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Griffin to Go: Paging Through Some Texas Culinary Treasures


It’s hard to break some habits.

When I was a kid, my idea of shopping nirvana consisted of visits to book stores and record stores. All these years later, I haven’t changed much, though wine shops and groceries of all varieties have made their way onto the list.

One of my recent obsessions has been in building a collection of Texas cookbooks. In the past year or so, I’ve gathered more than 125 volumes of everything from chefs’ collections to books produced by various community groups, such as the Junior League, symphony societies and arts guilds. A few are filled with family treasures, but many offer a look at the culinary riches produced in the Lone Star state.

Texas cookbooksA recent visit to a Half Price Books not on my usual path resulted in my picking up nine new volumes, including more than a few found in the clearance rack and marked down to $3 or less. The variety was wonderful. Some offered nothing but recipes, others offered stories and a few some history lessons; all of them create a savory picture of the vast treasures to be found in kitchens from as far afield as Odessa, Rockport, Dallas, Houston and beyond.

Let’s start on the coast. If the world of Gulf Coast Crab Cakes, Mexican-Style Crab Meat Salad, Texas Coast Clear Gazpacho with Chili Garlic Croutons and Jicama Salad sounds as good to you as it does to me, then seek out your own copy of “Texas Maritime Museum: Marithyme Treasures, The Cuisine of the Texas Coast.” It was a 2003 Tabasco Community Cookbook Award winner, and for good reason. The recipes in this collection, whether they feature seafood, beef, chicken or vegetables, are mouthwatering treats. Some, such as Lobster Spinach Pancakes, are for the gourmands among us while  even the most beginning cook make the Basil Walnut Garlic Soup.

“South of the Fork” was the 1987 offering from the Junior League of Dallas, which was printed at a time of culinary change in that city. As the flap on the book states, “While those of us who were used to plain cookin’ discovered that sole was not soul or ratatouille just a fancy dance step, these pioneer chefs learned to speak in several ‘tongues,’ from Southern to Spanish, Texan to Tex-Mex, Anglo to Italian, to name a few.” So, yes, there are recipes for Phyllo Triangles with Sausage-Mushroom Filling and Venison Game Tournedos, but there are also down-home treasures, including Sausage Black-Eyed Peas and Cold Avocado and Green Chile Soup.

Courtenay Beinhorn’s “Beinhorn’s Mesquite Cookery” from 1986 is a valentine to the wood that grows wildly across West and South Texas. Mesquite lovers know its charms with brisket made right, but how about using the woods on Cabrito with Cumin and Pequin Chiles? Or Venison Steak with Ancho Cream? The writer even uses mesquite with seafood in dishes that sound as wonderful as Oysters with Shallot and Cilantro Butter and Lobster with Tomato and Red Pepper Sauce.

The wild wild west“The Wild Wild West” comes from the Junior League of Odessa with plenty of hearty dishes, from Chicken and Avocado Casserole to Pancho Pie, which you can make in a cast-iron skillet over a campfire. The Texas-style chili calls for a Texas beer, of course, and there are three variations on pecan pie to be sampled: traditional, one with a Ritz cracker crust and the last a crustless version with crushed graham crackers folded into mix.

The 1989 “Texas Hill County Wine & Food Festival: A Cookbook” shows the haute cuisine of the period from chefs, winery owners and writers, many of whom still carry weight on the state’s culinary scene, including Stephan Pyles, Ron Bechtol, Anne Lindsay Greer, Susan Auler, Patsy Swendson, Bill Varney and Paula Lambert. There are recipes from California wineries and chefs as well; of interest is noting that the executive chef of Chateau Souverain at the time was Gary Danko, who offers several recipes including Chicken Breast in Mustard Pistachio Sauce.

Marilyn Romweber’s “Under the Mushroom” is a self-published collection of recipes from the Dallas restaurant known as The Little Mushroom and the only spiral-bound book in the lot. It was first printed in 1977, a time in which you could find dishes like Burgundy Beet Molded Salad or canned pineapple chunks with Velveeta in a Hot Pineapple Salad on a menu. They may not seem like the most appetizing creations today, but the book is also filled with easy-to-make creations that include Baked Pork Chops with Apple Brandy, Sour Cream Shrimp Enchiladas, Quick Carrots with Wine, Pumpkin Rum Cake and an Orange Gin Fizz with ice cream, orange and lemon juices, and of course, gin all in a blender.

under the mushroom“Dining in-Houston” from Rona Abbott and Ann Criswell is a 1978 collection of recipes from Houston’s top restaurants, including Brennan’s, D’Amico’s, Maxim’s and Tony’s. Ninfa’s Frozen Margaritas, with no added sugar or sickly sweet-and-sour mix, is a keeper, as is the Guacamole Salad recipe. Fresh Spinach and Squash Soup with Orange from Ouisie’s Table was earmarked by the book’s previous owner, making it as good a place as any to start.

The members and employee partners of Barton Creek Country Club near Austin put together the recipes in “Beyond Bar-B-Que,” which features stories of each of the contributors. It’s an oddly designed collection that features recipes in no certain order. So, you can find Mum’s Irish Christmas Pudding on facing pages with Muy Caliente Grits Soufflé Casserole, or Coach Hannon’s Smoked Turkey and Coconut Cream Pie. And, yes, there are several barbecue recipes included for good measure.

It helps to pay close attention to any book you may be buying. Ibbie Ledford’s “Hill County Cookin’ and Memoirs” was included among the Texas cookbooks and the name makes it seem like a great fit. Plus, it’s filled with stories as well recipes for the likes of Debby’s Nacho Main Dish Salad with Catalina dressing, Flapjacks and Hot Blackberry Jam, Mountain Dew Cake and a mix of black-eyed peas and okra. Sadly, the Hill County of the title is in Tennessee, not Texas. I’ll still be using it, though I doubt I’ll be making Squirrel Stew with Potato Dumplings anytime soon.

When all was said and done, my treasures cost less than $30. I’m ready to go shopping again.

 

 

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Sustenio Returns to Its Roots


Stampede 66 Honey-Fried Chicken with Mabel's Buttermilk Biscuits and Bread-and-Butter Pickles at Sustenio

Stampede 66 Honey-Fried Chicken with Mabel’s Buttermilk Biscuits and Bread-and-Butter Pickles at Sustenio

Honey-fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits. Wagyu brisket smoked with mesquite for 72 hours with Rebecca Creek barbecue sauce. Grilled Gulf swordfish with a sweet corn pudding tamal. Tortilla soup with grilled chicken and guajillos. Snickers ice cream in a Dublin Dr Pepper float.

Butterscotch Pudding at Sustenio

Butterscotch Pudding at Sustenio

Now, that’s eating — Texas style. And it’s the best sign that Sustenio at the Eilan Hotel has returned to its roots.

The new menu showcases the best of celebrity chef Stephan Pyles’s way of showcasing the best the state has to offer in modern presentations, whether you have a hankering for Gulf seafood, beef or a flatbread pizza with Texas cheeses melted on top. Pyles recently made the list of semifinalists for the James Beard Award for the best chef in the country.

Faux Gras Mousse at Sustenio

Faux Gras Mousse at Sustenio

But the new menu will likely surprise fans of the original Sustenio in that the prices have been cut back. A few changes have been made in the setting as well, including a few more tables where a wine tower used to be.

But the real news here is that Pyles’s cooking, as presented by chef John Herdman, is using as many local ingredients as it can source in a savory mix of tradition and today’s tastes. A recent menu included the following names of farms and providers from across the state: Animal Farm, Groomers Seafood, Bluebonnet Hydroponic Produce, Dewberry Farms, G&S Groves, Hairston Creek Farm, Itz Garden, Richardson Farm, Round Rock Honey, Wateroak Farm, Brazos Valley Cheese, Homestead Gristmill, Peeler Chicken, Gaucho Gourmet, Lightsey Farm, Strube Ranch, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Dos Lunas Cheese and Texas Meats.

Crispy pork belly with winter cabbage at Sustenio

Crispy pork belly with winter cabbage at Sustenio

And they’re used in dishes such as Faux Gras Mousse with jalapeño jelly, a ceviche made of Gulf shrimp, and a fried oyster taco among starters. Entrees include Compressed Pork Belly Confit with winter cabbage, a wood-grilled filet with mac and cheese, a 20-ounce prime bone-in rib-eye, and wood-fired salmon with Texas Cameo apples.

Desserts offer another area of Pyles’s ingenuity. In addition to the Dr Pepper float, options include an old-fashioned butterscotch pudding with salted caramel, lemon meringue parfait and a seasonal cobbler.

The menu is available nightly in the restaurant, which is part of the Eilan Hotel & Spa, 18603 La Cantera Terrace.

For more information and reservations, call (210) 598-2950.

 

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SA Gets No Loving from the Beard Awards


San Antonio was, once again, ignored by the James Beard Foundation in its semifinals list of best chefs in the Southwest.

The list, which was announced today, includes several from Austin, Dallas and Houston, but not a single name from the Alamo City graces the list. The James Beard Awards are considered the culinary equivalent of the Oscars.

Best Chef: Southwest

Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale, AZ
Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s, Cave Creek, AZ
Bowman Brown, Forage, Salt Lake City
David Bull, Congress, Austin
Andrew Cooper, Terra at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
Omar Flores, Casa Rubia, Dallas
Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin
Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner, The Pass, Houston
Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin
Jennifer James, Jennifer James 101, Albuquerque, NM
Matt McCallister, FT33, Dallas
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston
Jonathan Perno, La Merienda at Los Poblanos, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM
Steven Redzikowski, Oak, Boulder, CO
Martín Rios, Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe, NM
Dana Rodriguez, Work & Class, Denver
Alex Seidel, Fruition, Denver
John Tesar, Knife, Dallas
David Uygur, Lucia, Dallas
Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston

Stephan Pyles, who consults and regularly guest chefs at Sustenio in the Eilan Hotel & Spa, is a nominee for Outstanding Chef. The finalists will be announced March 24.

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Copa Becomes a Smokehouse on June 28 for a Great Cause


Copa Wine Bar, 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, is turning into a smokehouse for one afternoon in order to raise money for a young boy named Rowan.

Jeff Bridges will be smoking brisket and chicken.

Jeff Bridges will be smoking brisket and chicken.

Rowan’s Smokehouse at Copa will be held on June 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until all of the barbecue sells out.

“Rowan is a delightful young boy and the son of some dear friends of ours,” owner Angie Bridges says. “He has been diagnosed with a rare disorder, Shwachmann-Diamond Syndrome. It affects the pancreas, GI tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. He is only 7 but has spent over 800 days in the hospital, had dozens of blood transfusions, made 59 trips to the OR, yet is one of the happiest, most amazing little boys you’ll ever meet. He finds joy in the little things and never ever feels sorry for himself.

“We all could learn a thing or two from Rowan, our little trooper!”

Bridges’ husband, Jeff, will be smoking briskets and chicken with side dishes. Plats are priced at $20 apiece or $50 for a family of four. Each plate comes with a ticket good for a bottle of Pedernales Brewing Co. beer, a glass of wine or a glass of Rowan’s ginger lemonade. There will also be some great silent auction items.

For more information about Rowan, click here.

For more information about Rowan’s Smokehouse at Copa, call (210) 495-2672.

Stephan Pyles, Paula Lambert team up

Two Texas food icons are coming together to bring Italy to San Antonio in a special four-course dinner at Sustenio this Saturday night.

Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles

James Beard award-winning chef Stephan Pyles, the driving force behind Sustenio’s Mediterranean menu, will join Texas cheesemaker and cookbook author Paula Lambert for an Italian-themed menu. Each course will be paired with a wine from Italy.

The dinner begins at 7 p.m. in the private dining room at Sustenio.

The cost is $85 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis for 40 guests and can be made by calling Sustenio at (210) 598 -2950.

The menu includes a first course of Soft Shell Crab with Paula’s Mozzarella, Local Tomatoes and Basil, served with 2011 Feudi di San Gregario Falanghina from Campania, Italy.

Next, Tortellini with Swiss Chard and Fresh Herbed Ricotta will be paired with a 2010 Edoardo Sobrino “Vigna Cristina” Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba from Piedmont, Italy.

The third course features Grilled Free-Range Veal Chop with Peach Mostarda, Brown Butter-Sage Polenta and Fire-Roasted Artichokes and Almonds served with a 2009 Pasquale Pelissero Bricco San Giuliano Barbaresco.

Finally, Pyles’ Orange-Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Chocolate Chip Biscotti and Vin Santo Gelée will be paired with a 2008 Antinori Santa Cristina Vin Santo Trebbianco from Tuscany.

 

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Ripe, Green Veg. Class, Robt. Del Grande, More


Ripe: A Spirited Market at Éilan is celebrating Dia de los Muertos in style with two days of delicious events sure to raise your spirits:

Saturday, October 26: Sustenio will host a cooking class with celebrity chef, Stephan Pyles, featuring the flavors of Eilan’s Farmers Market in a Dia de los Muertos‐themed cooking class. Attendees will taste each dish as it’s prepared and leave with a menu’s worth of delicious ideas to help create their own Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Attendees will also enjoy spirited pairings of white and red wine, as well as a Sustenio favorite, Spicy Passion Fruit Margaritas. Class is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is $75 per person. To reserve your place, contact Sustenio at 210‐598‐2950.

Marioli dia de los muertos 2 croppedSunday, Oct. 27:  Ripe’s regular Sunday market will feature a special performance from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Dance Academy at 10 a.m., then listen to the music of flamenco guitarist Randy Cordero through 2 p.m. Ripe vendors will offer special items for Dia de los Muertos. San Antonio folk artists Pulquerios will feature skull earrings and more, while Mi Luchero Candles will offer handmade candles perfect to honor loved ones and perfume your home. Sol y Luna will have specialty breads, while Victoria’s Cookies will offer skull cookies. The Nut Doctor will have fresh‐roasted and spiced nuts and Michoacan will have paletas to cool everything down — or choose the specialty brunch cocktails at Sustenio.

And as always, Ripe features free face‐painting for little ones looking to get in on the fun.

Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a special day in which the Mexican culture remembers their relatives that have died. It occurs November 1 and 2, when celebrants believe that the gates of heaven open at midnight to reunite the dead with their families. Toward the last days of October, entire regions of Mexico prepare for the great fiesta of Los Días de Muertos, the Days of the Dead. The altars or “ofrendas” are filled with Pan de Muerto, Day of the Dead bread. Sugar and chocolate skulls are made by hand or on 50‐year‐old molds and the living prepare their dead relatives’ favorite foods.

Cook a vegetarian Thanksgiving with help from Green Vegetarian

Green Vegetarian Cuisine is hosting another popular vegan cooking class, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m. in the CIA cooking class kitchen, 312 Pearl Pkwy, 2nd floor.

Green’s chef and owner, Mike Behrend, will help you prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the vegetarians and vegans in your life.

Green Bean CasseroleThe menu for this class includes:

Green Bean Casserole
Apple Sausage Stuffing
Cranberry Salad
Tofu Turkey
Pumpkin Pie

For $25, you’ll receive a five course meal, drink and recipes. Seating is limited, and fills up quickly. To RSVP, click here.

 

Chef Robert Del Grande cooks for fine bourbon dinner, Garrison Bros. Distillery in Hye

Bourbon in glassHYE, Texas – Gastronomes, foodies, lovers of fine bourbon, you’ll want to be at the Barrel Barn at Garrison Brothers Distillery Saturday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. for this multi-course dinner prepared by legendary Texas chef, Robert Del Grande. Garrison Brothers Distillery and William Chris Vineyards will be offering whiskey and wine pairings.

Garrison Brothers Distillery is the first and oldest legal bourbon distillery founded in Texas. Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey is home-grown and handcrafted from the finest ingredients.

Robert Del Grande came to Texas from California with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, turned himself into one of the best and smartest “new Southwestern” chefs, and galvanized the Houston dining scene with his Café Annie – now morphed into the buzzy RDG and Bar Annie.

William Chris Vineyards is a family owned winery and vineyard operation nestled on the edge of Hye, Texas in the Hill Country that believes a dedication to grape farming creates a foundation for distinct quality and style.

The Hye Preservation Society (HPS) is a nonprofit conservancy with a mission to preserve, enhance and protect the environment, the land, the culture and the way of life that are unique to Hye, Texas.

Reservations may be made online by clicking here, or by calling   830.433.5225. The Barrel Barn at Garrison Bros. is at 1827 Hye-Albert Rd, Hye, TX 78635.

 

Don Strange Catering: The Settlement Grand Opening

A grand opening for Don Strange's new venue, The Settlement.

A grand opening for Don Strange’s new venue, The Settlement.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. In this case, it’s an image from the grand opening of the new venue for Don Strange Catering — The Barn at The Settlement. The venue hosted guests on Oct. 10 for eats, cocktails and dancing.

 

Located on 78 acres on Bulverde Road, The Settlement dates to 1850 but has all of the conveniences of a modern event facility, making it ideal for people who want to give their event a touch of Texas charm and the natural beauty that can only be found in the Texas Hill Country.

For more information, call (210) 434-2331 or email info@donstrange.com.

 

 

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New Market at Éilan Now Happening Every Sunday


Even canine friends can get a treat at Ripe.

Even canine friends can get a treat at Ripe.

Ripe, the new market at Éilan Hotel Resort and Spa, 17103 La Cantera Parkway, is now happening every Sunday in the patio outside of the hotel’s restaurant, Sustenio.

A farmer sells the last of his Swiss chard.

A farmer sells the last of his Swiss chard.

Vendors from throughout the area are offering everything from herbs to nuts with Texas olive oil, lotions and salves for sale. Pawsitively Sweet Bakery even offered gourmet dog treats for the four-legged friends, many of whom could be seen at the market.

In the hot summer sun, Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices provided a cool touch of refreshment, while live music in the gazebo kept the shoppers entertained.

The scorching heat has provided a damper on the amount of fruits and vegetables for sale, but one vendor with kale, Swiss chard, cucumbers, potatoes and a few watermelons was doing a brisk business. Expect more in the coming weeks.

Also part of the Sunday market are cooking demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., which are being given under the auspices of Sustenio’s head chef, Stephan Pyles. They are given in the air conditioned comfort of the restaurant’s private dining room, where executive sous chef John Herdman showed a packed room how to make a corn soup, while the restaurant’s general manager, Philippe Placé, mixed up Passion Chile Margaritas, one of Pyles’ specialties.

Kale for sale.

Kale for sale.

Pyles also offers special Ripe Market Dinners on the night before the market sale. The next is set for Sept. 28 and will feature Pyles using foods from Farmhouse Delivery, an Austin produce merchant that also handles artisan foodstuff. For reservations, call (210) 598-2950.

Working with Pyles on Ripe is cookbook author Paula Disbrowe.

Live music is provided each week, as are cooking classes.

Live music is provided each week, as are cooking classes.

 

 

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Green Moves to the Pearl, Pyles Raises a Toast to Texas


Green Vegetarian moves Sunday

Green Vegetarian Cuisine opens in its new home at the Pearl Brewery Sunday.

The city’s first 100 percent kosher vegetarian restaurant has moved from 1017 N. Flores St. Its second location is open at 10003 N.W. Military Hwy.

“We are really excited about our new venture at the Pearl,” owner Mike Behrend says. “As you know, I have always had big dreams for Green.”

And that dream has him facing “a much larger space,” he says, where “we will be able to serve hundreds more meals each day.”

Green’s extensive menu includes dishes such as chicken-fried steak made with wheat meat, neatloaf and portabella steak as well as fried pickles, fried mushrooms, nachos, salads, burgers, quesadillas, enchiladas, stir-fries and sandwiches. New at the Pearl will be French press coffee.

According to a press release, “Green strives to be a sustainable restaurant with re-purposed restaurant equipment, the use of biodegradable packaging when possible, recycling, use of fair trade organic coffee, free range eggs and the use of their self-grown vegetables in many of their dishes.”

Green offers breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; and 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday. It is closed Saturday.

Pyles raises a Toast to Texas

Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles

Celebrity chef Stephan Pyles will be in town on March 6 for a dinner at Sustenio in the Eilan Hotel, 17101 La Cantera Parkway. The theme is a Toast to Texas and will feature four courses served family style.

The meal will begin with spirits from two local distilleries, Rebecca Creek and Cinco Vodka, while the meal will be paired with Texan wines.

The evening is also an introduction of Sustenio’s new executive chef, Mike Spalla.

The price is $85 a person plus tax and tip. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. For reservations, call (210) 598-2950.

Corner Bakery adds turkey panini

Turkey Monterey Panini with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Turkey Monterey Panini with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Corner Bakery Cafe, at 255 E. Basse Road and 18720 Stone Oak Parkway, has added the Turkey Monterey Panini with smoked turkey, fresh spinach and provolone cheese on sourdough bread with a homemade artichoke asiago spread.

Also new is a Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, made with chicken, red and yellow peppers, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes and orzo pasta simmered in a creamy broth with a hint of lemon.

“We have combined bold flavors in layers of fresh ingredients to craft an unexpected, delicious new panini,” said Chris Pheiffer, San Antonio Corner Bakery Cafe franchise owner. “The Turkey Monterey Panini is perfect for guests who love our panini offerings but want to shake up their routine.”

A soup and half of the panini is available for $7.99.

The Point celebrates 1st birthday

Denise Aquirre owns and operates the Point Park and Eats on Boerne Stage Road with Noel Cisneros.

Denise Aquirre owns and operates the Point Park and Eats on Boerne Stage Road with Noel Cisneros.

The Point Park and Eats, 21488 Boerne Stage Road, is celebrating its first birthday March 15-17 with three days of activities and food trucks.

On March 15, Branchline Brewery will pour their brews, Sol Surfers will perform and the food truck lineup includes Skinny Cat, MARS Mobile Kitchen, Say.She.Ate, Pork U and Lagniappe Today.

D.J. J.J. Lopez will be spinning discs on March 16 while the lineup includes Skinny Cat, MARS, Crepe Nation, Texasada, Fat Bellies and Kitchen Fusionz, the latter of which is also celebrating its first year of business.

Jonathan Alexander will perform on March 17 while the lineup features Kitchen Fusionz, Pork U, Skinny Cat, So Frito and Fork It.

Drink specials will also be available throughout the weekend. For more information, visit www.ParkAtThePoint.com.

Three words to remember: Filet and lobster

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, 255 E. Basse Road, is offering an off-the-menu special through April 7.

For $37.95, you can order a filet mignon and North Atlantic lobster tail, a starter and a side dish.

The only catch is that the special is not on the menu. You have to remember to ask for it.

The Hofbrau at the Rim opens

The Quarry Hofbrau at the Rim, 18403 I-10 W., has opened.

Hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday; and 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday. Call (210) 877-1500.

Coming soon

  • The French restaurant Saveurs 209, 209 Broadway, will be open any day now. Call (210) 639-3165 or click here.
  • Salaam International Food Market, 3727 Colony Drive, will open a restaurant in the near future at the back of the store, which features Middle Eastern groceries.
  • Blanco BBQ is opening at 13259 Blanco Road, which has been the home of several previous restaurants, including Matisse.

If you have restaurant news, email griffin@savorsa.com or walker@savorsa.com.

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Les Dames Throw Julia Child a Birthday Party


For several hours at the swank new Éilan Resort Hotel and Spa on Sunday, it was all about Julia Child.

The famed “French chef,” who introduced America to the wonders of butter and lobster and so many fabulous foods, was born 100 years ago on Aug. 15. As she was a member of Les Dames d’ Escoffier International, it was only fitting that the San Antonio chapter of Les Dames would throw her a party.

Lauren Browning (left) and Jenny Mattingsley demonstrate culinary skills at Eilan Sunday.

The party, Simply Celebrating Julia, was also the group’s main fundraising event for 2012.

The more than 250 people who first gathered in rooms adjoining the ballroom at the Éilan were greeted with the bubbly pink Pierre Sparr Cremany D’Alsace Rosé and treats from a series of tasting stations. Members of Les Dames offered demonstrations, from making French bread to the Burgundian delicacy, gougère, and from green olive tapenade to pissaladière, the famous onion tart with olive and anchovies.

After bidding on silent auction items, guests moved to tables set in the ballroom. Two large screens started the celebration in earnest with clips from Child’s famed “The French Chef” television series. While Child was serious about cooking, she also managed to entertain — or the series would possibly have never gotten off the ground.

Sara Moulton talks of her days working with Julia Child.

And she still got laughs from her audience — whether she was wiggling the tailbone of a large goose (plucked for cooking, of course) or grabbing a large power saw to attack a particularly thorny problem. She made it all seem doable, and maybe even fun.

The guests of honor were celebrity chefs Sara Moulton, star of “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” on PBS and Stephan Pyles, considered a pioneer of Southwest cuisine. Both chefs had reminiscences about Julia to share.

Moulton, who worked with Julia as an assistant on her show, said that no matter how much Julia learned, she “never stopped learning.”

She also never stopped sharing her love of food with anyone. Believe it or not, “Julia Child was listed in the phone book,” says Moulton, and she took people’s calls, answering their questions about what they were preparing.

She wasn’t a feminist as much as she was a “Julia-ist,” and that meant “she never, ever let anything get in her way,” Moulton said.

Pyles said the chef “loved to drink and eat — and drink.”

Her love of butter was known to one and all, but it may surprise even the heartiest gourmand that Child wanted “butter with her foie gras,” he said.

Damien Watel’s duck roulade with roasted apple and calvados sauce.

The luncheon was prepared by Dames and a series of chefs. Appetizers included gougères from Lauren Browning, Nancy Fitch, Ana Martinez and Rashin Mazaheri, while the Pissaladière were from Rollie Blackwell-Devlin and Naylene Dillingham. Baguettes were from Jenny Mattingsley and Kim Scandrett, while Cynthia Guido and Cathy Tarasovic made the tapenade. Pork Rillettes and were from Hinnerk von Bargen of the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.

The seated portion of the meal included dishes from several of the city’s chefs. It began with a lobster and caviar éclair from Andrew Weissman of the Weissman Restaurant Group, followed by Cabernet-smoked sturgeon salad with poulet egg and black truffle was from David Gilbert, head chef of Sustenio, which is in Éilan. Damian Watel of Bistro Vatel provided the duck roulade with roasted apple and a calvados sauce, while Weissman closed out the meal with Valrhona Chocolate pavé and crème fraîche ice cream.

A skit, live auction, talks and presentation of this year’s Les Dames scholarship winners were also part of the event. Event chairs were Pat Mozersky and Julia Rosenfeld. The co-presidents of the San Antonio chapter of Les Dames are Linda Triesch and Leslie Horne. For more information on Les Dames, visit their website here.

Story and photos by Bonnie Walker and John Griffin.

 

 

 

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Get Grilling with Stephan Pyles and David Gilbert


Stephan Pyles

Want to pick up some grilling tips before the Fourth of July?

Chefs Stephan Pyles and David Gilbert are hosting a summer smoking and grilling class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday at Sustenio, which is in the Eílan Resort Hotel & Spa, 17103 La Cantera Parkway.

The menu will include:

  • Passion Chile Margarita
  • Smoked Tomato Gazpacho with Goat Cheese-Horseradish Panna Cotta and Olive Oil Powder
  • Grilled Watermelon-Arugula Salad with Soft Shell Crab, Queso Fresca and Tomato-Ginger Jam
  • Watermelon Rind Pickles
  • Molasses Grilled Quail with Corn Pudding Tamales and Morita Salsita
  • Rosemary-Citrus Grilled Peaches with Jamon Serrano Ice Cream

Tickets cost $75 a person. For reservations, call (210) 598-2950.

 

 

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Simply Celebrating Julia: A 100th Birthday Celebration


Join the San Antonio chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International in celebrating the 100th  birthday of legendary chef, Dame Julia Child.

The San Antonio chapter will throw a party with a Julia-inspired menu and other delights during this fete on Sunday, Aug. 26, from 1-5 p.m. at the Incanto Ballroom, Eilan Resort Hotel & Spa, 17101 La Cantera Parkway.

This is a fundraiser for the Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international group that supports women in culinary careers. Corporate tables and sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Molly McAdams at 210.389.1375. Following a Champagne reception, here is just sampling of what you’ll enjoy:

  • Special guests include acclaimed chefs Sara Moulton and Stephan Pyles.
  • Gourmet luncheon prepared by San Antonio’s leading chefs.
  • Scholarships will be awarded to culinary students.
  • First-rate auction items and surprises you won’t want to miss!

Seating is limited so make your reservation today.
Individual tickets at $150 (link here).

 

 

 

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