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Events: Luke and Mardi Gras; NAO Chefs and More


Featuring six of San Antonio’s most well-known chefs, Nao and USA Today are excited to present “Experience Food & Wine in Texas” on Thursday, March 13 from 6 – 11 p.m.
Chef Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria

Chef Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria

While focused on ingredients that come from the Lone Star State, this event is an opportunity to taste the cuisine of chefs including Geronimo Lopez and Alain Dubernard of Nao, Steve McHugh of Cured, Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria and Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn and Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno,in one spectacular meal. To start up the evening, guests will have the chance to join the visiting chefs, all of whom are CIA alumni, as they come back to cook at their alma mater.

The six-course dinner will begin at 7 p.m. and will feature wine pairings with each course. There also will be live music. Tickets are now on sale for $100 per person and can be reserved by calling Nao at 210-554-6484.
Party like it’s New Orleans!

Luke San Antonio is bringing the flavor of New Orleans straight to Texas with a special Mardi Gras party on Fat Tuesday,  March 4,  from 3 p.m.- 8 p.m.

The event takes place during Luke’s weekly extended happy hour. Featured drinks include a signature Hurricane cocktail and Abita Beers on tap, including Amber, Purple Haze, Turbodog, Restoration Pale Ale and Mardi Gras Bock. For those who want to start Mardi Gras festivities early, we’ve attached our Hurricane recipe below.

crawfish1Luke San Antonio will be giving away T-shirts and there will be opportunities to win John Besh’s Mardi Gras-themed Besh Boxes. see more at beshbox.com.

Chef John Russ will be serving New Orleans party fare, listed below, at happy hour rates:

$2 King Cake with chances to win Besh Box
Hot Boiled Crawfish
$5 Gulf Shrimp Étouffée
$3 Andouille Jambalaya
$4 Peeler Farms Fried Chicken Wings
Hurricane glassIf you want to make your own Hurricanes for Mardi Gras, here’s a recipe from Besh Restaurants.
*
Hurricane Recipe
1 ounce tangerine-infused rum
1 ounce bourbon barrel-aged dark rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces orange juice
1 ounce passion fruit juice
3/4 ounce pomegranate syrup
Pour ingredients over ice in a shaker and shake. Pour into a hurricane glass and garnish with fruit slices, such as a slice or orange or pineapple.

 

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SA’s Johnny Hernandez Named One of US’ Top 5 Latino Chefs


Congrats to one of San Antonio’s own celebrity chefs — La Gloria Ice House owner Johnny Hernandez. He was named today as one of the country’s top Latino chefs by Siempre Mujer magazine.

In addition to being chef/owner of La Gloria at the Pearl, Hernandez also is proprietor of True Flavors catering and Casa Hernan.

This note, below, was posted from Hernandez’ alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America today, and includes link to a video interview:

“Chef Johnny Hernandez, who graduated from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1989, was named one of the top five Latino Chefs in the United States by Siempre Mujer magazine. He is the executive chef and owner of one of San Antonio’s most popular restaurants, La Gloria Ice House, which is adjacent to the CIA’s San Antonio campus. He also owns Casa Hernán, True Flavors Catering Company, and The Fruteria. Another restaurant and his first cookbook, México Mi Gloria, are in the works.

In this interview, Chef Johnny speaks about his expanding empire and how classic Latin is the “hot” cuisine in the U.S. today. He talks about the CIA’s growing program offerings in San Antonio, including an associate degree in culinary arts and the new Latin Cuisines Certificate Program, as well as what the college’s presence means for the state of Texas. He also takes the opportunity to reflect on how his CIA education prepared him to become one of the leading chefs in Latin cuisine.”

River Walk view, from chef Johnny Hernandez’ restaurant La Gloria at the Pearl.

Hernandez also achieved national attention this year for his appearances on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.”

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‘Nothing Significant Happens without Food,’ Johnny Hernandez Says


Johnny Hernandez applauds the graduating class at The Culinary Institute of America's main campus.

Johnny Hernandez, named one of the top five Latino chefs in the United States by Siempre Mujer magazine, returned to the college that launched his thriving career Thursday and served as commencement speaker at The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus.

“You have chosen the most exciting career in the most exciting industry in the world today,” Hernandez told 88 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. “We are at the center of every celebration, because nothing significant happens without food.”

The 43-year-old San Antonio native remembered the advice of his late father, who only had a second grade education but whose work ethic that inspired him to become the chef and entrepreneur he is today: “You have to do what you love, so you don’t have to work.”

Hernandez’s love has resulted in an expanding restaurant empire that includes La Gloria Ice House, adjacent to the CIA’s San Antonio campus, along with Casa Hernán and True Flavors Catering Company. Two more restaurants and his first cookbook are in the works.

In presenting Hernandez with the college’s Gold Medal following the address, CIA President Tim Ryan called him “a favorite son of San Antonio.”

“Today marks the beginning of a great future that is only limited by your ability to dream big … with the solid foundation of the great culinary education you received here at the CIA,” Hernandez, who earned his CIA degree in 1989, advised graduates. A member of the college’s Alumni Council and Latin Foods Advisory Board, he has been a strong supporter of the CIA San Antonio, raising funds for college scholarships through his annual Paella Challenge contest.

 

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Casa Hernán Brings a Rustic, Hacienda-Style Elegance to Catering Scene


Nothing says San Antonio hospitality quite like a freshly made margarita.

San Antonio chef and caterer Johnny Hernandez is inviting people into his home.

Bistec tacos are one dish available at Casa Hernan.

Casa Hernán, just off Southtown at 411 Cevallos, is a catering venue that is now open to the public for private party rentals. The opulent space reflects the hacienda style of interior Mexico, from the koi pond at the front entrance to the colorful dining area with room for several food stations.

The dishes at Casa Hernan.

Hernandez, who also operates La Gloria Ice House at the Pearl Brewery,  has had the place decorated with an elegance mixed with a bold, traditional color scheme that is both energizing and tranquil and makes you feel far from the neighboring railroad tracks and right at home next to La Tuna Grill.

At the opening party, the chef and his catering company, True Flavors, put on a spread that included samples from the various menus clients can choose from. Dishes included fish in an hoja santa sauce, several ceviches, bistec tacos, sopes and cochinita pibil as well as tres leches cake  shooters for dessert.

You don’t have to wait for an invitation to a private party to see Casa Hernán. Come September, Hernandez is opening the space for a monthly Sunday brunch with each focusing on the regional foods of interior Mexico.

For more information, visit trueflavors.com.

The main dining area at Casa Hernan.

 

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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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Chefs’ Corner: Johnny Hernandez’s Ceviche Verde


Ceviche Verde

In the newly redesigned Bon Appétit magazine, the August Challenge for four chefs was to come up with a dish using avocado. One of those chefs was San Antonio’s Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria.

His recipe was for a sensational Ceviche Verde, which calls for tomatillo, green olives, cilantro and jalapeño in addition to avocado.

The other recipes are from Carly Groden of Proof in Des Moines, who offered an avocado smoothie, Greg Baker of the Refinery in Tampa with Avocado Salad with Peaches and Shaun McCrain of Book Bindery in Seattle with Avocado and Crab Soup.

By the way, Hernandez was also honored recently by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Business Owner of the Year.

Congratulations to him for both honors.

Ceviche Verde

1 pound fresh Pacific halibut or other firm-fleshed fish, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3/4 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup diced tomatillo
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tostadas or tortilla chips, for serving

Place the fish in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Add lime juice and toss to coat. Marinate until the edges of the cubs begin to turn opaque, about 30 minutes. Add avocado, olives, tomatillo, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, if using. Add olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Serve over tostadas or with tortilla chips for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

From Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria/Bon Appétit

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Victoria Beer Comes to La Gloria; Phil’s Opens


Victoria is now available at La Gloria.

La Gloria welcomes Victoria

For the past 145 years, Victoria has been brewed and sold in Mexico. The Vienna-style beer has come to take on a certain mystique because it was available only south of the border.

Now that is changing. This month, Victoria became available in Texas and is now for sale at La Gloria Ice House, 100 E. Grayson St.

Chef and owner Johnny Hernandez launched sales of the beer at his restaurant with a party pairing it with quesadillas, cochinita pibil, street tacos and more, all to show his efforts to present Mexico City-style food and drink at La Gloria. And how good the beer is when paired with the savory bites.

“It’s a great all-around food beer,” he says.

Hernandez is also using Victoria to make his cheladas and micheladas.

A michelada made with Victoria.

The two beer-based cocktails are not what you’d expect from what’s served in many places around town. Neither is a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka, for example.

You don’t find that much in Mexico, Hernandez says.But you also don’t find a great deal of consistency from place to place, so Hernandez developed his recipes using what he liked best from his travels.

He makes his chelada with plenty of fresh lime juice and salt on the rim. The michelada is made with Maggi Seasoning, Worchestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and soy sauce, all mixed with beer and also served with a salted rim.

Second location for Big Bob’s

Robert Riddle is planning on a second location of Big Bob’s Burgers.

He and partner Larry Walker, former publisher of the San Antonio Express-News, hope to open the restaurant on Hildebrand Avenue between San Pedro and Blanco Road in the spring.

The site is currently occupied by Cookie’s Discount Fashions.

The new restaurant will seat about 100 and will feature pizza in addition to burgers, Riddle says.

There will also be a party room for private parties, he says. Beer will be available and diners can bring their own wine to drink without a corkage fee.

Phil’s Texas Diner opens

Phil’s Texas Diner has opened inside the new Evil Olive Elixir Lounge at 2950 Thousand Oaks Drive.

The menu offers barbecue, burgers, pizza, barbecue nachos and desserts in a setting surrounded by a full-service, non-smoking bar. You can also get a 16-ounce bottle of Phil’s Drunk BBQ Sauce to go.

Hours are 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. Call 210-495-0957.

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

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Johnny Hernandez’s La Gloria Now Open


Small fried tacos with crumbled Mexican cheese samples of La Gloria fare.

Johnny Hernandez’s long-anticipated opening of La Gloria was Wednesday.

The fare is Mexican street foods, including tortas, tacos, panchos, tlyudas, dorados and more.

The restaurant, with a patio overlooking the new Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk, is across the parking lot from the new Culinary Institute of America building, under construction now. The CIA is Hernandez’s alma mater.

As the early afternoon temperatures began to rise on Monday, two days before opening, Hernandez’s staff was working on serving a private party. Manager Francisco Mannechez and assistant manager Eric Valdez handled the talking and details, while La Gloria’s chef de cuisine, Greg Fernandez, watched over as food came out of the open kitchen.

Hernandez was running interference but stopped a moment to sit by his mother, Teresa Hernandez. He pointed out the view to the river and mentioned that the lights outside would, he hoped, would complement the look of the lighting on a shade the Pearl is putting up before the summer gets too warm.

La Gloria patio, river side, has a pretty River Walk view.

Teresa Hernandez was proud but nervous, as a mother would be. “No, I didn’t teach him how to cook,” she said in answer to my question. Hernandez’s father was a longtime employee of Earl Abel’s and gets the credit for steering his son toward the restaurant business.

Hernandez headed back to the kitchen on an errand as the food began to be served. His mother leaned across the table. “I think he’s going to have to do a variety platter,” she said, indicating a large blackboard of menu items on the wall. “Everyone is going to want everything.”

Photos by Bonnie Walker

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What Would You Pay to Watch a Taping of ‘Iron Chef America’?


Want to buy a 1945 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, often considered one of the greatest wines of the last century?

Or would like to get two VIP passes to a taping of “Iron Chef America”?

These are but two of the items currently featured in the Culinary Institute of America’s online auction, which is a complement to the school’s annual leadership awards gala.

The culinary school is accepting bids through April 1. Other items include dinner for six at José Andrés Minibar, a six-seat restaurant in Washington, D.C.; dinner for four at New York’s Le Bernardin; and a Chicago weekend package.

Johnny Hernandez, Sheri Noland and James Sanchez have donated a San Antonio weekend package that includes a two-night stay at the Hotel Contessa, a dinner for two at Hernandez’s La Gloria, which is expected to open in May, and dinner for two at Acenar, where Sanchez is executive chef.

Click here for the full list and for details.

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