Culinaria’s 2012 festival concludes Sunday with Burgers, BBQ and Beer at the Pearl Brewery. Click here for details.

Flour Power Cafe offer tastes of several varieties of cakes

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The Texas Version of the Three B’s: Burgers, BBQ and Beer


Esquire Bar owner Chris Hill looks on while guests sample a burger.

The tangy aromas of smoke and meat were in the air, as the sun shone brightly on Burgers, BBQ and Beer, Culinaria’s last event of a highly popular 2011 festival.

How popular? Many events sold out and, at Saturday night’s Grand Tasting the Culinaria store was bought out. “No more T-shirts, nothing left. That’s amazing,” said Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, president and CEO of the festival.

By noon Sunday, the parking lot at the back of the Pearl Brewery was filling up with people drawn in by the scents of smoke, bacon frying and just-opened bottles of beer. As part of the ticket price, hundreds of festival-goers were able to pick up some of the city’s most innovative, chef-cooked burgers and not-your-everyday ‘cue. The perfect weather was thrown in at no added cost.

You could even shop. Melissa Guerra’s stand offered a few items from her store, including $69 leather huaraches in a startling shade of purple.  Her Tienda de Cocina offers Mexican cooking supplies, ingredients, dishes, cookbooks and more.

Or, you could stop at Al’s Gourmet Nuts where author Travis Poling was signing his book on Texas brews, “Beer Across Texas.” The event also  marked the beginning of the first ever San Antonio Beer Week. Click here for information on this series of events.

Oyster barbecuer "Moose" offers bivalves in a spicy sauce on the half shell.

Stephen McHugh, chef at Lüke on East Houston Street, and his crew, served barbecued oysters on the half shell accompanied by an herb-buttered crouton. The bivalve, simmering in spicy juices, went down easily with sips of cold beer. The Two Bros. team of Jason Dady and Jake Dady offered their spicy pork deshabrada, or pulled pork. Ben E. Keith invited one and all to sample conventionally pit-smoked fajitas, bacon-wrapped jalapeños, beef tenderloin and chicken, with all the trimmings. Jesse Perez brought out his smoker and prepared meaty chicken drumsticks in what he called an “old school” barbecue with chipotle and a touch of habanero, another recipe that called for the clean, refreshing taste of an icy beer.

Patricia Wenckus, chef at Auden's Kitchen, with Perny Shea, catering and sales manager.

Patricia Wenckus, chef at Auden’s Kitchen in Stone Oak, and Perny Shea, catering and sales manager for chef Bruce Auden at Biga on the Bank, put up a good fight against smoke pouring off the grill. “It doesn’t matter where I go, it’s coming after me,” said Wenkus, laughing. Her offering of the day was a lamb burger with handmade potato chips on the side.  Chef John Brand from Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio was grilling Wagyu beef sliders, with toppings that ranged from yellow cheese and pickles to black truffle mayo and foie gras mousse.

Jeff Balfour of Citrus created this pork boudin burger with pickled shrimp slaw.

Beef and lamb weren’t the red meats of choice for burgers at the event, however. Shrimp and pork burgers were passed out. Two of the most popular burgers were pork, including Jeff Balfour’s pork boudin sausage burger topped with pickled shrimp in a tangy coleslaw mix.  Another grilled pork burger was topped with brisket bacon, a smoky-beefy-chewy and delicious creation from the JW Marriott.

Brian West of Las Ramblas in the Hotel Contessa served up a mixed seafood burger with crispy salmon skin.

Timbo’s, located next to the Pearl Brewery complex, is known for its big burgers. But that wasn’t on its menu Sunday. The restaurant offered its delectable Shypoke Eggs with tomato melted under the cheese.

Max, a standard poodle, waits for a treat at the Pearl amphitheater.

Next to the parking lot, the amphitheater overlooking the Museum Extension of the River Walk was a comfortable resting place for weary moms and dads or anyone wanting to get out of the sun while sipping on an icy mix of locally made Dripping Springs vodka and cranberry juice. A few even got up to dance to the music of Ken Little and Rodeo Ho Ho, and even the pooches on leashes got a few tastes of some of the festival fare — if they were lucky.

Though the festival ended Sunday, more stand-alone Culinaria events will be happening later this year. For a look at what is coming up, go to www.culinariasa.com.

Photographs by Bonnie Walker

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Lines, Food, Spirits, Fun and More Lines


Barbara Hunt serves up a Mediterranean-style sandwich from Boardwalk Bistro.

Culinaria’s Grand Tasting is always an occasion for sampling excellent fare from the area’s best restaurants, fine wines and other spirits. But Saturday’s sold-out gathering was also a chance to mix and mingle with thousands of others while enjoying the evening.

Often that was while waiting in line for the likes of Jeff Balfour’s braised oxtail tostada from Citrus and John Brand’s combination of oysters from Ostra and pork belly from Las Canarias.

Guest chef Susana Trilling (right) from Oaxaca talks with Culinaria's director of development, Ginger McAnear.

It was the first time Ben Dorris had ever tried an oyster, but he braved a briny bivalve with friends Joe Carreon and Vanessa Jauer. He was not impressed with the texture, but his friends, who have had a little more oyster-eating experience, were.

The evening’s sponsor, Ambhar Tequila, offered samples of their silver, reposado and añejo tequilas as well as cocktails for those who wanted something in addition to the vast array of wines on hand. These ranged from the crisp Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet to the silky elegance of the Chalone Pinot Noir. Bottles of Belgian beer Stella Artois disappeared quickly during the balmy evening.

Diane Wiltz is one of the volunteers pouring wine at the Grand Tasting.

The long lines meant some restaurants had to stretch the food they brought, though each of the chefs and their restaurants brought enough for 1,500 servings. Barbara Hunt of Boardwalk Bistro started out serving a Mediterranean-style sandwich with lamb. When the lamb ran out, it became a vegetarian sandwich with a roasted tomato and some tzatziki sauce adding such bold flavors that no one really missed the meat.

Shea Ash of the Peach Cafe in Boerne handed out several treats, including a mini-muffuletta with olive salad from her business partner Nancy Fitch’s restaurant, the Pomegranate in Artisans Alley.

Guest chefs included Nordic chef Trine Hahnemann as well as Susana Trilling of Oaxaca, who hopes to have her new line of culinary products, including mole enhancers and salt from her region of Mexico, in area stores soon.

Chocolate truffles from Kirby’s and cake from Flour Power Cafe were among the choice desserts for those with a sweet tooth.

Long lines greet chef Jason Dady each year.

The longest lines were those waiting to sample the multi-course mini-meal prepared by Jason Dady’s restaurant group. As he has done in the past, Dady offered samples of dishes that represent his restaurants, which include the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, Bin 555, Tre Trattoria, Two Bros. BBQ and the DUKTruck.

Shredded flank steak with a molasses-Shiner Bock barbecue sauce and a bright coriander-based pickle on top, a Mediterranean tossed salad, smoked deviled eggs with crab meat and cheesecake were among the various treats he served.

It took 22 members of his staff to keep the plates moving and to offer guests a personal explanation of what each dish was.

Lines were so long at Dady’s booth that the chef stayed more than an hour after the event ended to make sure everyone still waiting in line got to taste what he had to offer. We ran into Dady at The Monterey shortly before midnight where he was treating his staff to a late meal for the hard work they’d done.

Photographs by Bonnie Walker.

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It’s Tacos and Tequila Time!


A Paloma Blanca server carves the meat for tacos al pastor at Best of Mexico.

What’s hot? Mexican street food. Tequila.

For evidence look no further than Culinaria’s Best of Mexico where mini-tacos of all flavors were served up to hungry throngs who just couldn’t get enough and the tequila flowed like a river.

Marioli of Stone Oak offered a pair of tacos with rajas in a cream sauce in one and al pastor with a habanero salsa in another. Paloma Blanca of Broadway also offered tacos al pastor, but the emphasis was slightly different with a touch of roasted pineapple on top. La Gloria Ice House in the Pearl Brewery complex is known for its street food, and so it served up a mouthwatering variation, as did the San Antonio Food Bank.

Though the tacos were served in abundance, the menu at the event, held this year at La Villita, was much more varied. Visiting chefs from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo offered a posole de mariscos, in which a spicy broth was brimming with flavors of shrimp, fish and other seafood as well as corn. El Bucanero from South W.W. White Road and El Siete Mares on West Commerce showed how varied and delicious ceviche can be.

Chef Jeff Balfour of Citrus in the Hotel Valencia offered his award-winning paella made from a whole pig, while chef Susana Trilling of Oaxaca kept things light with a salad topped with a grilled shrimp and pomegranate seeds. Nordic chef Trina Hahnemann’s pork with a side salad of kale, asparagus and peas fit right in.

Aldaco's margaritas: Any questions?

Blanca Aldaco greeted patrons near the entrance with a booth serving up her refreshing margaritas, while inside the center, plenty of tequilas were available for the tasting.

Among the spirits being poured were the winners of the the first Culinaria Tequila Competition. Milagro was overall champion. Other winners included:

Añejo

  • Gold — Semental Añejo
  • Silver — Avion Añejo
  • Bronze — Ambhar Añejo

Reposado

  • Gold — Semental Reposado
  • Silver — milagro Select barrels Reposado
  • Bronze — Avion

Silver/Blanco

  • Gold — Milagro Select Barrels Silver
  • Silver — 1800 Silver Tequila
  • Bronze — Avion Silver

Package Design

  • Cuervo Platino

The San Antonio Food Bank serves up tacos during Best of Mexico.

Culinaria continues Saturday with the Texas Two-Step Wine Seminar at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton Palacio del Rio, 200 S. Alamo St. Tickets are still available for this session. Saturday evening’s Grand Tasting, however, is sold out.

Tickets are available for Sunday’s festival finale, Burgers, BBQ, Beer and Texas Spirits, which begins at noon at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St.

For more information on Culinaria, click here.

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Pork Rules at Paella Challenge


Jeff Balfour's paella

Want to make your own award-winning paella at home? Start with a whole roasted pig.

That was chef Jeff Balfour’s secret at Sunday’s second annual Paella Challenge at the Pearl Brewery.

“We took a roasted whole pig, a happy little Texas pig,” said a beaming and exhausted Balfour of Citrus at the Hotel Valencia, 150 E. Houston St., shortly after winning the award. His team used the shoulder and the butt among other fleshy parts in the paella itself and then garnished each serving with succulent bits of tongue and cheek.

It was over the top and gave Balfour victory in the competition. “We placed third last year and first this year,” he said, while holding the crown-shaped award.

Jeffrey Balfour of Citrus with his award.

Balfour offers paella at Citrus, but it’s a made-to-order version. For those who couldn’t make Sunday’s Paella Challenge but want to try the chef’s winning creation, it will likely be offered for a few nights in the near future, he said. Call 210-230-8412 for more details.

Winning second place was the team from Lüke, which is near Citrus at 125 E. Houston St. “They’re practically just right across the street from us,” Balfour said.

Chef Stephen McHugh, who worked with John Besh on the Lüke team, also used pork in their paella. Pork belly, actually, which was mixed with crawfish. McHugh was grateful for second place considering it was the team’s first time to participate.

Third place went to Jhojans Priego of Villa Rica in Veracruz, Mexico.

Last year’s champion, Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, Calif., had planned on defending his title. But word had it that a bad case of food poisoning prevented him from showing.

Crowds enjoy the perfect weather as well as the excellent food.

What he missed was an imaginative array of paellas that used ingredients in wholly unexpected ways, said Leslie Horne of Aurelia’s Chorizo in Boerne. Truffles and foraged mushrooms as well as her chorizo were among the ingredients the throngs sampled in the various dishes served throughout the day.

“The imagination that went into all of these dishes was most impressive, to say the least,” Horne said. “They went the whole hog with Jeffrey’s.”

The most creative, in her opinion was a Thai green curry paella from Jeffrey Axell of the Grand Hyatt, 600 E. Market St. The dish was a way of showing off the restaurant’s new Asian fusion cuisine.

Ford may not have made the event, but other chefs from around the country did. A few included Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas, Peter Holt of Houston’s Lupe Tortilla, Dale Miller of Sperry’s in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Tim McCarty of the Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minn., who was grateful for the balmy weather.

Paellas of all different flavors filled the event.

Local chefs who served up paellas to the hungry masses included Craig Bianco of RK Group, Brian West of the Hotel Contessa, Jason Dady of the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills and others, and David Wirebaugh of the downtown Hyatt Regency.

Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria Ice House at the Pearl and True Flavors Catering organized the event, which benefits scholarship programs at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus and the Education Foundation of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Whataburger Helps Santa; Zedric’s Open; Z’Tejas Begins Brunch


Santa, Whataburger employees and Christmas Under the Bridge help some children have a merry Christmas.

Santa, Whataburger and Christmas Under the Bridge make the season bright.

Spreading Christmas cheer.

Whataburger gives Santa a hand

This year, Whataburger partnered with Christmas Under the Bridge as part of Whataburger Serves, the company’s long-term series of themed activities that demonstrate Whataburger’s service-oriented approach to business.

Employees from the burger chain collected 550 toys from an internal toy drive and more than 60 employees helped Santa this past Saturday distribute toys under the bridge.

As you can see from the photos, the children were more than happy to meet Santa and party with people from both organizations.

Boys & Girls Club members get cooking

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio hosted its fifth annual luncheon at Citrus in the Hotel Valencia, 150 E. Houston St.

With the help of Citrus’ executive chef Jeffrey Balfour, children from each of the area’s five Boys & Girls Clubs branches helped prepare the meal, which was served to 14 people including club board members and community supporters.

In addition, the hotel presented the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio officials with dozens of toys collected from guests and employees through the hotel’s annual toy drive.

A healthy choice for those on the run

Zedric’s has opened at 2267 N.W. Military Hwy.

The healthy, gourmet-to-go place is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Chef Zach Lutton is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., who returned to his hometown of San Antonio to cook. Once home, he noticed there was a shortage of “healthy, delicious food in San Antonio and that it was a difficult place to be health conscious,” he writes.

So, he devised a daily menu from breakfast to dinner with dietitian Victoria Dominguez that includes cage-free eggs, local produce when available and organic weekly specials. There are vegetarian dishes as well as nut-free items. All are prepared in advance and can be heated when needed.

A few items include Ground Turkey Picadillo Breakfast Tacos, Hawaiian Cobb Salad, Sirloin Steak Salad, Oven-roasted Pork Tenderloin, and Shrimp Whole Wheat Pasta Toss.

Call 210-541-0404. Click here for a menu and more information. Delivery is also available for a flat $10 fee.

If you have questions for a dietitian, Dominguez is available by appointment. Call 210-859-5673.

The agave plant

Cibolo Moon earns rare tequila certification

Cibolo Moon at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, 23808 Resort Parkway, is the first restaurant in Texas to become T certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, or Tequila Regulatory Council of Mexico.

“This is a true honor for us,” stated Scott Siebert, director of food and beverage for the resort. “Tequila is a specialty among our beverage offerings at Cibolo Moon and this designation highlights the work we have done to ensure our guests enjoy the finest tequilas available in the most unique and memorable ways.”

Cibolo Moon’s bar currently features more than 100 tequilas. Guests can enjoy a private tequila tasting, savor one of the many infused tequilas or have a favorite tequila custom-aged in one of the restaurant’s special oak barrels to enjoy on their next visit.

There are numerous requirements to receive the T certificate, including a list of drinks prepared using tequila, dishes in which one of the main ingredients is tequila, and at least 80 percent of the staff must be trained on tequila knowledge, such as the blue agave plant that is used to make tequila.

For information, call 210-276-2500.

Watermark Grill reopens

Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, has reopened under chef Philippe Pinon.

The new chef, who was most recently at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, has introduced a new menu featuring dishes such as Focaccia-crusted Atlantic Salmon with fennel and tomato confit,  Olive Tapenade Alaskan Halibut with rock shrimp and asparagus pomodore and  Chorizo-crusted Black Cod with potato baccalau and a sauvignon herbs sauce.

“Balance is very important, not only in the spices we use to ensure the best flavor, but also in making sure that as much emphasis is put on service and the guest experience,” the chef says.

More items from the menu include Velvet Lobster Bisque, Vegetable Minestrone and Gazpacho Andalou soups; Yellow and Red Roma Tomato Tart, Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Rock Shrimp Avocado, Seared Nantucket Sea Scallops, King Crab Leg au Poivre, and Lobster and Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese appetizers; as well as Panzanella, Mixed Green; and Watermark Caesar salads.

Other entrées include Fisherman Marmite, a bouillabaisse-style dish; Seared Chilean Sea Bass with hearts of palm risotto and porcini mushroom foam; Rotisserie Achiote Organic Chicken;  Rosemary Citrus Gremolata New York Strip; and  Braised Chianti Beef Short Ribs.

Watermark Grill also has new hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday; and 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 210-483-7600.

Brunch at Z’Tejas every Saturday, Sunday

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, is now offering brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dishes include a spinach and wild mushroom omelet, breakfast enchiladas, Willie’s homemade buttermilk pancakes, and a Cajun ham omelet. The full menu can be found online at www.ztejas.com/sanantonio.

The Weekend Fun Bar during brunch hours features the following for $3.50: Bloody Mary with Grey Goose Vodka,         Bloody Maria with 1800 Silver Tequila,  screwdriver with Grey Goose Vodka and mimosa with Domain Ste. Michelle.

For more information, call 210-690-3334.

If you have restaurant information, e-mail info@savorsa.com.

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Citrus for Lunch, Freshness and Crunch


Pecan-crusted Fried Chicken is the featured main lunch dish at Citrus

Citrus, at the Hotel Valencia on Houston Street, stepped up to the Restaurant Week plate in fine style on Monday. On the $15 prix fixe menu was a salad of baby greens, tomatoes, pecans and olives that couldn’t have been fresher or more carefully dressed. The Pecan-crusted Chicken entrée, on mashed potatoes was full of crunch and good, nutty  flavor. It said a lot for this Texas-style preparation of chicken-fried chicken.

Citrus brought the meal to a happy conclusion with a trio of citrus and tropical sorbets that set the taste buds tingling.

This meal is featured throughout Restaurant Week for $15; a $35 per person prix fixe dinner is also on the menu.

Check out more restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, sponsored by Culinaria. The event goes through Saturday.

Photographs by Bonnie Walker

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