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The ‘Queen of San Antonio’ Reopens in Style


The St. Anthony has re-opened.

The St. Anthony has re-opened.

The St. Anthony Hotel first opened in 1909, but you’d never guess the “Queen of San Antonio,” as she has been called, is more than 100 years old.

The St. Anthony's culinary staff

The St. Anthony’s culinary staff

A thorough renovation of the hotel, including the addition of the restaurant, Rebelle, and the bar, Haunt, has shown that there’s plenty of sparkle in her, from the baroque elegance of the lobby to the minimalism and serenity of the infinity pool tucked out of view on the sixth floor.

In its heyday, the St. Anthony was the first fully air-conditioned hotel in the world. Now, it shines anew in most every corner, as the recent grand reopening party showed, from its spacious ballroom to the new rooftop lounge on the hotel’s tenth floor, the St. A Sky Terrace, which will open in 2016.

But, of course, it’s the food that caught our interest.

Rebelle's cassoulet

Rebelle’s cassoulet

Feast owner Andrew Goodman and chef Stefan Bowers are behind both Rebelle and Haunt, which have drawn great attention from local food lovers. Rebelle features a world of flavors from the comfort of cassoulet with duck and pork to lobster in green curry. The expected array of steaks, from the expected to the mammoth, are pan-seared to perfection, and are just a part of a varied menu that includes both hot and cold small plates to share, including baked oysters and a crab salad over celeriac. Of course, choices will change with Bowers’ inspiration and seasonal items.

Rebelle's crab salad

Rebelle’s crab salad

That’s what attracted the management of the St. Anthony to the team in the first place. “Feast helped set the stage for San Antonio’s culinary rebirth. What they’ve done there has drawn national attention yet has stayed true to San Antonio. It’s well-rounded and well liked—they have a legion of fans. And Andrew (Goodman) is a local, while Stefan (Bowers) is local by marriage. We wanted to stay local and highlight local talent,” says Clyde Johnson IV, chief investment officer of BC Lynd, one of the partners in the hotel.

Goodman has stories and memories of The St. Anthony. “My grandfather had a standing reservation at The St. Anthony barbershop and my father would accompany him as a boy. I also came here as a child, I’ve been to weddings and events here. My grandparents and parents celebrated here. The hotel is part of the fabric of San Antonio and the restoration is magnificent,” he says. “Being part of the next era of such a tradition is an honor.”

The bar at Rebelle

The bar at Rebelle

The executive chef of the hotel is Michael Mata, who has worked alongside local chefs such as Andrew Weissman, Steven McHugh and Scott Cohen, as well as celebrity chefs John Besh, Lidia Bastianichi, Rick Bayless and Joanne Weir.

rebelle sign“Every plate has a story to tell,” explains Mata. “Both when we serve it to a guest and when it comes back to us. The food and flavors—and what guests enjoyed — tell a story. We’re always working to tell new stories.

“This hotel is more than a tradition — it’s a legend. And we want our food to match that legend. We want to be the best, every single time. That should be our culinary identity.”

 

The private dining room at Rebelle

The private dining room at Rebelle

A ballroom at the St. Anthony Hotel

A ballroom at the St. Anthony Hotel

The St. Anthony lobby

The St. Anthony lobby

The infinity pool on the hotel's sixth floor

The infinity pool on the hotel’s sixth floor

The view from the hotel's rooftop terrace

The view from the hotel’s rooftop terrace

A view of the St. Anthony's rooftop

A view of the St. Anthony’s rooftop

The hotel's culinary team serves up an array of tacos.

The hotel’s culinary team serves up an array of tacos.

A seafood display with ice sculpture

A seafood display with ice sculpture

The interior of Haunt

The interior of Haunt

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Les Dames d’Escoffier Bring Food, Film in Grand Style to Fundraiser


Meals on Reels table cropped

It was all glitter and pearls, top-notch auction items, perfect wine and food and a party to remember Thursday night as San Antonio’s chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s fundraiser filled a ballroom at the St. Anthony Hotel.

Meals on Reels, presented by members of the culinary organization for women, was one of this year’s events to bring in cash for scholarships and other support and opportunities for women who are in, or wish to become professionals in culinary pursuits of all kinds.

“It just went really smoothly, it was a great night, a really excellent collection of silent and live auction items – everyone did a great job,” said Les Dames President Kathy Shearer. She and restaurateur Dame Blanca Aldaco co-chaired the event. Debbie Gonzales, also a member of Les Dames and a manager at the St. Anthony, coordinated arrangements.

Planning began months ago, but the real push on site started a day ahead of the event as Dames and helpers set the stage, from auction room to banquet hall.

Grand Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Some 186 guests attended. The theme, Meals on Reels, was a posh take on a night at the Oscars. Tables gleamed with gray and aubergine linens, flowers, crystal candlesticks and swag bags. The entertainment was clips of foodie scenes from famous movies, shown on screens around the room and narrated by Dame Cynthia Guido and Ron Bechtol. The evening’s MCs were dames Tanji Patton and Leslie Komet Ausburn.

And of course, there was popcorn.

In the kitchen, St. Anthony Executive Chef Michael Mata and his staff cleared the way for Dames whose restaurant and cooking backgrounds prepared them to create and execute the ambitious menu Thursday night. The menu items matched those mentioned in the featured movies — ranging from Lobster Bisque and Grilled Quail to Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon.

Much of the prep work was done on Wednesday, under the guidance of Dame Naylene Dillingham, chef and owner of the renowned Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery in Tarpley.

Meals on Reels quail dish cropped

Grilled Quail with Silky Rose Petal Sauce

Dillingham was assisted by restaurateurs and chefs, including dames Nancy Fitch, Cathy Tarasovic, Lisa Wong, Jenny Mattingsly and Denise Mazel, as well as Central Market Cooking School Manager Mary Martini. Dessert was prepared by Dame Anne Ng, of Bakery Lorraine.

A group of five female culinary students from the Culinary Institute of America, enrolled in Dame Julia Rosenfeld’s writing class, also made an appearance. They, along with Rosenfeld, Cathy Tarasovic and I pitched in to help with the cheese course for the event.

Photographs by Susan Jaime and Bonnie Walker

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Silent auction items were collected by dames Di-Anna Arias and Erica Hanchey.

Live auction items, which provided fun later in the evening, included a one-week stay in a picturesque San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; a three-day culinary trip to New York for two, including dinner at the James Beard House; a chef-prepared dinner for 10 at Osteria Il Sogno in San Antonio; a private party for up to 30 people at the Don Strange Ranch; and a gourmet dinner prepared by members of Les Dames for 10 people at the home of Dame Pat Mozersky.

This fundraiser might be over, but the culinary expertise of this active local chapter of the international Les Dames d’Escoffier is planning another event, The Plate Changer,

for later this year.

About Les Dames d’Escoffier International: This year, Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Antonio Chapter (LDEI-SA), celebrates its Twentieth Anniversary. Our membership consists of dedicated professional women in the culinary arts, hospitality, agriculture, and other related fields. Our emphasis is on education and philanthropy and through our efforts, we are strengthening our community by following in the footsteps of legendary members both past and present from around the country such as Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Marcella Hazan, and Alice Waters. We are especially inspired and encouraged by our own chapter’s premier trail blazer and San Antonio star, Rosemary Kowalski, founder and CEO Emeritus of the RK Group.

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

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Spring Warm-up: Openings, Events, Tastings, Fun


Rosario's new Panela cheese, grilled and topped with two salsas.

Rosario’s new queso Panela, grilled and topped with two salsas.

Three much-anticipated restaurants open soon.

First, Rosario’s, at 3715 San Pedro Ave., will open Monday (March 31) for lunch and dinner. Enjoy the dishes and drinks you love at the downtown Rosario’s on Alamo Street, plus some new items. We sampled some favorites and the new grilled panela cheese with two salsas, seviche, a Rosario’s burger (complete with chalupa inside and some real good fries) and more at a soft opening Thursday night.

Hot Joy, opening at the former location of China Latina, will open April 3. The restaurant is at 1014 S. Alamo St.

Aldaco’s Dominion will also be opening in April, but toward the end of the month.

Conger’s Smoke Shack food truck announced they will move to a brick-and-mortar location. This will be at 3714 Broadway. A skip and a jump near the Pearl, and across the street from the Witte Museum. Will they still be setting up shop at Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market?  No, says Heather Hunter, but they will be there this coming Saturday for one last round of great barbecue.  Chela’s Tacos, which has been there the past couple of weeks, will be taking over that post.

Travis Park and St. Anthony Hotel

St. Anthony Hotel garden.

St. Anthony Hotel garden.

Join The St. Anthony Hotel Monday (March 31) to celebrate the Grand Reopening of the historic Travis Park. The vibrant greens of spring and the new visions and plans for Travis Park will be honored for a full day.  At 9:30 a.m. the hotel participates with Southwest Airlines President and CEO Gary Kelly and other contributors to restore the park and invite you to join them.

This will be followed in the evening (6 p.m.) by farm-fresh foods crafted by  St. Anthony chef, Mike Mata, paired with wines from Becker Vineyards, and the soft sounds of Brent Watkins’ live jazz for Twilight on the Plaza.

Crawfish at Lüke

Celebrate crawfish season in true style this Sunday (March 30) at Lüke San Antonio downtown. From  3 p.m to 6 p.m at the restaurant at 125 E. Houston St., it will be not just lots of crawfish crawfish1but also savory sides such as crawfish boil potato salad, boiled “corn in a cup,” and Poteet strawberry shortcake for dessert. St. Arnold Brewery will be the featured beer for washing down those crawfish.

The event is all you can eat and drink, for $48 per person.  Call them at (210) 227-5853. See their event page at  https://www.facebook.com/events/776505119029244/?context=create&source=49

 

King and Queen Anchovy Poker Run

Michael Westheimer and Elaine Wolffe have a party planned and you’re invited. Saturday, April 5, is the King and Queen Anchovy Poker Run.

Poker handHere are the attractions: Five restaurants, five bites, five drinks and (most important) five cards.

The best hands will win prizes, including tickets to Cornyation and gift certificates to the participating restaurants: Bite, The Monterey, The Brooklynite, Cured and Minnie’s.

The fun starts at  1 p.m. at Bite. The cost is $50; chefs are donating their hospitality so proceeds go to support Fiesta Cornyation.

Check out the Facebook page here and make reservations soon.  https://www.facebook.com/events/474137272715017/

Baby grapesSummer events coming up at Becker Vineyards

The new outdoor pavillion is open now at Becker Vineyards, in the Texas Hill Country. The pavillion oversees the lavender field, plus new outdoor restroom facilities are available, too. Don’t forget the winery’s 16th annual Lavender Festival, with lavender luncheons, vendors selling lavender and gardening-related items, lavender cooking demos and more. Plus there will be, of course, wine tastings. The event is May 3 and 4. Go to their website here for more information.

April means Hornitos tequila at La Fogata

Aldaco MargaritaLa Fogata knows tequila — and mixes no fewer than 300 gallons of their tequila concoctions each week. La Fogata features monthly tequila tastings to allow its guests to explore different tequila flavors and enjoy special cocktails crafted by their experienced bar staff.

April’s featured tequila is Hornitos. On Saturday, April 19,  before you head to your table, stop by the tequila tasting table to learn more about Hornitos tequila. The free tasting table will feature the tequila served both straight up and mixed in margaritas. The tasting table will be open on La Fogata’s main patio from 6-8 p.m. La Fogata is at 2427 Vance Jackson Road.

If you can’t make the tequila tasting, don’t worry:  La Fogata is featuring Hornitos throughout the month of April, so you have the opportunity to try the tequila by ordering it in your favorite drink at La Fogata.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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