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Tag Archive | "Il Sogno"

It’s Easy to Eat Well When It’s for a Good Cause


The SA Chef Coalition included Il Sogno sommelier Gabe Howe (front left) and David Gilbert of Sustenio, while the back row features, from right, John Brand, Michael Sohocki, Steven McHugh, Jason Dady, Chad Carey, Andrew Weissman and Jesse Perez.

The founding members of the SA Chef Coalition want what every chef wants: They want people to have a good meal and come back for more.

Braised beef cheeks with garlic, tomatoes and kale.

But they want something more.

They want that meal to showcase the best produce and meats of the immediate region, and they want the food prepared in way that reflects the finest San Antonio has to offer.

To that end, the group of chefs got together for a family-style dinner under the loquat and oak trees that line the patio of Tre Trattoria on Broadway. Guests had to bring their own plates, silverware and wine glasses, while God provided perfect weather. The food, meanwhile, came from farms such as Oak Hills and My Father’s Farm.

The chefs lineup included John Brand of Las Canarias and Ostra, Chad Carey of the Monterrey, Jason Dady of Tre Trattoria and Bin 555 among other ventures, David Gilbert of Sustenio, Steven McHugh of Lüke, San Antonio native Jesse Perez, Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn and Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno and the Sandbar.

The evening began with Rebecca Creek whiskey sours and a series of appetizers that ranged from an array of charcuterie, a little bit of everything from oxtail terrine to calf’s liver sausage, to a carrot purée and grilled spring onions.

Salt and pepper breadsticks.

Two salads, one featuring fresh greens while the other boasted several types of beets, preceded a main course of chicken, braised beef cheeks and numerous side dishes, such as creamy polenta, grits and a farro dish. Dessert features strawberries and whipped cream with a colorful Pop Rocks-influenced topping.

The chefs are planning future events that will include more San Antonio chefs, Dady said.

Each of the dinners will benefit a local charity, with the proceeds from the first dinner going to help the culinary programs at three area high schools, Perez said.

For details on more Chef Coalition events, follow SAChefCoalition on Twitter.

Until then, “get off your asses and get out and eat,” Dady said.

(Photographs by John Griffin and Bonnie Walker.)

Patrons enjoy the perfect weather and a family-style feast of local food.

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Andrew Weissman Wins Mentor Award


Andrew Weissman

Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno and the Sandbar, both at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., won the Mentor Award this week from StarChefs.com during the website’s first Austin-San Antonio Rising Stars awards party.

Weissman, who originally owned Le Rêve, was cited for shaping a new generation of local talent. Some of the people who have worked for Weissman include Doug Horn of Dough, Chris Carlson of the Sandbar, Byron Bergeron of Fig Tree Restaurant, and Michael Sohocki, whose Restaurant Gwendolyn is in the former Le Rêve location at 152 E. Pecan St.

Sohocki was honored by StarChefs for Sustainability Chef. Jason Dady was one of two Restaurateurs of the Year, with Austin’s Tyson Cole. Jeret Pea of the Esquire Tavern and Quealy Watson of the Monterey were also among the San Antonians honored.

It’s been a busy week for Weissman, who also cooked Wednesday for 65 guest chefs and members of the Culinary Institute of America’s board. The list included Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s, and Charlie Palmer, all of whom were filled with praise for the dinner at Il Sogno.

Weissman hadn’t met Yamaguchi before and really enjoyed talking with the chef, known for showcasing the seafood of the Hawaiian islands in spectacular ways.

For more information on Il Sogno, call (210) 223-3900.

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Il Sogno to Host CIA Board, Star Chef/Restaurateurs


Il Sogno will host a CIA meeting Wednesday.

Il Sogno Osteria will be closed to the public because of a private dinner Wednesday.

Chef/owner Andrew Weissman says that the CIA Board of Trustees will be dining there that evening.

Expected to be among the 70 or so people at the contemporary Italian restaurant in the Pearl Brewery will be three nationally high-profile chef/restaurateurs: Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s and Charlie Palmer, who has a collection of eponymous restaurants.

“I’ve eaten at the French Laundry (Keller’s famous Napa, Calif. restaurant) five times,” Weissman said. “This is the first time I will get to cook for him.”

Weissman sent the news out on Twitter Friday afternoon:  “Just confirmed, will be cooking for Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer and Roy Yamaguchi next week. #excitedashell

Il Sogno is at the Pearl, at 200 E. Grayson St.

 

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Griffin to Go: Savoring the Sights on a Sunny Saturday


Meusli with yogurt and fresh fruit at Il Sogno.

I love spending the day exploring San Antonio. You can head out in almost any direction and find plenty of places to pique your interest and satisfy your cravings.

The sunny weather Saturday made it a natural to leave the house early and just go. Friends were visiting from out of town and a large group of us wanted to get together for breakfast, so we started the day at Il Sogno in the Pearl Brewery, where Andrew Weissman and his crew were dealing with a full house.

The daily frittata, loaded with pork, roasted red peppers and spinach; muesli with yogurt and fruit; French toast with plenty of syrup; organic oatmeal; and omelets with goat cheese or cured salmon made everyone at the table happy and ready to hit the farmers market afterward.

On the way out the door, I ran into Jason Dady, sitting at the end of the counter and looking completely relaxed. He had finished cleaning his last items out of the Lodge and look refreshed and ready to get on with the next phase of his culinary career while managing Bin 555, two Tres, Two Bros. and three kids.

The market was filled with plenty of winter favorites, including a fine array of radishes for me, as well as mushrooms, robust green and purple kohlrabi and greens of all sizes and styles. Linda Perez of L&M was selling grass-fed beef, perfect for a wintery stew, though the sun was anything but January-like.

Kyle Yuchinski operates the Smokin' Joe's food truck.

After loading my treasures into the car, I met up with my cohort in culinary adventures, Bonnie Walker, at Gaucho Gourmet on Isom Road. You have to make an appointment to visit the food warehouse, which has a little bit of everything from incredible olives and olive oils from Europe to prosciutto made from duck or lamb. Another load of goodies made it into the car, before we made it to the site of the future food truck park on U.S. 281 near Summerglen.

There was a lone trailer there today from Smokin’ Joe’s with plenty of barbecue options to whet your appetite.

Bonnie wanted a sausage taco, which she got with a touch of coleslaw and some sauce as well as a pulled pork taco that was so good, she kept most of it to herself. I did likewise with the tender, moist brisket that had a hard, almost crackly crust around the outside.

Smoked sausage taco with coleslaw from Smokin' Joes.

The real surprise was the deep-fried Moon Pie, a treat that should not have been anywhere near as good as it was. Take your pick of chocolate, vanilla (my choice) or banana pie, batter it and then deep-fry it. Top with whipped cream and chocolate or caramel (again, my choice). Insert face and inhale. Something that artificial has no business being that good.

The owner, Kyle Yuchinski, told us that more trucks would be moving in soon, so expect more treats in the near future. He’s also changing his own truck around, to feature ‘cue on one end and cupcakes on the other. Look for his truck in front of the fireworks stand along 281 North.

Children enjoy the playset at Boardwalk on Bulverde.

We went from there to Boardwalk on Bulverde for the first anniversary party of that trailer park. Free beer, plenty of sun and enough shade made it just right for the families that brought their kids out to play in the sandbox or on the slide. An Oh So Gouda Burger, with bacon and avocado, from Toastie Buns  arrived with a spicy hot and temperature hot corn salad, while Sabor Colombiano’s plantain tostada topped with shredded pork proved to be a great combination.

Heavy turnout caused several sold-out signs to appear on certain items early in the day at Rickshaw Stop. In fact, they sold the last piece of baklava to the customer ahead of us, which meant we had to settle for a cup of kheer, a divine rice pudding with a touch of rose water and pistachios. The cup was empty within moments of receiving it.

UNO, an Oatmeal Pale Ale, one of beers offered at Ranger Creek on Saturday.

A few minutes after leaving the food truck park, we encountered the Smoke Shack BBQ truck in front of the Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling. Instead of yet another snack, we joined the dozens of people in line and the hundreds of people inside and out in back who were there for the first open house of the year.

For $5, you could buy a glass with a Ranger Creek logo on it and you received three tickets to try some of their various beers. Or you could take part in the bourbon tasting, in which you’d learn how to sample bourbons, such as the one Ranger Creek makes.

'Back yard" at Ranger Creek Brewery First Saturday.

We opted for the beer and more of the sunshine, before downing a pint of UNO, the oatmeal pale ale that Ranger Creek created to mark its first anniversary. It was a fun first visit, and we plan on returning, perhaps for one of the tours. For more events at Ranger Creek, click here.

As you can imagine, I was fairly tired after that. So, I plan on a nap. But only a short one. I’m planning on heading off to the Ballroom Dance Annex for my first night of dancing in months.

Who knows what next Saturday will bring? Any suggestions?

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Chefs and Cellars Pair Up the Best Food and Wine in Town


Johnny Hernandez's deconstructed chile en nogada featured aspic versions of the pomegranate seeds, the walnut sauce and the poblano, the three colors of the Mexican flag.

Chef Jason Dady talks with his diners at Chefs and Cellars.

Pigeon stuffed with foie gras and bacon. New York strip and shrimp with a roasted pepper stuffed with fresh vegetables. Chocolate mousse with brandied cherries and red velvet crumbles. 1981 Chateau Margaux.

These were some of the many treats that diners were exposed to during Culinaria’s annual Chefs and Cellars dinners at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio kitchens.

Five of the city’s best chefs — John Brand from Las Canarias and Ostra, Jason Dady from the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills and others, Johnny Hernandez from La Gloria and True Flavors catering, Jesse Perez from Alamo Cafe, and Andrew Weissman from Il Sogno and the Sandbar — teamed up with wine collectors from the area to present a feast of flavors.

Jesse Perez prepares a course for his diners.

Guests were seated with an individual chef, who presented the multi-course meal as if it were a chef’s table at a private restaurant. Bonnie Walker and I were lucky enough to be seated with Johnny Hernandez, who created a spectacular array of dishes to match wines chosen by local wine authority and educator Woody De Luna.

The end result offered course after course of spectacular Mexican food, from a salmon salpicon to a fig-topped Cajeta Pound Cake soaked in cream, each of which was paired with German Rieslings; perhaps California’s most sought-after Chardonnay, Stony Hill; a Sauvigny-les-Beaunes Burgundy that found a grateful home with both surf and turf; and a pair of lively Champagnes.

The lesson here was simple and clear: Great wines can work with great food, no matter where in the world each is from. Hernandez may have offered street food in the form of black bean-filled corn tortilla topped with fresh guacamole or cochinita pibil, but the dish was elevated to gastronomic heights when partnered with a 2003 Gunderloch Riesling Rothenberg Grosses Gewachs from Germany. I know first-hand from my family that the Germans wouldn’t know what to make of Mexican food, from low to high, but their wines proved a perfect  partner.

Everyone we spoke with during and after the dinner sang the praises of his or her individual chef, who not only prepared the food with his staff but also explained the dishes and the approach each took.

Jason Dady served pigeons stuffed with foie gras and served with miso-corn and candied bacon.

There were some excellent wines from local cellars to match the dishes, including aged Sauternes, fine Bordeaux and Burgundies, and spectacular Chardonnays, both from California and France.

The interior of the stretch limousine from Lonestar Limousines, which helped us drink and (not) drive safely.

Because of the great amount of great wine poured, Bonnie and I engaged the services of Lonestar Limousine, a luxury service that made sure we enjoyed every last drop of wine poured without driving home irresponsibly in the blessed rain.

 

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Lüke/Becker Dinner, Real Ale, Il Sogno, Viola Barrios


Lüke Wine Dinner to Feature Becker Wines

Steven McHugh, executive chef at Luke San Antonio.

Lüke San Antonio will team up with Becker Vineyards for a wine dinner next Wednesday.  The price will be $60 per person plus tax and tip. Luke is at 125 E. Houston St. To make reservations call 210-227-5853.

Becker wines on the menu are Fume Blanc, Texas 2010, Becker Prairie Roti, Texas Hill Country 2009; Reserve Chardonnay, Hidden House Vineyard 2010; Chenin Blanc Texas 2011; Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Canada Family Vineyard, 2009; and Clementine, Bingham Vineyard 2010 (late harvest viognier).

Menu items to include Louisiana Crawfish Bisque, Stuffed Crawfish Head and Tapioca, House-made Fromage Blanc Dumplings, Texas Rabbit Rouladen and Orange Basil Semifreddo.

Barrios Family Awards Scholarship in Viola’s Memory

Viola’s Huge Heart Foundation has selected its second scholarship recipient, Daniela Portillo, an incoming sophomore at Providence High School. This is the second such scholarship from the foundation. The first was awarded to Abigail Issarraras.

The Barrios family, owners of Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant and La Hacienda de los Barrios, established the the charity in memory of Viola Barrios. The scholarship supports young women who exhibit the kind of hardworking, generous characteristics of Viola, and who may not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue a high quality education.

Daniela Portillo and her family will be at Los Barrios, 4223 Blanco Road, at 5 p.m. today. They’ll meet with well-wishers and customers of the restaurant Viola Barrios founded, with the help of her daughters Diana Barrios Treviño and Dr. Teresa Barrios, and her son, Louis Barrios. The foundation also supports a Les Dames d’Escoffier scholarship in Viola’s name.

Il Sogno Celebrates Two Years at Pearl

Osteria Il Sogno, at the Pearl Brewery, will be celebrating its second anniversary this month, chef/owner Andrew Weissman said.

“We would like to thank our many loyal guests who repeatedly visited us and supported our concept,” said Weissman. He also noted that Il Sogno was listed as the No. 3 top “most delicious” restaurant in the recently published  “Fearless Critic,” while another of his restaurants, Sandbar, also at the Pearl Brewery, was given the No. 1 listing. Chris Carlson is executive chef at Sandbar.

Tost Weekend Specials

Tost Bistro Bar specials this weekend will be Fresh Atlantic Striped Bass and Fried Chicken Livers. Tost is open for lunch daily except Sundays and Mondays, and the Sunday Brunch is Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tost happy hour is from 4-7 p.m., $15 per person gets you drinks from a lineup of selected house spirits and beer. On Fridays and Saturdays, happy hours are 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information call Tost at 210-408-2670.

Real Ale Beer Dinner at Westin La Cantera’s Palo Duro Pavilion

Check out the delicious possibilities when pairing a great beer with chef-prepared foods created to match. This will happen at the Real Ale Brewing Company dinner on July 22 at the Westin La Cantera Resort’s Palo Duro Pavilion. The reception begins at 7 p.m., with the four-course meal at 7:30 p.m.  Please make reservations at 210-558-2305.

Five different beers from Real Ale in Blanco will be poured and paired with a special menu by chefs Isaac Cantu and Henry Wesolowski.

Erick Ogershok, head brewmaster of Real Ale Brewing Company, will be the host. Click here for the ales and menu featured at the dinner.

Bright Shawl on Takes a Break for Renovations

The Bright Shawl, the restaurant and meeting space owned by the Junior League of San Antonio, Inc., is taking a break this summer to renovate its kitchen and refurbish its dining room.  The restaurant will be closed through July 27 while the work is being completed, and it should be reopened by early August. The Bright Shawl is at 819 Augusta St. The original facility housing The Bright Shawl was named a Texas landmark in 1973, and the restaurant there has been in continuous operation since 1925. For more information on The Bright Shawl, click here, or call 210-225-6366.

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: From Fried Chicken to Bouillabaisse


As we ramp up to spring celebrations, such as Fiesta San Antonio and Culinaria, San Antonio-area restaurants and eateries are dishing up everything from cooking classes to a crawfish party.

Dough to be on Food Network April 9

Guy Fieri will be showcasing Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, the popular San Antonio pizzeria at 9 p.m. April 9 on the Food Network. Part of the attraction of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives host to the restaurant was the homemade burrata cheese bar.  Doug Horn and his wife, Lori, own the restaurant, at 6989 Blanco Road.

Want Earl Abel’s fried chicken now?

Photo courtesy Earl Abel's

Earl Abel’s introduces a new website that is “customer friendly and convenient,” says owner Roger Arias.  Customers can go to www.earlabelssa.com, select entrees, sides, desserts and more from the menu, indicate when it should be ready for pick up, pay online, then drive up to get their order.

“We are aware of how today’s busy lifestyle can lead to unhealthy eating habits and we want to make it easy for families to enjoy a nutritious meal in the comfort of their own homes,” says owner Roger Arias.

Right now, and for a limited time, orders placed online are discounted 10 percent.

Earl Abel’s is at 1201 Austin Highway in the Terrell Plaza Shopping Center. Kids eat free from 5-8 p.m., Monday-Thursday and all day on Tuesday. Visit the website above for more information.

Godai Sushi Bistro closed for remodeling

The restaurant at The Ridge on Loop 1604 is closed for remodeling, according to a Facebook post. The original at 11203 West Ave. is still open if you’re looking for some of the best sushi in town.

Bouillabaisse and more at Brasserie Pavil

A couple of items from Brasserie Pavil, 1818 N. Loop 1604 W.:

  • Prix-fixe lunches: Brasserie Pavil is celebrating Red, White and Brut Restaurant Week through Sunday. The brasserie is offering a special prix-fixe lunch menu for $17.95 per person, which includes a soup, main entrée and dessert course, as well as a glass of French wine.  The prix-fixe menu will rotate on a daily basis with a sampling of dishes including Chicken Chowder with Walnut Pesto, Roasted Root Vegetable Soup, Seafood Risotto with Asparagus, Lemon Zest and Red Pepper and a Pear Tart.  Complimentary wine choices include red, white and sparkling, while additional glasses of wine are available for $6 per glass.  For more information call 210-479-5000.
  • Bouillabaisse by Bajeux: Expand your French culinary knowledge through a “Bouillabaisse by Bajeux” cooking course hosted by Executive Chef Rene Bajeux.  The gathering will include a how-to session on preparing this traditional Provençal stew and with a tasting for guests.  Bajeux will also discuss the history of French pâtés, and then conclude the evening with a complimentary glass of signature Veuve Clicquot champagne and a sampling of fine cheeses.  Session begins at 6 p.m. at Brasserie Pavil and tickets are available for $22 per person. For more information call 210-479-5000.

Get ready for a crawfish boil in Waring.

Crawfish Funk in Waring

The party is scheduled for April 9 in Waring at the Waring General Store.  The crawfish boil costs $10, or $5 for the Crawfish Étouffée and $2.50 for beer. Kids 10 and under get in free. Entry is $5 and music will be by Ponty Bones and the Squeezetones, Greg Forest, and Brian Strange and the Strange Brothers.  The Waring General Store is at 544 Waring-Welfare Road. Take the exit of I-10 West before the Comfort exit. For more information call 830-995-4377.

Reservations at Il Sogno

Il Sogno at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayston St., is now accepting reservations. If you’ve waited long for a table, you know what a relief that can be. Call 210-223-3900.

Chef Andrew Weissman is now in charge of the kitchen at the Italian restaurant. But he hasn’t stopped working on other projects. The Luxury Trailer Park is still due to arrive this spring. And he’s also joined the Twitter scene. Follow him @AWRestGroup and receive news on upcoming events, wine tastings and other foodie activities.

John Griffin contributed to this report.

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It’s Fine Time for Fine Wine at Il Sogno


Study Italian wines at Il Sogno.

Il Sogno at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., is raising a toast to wine.

Andrew Weissman’s Italian restaurant is now selling selections from its wine list on a retail basis, so if you find a new favorite at dinner, you can take a bottle or a case home with you.

Looking for more information on Italian wine?

Il Sogno’s sommelier, Gabriel Howe, is also getting ready to teach an introduction to Italian wine class, set for March 20. This is the first of a series of classes that the restaurant is offering. Howe is a certified sommelier who has studied Italy’s wine-growing regions and vintners. The cost is $30 per person and includes both wine and food pairings. For reservations and time, call 210-223-3900.

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Chefs’ Corner: A Simple Summer Salad from Il Sogno


Celebrate the freshness of summer with a salad featuring the bright flavors of apple, celeriac and fennel. It goes together easily, especially if you have a mandoline to cut the vegetables and the apple to a paper thinness.

At Il Sogno, Andrew Weissman’s Italian restaurant in the Pearl Brewery complex, 200 E. Grayson St., this dish is featured among the array of antipasti.

Fennel, Apple and Celery Root Salad

1 Granny Smith apple, sliced paper thin
Celery root, or celeriac, sliced thin, to taste (see note)
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin with fronds reserved
Olive oil, to taste
Salt, to taste
Trace amount of lemon juice, to taste

Note: When slicing the celery root, or celeriac, use about as much as you use apple.

Toss apple, celery root and fennel bulb together in a non-reactive bowl with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, or more to taste, and a splash of lemon juice. Add some finely minced fennel frond. Serve immediately.

Source: Andrew Weissman/Il Sogno

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Rumor Has It: Weissman Going Into Defunct Valentino’s?


Andrew Weissman and his wife, Maureen.

Andrew Weissman, who can be seen these days hard at work at either of his two restaurants at the Pearl Brewery, says yes, the rumors are flying that he’s going into the recently closed Valentino’s di Olmos.

“It’s amazing,” he says. “I don’t think the word got around this much for any of the other restaurants I’ve opened.” The James Beard Award-nominated chef and restaurateur’s most recent ventures, at the Pearl, are Sandbar and Il Sogno.

Right now, he says that while he is ready to go, he doesn’t yet have the go-ahead to open a new restaurant in space at 4331 McCullough Ave. in Olmos Park.  Legal issues are still pending and though he’s in close touch with the principles, the deal isn’t quite locked up. At least, that was as of Thursday.

As for what kind of a restaurant he may be envisioning, Weissman’s not ready to go on the record. We think we can safely say, though, that it will not be a high-end destination, such as his former contemporary French restaurant, Le Rêve. Think affordable.

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