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Try It. It’s Good for You. And It Tastes Great.


Chef John Brand and his son, Malachi, prepare amaranth-crusted avocado.

Fall announced its arrival Sunday with temperatures dropping to the 50s and a definite nip in the air.

Mela offers two types of Indian chicken.

Yet that didn’t stop hundreds of people from reaching the Pearl Brewery Sunday on bike, on foot and in their cars for the first Feastivál, a tribute to healthy eating that Culinaria presented with H-E-B.

While they sipped wine and sampled healthy snacks from area restaurants and food purveyors, they listened to Dan Evans, a country singer who lost 136 pounds on TV’s “The Biggest Loser” and worked up some warmth doing a few zumba steps. Cooking demonstrations and wine seminars were on the menu as well.

Some of the snacks included a lemon seafood salad from chef Jeffrey Balfour at Citrus in the Hotel Valencia, amaranth-crusted avocado from chef John Brand of Las Canarias and Ostra, chicken tikka and tandoori chicken from Mela, black beans and brown rice from EZ’s, and guacamole with mango salsa on a jicama base from Paloma Blanca. Mike Behrend’s Green Vegetarian Cuisine offered a mixed plate with a pea, baby lima, edamame and carrot salad tossed with a touch of truffle oil.

Citrus’ Jeffrey Balfour presents a lemony seafood salad.

Jesse Perez, whose Arcade is opening at the Pearl later this year, offered a warming cup of butternut squash soup with feta. Steven McHugh, whose restaurant at the Pearl will opening the spring, offered roasted beets with blood orange over an avocado-ricotta spread. The two bros., Jason and Jake Dady, were on hand with smoked turkey from their Two Bros. BBQ Market.

A group of students from the Culinary Institute of America lit the fire pit and drew diners with tea-smoked salmon over vegetable couscous.

H-E-B, Zeric’s, Brio Tuscan Grille, and Eoni, which makes Bazookie whole grain and fruit bars, also offered tasty treats.

“It was amazing and healthy,” said Culinaria CEO Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, adding that both sponsoring organizations were pleased with the turnout and the fact that word is getting out that healthful food can taste great.

A group of students from the CIA dishes up tea-smoked salmon at the fire pit.

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Sunday’s Feastivál Serves Up Healthful Food That Tastes Great


This Sunday, sink your teeth into something that tastes great and is good for you.

Culinaria and H-E-B are teaming up for Feastivál at the Pearl Amphitheater. The event from noon until 3 p.m.

Feastivál will give you a chance to explore a range of wholesome, savory dishes that won’t expand your waistline, and yet it will all tempt your taste buds.

Cooking demonstrations and plenty of recipes will show you how healthy living can be delicious!

Plus, there will be seminars featuring a favorite health food of many: wine.

John Griffin and Bonnie Walker of SavorSA and the authors of “Food Lovers’ Guide to San Antonio will be on hand to autograph copies of their book, which sells for $15 apiece.

Tickets are $10 in advance at your local H-E-B or $20 at the door.

 

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Culinaria Is Planting the Seeds of a New Project


Getting kids to garden their own vegetables is one goal of Culinaria’s proposed project.

Culinaria has announced plans for a community educational center and gardens.

The project is still in the early planning stages, and it doesn’t even have an official name yet. But among the ideas discussed so far are areas where people from the community could take part in learning how to grow food, how to know when it becomes ripe and how to prepare it. Everything from planting the seeds to cooking demonstrations of harvested foods would be included.

It’s a logical move for the organization, which is known for its food and spirits festival as well as its fundraising efforts on behalf of local charities. “We are expanding,” said Culinaria’s CEO, Suzanne Taranto Etheredge. “We wanted to create something meaningful, sustainable in San Antonio that is for everyone.”

On Saturday, chef Jason Dady of Bin 555, Tre Trattoria and Two Bros. BBQ Market earned the first donation to the project. He placed second in H-E-B’s first Food Truck Face Off, which carried with it $5,000.

“I’m excited about it,” Dady said of the project. “This can be tremendous. … I’m most excited by the great opportunity to partner with schools, so that students learn more about where their food comes from. They can see it, feel it and taste it.”

One plan is for students of all ages, from elementary schools on up, to get their hands in the soil, planting and tending fruits and vegetables. High school students might be able to take part in culinary programs led by any of the chefs who work with the organization.

But the gardens aren’t just for kids, Etheredge said. “We want adults to come out and plant, too.”

The food raised in the garden would also be used to help those in community in need, though the details of how that aspect would operate have not been worked out yet, she said.

“We are just in the planning stages,” she said. “Next would be the capital campaign” to raise money for the facility with a kitchen, pergolas and shaded areas in addition to the gardens. That way, the chefs involved would be able to offer everything from cooking demonstrations to dinner in the garden.

“There are hundreds of chefs in the city that we deal with,” she said. “And we want them to have ownership of this process.”

Already there has been such a surge of enthusiasm from board members, including Dady, that Culinaria is energized about proceeding with the plan, Etheredge said. When she presented the idea to the board recently, “they freaked out — they were so happy.”

No site has been chosen for the center and gardens, though members of Culinaria have already looked at five or six spots and are “continuously looking at others,” she said.

The next crucial step will be to develop partners within the community who will assist in getting the project launched. ”

The center and gardens will be the legacy of Culinaria’s commitment to the community, “something tangible that we could be a part of,” Etheredge said. But, she added. it won’t replace any of the current functions of the organization, including its many events, from the 5K run to the upcoming Feastivàl on Oct. 7. It will also still raise money for charities within the city.

“This will just enhance our mission,” she said. “We really want to change the culture of food in San Antonio.”

There has been a growing trend in eating local and sustainable foods, but Dady would like to see it go beyond the trend. He thinks the educational center and garden project can do that.

“We want it to be the way we eat,” he said.

 

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H-E-B Rounds Up Some Food and Fun, All in the Name of Charity


Where Y’at serves up New Orleans barbecue shrimp.

Shoppers in the area of Loop 1604 and Blanco Road know the H-E-B Plus there as a dependable source of great food to cook with. On Saturday, the store proved it once again, only this time the food was free and it was ready to eat.

Jason Dady serves up his nachos while his daughter, Tessa, watches. Saturday was her birthday.

The parking lot of the supermarket was the site of the first H-E-B Food Truck Face Off, and it brought four of the city’s mobile kitchens together for a friendly competition.

The competitors all had to use H-E-B products in their dishes, which were served up to hungry lines of people until their supply ran out.

The crowds enjoy the free food.

By the time the judges’ had finished their work, Pieter Sypesteyn of Where Y’At had taken first place for his New Orleans barbecue shrimp, made with Chimay ale and baguette, both included among H-E-B’s Primo Products.

His victory meant that Gordon Pictures, a Christian movie production ministry, would take home $10,000 from H-E-B. Sypesteyn also won the people’s choice award, which brought another $500 to the charity.

Jason Dady and his DUK Truck took second place with Not’Cho Dady, nachos made entirely with H-E-B Primo Products. His $5,000 prize will be going to Culinaria’s new educational center and community gardens.

Johnny Hernandez brought his True Flavors catering wagon out and made pulled pork tacos, which earned $2,500 for the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus.

Michael Anthony Romo and his MARS Mobile Kitchen also served up an heirloom tomato and watermelon gazpacho.

This is the first of H-E-B’s Face Offs. The reaction from the crowds should guarantee it won’t be the last.

Johnny Hernandez (center) and his team make pork tacos.

MARS Mobile Kitchen offers heirloom tomato and watermelon gazpacho.

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H-E-B, Food Trucks Team Up for Charity


Pieter Sypesteyn of Where Y’At

This Saturday morning, you can do your grocery shopping, have a snack or two, and help a local charity.

The parking lot in front of the H-E-B Plus at the corner of Loop 1604 and Blanco Road will be the setting of a Food Truck Face Off, featuring four mobile kitchens competing against each other. The fun starts at 10 a.m.

Each of the chefs will be using H-E-B products in their food. After their efforts are judged, the winner will be able to designate a charity to receive a donation.

The participants include Jason Dady’s DUK Truck, Johnny Hernandez’s True Flavors, Michael Anthony Romo’s MARS Mobile Kitchen and Pieter Sypesteyn’s Where Y’At.

The public can enjoy food from the trucks until noon.

 

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Rosemary’s Kitchen Gets Cooking


Rosemary Kowalski

San Antonio knows Rosemary Kowalski for the catering that her company, the RK Group, has provided for the past 66 years. But now she has a new project on the front burner. She’s teamed up with SA Youth to launch Rosemary’s Kitchen, a culinary training program designed to help underprivileged youth ages 16-24.

“We want to help recover high school dropouts,” Cynthia Le Monds, CEO of SA Youth told a crowd that had braved the rains to pour into the Mission Verde Center, formerly Cooper Middle School.

The 27-year-old community group helps kids with educational programs that focus on their getting a diploma while they take part in workforce training programs that prepare them for jobs in construction and computer technology. The information has been put to use building energy-efficient homes in town.

Now Rosemary’s Kitchen will help people who have an interest in learning more about the culinary arts, restaurant work and catering. A community cafe will be part of the project.

Kowalski has been involved with the project from the beginning — and not just by lending her name, Le Monds said: “She was involved in the design, she helped select the equipment. … Rosemary put so much into the development of Rosemary’s Kitchen.”

John Brand’s open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches

“In my 66 years in the food business, I have always dreamed of helping someone have a place to teach culinary arts that would help our city,” Kowalski said. “I never dreamed that someone would offer to name a kitchen after me. I’ve always talked about wanting to help young people change their lives by becoming chefs and helping them realize their talents. Now we’re able to do this thanks to SA Youth.”

Her devotion to the cause was rewarded with the announcement of a $25,000 donation from H-E-B. Le Monds urged the gathering and the community at large to contribute as well to the non-profit program, “in whatever way is meaningful for you. … Any amount that you feel you can pledge will be appreciated.”

Jason Cardenas makes nitrogen Rice Krispie treats

Students in the program were on hand to serve treats that the RK Group had donated, including lobster corn dogs and tiny cones filled with chicken salad. In the meantime, a handful of RK’s chefs were joined by some of the city’s finest, including Johnny Hernandez from La Gloria,  to present playful takes on cafeteria favorites.

Jeff Balfour of Citrus served up chicken nuggets, John Brand of Las Canarias offered grilled cheese with pickled artichoke hearts and olives, and Jason Dady of Bin 555 and Tre Trattoria had square pizza. Eric Nelson of RK offered stuffed meatloaf in the form of meatballs and mac ‘n’ cheese gratin with a Goldfish crust and truffle shavings on top. Most of us never had anything nearly as good. And in a nod to chemistry class crossed with trendy molecular cooking, there were nitrogen Rice Krispie treats.

For more about SA Youth or for information on making a donation, visit www.sanantonioyouth.org or call (210) 223-3131.

Jason Dady’s square pizza

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Culinaria Kicks Off Year with a 5K Run


Runners begin the Culinaria 5K Run.

Long before dawn Saturday, hundreds of runners and walkers gathered around the Shops at La Cantera for the second annual Culinaria 5K Run.

Walkers and people pushing strollers join runners in the Culinaria 5K.

The mist of the morning provided a cool touch to those who’d be getting in some exercise long before the shops opened. But some couldn’t wait for the race to start. More than a few warmed up with short runs or stretching exercises. Others milled around waiting while dance music blared in the background.

But all were ready when the race began.

In less than 17 minutes, Greg Worley passed the finish line and took first place. The first woman to pass the finish line was Krista Patlovich with a time of 18:43. All of the runners who wanted their times wore chips on their feet that registered their times when they passed the finish line. For a full list of the winners, click here.

In two years, the run has become the biggest in the city, says Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, Culinaria’s president and CEO.

One reason could be the fact that when the entrants crossed the finish line, a glass of wine was waiting for them. That’s incentive enough for some folks.

The race was the beginning of Culinaria’s season. The festival will be May 16-20. For information on this year’s events and for tickets, click here.

The reward for finishing the run: a glass of wine.

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Craving Shrimp Tacos? Find El Bandolero


Pork Birria tacos at El Bandolero.

Like the best food trucks, El Bandolero Tacos y Mariscos doesn’t have a huge menu. It doesn’t need one. What it does have is flavor to spare, whether you’re trying the lengua or the pork birria. And it’s made to order while you wait.

Who can resist slivers of marinated pork al pastor style heaped high on tiny corn tortillas and then topped with fresh onions, cilantro and slices of radish? I’ve had more a few of those as a late-night snack on those evening when, no matter the hour, it’s just too early to turn in.

The truck, which parks in front of the H-E-B car wash at Nacogdoches and O’Connor roads in the evenings, offers Zacatecas cuisine with tortas, burritos and quesadillas in addition to tacos.

A look inside El Bandolero.

I’m sure the folks who run it, the Soriano Espinoza family, according to its business cards, sell more bistec mini-tacos than anything, but the real treat are the tacos de camaron, usually offered on the weekends. Fresh shrimp, as firm and sweet as you can imagine, are cooked on the griddle until bright pink and bursting with briny flavor. Sautéed onions are tossed into the blend before fresh pico de gallo is sprinkled on top. Slabs of fresh avocado are served on the side and the whole dish is crowned with white cheese. The cost is a relatively higher $3 apiece, but it is worth every last penny.

If you are getting an order to go, the perfume of seafood, cheese and smoked peppers from the salsa should overwhelm you before you get it home.

Ceviche and shrimp cocktail are also on the menu, but I can’t get past the shrimp tacos enough to give them a try.

Shrimp tacos from El Bandolero.

The side of the truck advertises fresas con crema, one of my all-time favorite desserts. But it hasn’t been available recently, because the strawberries are no longer in season, I was told. Apparently, the berries in the market now aren’t good enough, which I would unfortunately have to agree with, no matter how low the price drops.

If there’s not enough selection for you at El Banolero, wait about three weeks. The owners say they’re opening a sit-down restaurant at nearby 14040 Nacogdoches Road. More seafood items will be on the menu, and if they are anywhere near as good as the shrimp tacos, I’ll be there.

El Bandolero Tacos y Mariscos
(210) 863-4127
Nacogdoches Road at O’Connor Road

 

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Ask a Foodie: Where’s the Orange Roughy?


An easy recipe for whitefish is to sauté it in butter with dill and capers.

Q. Why don’t I see orange roughy in the supermarket anymore? — J.C.

A. Orange roughy, which got its name from its orange color and rough scales, was once the go-to fish for people who don’t like fish. It doesn’t have a fishy taste, the bones are usually missing, there’s no skin to deal with, and it can be cooked in minutes. Plus, it is both light and refreshing.

So, we’ve just about fished it out of existence. At least that’s what the seafood monger at my local H-E-B told me when I put your question to her.

One of the reasons is that the fish is slow to mature, according to Mar-Eco, an ecological group that focuses on the environment of the northern Mid-Atlantic. That means the supply won’t replenish itself quickly.

For people who want orange roughy, there are numerous substitutes.

Tilapia is a favorite with many for many of the reasons listed above, but it is usually farmed raised and that means it is not appealing to a growing number of people. (For one perspective on the issue of farm-raised fish, click here.)

In the seafood case, I found a wild-caught whitefish, Cape Capensis, which comes from the coast off Southwestern Africa. The frozen seafood section had barramundi, which was the seafood saleswoman’s other suggestion.

I sautéed the Cape Capensis in some butter with salt, pepper, dill and a few capers on top. It cooked in minutes and was delicious. The one drawback for some is that the fillets broke apart as they cooked, so it wasn’t picture perfect, though it tasted great.

If you need further guidance, get to know the people behind the seafood counter where you shop. They can be a big help.

Click here for a recipe for Cape Capensis baked with herbs. The cereal coating will help keep the fillets together.

If you have a question for Ask a Foodie, email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

 

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Passover Show at Alon Market Sunday


H-E-B’s Alon Market, 8503 N.W. Military Hwy., wants to help you get ready for your Passover Seder with a show of kosher foods this afternoon.

This is the second time the market has offered such an event, which is sponsored by Manischewitz Foods. Product samples from eight kosher vendors as well as recipes, wine tastings and tips on floral arranging will be offered.

Alon Market has more than 150 kosher wines, including many not available elsewhere in the city.

The event begins at noon and continues until 5 p.m. today.

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