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Restaurants Want You to Savor the Season in Some Special Treats


It’s the holiday season, and that means seasonal treats in a host of traditional flavors, some with delicious twists.

RustyZipper.com has all sorts of vintage ugly sweaters.

Get out your ugly holiday sweaters

So, remember that holiday sweater some ex-friend gave you that was so ugly it made you long for fruitcake?

Well, it’s time to take it out of mothballs and wear it proudly. Both Max’s Wine Dive, 340 E. Basse Road, and Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden, 312 Pearl Parkway, are having a day devoted to those ghastly knitted creations. On Dec. 14, anyone wearing an ugly sweater will receive a free dessert or small plate under $10.

So, find that sweater that puts the “err” in “merry,” and put it to the only good use there is outside of burning it for fuel.  To reach the Boiler House, call  (210) 354-4644 or visit www.boilerhousesa.com. For Max’s Wine Dive, call (210) 444-9547 or visit www.maxswinedive.com.

If you wish to invest in a vintage ugly sweater, check out RustyZipper.com. You can even find plenty that get more lit than a drunken uncle on Christmas!

Christmas concert at Boardwalk Bistro

On Dec. 20, Boardwalk Bistro, 4011 Broadway, hosts Small World, which will be performing their 20th annual Christmas Concert.

“We are serving our regular dinner menu with Christmas specials,” owner Barbara Hunt says. “The performance is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and there is no cover charge. This is always a wonderful event.”

For more information, call (210) 824-0100.

McDonald’s Holiday Pie

McDonald’s decorates its menu with holiday flavors

McDonald’s is offering the following treats through the end of the year:

  • Peppermint Mocha – a milder blend of espresso, steamed milk, peppermint and dark chocolate syrup, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle
  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate – a blend of peppermint and dark chocolate syrup, steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle
  • Holiday Mint McFlurry – a soft serve vanilla ice cream blended with peppermint candy pieces and holiday mint flavored syrup
  • Egg Nog Shake – a delightfully creamy, egg nog flavored shake with real whipped cream and a cherry
  • Holiday Pie – a sweet custard filling baked inside a flaky pastry with colorful holiday sugar sprinkles on top

Cookie Bites and more at Corner Bakery Café

Corner Bakery Café, 18720 Stone Oak Parkway, is cooking up baked goods trays featured Cookie Bites, Bar Bites and Bundt Bites. Plus, the purchase of a large Cinnamon Creme Cake brings a $5 bonus card valid during the month of January.

Call (210) 441-4547.

EZ’s Pumpkin Latte Shake

Pumpkin treats at EZ’s through the holidays

EZ’s Brick Oven & Grill introduced two seasonal treats for October, and they proved so popular that both were held over through the holidays.

The dishes are the Pumpkin Latte Shake and the Roasted Pumpkin Pizza. both are available at all EZ’s locations.

Click here for more information.

Holiday lunches return to Ruth’s Chris

Both Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations will have holiday lunch hours this December.

The steakhouse at Concord Plaza, 7720 Jones Maltsberger Road, (210) 821-5051, is open now through Dec. 21, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., while the Sunset Station location, 1170 E. Commercce St., (210) 227-8847, will be open Dec. 17–21, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The cost is $50 per person and includes a starter, a choice of entrée, Accompaniment & Dessert

Choose an entrée from Filet & Frites, Sliced Steak Sandwich, Salmon, Chicken Caesar or Mixed Grill.

No other promotions can be used with this offer.

Black-eyed pea tamales at La Fonda Alamo Heights

La Fonda Alamo Heights, 6402 N. New Braunfels,  is combining two holiday traditions under one husk: tamales and black-eyed peas. From now through Dec. 31, you can order black-eyed pea tamales in addition to the usual pork, chicken and beef varieties.

“You are supposed to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck throughout the coming year,” says owner Hans White. “We figured this was a tasty way to do it!”

These handmade tamales can be ordered by the dozen and come ready to steam and serve at your next holiday gathering. Prices range from $8.50 per dozen for pork (with or without jalapeños), chicken, and beef to $12 per dozen for black-eyed pea. Order by calling (210) 824-4231.

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

 

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Christmas Is Coming. That Means It’s Time for Tamales!


Tamales! returns to the Pearl Saturday.

Christmas meals mean tamales in many San Antonio homes. So, it’s a sign that the season is drawing near when the annual Tamales! Holiday Festival returns to Pearl Brewery.

The third annual celebration will be from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

“We’re so excited to invite all of San Antonio to come celebrate the holidays at our third annual Tamales! Festival,” said Elizabeth Fauerso, chief marketing officer at Pearl. “This event is becoming a real San Antonio tradition, and it’s so great to see people from near and far get together to enjoy great food, music and to honor our San Antonio culinary traditions.”

There will be more than 35 different tamale vendors, and visitors will be invited to explore the full range of tamales from traditional San Antonio classics to South American to sweet, vegetarian and many more. The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio will partner with Pearl to bring the whole property to life with the new Brew House Plaza, Boiler House alley and outdoor kitchen. Regional amateurs, culinary students, popular restaurants and esteemed chefs will showcase a blend of innovation, experimentation and classic tamales. Among the participants are chefs Jesse T. Perez and Johnny Hernandez, Los Barrios and Tellez

The competition features such categories as best chicken tamal, best pork tamal, a wild card category and, new this year, best tamal using H-E-B Primo Picks products.

Pearl Farmers Market will still take place this Saturday, but it will be in the East Parking lot of the Full Goods building for this one time.

Pearl is located 303 Pearl Parkway. For more information about events at Pearl, visit www.atpearl.com.

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Tamales! At Pearl: Contest Winners Announced


This chicken tamal was one of the finalists in the tamal-making contest at the Pearl on Saturday.

This chicken tamal was one of the finalists in the tamal-making contest at the Pearl on Saturday.

The field was crowded for this, the inaugural tamal-making contest at Tamales! At Pearl on Saturday.

Some 210 hopeful tamal makers had turned in their tamales for an initial judging before this day, and finalists were selected.  By the time judges took their seats on Saturday, the field had been narrowed to the five best tamales in each of three categories: chicken, pork and a unique, or wild card tamal.

The judges had their work cut out for them, but it was very tasty work, to be sure. Judging on taste as well as skill in preparation were David Kellaway, chef and head of the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio; Greg Fernandez, executive chef at La Gloria; Natalie Tejeda; Arantxa Loizaga; and myself, of SavorSA.

Each top winner will receive a $1,000 prize. The remaining four finalists in each category received a $100 gift card to H-E-B.

“This is really a proud moment for all of these finalists,” said Shelley Grieshaber, culinary director of the Pearl and contest organizer.

All tamales were brought to judges warm and ready to taste. (Photos by Bonnie Walker)

The winners, at the end of the day, were:

  • Chicken Tamales:  Cynthia Dovalina was the winner for her tender, nicely wrapped chicken tamales seasoned with green tomatillos.
  • Pork Tamales:  Miranda Key, for well-spiced and flavorful, but not greasy, tamales.
  • Unique/Wild Card:  Cindi Adcock, for her Pineapple Rum Tamales with Almond Masa. These tiny dessert tamales were wrapped in husks and tied, and were not overly sweet but definitely a dessert recipe.
  • A People’s Choice award for best vendors’ tamales went to Tellez Tamales and Barbacoa, 1737 South General McMullen Drive.

Crowds gathered to hear Mariachis Las Alteñas at the Pearl Saturday.

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How Good Are Your Tamales?


Tamales

Does your family make the best tamales in town? If so, you may have the chance to wine the Best Tamales in San Antonio competition that will be held during the Tamales! At Pearl … A Holiday Family Festival, which is set for Dec. 11.

The contest will award $1,000 prizes in each of three categories – Best Chicken Tamal, Best Pork Tamal and Best “Wild Card/Unique” Tamal. In addition, $100 H-E-B gift cards will be presented to four additional finalists in each category.

The contest is open to people 18 years of age or older.  Not restaurateurs, caterers or professional tamal manufacturers, however. The tamales must be the original recipe and must be made by the person entering the contest.  No purchased tamales may be entered.

“Tamales are such an important family tradition in San Antonio during the holidays, with recipes and techniques passed down from generation to generation,” said Shelley Grieshaber, director of culinary operations at Pearl.  “Including a competition for the public helps make Tamales! At Pearl a true community celebration.”

Registration forms and rules for the contest can be downloaded from www.tamalesatpearl.com, or are available at the Pearl Administrative Office.

Registration forms must be received no later than 5 p.m. Monday. They can be submitted in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the Pearl Administrative Office, Full Goods Building, 200 E. Grayson St.

Contestants will be asked to deliver six cooked tamales for each category entered between noon and 3.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28, to Suite 103 of the Full Goods Building.

Five finalists in each of the three categories will be selected for the final competition, and will be invited to deliver 12 cooked tamales to the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio building during the festival for the 4 p.m. final judging.

For more information on the contest and the “Tamales! At Pearl” festival, go to www.tamalesatpearl.com, or call 210-212-7260 ext. 201.

Photo by Tracey Maurer.

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Are You Ready for Fiesta?


Fiesta fever is gripping the city, creating numerous parties that extend beyond the likes of Oyster Bake and the Battle of Flowers Parade.

A few food- and drink-related offshoots include:

  • Noche de Fiesta en Schertz runs from 7 to 11 p.m. tonight, offering casino games, food and music to all who attend. Tickets are $40 a person. The event is at the Schertz Civic Center, 1400 Schertz Parkway, and benefits Schertz programs for seniors and youth.
  • Coco Chocolate Lounge, 18402 U.S. 281 N., is having a pre-Fiesta Bash at 10 p.m. Saturday with a DJ playing salsa, merengue and more.
  • A free Fiesta cupcake tasting at Kate’s Frosting, 2518 N. Main St. The goodies will be given away 11 a.m.-7 p.m. April 13 while supplies last.
  • Genesis is an art event featuring food and samples from Texas wineries, brewers and distilleries. It is set for 7-11 p.m. April 15 at the Schertz Civic Center,  1400 Schertz Parkway. Tickets are $15 a person or $25 per couple in advance or $20 a person/$30 a couple at the door. Call (210) 619-1611. Sponsored by Artz.
  • TamaleFest SA will be at the Lone Star Pavilion at Sunset Station from 1 to 8 p.m. April 17. Music, tamales and a tamale-eating contest are all planned. Tickets are $5 for adults, free for children. Click here for a full schedule.
  • Mi Casa Tamales and Cantina, 25930 I-10 W., is having its annual TamaleFest with bands, beers, tamales and more. It’s set for 4-7 p.m. April 25. Click here for more.

For a full list of sanctioned Fiesta events, click here.

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Tamale Tasters Anticipate Tamalada Throw-Down


Rene Fernandez of Azuca at TamaleFest '09.

Tamale lovers, now it’s your turn.

Chefs will compete at the Tamalada Throw-Down on April 16; tamale fans will feast on tamales April 17, at the TamaleFest SA at Lonestar Pavilion.

At the Tamalada Throw-Down, top chefs will try to make the Best Original Tamale Recipe. Tickets are $25 per person. Sponsored by Delicious Tamales,  some of the event proceeds will go toward culinary scholarships.

The family friendly TamaleFest SA features food and drink concessions, music, tamale-eating contests, an area for kids to play and giveaways. Admission is $5 per person, with children under age 6 admitted free. A portion of the proceeds will go toward college scholarships.

Food concession booths and sponsorships are available. For more information, call  Lupe Contreras at (210) 413-1522.

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Tamahli: Sweet and Savory


Tamalhi: Tamal RojoTamahli on Wurzbach Road near Vance Jackson Road isn’t a sit-down restaurant. But my first order there didn’t make it out of the parking lot.

A friend and I sat in the car and devoured more than a half-dozen tamales in a matter of minutes, marveling at the steaming hot nature of each, the freshness of the masa used (many of the tamales, in fact, use fresh corn masa) and the forceful flavors of the fillings. (The price wasn’t bad either. Most of the tamales are about $1.40 apiece, $5.99 for a half-dozen or $9.25 for a dozen.)

The spicy Mad Pig in a Husk, with pork and jalapeños, offered a pleasant burn throughout the mouth, while the Cowboy, made with beef, soothed the palate. The Holy Moley, a flat tamal wrapped in a banana leaf, was topped with a sweet mole and a sprinkling of sesame seeds; the accent is on sweet, and for those who prefer that, it succeeds. It’s also visually attractive.

Food: 3.5
Value: 4

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

I prefer my sugar in dessert tamales, and this family-owned stand delivered with the cinnamon- and pecan-seasoned First Kiss. Even better was the Sleepy Hollow, an earthy mixture of pumpkin and masa with a generous touch of ginger and clove.

If you are ordering tamales ahead of time, read the provided reheating instructions and follow clearly. At a later tasting, we couldn’t wait and devoured a plateful that had been out of the steamers for more than an hour.

Then you took notice of the fact that Tamahli uses vegetable shortening instead of lard. The latter may not be deemed as healthy, but it does add a creaminess and keeps the tamales a touch moister. Yet, even drier than the company would have preferred, the tamales’ bold array of flavors — such as the Green Piece (chicken with tomatillo salsa) and the Speedy Gonzalez (cheese and poblano) — shone through.

Tamahli gets the proportion of masa to filling right, so that neither overrides the other. The rustic corn flavor provides a sturdy base for the inventive fillings, and the end result is both light and substantial without being greasy. The tamales are also made fresh daily, so you won’t face any with freezer burn, though your favorite might be sold out before the end of the day.

Talahli ExteriorTamahli (website)
(210) 877-9949
Open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday

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