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The Best Place in SA to Shop for Someone Who Loves to Cook


At Rodriguez Butcher Supply, you can find the chef's knife that's right for you.

At Rodriguez Butcher Supply, you can find the chef’s knife that’s right for you.

If the cooks on your gift list have been very nice this year, you may want to return the favor and get some really nice gifts to thank them.

rod philip fickelYou don’t have to break the bank, either.

Not if you travel to Rodriguez Butcher Supply on the west side. The store at 1715 W. Commerce St. has been around for decades now, as you can tell from some of the historic photos that grace the walls. But in the recent past, the family has added a kitchen supply business that has attracted some of the top chefs in town. (Check out the store’s Facebook page, and you’ll find a banner featuring Robbie Nowlin, Jason Dady and Stefan Bowers, “rock stars” of the city’s culinary scene, says Philip Fickel, whose family has run the store for several generations.)

Everyone who loves chefs knives will be attracted to the dazzling along one wall of the store. From Wusthof and Henckels to Nora and even blades from Austin and San Antonio, you’ll find what you’re looking for and at a prices that I couldn’t quite believe. Ask Fickel for help in deciding what’s best for beginners or trained professionals, what works best for cutting sashimi or vegetables as well as beef, pork and boning fowl. There’s even an oyster shucker for smaller New England bivalves; it comes with a beer bottle opener as part of the blade.

Handcrafted knifes for all purposes are on sale.

Handcrafted knifes for all purposes are on sale.

You can also sign up for knife sharpening classes and get the tools to keep your blades’ edges cutting efficiently.

Don’t just stop for knives, however.  Rodriguez has plenty of other kitchen items, such as pots and pans as well as butcher equipment, including meat slicers, tenderizers, hooks and saws. Plus, if you want to stuff your own sausage, no matter whether you’re using venison, lobster or pork, you’ll find seasonings and cures as well as casings and stuffers.

And if you want to start cooking sous vide, you’ll find what you need there as well.

Check out some of the inventory at homebutcher.com. But don’t just shop this local business online. Go over to the store and let Fickel, his family or any of the staff help you out. You never know what you’re going to find.

A few of the knives at Rodriguez.

A few of the knives at Rodriguez.

This oyster shucker also opens your beer bottle.

This oyster shucker also opens your beer bottle.

 

 

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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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Andrew Goodman Has a Lot on His Plate


Andrew Goodman was having fun Monday night. His restaurant, Feast, was hosting the second of Texas Monthly’s Fire & Smoke dinners, which brought together chefs Stefan Bowers and Jason Dady. He recently won a year-long lawsuit that will let Feast stay at 1024 S. Alamo St.

Andrew Goodman talks with patrons at Feast.

Andrew Goodman talks with patrons at Feast.

And he has plans for more in the works.

First up is a new bar called Haunt at the St. Anthony Hotel, which he hopes to open in the next two weeks. It will have some light bar food as well as drinks. It’s named after the ghosts said to

Shortly after that, Goodman and chef Bowers will open a restaurant in the luxury hotel at 300 E. Travis St. Goodman, a San Antonio native, says the place will be ready in about three weeks, but Bowers wasn’t sure. A kitchen is being added, and that might cause more time to make sure everything is ready.

There’s also a question about the name. Goodman referred to it as Rebelle, but Bowers said that could change. Regardless of the name, it will be a nice dining addition to the area near the Tobin Performing Arts Center and the Majestic.

After that, Goodman will be turning his attention to a proposed project for the old Fire Station No. 7 at 604 S. Alamo St., across from the Alamo Street Eat Bar.

A full plate perhaps, but great news for those us who know the power of Bowers’ food and Goodman’s flair.

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Rare Bottle of Glenfiddich 50 Year Old Is on Its Way to San Antonio


Only 50 bottles of Glenfiddich 50 Year Old are being made available worldwide this year. Only six of those are headed to the U.S.

Glenfiddich 50The limited edition bottle retails for $25,000-$27,000, if you can get your hands on one.

That should tell you how rare this Scotch is and how big of a deal it is that two of those bottles are headed for Texas and one is coming to San Antonio.

It’s going to be part of a tasting at Bar 1919 in the Blue Star Complex on Sept. 4.

Tickets, as you can imagine, are not cheap. They’re priced at $1,500 apiece.

For that price, you get to taste the rare Glenfiddich 50 Year Old as well as five other collectible single malts, including the Glenfiddich 30 Year Old and the 1974 Vintage. Plus, chef Stefan Bowers of Feast will present a five-course meal.

Glenfiddich Ambassador David Allardice, a native Scotsman who grew up driving distance from the Glenfiddich distillery, will host the evening and share his passion and expertise about the prized dram. “This whisky is the jewel in Glenfiddich’s crown and amongst the most valuable whiskies ever released,” he says. “Time and tradition have contributed to making every drop of this beautifully matured whisky some of the most precious Glenfiddich has to offer.”

A press release describes the rare spirit thus: “The nose is beautifully harmonious with an uplifting, vibrant and complex aroma. The taste is initially sweet with a zesty orange marmalade and vanilla toffee, which then cascades through a wonderful series of layers: aromatic herbs, floral and soft fruits, silky oak tannin and hints of gentle smoke. The finish is exceptionally long with a touch of dry oak and the merest trace of peat.”

Meanwhile, Don Marsh, owner of 1919, says, “Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is a prized possession. To have one of only two bottles in Texas exemplifies the world-class standard and unique opportunities that 1919 provides for our guests.”

Seating is limited for the event, which is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 4. Call (210) 227-1420 for reservations. (And if you go, take an eyedropper and save us a sip.)

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Chefs’ Corner: Two Approaches to Sweet Potatoes, One Great Taste


Lemon Sweet Potatoes

At the recent San Antonio Cellar Classic, those who got past the vast array of wines found themselves faced with two similar sweet potato dishes that were simple yet sublime.

Yet the road each chef took to get that dish to the table was different, even if the end results mirrored each other.

Jesse Perez of the upcoming Arcade at the Pearl Brewery served his lemon sweet potatoes as a foundation for flank steak with a chimichurri sauce. To make the sweet potatoes, he roasted them in a convection oven at 400 degrees for 90 minutes until they were tender. Then he puréed them with lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and a little cream.

A handful of tables away, Stefan Bowers of Feast, 1024 S. Alamo St., had a similar recipe but a different approach. He roasted his sweet potatoes for 10 hours at 200 degrees. “Sweet potatoes loved to be cook slow and low,” he said. Then he added lemon juice, salt and a touch of cream.

The choice of cooking the sweet potatoes is yours — you could use a crock pot, if you wanted — as long as they’re tender. The beauty of this recipe goes beyond its simplicity. It has no added sugar, and it doesn’t need any. You’ll taste for yourself how naturally sweet these bright and colorful tubers really are, perfect for fall dinners including that great sweet potato day, Thanksgiving.

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Griffin to Go: Mac and Cheese Me, Please


What comfort macaroni and cheese brings.

The second annual San Antonio Cellar Classic drew hundreds to the Pearl Brewery Stables Saturday to sample a wide variety of wines that they could then take home at a discounted rate.

Taking tastes at the San Antonio Cellar Classic.

Shoppers looking to shore up their cellars with some age-worthy bottles or those just wanting to get an early start on holiday treats lined up before the doors opened and then lined up at the end to collect their purchases.

In between, there were dozens of wines poured alongside some small plates available from a series of restaurants, both established and soon to be on the dining scene, offering proof once again that fine wine loves great food.

A floral Terrazas Torrontés 2001 offered a nice balance to Feast chef Stefan Bowers shrimp ceviche, while Bending Branch’s new Cabernet Sauvignon and the Col Solare, Washington state’s answer to Italy’s Super Tuscans, both went well with sous vide flank steak from Jesse Perez’s upcoming Arcade. The tangy Ripa delle More 2008 from Castello Vicchiomaggio and veal polpette from chef James Moore’s soon-to-open Boiler House Texas Grill. Clint Connaway of Max’s Wine Dive offered a strata that was made for the Ruinart Rosé Champagne.

Jesse Perez plates his dish.

Urban Taco, NAO, the Bright Shawl, H-E-B and Ms. Chocolatier also offered treats ranging from flautas and gazpacho to salted caramel cake balls and red velvet cupcakes.

Cake balls.

While the guests were sipping and snacking to their hearts’ content, the real work was taking place in a corner under the staircase. Five of us had to judge seven different macaroni and cheese dishes from the participating restaurants. TV and web personality Tanji Patton, food writer Chris Dunn, Suzanne Taranto Etheredge of Culinaria, Lenny Friedman of Los #3 Dinners, which provided the great background music, and I were all set for the difficult task, while food writer Julia Celeste Rosenfeld served as tie-breaker, if one were needed.

How  do you judge macaroni and cheese, we asked ourselves. Quality of the pasta counts, of course. So does the nature of the cheese. Is it creamy and velvety? Does the cheese complement the rest of the ingredients? How well do the rest of the ingredients, whatever they may be, fit in with macaroni and cheese?

A judge reaches for a sample of macaroni and cheese.

The choices we were faced with ran the gamut from two made with bacon to one that featured duck confit and spinach. One was more like a casserole, in that that the meat took over, leaving the cheese in the dust. Some had breadcrumbs on top, others arrived under the protection of a crispy shield of cheese.

In the end, we were almost unanimous in our agreement that Feast’s Stefan Bowers had come up with a winner with his smoky, spicy mac and cheese with shishito peppers folded in. The smokiness carried over into the cheese. Not that the others were slouches by any means, but in Bower’s version, everything played together to provide that pure comfort that comes from a top-notch macaroni and cheese.

And the not-too-hot spice in the dish would have been perfect with the fruity Tortoise Creek Grenache Rosé d’Une Nuit 2011, a French rosé with a very New World label and approach.

Hard work, folks. Just be glad there are folks willing to sacrifice time and taste buds for a good cause.

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Would You Pay More for Dining in Prime Time?


Clams and chorizo at Bliss.

Some high-end restaurants in New York city are so popular that they’ve begun charging patrons more if they want reservations during prime hours, notably 7 to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and for preferred seating, the New York Times reported recently.

In a way, it’s a reserve of early bird specials that reward patrons for dining earlier in the evening by giving them a break on the price of their meal.

But would the idea go over in SA? Would people be willing to pay more because they wanted to dine at the most congested time? The question was put to several key players on the dining scene. Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Bliss
Chef/owner, Bliss
926 S. Presa St.

Hmm, a premium price for premium times … I think some clientele would not have an issue, but it does seem a bit exclusive and would not allow customers on a budget to dine at premium times, especially for special events like anniversaries, birthdays, etc. We always wanted Bliss to be accessible to everyone, and if they book a week out ahead of time, they are able to secure prime times, usually. It seems that with “preferred seating” one would be setting one up for no-show credit card charges, last-minute reservations and impatience in having to wait for a table on very busy nights. We already have that exclusivity in place with our chef’s table. -Mark

Stefan Bowers
Chef, Feast
1024 S. Alamo St.

At Feast we only do reservations for tables of six or more and that’s simply because we needed to be somewhat prepared for large groups. But I can answer this question with certainty because I answer the phones during the day (we don’t have a host during the day and I don’t like people going to voicemail). The fact is that 95 percent of everyone who calls and wants a table, especially on a Friday/Saturday night, wants it at 7:30. It’s a premium time, and everyone wants it. I’ll tell the guest on the phone that 7:30-8:30 is booked and lose their business because of the trillion other options available. I suppose in New York it’s a way of recovering some of the losses of “turnaway” tables. Though, my personal belief is that it’s not good business. The party calling far enough ahead to secure a table and then being penalized for it just doesn’t make sense to me. This is exactly, on a deep level, why we became an open seating restaurant, first come-first serve (almost — we’re just too small to deal with a walk-in 14, 16 or 20 top).

The Jack Cheese Mac at Feast.

What’s happening nowadays in the contemporary restaurant scene is fascinating to me. Restaurants are completely evolving. They’re becoming far more unconventional and much more confident in calling their own shots. Big name or just solid local chefs with a national reputation (Carlo Mirarchi, David Chang, for example) are rewriting the rule books. We’re ALL aware of the fatality rate of restaurants, so I think younger chefs are taking a more defensive and protective role and saying something to the effect of “Well, I could be out of business in less than five years, so I’m going to do things my way and I’m also not going to let the guests take advantage of me OR my restaurant.” Yet, I feel this is an unstopable measure in big cities. Though, I don’t see SA doing this for another 3-5 years at the minimum.

Altogether, I don’t agree with this trend. It doesn’t feel right poking someone with a reservation time “penalty ticket” (even though there’s a part of me that can see how it might possibly eliminate the entitled guest or it might cause the more frugal guest to slide up or down a time slot), but unfortunately I think what it’s going to do, most of all, is just irritate the guest from the begining and start a VERY dangerous process of stacking the deck against the restaurant that applies it.

To put it plainly, it’s going to cheapen the guest/restaurant relationship from the start. The romance immediately dies a little between the two parties because it becomes about the money before the two parties can even get to the sex, uh, food/experience. It’s important to never make the guest feel cheap. If the guest feels cheap then the restaurant is cheap.

Jason Dady
Chef/owner, Jason Dady Restaurants,
including Bin 555 and Tre Trattoria

Is Jason Dady’s outrageous Nutella x 3 even more precious if you can order it at the time you prefer?

In my dream world, that would be perfect. It makes sense in many other entertainment industries: premium tickets for premium pricing. Down time results in lower pricing in movie theaters, Broadway shows, etc.

I think if they “band” together, it could work, but it’s only as strong as its weakest link. Look at Next and Alinea (in Chicago) selling tickets, and it’s worked great for them.

It would never, ever go over in SA, because no one has a stronghold enough on the market to garner that type of demand. But as a diner, I would certainly not mind paying a premium price for a premium time, if that’s what I wanted. You get what you pay for.

Robert Rodriguez,
General Manager, NAO at the CIA
312 Pearl Parkway

Interesting. Seems like an effort to make the time less popular. Can’t imagine they would be making much money with it. Don’t think it would go over very well here. In San Antonio, everyone wants to come in between 6 and 8 … sometimes it’s difficult to fill reservations in advance for earlier or later than that, if they plan ahead at all.

Now, it’s your turn: Would you be willing to pay more for dinner at a special restaurant if you wanted to go at a heavily trafficked time? Post your answers below.

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‘Feast’ Moving into Former Oloroso Location


The Oloroso sign is still up at 1024 S. Alamo St., but that will change before long.  The restaurant, formerly owned by chef Josh Cross, closed in November last year. Now, says businessman Andrew Goodman, his restaurant, Feast, is scheduled to open there in late September.

Andrew Goodman working on interior at Feast, a new restaurant in Southtown.

“It isn’t going to look at all like Oloroso,” said Goodman on Tuesday. He was working on the plastic protected floor in the front dining room, laying down tape so that he could paint baseboards.  The look, he says, will be “very crisp and clean” with white walls, dark wood floors, ball chandeliers over each table and “ghost” (transparent) chairs.

“We want the (atmosphere) to be cool and classic, but with great energy, a little sexy,” says Goodman.

He’s currently working on a menu with his chef, Stefan Bowers, who will be working at Feast beginning the first of September. Bowers is currently at 20 Nine Restaurant & Wine Bar at the Quarry.

The menu will offer a combination of appetizers, entrees as well as smaller plates with more generous proportions than one ordinarily associates with “small plates.”  Goodman describes the menu as being “flexible” — for instance if someone wants to try three of the salads, they can get smaller portions of all three on one plate. The food, at this point, is planned to be “New American with Mediterranean flair.”

He and Bowers will be doing a lot of tasting of food and wine pairings as they develop the menu and wine list, says Goodman. “We want the food and wine to work together well.”

Feast will be open only for dinner for a time after it opens, and will have a full bar, says Goodman. Goodman has had other businesses in San Antonio, including an antique store, Eden, but this is his first restaurant venture.

Main dining room of the former Oloroso.

 

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