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Passionate Cook Turns Hobby into ‘Taste Elevated’

Lori Krieger

Lori Krieger

Lori Krieger grew up in a busy family, helping her dad in his veterinarian clinic. Really, she says, she thought she’d become a vet herself, but the hours were long and midnight calls and occasional doses of porcupine quills were all in a day’s work.

Because both of her parents were busy, she always had to cook. “I had to do it, but I considered it a chore,” she says.

Along the way, however, she began watching the Food Network and chores suddenly transformed into creative challenges – then passion. “I just got this fever for cooking,” she said.

That fever turned into a business — but it happened over years, not overnight.

With her family at her side, Krieger launched Taste Elevated at the Emily Morgan Hotel’s Oro on Sept. 19.

As a crowd of well-wishers, friends, media, food professionals and associates picked up glasses of wine, they sampled  Krieger’s flavorful condiments with an array of hors d’oeuvres and charcuterie from Oro chef Chris Cook and his team.

This scene probably wasn’t anything Krieger anticipated after attending Texas A&M and receiving a political science degree — something her father, David Carter, was dubious about as far as her employment opportunities went. She  married Benny Krieger, lived for five years in Washington, D.C. and had three boys, now ages 1, 2 and 4.

But, her fervor for cooking had not relinquished its hold, and sent her on an unexpected path after she returned to Texas from Washington.

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Taste Elevated’s Fig Chutney

After working with the plentiful figs that grew on trees on her parents’ property, she came up with a chutney so good that it inspired her to think of producing it commercially.

“People tasted it and really loved it — I got a real high out of that,” she said.

Thus began the rigorous task of developing not just the fig chutney, but eventually a line of high-end condiments that would sell under the Taste Elevated label.

“I spent endless hours in the kitchen trying to make a business … and learned a lot of hard lessons along the way,” she said. This dose of reality is faced by all good cooks who decide to take the next step — dealing with the FDA and health departments, addressing shelf life and other technical details.

Taste Elevated condiments with cheese and charcuterie

Taste Elevated condiments on crostini at Oro.

The first six products are versatile, but especially suited to the spicy, salty flavors of prepared, often cured meat products called charcuterie. These include salamis and pate, terrines, sausages, soppressata, pepperoni, confit and more. Cheeses, artisan breads and fresh seafood, such as salmon and shrimp are also natural partners with Taste Elevated condiments.

Taste Elevated’s introductory line includes: Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper, with red bell pepper, pine nuts and spices; Fig Chutney, with raisins and spices; Sweet and Spicy Mustard Seeds; Caramelized Onion Spread, with balsamic vinegar and a touch of the spicy Sriracha sauce; Spicy Candied Oranges; and a buttery Pear and Fennel Compote.

The idea for the name was to suggest that each of their products can take any dish to that next culinary level.

The Sweet and Spicy Mustard Seeds are like tiny, crunchy pickles that adorn a hot dog as deliciously as they do a slice of Spanish chorizo or manchego cheese. The Caramelized Onion Spread has a little heat from Sriracha, as well as a touch of flavor from ginger and a little garlic. The Spicy Candied Oranges works as topping for a triple cream cheese, or roasted salmon.

The original condiment, her Fig Chutney, is good just spread on a biscuit, says Krieger, but really shines with pork or a chicken panino. A buttery Pear and Fennel Compote went well atop duck confit canapes. The Roasted Eggplant Spread, also touched with spice, is a warm red color from the bell peppers and, says Krieger, works as a condiment, a spread or even spread on a homemade crust for a “really, really good pizza sauce.”

Taste Elevated condiments are produced and packed by state’s top gourmet food producer, Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, Inc.  Fisher & Wieser ordinarily would not have produced Taste Elevated products, as the company doesn’t produce private labels, according to company founder and chairman, Mark B. Wieser.

Wieser stood at the far side of the room at Oro, looking on as Krieger welcomed guests and delivered a short talk about Taste Elevated. His niece, Jenny Wieser, the company’s CEO, was Kreiger’s taste critic and eventually champion at Fisher & Wieser, he said.

After sampling Krieger’s condiments several times and sending her back to the kitchen, the products won Jenny Wieser over, and the work of turning kitchen creations to high-end product began.

Taste Elevated board

The Kriegers also make mesquite serving boards, large and small, to sell as companion products for Taste Elevated.

Krieger’s dad offered moral support as well as financial. And, she thanked him and her mother, especially, at the launch party. She will now be seeking locations to place the products, looking particularly for specialty and gourmet shops rather than grocery stores.

Taste Elevated Mark Wieser

Mark Wieser

“They are excellent and high quality, Wieser said. “With her enthusiasm, I think she can make a go of it.”

“The  launch was a wonderful start to what will be a phenomenal company started by two entrepreneurs that I love very much,” said her mom, Jan Carter. Her dad, also there to see Lori off to a good start said, “It was very gratifying to see the interest by the people that attended, it was a nice crowd. It was obvious that they were all foodies,” he said.

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Taste Elevated’s line of condiments, designed to be especially good with charcuterie

Taste Elevated products are (so far) carried at Das Peach Haus, Fredericksburg Winery and at Koch Ranch Gourmet Country Store. In San Antonio at Groomer’s Seafood and Bolner’s. The prices range from $8-$11. Look for Krieger and her Taste Elevated product tastings at stores in the near future, too. Visit her website by clicking here.


Taste Elevated party

Launch party at the Emily Morgan Hotel.




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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Chefs’ Coop Dinner and More

Z Tejas skillet pan cropped









Z Tejas Southwestern Grill’s Cool New Summer Items

Z Tejas announces a few new temptations on their menu. These include four new entrees, along with Two Berry Delicious Skinny Cocktails and a twist on a dessert classic, S’mores Cake with a Root Beer Float.  Z Tejas is at the Shops at La Cantera. (210) 690-3334.


Fig Tree Dining RoomFig Tree welcomes new chef, Laurent Rea

“I’ve known Laurent for some time now, since he worked at L’Etoile. I’ve been very interested in him and his talent, and we are all very glad to have him here, now, at the Fig Tree.”  — Moe Lazri, general manager, Little Rhein and Fig Tree. See more on the Fig Tree Bastille Day celebration this week here.


Enjoy a taste of Italy at Crumpet’s Vintner Dinner Friday

Fine dining and wine tasting will come together on Friday, July 12, at 7 p.m. Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery will be hosting a wine dinner featuring five Italian wines for guests to enjoy along with a specially prepared Italian inspired gourmet menu by chef/owner Francois Maeder.

The cost of this event is $70 per person, plus tax and tip. Seating is limited and reservations are required. For more information and to make reservations, call (210) 821-5600. Crumpets is at 3920 Harry Wurzbach.

The menu (wines listed first, per course):  Ca De Meo Gavi, Gamberetti con Salsa Crema d’anglio;  Tenuta del Buonamico Bianco-Montecarlo, Indiva Brasato con Proscuitto Mozzarella; Macato La Giareta Cabernet Franc, Raviolo Frito de Carne;  David Sterza Valpollcella Superiore Ripasso, Vitella del Piemonte; Villa de Filicaja Vin Santo Del Riserva, Meringa con gelato e lampone freschi.

Johnny Hernandez addresses CIA SA grads

Johnny Hernandez chef

Johnny Hernandez

Ten students at the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, received their associate in applied science diplomas during commencement ceremonies at the Pearl complex last week.

San Antonio native Johnny Hernandez, a 1989 graduate of the CIA at the college’s main campus in Hyde Park, N.Y., was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He is executive chef and owner of La Gloria Ice House, Casa Hernán, Frutería Botanero, and True Flavors Catering. He’s also working on his first cookbook and memoir, México Mi Gloria. He was named one of the Five Top Latino Chefs in the United States by Siempre Mujer magazine in 2011.

Hernandez has also opened a La Gloria restaurant at the San Antonio International Restaurant earlier this week.

This was just the second AAS in culinary arts graduation at the San Antonio campus, with the first having been in April. The 10 graduates join the ranks of accomplished CIA alumni, which number more than 45,000 since the college’s founding in 1946.

Chefs’ Cooperative, Peeler Farms Dinner

Peeler Farms and the Chefs’ Cooperative invite you to a once-in-a -lifetime event to showcase all that is Texas and to “give back” to the farm. This event is on Aug. 10 at The Emily Morgan Hotel, 705 E. Houston St. It begins with a 5 p.m. reception and dinner following at 6.  The price is $75 per person, plus tax and tip. All proceeds go directly to Peeler Farms.

For reservations, call  (210) 225-5100. Also available are free valet parking and reduced rates on hotel rooms.

Here’s the menu the chefs have planned:

Reception:  Jeff White presents Charcuterie — Head cheese with porcini aioli, Smoked lamb belly rillette with candied green apple, Suckling porchetta with grain mustard and sweetbread; Pistachio mortadella with rocket emulsion

First: Stephen Paprocki presents Cheese: Farmhouse white cheddar;  Texas lavender and honey montasio; Alamo Ale; mozzarella quick cheese with pickled Texas citrus. This course features products from Alamo Beer, Duff Distributing and Fall Creek Vineyards.

Second: Alex Altamirano presents: Texas sweet white shrimp tempura, cucumber jicama escabeche, and cilantro ginger aioli.

Third: Tyler Horstmann presents Peeler Farms “golden egg.”

Fourth: Laurent Rea presents Broken Arrow Ranch venison tartar, Sun choke hummus, peach mostarda.

Fifth: Chris Cook presents Peeler Farms Young Chicken Confit, minted squash and watermelon water.

Sixth: Jeret Peña presents “Pinky Swear” with rye whiskey, grapefruit, Texas honey and pink peppercorns.

Seventh: Isaac Cantu presents Texas mushroom-crusted Hill Country Beef with honey-carrot puree, watercress and iconic Cabernet jus.

Eighth: Melissa Beverage presents Country bread pudding and peach ginger compote with a blackberry goat’s milk ice cream.

The Settlement is a new Don Strange catering venture

The Barn at The Settlement will be completed soon.

The Barn at The Settlement will be completed soon.

Renowned caterer Don Strange of Texas has launched a new destination venue called The Settlement, which is nestled in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country near Highway 281. It offers the beauty of the countryside and the convenience of easy travel from San Antonio as well as a variety of venue settings, from intimate to large scale.

Situated on 78 acres on Bulverde Road, The Settlement dates to 1850 but has all of the conveniences of a modern event facility, making it ideal for people who want to give their event a touch of Texas charm and the natural beauty that can only be found in the Texas Hill Country.

For more information, call (210) 434-2331 or email









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A Special Presentation: LangeTwins Wines, Dinner at Oro

Wine LangeTwins 2011 Sauv. Blanc

Oro Restaurant and LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards, based in Lodi California, put wine and cuisine together for a five-course dinner on March 15 at Oro, in the Emily Morgan Hotel, 705 E. Houston St.

Come a little early for some fun — there will be caricature drawings at 5:45 p.m., with the reception beginning at 6:30 p.m., with chef Chris Cook’s offering of Gulf Shrimp Rangoon and Roasted, Anaheim, Caramelized Peaches. LangeTwins’ Viognier 2011 will be poured.

From the LangeTwins Family Winery: For nearly three decades, the Lange family has practiced the art of sustainable winegrowing. Unlike other farming practices, sustainable growing, vineyard and winemaking practice is all encompassing in its approach. Here, the health of the vineyard and its surrounding natural environment are carefully considered, encompassing the balance of environmental health, economic profitability and social equity.

The rest of the menu continues with Ruby Red Trout, Pickled Apple and Pineapple “Caviar” served with the winery’s Estate Chardonnay, 2010. The third course is Texas Wild Boar Spare Ribs with Caricature Red Blend 2010; Fourth course is Grilled Flat-Iron Steak with Stone-Ground Grits and Sun-Dried Cherries served with LangeTwins Midnight Reserve, 2009.  The meal concludes with Apricot and Peach Cobbler, Serrano and Orange with the winery’s Estate Moscato 2011.

Dinner is $74.95 (not including tax and gratuity).  Call the Emily Morgan Hotel to make reservations at 210-225-5100.

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Oro to Showcase California Wines

Oro at the Emily Morgan Hotel, 705 E. Houston St., is hosting a wine dinner featuring special selections from Raymond, Buena Vista and Deloach. It is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Chris Cook’s menu, with some fall seasonal accents, begins with Lightly Grilled Jumbo Gulf Shrimp with Tarragon Cream Cheese and Guava Mango BBQ paired with Raymond Sauvignon Blanc 2011. Pulled Vanilla Scented Duck Confit with Butter Lettuce and Grilled Pear is served with Raymond Chardonnay 2010.

Green Peppercorn-studded Grilled Petite Filet with Cinnamon Cauliflower is presented with Buena Vista Pinot Noir 2009, while Slow Roasted Young Pheasant with Smoked Mushroom and Long Bean Blackberry Jus is paired with Buena Vista The Count 2009. Dessert is Rhubarb Gelatto Coca-Cola Float and Anise Biscotti Crumble with Deloach Russian River Pinot Noir 2010.

The price is $65.95 plus tax and tip. Valet parking is complimentary and reduced room rates are available.

For reservations, call (210) 225-5100.


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Alamo Anniversary Celebration at Oro, with Real Ale

Celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo at the Emily Morgan Hotel’s restaurant, Oro, on Oct. 21. Executive chef Chris Cook will prepare a dinner paired with brews from the Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco.

The reception beings at 6:30 p.m.; the dinner beings at 7.  The cost is $49.95 per person, and there is complimentary valet parking.

On the menu:

  • Reception: Lost Gold IPA with Curried Texas Gulf Shrimp Crostini, Spiced Fennel and Lemon Essence
  • Second course: Extra Special Bitter with Tri-peppered Beef Tenderloin, ancho carrot puree and brussels sprouts
  • Third course: Alamo Golden Ale with Achiote-seared Buffalo, spiced marcona almonds, baby greens and ancho buttermilk
  • Fourth course is Octoberfest ale with Braised Andouille Sausage, roasted Anaheim peppers, pickled onion, and Paladian blue cream
  • Final course is Fireman’s Four Blond Ale with Tres Leches, seasonal spiced fruit.

The Emily Morgan Hotel is at 705 E. Houston St. Call for reservations at 210-225-5100.





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