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San Antonio Food & Wine Festival Sets Dates in September


KLRN celebrates good food and great wine in one of its largest fundraisers of the year — the San Antonio Food & Wine Festival, which is taking place over 3 days in September.

wine pourThe Wine Opener on Friday, Sept. 11, is a black-tie event featuring high quality wines and an elaborate spread of food prepared by Chef Mata at the St. Anthony Hotel. This event also features a silent auction of items such as a private condo vacation in Washington, DC, art, jewelry, catering packages, airline tickets and more.

The Champagne Brunch is a morning affair on Sunday, Sept. 13,
that features a variety of champagnes and bubbly wines alongside a beautiful spread of food also hosted by The St. Anthony Hotel. A live jazz band completes the ambience.

The Fine Wine & Cuisine Tasting on Sunday, Sept. 27,  takes the best of wine sampling and the best of local restaurants and combines it into a large event at the Pearl Stable. Fill your glass and fill your plate with a rich selection of good food and great wine. San Antonio’s best restaurants will be serving food and hundreds of wines will be available for sampling. Restaurants include: Boiler House, Citrus, Folc, Fresh Horizons, La Hacienda de los Barrios, Las Canarias, Las Ramblas at Hotel Contessa, Papouli’s Greek Grill and more.

“San Antonio is continuously growing in the food and wine industries and we thrive on bringing more attention to the local people making that happen. Our events are fundraisers for KLRN, but they also celebrate and feature the businesses that make San Antonio such a wonderful city. Events like ours bring people together as a reminder of the power of collaboration and the importance of supporting local,” said Arthur Emerson, president and CEO of KLRN.

Click on the San Antonio Food and Wine Festival link for prices and more information.

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Chef Hamlet Dishes Up a Simple, Sensual White Bean Veloute


Chef Hamlet's White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet’s White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet Garcia, or simply Chef Hamlet to the lovers of TV food programs, was in San Antonio Wednesday as part of a fundraiser for KLRN. The star of “Vme Cocina” presented a cooking demonstration of the various dishes that were presented in a lavish dinner held at La Taquilera del Patron, 17776 Blanco Road.

One of the dishes from his Venezuelan homeland was a velvety white bean soup topped with queso fresco, bacon, chives and the earthy brilliance of a few drops of truffle oil. The soup is easy to make, though it takes a day to let the beans soak.

White Bean Veloute

12 slices of bacon
2 pounds of white beans, preferably soaked in water for 24 hours and drained
2 large ribs celery
1 large white onion, chopped in squares
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh thyme
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 gallon chicken broth
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Queso fresco, cut into small cubes, for garnish
1/2 cup sliced chives, for garnish
4 tablespoons truffle oil, for garnish

Chef Hamlet speaks with guests at the KLRN dinner.

Chef Hamlet speaks with guests at the KLRN dinner.

Cook the bacon in the oven or in a pan until it is very crisp. Remove from the pot and save the fat for later. Finely chop or crush the bacon in a food processor; reserve for garnishing the dish.

In a saucepan, add the bacon fat and briefly cook the onion and celery in it; stir constantly without browning. When the onions are translucent, add the drained white beans, thyme, garlic, butter, cream and chicken broth. When the liquid is boiling, simmer the beans for 90 minutes, stirring and mixing the ingredients occasionally in the pot. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

When the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for one hour. Then, reserve a little of the broth and add the mixture in a blender or food processor; blend until it achieves a velvety texture. Then add the reserved broth and add salt and pepper as necessary to achieve the desired texture or taste.

Garnish each serving with queso fresco cubes, chives, bacon pieces and a few drops of truffle oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Chef Hamlet

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Lidia Bastianich Returns to San Antonio on May 7


Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich will return to San Antonio on May 7 for a luncheon benefiting KLRN.

Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich

The meal will be offered by Joseph Buonincontri at his Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road. He has hosted the PBS culinary star on several visits to the city.

Buonincontri’s menu begins with contemporary deviled eggs and tomato and ricotta crostini, followed by Belgian endive and walnut salad. Wild Alaskan halibut with braised fennel will be served with contorni of sautéed celery, Yukon gold potatoes and grape tomatoes. Fruit-filled fried half-moons will be the dessert.

Bastianich will talk with guests during the lunch and each person will receive an autographed copy of one of her cookbooks.

The meal begins at noon. Tickets are priced at $125 apiece. Call (210) 270-9000 for reservations.

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San Antonio Makes Lidia Bastianich Feel Like Part of the Family


Lidia Bastianich at Luce on Sunday, awaiting a feast for KLRN benefit.

Lidia Bastianich at Luce on Sunday, anticipating a feast for KLRN benefit.

 

San Antonio loves Lidia Bastianich.

So many people in town watch her show on KLRN that it ranks consistently among her highest markets. And when Joe Buonincontri of Luce Ristorante e Enoteca announced that she would be appearing at his restaurant on Huebner Road for a fundraiser for the local PBS station, tickets went quickly. Both a dinner and a lunch in her honor sold out in seven days, he said, leaving plenty of Lidia fans without a seat. “I wish we’d had another 200 tickets for sale,” he added.

So do the folks at KLRN. The station’s president and CEO, Mario Vazquez, was so taken with Bastianich that he was ready to invite her back next year.

Bastianich returned the compliment by saying that when she got into television, she only had two conditions: one was that it be for PBS and the other was that they had to film it in her home. PBS was, and is, important to her, because “I’m about education,” she said. And her desire to film at home was so that she wouldn’t be intimidated by the cameras.

Bastianich, who started her first restaurant, Buonavia, in 1971, came to TV through the guidance of another PBS great, Julia Child.

Just mentioning Child’s name sent Bastianich’s voice into a higher and more nasal pitch as she imitated the legendary star of “The French Chef”: “Julia came to me and said, ‘Could you do a show with me?'”

Rolled Eggplant with Riccotta.

Rolled Eggplant with Ricotta.

That pinched tone in her voice had the gathering of food lovers laughing as they sampled early treats of the evening, including rolled eggplant with ricotta cheese; spaghetti macaroni, a baked pasta dish with salami, eggs and a little heat; stuffed artichoke hearts; and bruschetta with a nice touch of garlic.

The crowd extended beyond the packed dining room and into Luce’s private dining area, where Buonincontri’s own family were enjoying themselves. The restaurateur’s mother, Mary Ann, whose recipes are used in Luce’s menu, had come in from Tarpon Springs, Fla., for the dinner, along with his sister, cousins and more. Dishes were served family style, so everyone could taste as much as he or she wanted. The traditional offerings, from enormous meatballs smothered in tomato sauce to salsiccia and braciole, added a flavorful sense of history and family to the evening, which Bastianich pointed out in her presentation.

“That’s what life is all about — family,” Bastianich said, adding that her 93-year-old mother lives with her and can occasionally be seen in the background during the filming.

It may seem odd coming from a winemaker and merchant with the last name of Mondavi, but Michael Mondavi of Folio Fine Wine Partners shared the same message.

“My grandfather realized that the food, the family table — the culture that surrounds the family table — was the most important,” he said. His wife, Isabel, continues that approach today, he added, by stressing the “people, friendships and conversations” that can spark over a shared meal, resulting in a magical, memorable evening.

Michael Mondavi at KLRN benefit dinner at Luce.

Michael Mondavi at KLRN benefit dinner at Luce.

Food is second on Mondavi’s list, with wine coming in third. “Wine is there to complement the friendships, the food,” he said.

To that end, Folio offers Isabel Mondavi or I’M, wines that are designed to “clean the palate and excite the taste buds in anticipation of the next bite of food,” he said. The lineup includes a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a rosé, all made by son Rob Mondavi Jr. to suit his mother’s tastes and pair well with food. A pair of Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, Emblem and the exceptional but hard-to-find M by Michael Mondavi, also served the food and fun of the evening well.

Braciole served with a crouton topped with fresh burrata.

Braciole served with a crouton topped with fresh burrata.

Bastianich said she picked up her love of cooking from her grandmother, something she shares in common with Mary Ann Buonincontri.

That tradition doesn’t always get handed down any more, which has led to a generation of people who think they cannot cook. They’re wrong, Bastianich said. If those folks tried even a half-hearted visit to the kitchen, they’d learn that cooking is well within their reach.

“Everybody can do something with food,” she said. “There are (merely) different levels.”

With that in mind, Bastianich is launching a new book this fall, “Lidia’s Common Sense Cooking,” which is designed to get more people into the kitchen and preparing meals for themselves and their families.

What could be better? Families might come together more over a home-cooked meal. They might talk a little, share some food and a glass of wine, and the cycle both Bastianich and Mondavi spoke of would carry on.

Buonincontri

Restaurateur Joe Buonincontri with family, including from left in front of Joe, his wife, Renee, son Nicholas, sister Joanne and mom, Mary Ann.

 

Photographs by John Griffin and Bonnie Walker

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Lidia Bastianch to Host Lunch, Dinner Gatherings at Luce


Beloved Italian chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Lidia Bastianich returns to San Antonio Aug. 4-5 for a dinner and a lunch at Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road.

Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich

Her appearance is part of the KLRN Chef Series, which has also brought several other high-profile chefs, including Steven Raichlen and Ming Tsai, not to mention other visits from Bastianich, to town for special food-related events.

Bastianich has been cooking on public television since 1998. She is now starring in her fourth PBS series, “Lidia’s Italy in America.” She also owns several Italian restaurants, including Filidia in Manhattan.

During her appearance at both meals, she will be talking about food, wine, cooking and travel, all in a limited-seating environment.

The Aug. 4 dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. Price is $175 a person. The Aug. 5 luncheon is set for noon with a price of $100. Neither price includes tax or tip.

In addition to the chance to dine with Bastianich, the price includes a meal prepared by Luce owner Joseph Buonincontri; wines from the Folio collection and a chance to meet its owner, Michael Mondavi; and a signed cookbook from the celebrity chef.

For reservations, call Luce at (210) 561-9700.

 

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Chef Ming Tsai in San Antonio, Keeping Things ‘Simply Ming’


Chef Ming Tsai, prepares for a shoot at a CIA kitchen on Wednesday. The host and star of “Simply Ming” cooked with several San Antonio chefs this week.

Public television chef and restaurateur Ming Tsai, known to many for his show, “Simply Ming,” may live in Boston but this week he seemed to make himself right at home in San Antonio.

Ming was in town for several days to produce the WGBH-TV show for his 11th season, which started last week. He also appeared at a reception as part of the KLRN Chef Series.

Wednesday’s shoot at the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, was one of four that Ming and crew were doing. Also that day, he visited John Besh at the New Orleans chef’s San Antonio location of Lüke.

“John Besh is a great guy, and he really has embraced San Antonio – and San Antonio has embraced him,” Ming observed. “You’re lucky to have him.”

On Thursday, the crew would visit Johnny Hernandez’ La Gloria on the Pearl  campus, followed by a shoot at Los Barrios with chef and owner Diana Barrios Treviño.

Wednesday, the award-winning chef’s guest for the segment was CIA chef and instructor Elizabeth Johnson. (Ming, of course, was a guest in her kitchen.)

Focus, minding the details, issuing a few directions and, of course, admonishments to the small group gathered to watch, were part of the action. But, the crew moved with good-natured precision under the watchful eye of executive producer Laura Donnelly, and Ming Tsai was as relaxed and personable as his on-screen persona.

Ming Tsai mingles with KRLN fans.

The main attraction (besides Ming, of course) was Johnson, a Latin Cuisines Specialist, who would demonstrate the unique way Peruvians make their famous ceviche. But, the show would start off with cocktails — pisco sours (made with the priciest pisco around — Pisco Mosto Verde).

Introducing Johnson, Ming cracked a joke about her name not seeming to sound traditionally Peruvian and issued a mock threat to onlookers about turning off their cellphones.

“If anyone’s cellphone goes off, I’ll look at you in a really mean way. Even if I am drinking Pisco sours,” he said.

The first part of the Peruvian show (after the icy pisco sours were poured) would focus on the two chefs “shopping” for ingredients, which were arrayed in vibrant colors on one side of the work table.

Johnson pointed out the plantain, yucca, fresh hearts of palm, Peruvian purple potatoes, bowls full of limes, red onions, chiles large and small, a variety of Cape gooseberry, dried bonito, nuts and more. Also, there was cocona, a small acidic fruit that gives this dish its name, Cocona Ceviche.

The camera crew took their places, the audience settled down and Donnelly was focused on the small screen in front of her.

“Ready, ready … action,” she said, and the show was on.

The ceviche demonstration began with Johnson introducing the amazing variety of ingredients, many of which we’d call “exotic.”  Johnson picked up a cob of corn – but unlike any corn most of us had ever seen. The kernels were big, knobby and misshapen (at least compared to the corn we know). “It’s all starch, not sugar,” Johnson said.

One of the main differences between ceviche as we know it and the Peruvian dish is how the ultra-fresh, raw fish is treated. Instead of an acid bath of lime juice to cure the fish, salt is used for the same purpose. Lots of salt.

Johnson asked Ming to salt the fish — “until you think it’s over-salted.” After he did so, turning the fish (bonito) around and around in a large ice bath, she told him to add even more.

“You’re not cooking with acid, you’re curing with salt,” said Johnson. This, as both chefs noted, would bring the fresh-fish taste, especially the umami sensation, to the fore.

It’s not that acid isn’t important for this style of ceviche — it is, to the point that Johnson crafted not one, but two levels of acidity for the flavorful “broth” that the ceviche swims in called leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk.

Starch is added in the form of plantain, potato, the big corn kernels. A bit of habanero added heat to the profile, celery its perfume, dried bonito offered a smoky accent and a touch of dried kelp, from an inland lake, layered in another earthy element.

CIA San Antonio chef-instructor Elizabeth Johnson prepares some of the ingredients for Peruvian-style ceviche.

Lime juice was, of course, an important part of the liquid portion of the dish, along with another acidic ingredient, aguaymanto, a type of Cape gooseberry. This liquid is delicious in itself, and is consumed — either with a spoon or drinking from the bowl — after the main ingredients are gone.

When the ceviche was completed, Ming tasted it and declared it the best he’d had.

Ming then took over, and with Johnson’s help, made a breaded, nut-crusted fish on a colorful bed of purple potato hash, with fresh hearts of palm salad and a light vinaigrette. Johnson returned the compliments for his “perfectly moist” fish.

Yes, the audience and cooking assistants all had a taste of everything afterward — and yes, it was simply delicious. We got to sample the exotic nuts, berries and starches, and agreed with Ming that the ceviche made with salt-cured fish was worth every bit of the effort.

The shoot was done in three or four efficient segments and took three to  four hours. In the end, Ming thanked Johnson, gave the audience a friendly wave and said his benediction — “To all of you out there, peace and good eating.”

 

 Photographs by Bonnie Walker

A recipe for the Peruvian Ceviche will be provided as soon as SavorSA gets it. The shows done in San Antonio will probably air in the first few months of 2013.

 

Camera focuses on set — a work table in a CIA San Antonio Test kitchen Wednesday, where a segment of “Simply Ming” was happening.

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A Treat for Cinco de Mayo


Grill fish in a basket.

Looking for a new way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or merely enjoy grilled fish? Then check out this easy, yet low-calorie dish from celebrated grill master Steven Raichlen, who will be in San Antonio on May 24 for a fund-raiser benefiting KLRN. (Click here for details.)

“You may not find this dish in traditional Mexican cookbooks,” Raichlen writes in “High-Flavor, Low-Fat Mexican Cooking,” “but the flavors of the simply grilled fish served with a silken salsa of avocado, chiles and fried garlic are as ancient as the country itself. I’ve called for snapper here, but you can really use any fish. For ease in turning the fish on the grill, cook it in a wire fish basket.”

Grilled Snapper with Avocado Sauce

4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless snapper fillets
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice

For the salsa:
1 poblano chile
1 jalapeño
1/2 medium white onion, cut in half
5 cloves garlic (2 cloves peeled, 3 cloves peeled and thinly sliced), divided use
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small or 1/2 large avocado, peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup no-fat sour cream
1/2 cup water, fish broth or bottled clam juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste

Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and sprinkle with garlic. Arrange the fillets in a baking dish and pour the orange and grapefruit juices over them. Marinate for 1 hour, turning once or twice.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Heat a comal or cast-iron skillet over a medium-high heat. Roast the chiles, onion and the 2 peeled garlic cloves until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes for the poblano and onion, 4 to 6 minutes for the jalapeño and the garlic. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Seed the chiles.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Fry the sliced garlic until it is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let it burn. Drain the fried garlic in a strainer.

Place the roasted chiles, onion and garlic in a blender with the avocado, chopped cilantro, cumin, sour cream, water or fish broth, and lime juice. Purée until smooth, adding water as needed to obtain a thick but pourable sauce. Correct the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Add the fried garlic and pulse the blender just to mix.

Preheat the grill to high. Place the fish in a fish basket sprayed with cooking spray oil. Grill the fish until it’s cooked to taste, about 4 minutes per side. Arrange the fish fillets on places or a platter and pour the salsa over them. Garnish with cilantro sprig and serve at once.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis: 290 calories per serving, 36 g protein, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 118 mg sodium, 62 mg cholesterol.

From “High-Flavor, Low-Fat Mexican Cooking” by Steven Raichlen

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Want a Great Wine? Check Out the KLRN Winners


Wine lovers, it’s time to stock your cellars. The winners of this year’s KLRN Wine Competition have been announced.

This year, the best in show winners went to a robust Texas red and an icewine made with the uncommon grape Vidal. The champions are the Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Wilmeth Vineyard 2007 and the Jackson Triggs Vidal Ice Proprietor’s Reserve 2007.

The judges sampled more than 500 wines and awarded about 300 gold, silver and bronze medals. The wines were from all over the world, from Spain and Italy to Canada and Australia.

In the end, medals went to a host of well-known wineries, including Trinchero, Sutter Home, Rodney Strong, Franciscan, Banfi and Marques de Riscal.

In addition to Becker Vineyards, Texas wineries to win medals include Brennan Vineyards, Dry Comal Creek, Flat Creek Estate, Grape Creek, Haak, Kiepersol Estates, Llano Estacado, McPherson Cellars, Mandola, Messina Hof, Pillar Bluff, Singing Water, Sister Creek, Texas Hills Vineyard and Water 2 Wine.

For a complete list, click on the PDF link below.

KLRN Wine Competiton – 2010 Medalits

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KLRN Gears Up for San Antonio Wine Festival


KLRN is gearing up for the annual San Antonio Wine Festival later this month.

To get the ball rolling, the station sponsored its annual Wine Competition at La Quinta on I-10 Saturday. Five panels judged 515 wines in categories that ranged from Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to Spanish Varietals and Port-style Wines. Each panel of judges, featuring wine professionals, collectors and more, sampled more than 100 wines over the course of the day.

Volunteers and KLRN supporters kept the glasses moving from the pouring area to judging room, whiles the wines from around the country and around the world were graded.

Many of the winners will be featured at the various events, including the Fine Wine & Cuisine Tasting on Feb. 15, the Opener on Feb. 19 and the Champagne Brunch on Feb. 21. For a full schedule of events, including prices, locations and times, click here.

The annual festival is a benefit for the local public television station.

A Malbec round ready for the judges.

A small sampling of the wines to be judged.

Appearance is important.

Sean Ballesteros taking in the aroma.

Carl Dominguez and Charlie Deacon

Looks like we have a few medal winners.

Volunteers Jay McCracken and Pie Alvarado making sure all the glasses are spotless.

Volunteer Leslie Campbel takes a quick break.

Volunteer opening a bottle.

(Photos: Nicholas N. Mistry)

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Lidia Bastianich in Town This Sunday


Chef Lidia Bastianich, known for her cookbooks and PBS series, returns to San Antonio for the first dinner in the KLRN Chef Series. It will be at 6 p.m. Sunday at the St. Anthony Hotel, 300 E. Travis St.

The host of “Lidia’s Italy” will demonstrate a few of her favorite recipes over a four-course meal.  She will even impart a few secrets to Italian cooking during the evening, which includes the demonstration, four-course meal with wine, and an autographed copy of her latest book, “Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy.”

Tickets for $175 apiece can be purchased at http://www.klrn.org/chef/

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