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Culinaria Invites You to Experience Agave Oct. 24-25


If you live in San Antonio, you probably have more than a passing acquaintance with tequila, thanks to our unofficial cocktail, the margarita.

Experience Agave runs Oct. 24-25.

Experience Agave runs Oct. 24-25.

But how much do you really know about tequila and the plant that it comes from, the agave?

The folks at Culinaria are hoping to broaden your education Oct. 24-25 as they present the first Experience Agave celebration.

The fun begins with the Essence of Mexico, which runs 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Mana House, 1160 E. Commerce St.

The event is presented by the Tequila Interchange Project, a non-profit advocacy group that promotes agave-distilled spirits. Explore the origins and trajectory of tequila and the burgeoning spirits category, mezcal. Learn about the Denominations of Origin in Mexico, what types of tequila exist and how they are produced. Get acquainted with mezcal, a broader category of agave distillates. Examine the cultivation of agave, which dates back 10,000 years and the history of human use. The rise of tequila as a globally recognized spirit category and the recent rise of mezcal will be discussed.

Tickets are $35 apiece.

The Oct. 25 lineup begins with Maestros of Mexico from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Mana House, 1160 E. Commerce St.

Discuss the range of challenges faced by the tequila industry. Explore the social, economic and environmental impact of these industries. Discuss strategies for responsible growth with a heartfelt appreciation of these spirits and their cultural heritage. Discuss the opportunities the mezcal industry has to be different. Discover ways to lead the industry we love into a sustainable future based on human relationships.

What if distillation technology was in Meso-America before Spanish conquest? Hear from the world’s leading expert of the history of fermented and distilled beverages, Dr. Patrick E. McGovern, and learn about his work with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Colima, Mexico.

Tickets are $35 apiece.

Tequila makes margaritas and more.

Tequila makes margaritas and more.

After all that information, it’s time to party. So, Pachanga ¡Party! is set for 6-9 p.m. at Mana House, 1160 E. Commerce St.

Take a stroll around and sample the bountiful varieties of agave spirits and food pairings as some of San Antonio’s best bartenders shake their creative agave-infused cocktails just for you. With San Antonio’s culinary geniuses in tow, you’re bound to find your ultimate dish to complement the agave – whether it’s a fountain of queso you crave or a more modern and sophisticated fare, we’ll have it there to help you find your happiness.

Tickets are $60 a person.

To get tickets for these events, click here.

And don’t forget to drive responsibly.

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La Fogata Features Cabo Wabo Tequila at a Tasting Saturday


La Fogata, 2427 Vance Jackson Road, is featuring a free tequila tasting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The star will be Cabo Wabo Tequila and will include the distillery’s blanco, reposado and añejo, served straight up and in margaritas.

The agave plant is the basis of tequila.

The agave plant is the basis of tequila.

You can stop by the tasting table in the main patio on your way to your dinner and discover how different tequilas can affect your margarita. Several types of margarita will be served, including one made with Cabo Wabo Silver Tequila, Solemo Blood Orange liqueur and fresh lime juice. The skinny skinny margarita is made with Cabo Wabo Silver Tequila, fresh lime juice and agave nectar. And the Fresca margarita uses Cabo Wabo Silver Tequila, premium orange liqueur and fresh lime juice.

Though several types of margaritas are being poured, La Fogata is not changing its recipe. ““We’’re not going to change our margaritas—; our recipe has been perfected over time and offers a flavor we feel can’’t be beat. And if we tinkered with that, our guests would be upset with us,” says David Dominguez, general manager of La Fogata. “”The tequila tastings let our guests explore different tequilas and learn more about tequila in general.””

Cabo Wabo Tequila was born in 1996 by musician and tequila aficionado Sammy Hagar. After searching for a tequila exceptional enough to serve inside his cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Sammy partnered with a tequila-making family with more than 80 years of experience. Today, the agave used to make Cabo Wabo Tequila is grown, cultivated and harvested by this same family.

Cabo Wabo Tequila is La Fogata’’s featured tequila for the month of June. La Fogata’’s featured tequila in July will be Olmeca Altos. The July tequila tasting date will be announced next month. For more information, call (210) 340-1337.

For the rest of the month, La Fogata has an appetizer they are introducing, Campechana, which s a combination of La Fogata’s own fish ceviche recipe and shrimp cocktail.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try your own version at home:

Campechana

6 ounces medium shrimp
6 ounces fish marinated in lime juice
Chopped onions
Diced tomatoes
Cilantro
Tomato sauce

Boil the shrimp until tender. Let cool and peel.

In a bowl with the marinated fish, add the chopped onion, tomatoes, cilantro and tomato sauce, all to taste. Add salt or a dash of hot sauce. Stir.

Serve with shrimp ringing the bowl and chips on the side.

Makes 4 appetizer servings.

Adapted from La Fogata

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Griffin to Go: San Antonio Is the Real Margaritaville


Make your margarita the way you like.

If San Antonio had an official cocktail, the margarita would be it, no contest. It flows as freely as iced tea. Just stroll along the River Walk, and you’ll see various shapes of glasses rimmed with salt and filled with lime-, magenta- and mango-colored potions as potent as you want.

The drink’s history is as hazy as the morning after a margarita binge. Some prefer to believe the story that a bartender in Ensenada, Mexico, named it after the first customer who drank it, Margarita Henkel. Others like the story that it was created by Dallas socialite Margarita Sames, who spent her last years in San Antonio. Still more discount both. Yet all raise their glass to the creation, if the creator remains a mystery.

Over the years, the original recipe has evolved. Most cocktail books and even a few cookbooks then and now list only three ingredients in the drink: tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice. The proportions, however, vary from mixer to mixer. For one recipe in “The El Paso Chile Margarita Cookbook,” author W.P. Kerr offers an easy formula to remember: Use a 1:1:1 ratio of tequila to orange liqueur to lime juice. If you can’t remember that, you probably shouldn’t be drinking, he wisely adds.

Use watermelon, prickly pear, even jalapeño to make your margarita.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the cantina. The introduction of the frozen margarita made a sweetener of some sort an essential part of the drink (frozen treats need sugar to help with the concentrated flavors; think of the role sweeteners play in ice cream). And after the rise in popularity of sweet cocktails, such as cosmopolitans and apple-tinis, the margarita became loaded with the likes of Rose’s Lime Juice, simple syrup, sweet-and-sour mix or agave nectar. The refreshing acidity of lime juice, the sweetness of Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and the tang of tequila got candy-coated. And not too many seem to mind.

You can still find a few pristine versions of the margarita out there. Or you may be able to strong-arm a bartender into making the drink the way you want. A couple of examples include Steve’s Margarita, a lime-laden libation at La Fonda on Main, and La Bonita, which is available at both locations of Aldaco’s, where it is billed as being “for aficionados only.” It’s made simply with freshly squeezed lime juice, Don Julio Blanco and Cointreau – and beautiful it is, too.

Aldaco’s also features the avocado margarita, which is part of an age-old practice of incorporating fruits beyond lime and perhaps a kiss of orange into the drink. Versions made with mangoes, watermelon, strawberries, olives and even jalapeños are certainly popular, but perhaps the most exotic, especially for tourists, is the bright magenta of the prickly pear margarita, an excellent example of which can be sipped at Boudro’s on the River Walk.

Upscale margaritas using premium tequilas fill out many a drink menu. At Rosario’s, you’ll find more than three dozen tequilas, which are used to make such concoctions as the Mexican Handshake, a lively balance of sweet to tart, but with an emphasis on freshness. Two Step Restaurant and Cantina is another pleasant stop where you can sip your way through a varied margarita menu.

A more recent trend is the skinny rita, which uses agave nectar, instead of sugar. That means it has fewer calories but is also much sweeter. So, it has become the adult version of Diet Coke for many, especially women. Meanwhile, the Quarry Hofbräu has helped usher in a whole new craze that has caught on like wildfire. The Dos-a-Rita features a schooner of frozen margarita with a bottle of Dos Equis upended in the bowl-shaped glass. The two slowly merge as you drink more and more. .

We keep reinventing the margarita to suit the times, and the drink doesn’t seem to mind it one bit.

Alamo City Classic Margarita

Two Step offers a variety of margaritas.

I’m not a big fan of sweet margaritas, though I have enjoyed more than a few south of the border that were sweetened by Sprite. The following recipe from takes margarita tradition and sweetens it slightly, but keeps the drink solidly on the refreshing side.

You can use your own orange liqueur, but, as I learned from a true San Antonio native, my friend Gail Harwood, the preferred version is Mexican Controy, which you can only get in Mexico and bring back through Customs one green bottle at a time. Controy tastes like fresh oranges, whereas Cointreau and Grand Marnier taste more like marmalade or burnt orange peel. Triple sec is more about the alcohol than the orange flavor, and it can make as fine a margarita as the rest, if used properly.

Another variation would be to include blood oranges, when they are in season, instead of tangelo juice. The color is dramatic, and the juice adds a flavor different from the sweet tangelo.

Just before you are ready to pour your margarita, run a lime wedge around the edge and dip it in what you like. Tradition dictates salt, but you could use sugar, if you like it sweet. Or you could mix either with Lucas powder, a mouth-puckering Mexican treat with lime and chile in it.

The secret is to make it taste however you want it to taste.

2 parts silver or blanco tequila
1 part orange liqueur
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tangelo cut into wedges, with a wedge per cocktail, plus slices slices for garnish
Lime slices for garnish

In an ice-filled shaker, add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and juice of 1 wedge of tangelo per serving. Shake until icy cold. Pour into a chilled margarita glass or martini glass that has been rimmed with lime and salt. Garnish with a slice of tangelo and a slice of lime.

From John Griffin

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Tequila Seduces Guacamole


Use Hass avocados in this guacamole.

Even vegans like to drink. And cook. And sometimes mix the two together. That’s the message of John Schlimm’s funny yet flavorful cookbook, “The Tipsy Vegan: 75 Boozy Recipes to Turn Every Bite into Happy Hour” (Da Capo, $17). And what better way to test that theory during Fiesta than with a bowl of tequila-spiked guacamole?

“What would guacamole be without a tequila chaser?” Schlimm writes. “Luckily for us, with this recipe we’ll never again have to ponder that terrifying question. Share the love and mix a few tablespoons of the lively spirit directly into this classic south-of-the-border dip. Just beware the fire hazard: When adding the jalapeños, carefully taste a slice for determining the sizzle factor, which can vary widely. As for the limes, usually the smoother the skin, the juicier the lime.”

Tequila Seduces Guacamole

3 ripe Hass avocados
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 to 3 jalapeños (depending on your heat preference), stemmed, seeded and finely diced
Juice of 1 lime, about 3 tablespoons
2 to 3 tablespoons good tequila
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Lightly  warmed tortilla chips, for serving

Halve the avocados and remove the pits by whacking them with a knife blade and twisting them out. Use a spoon to scrape out the avocado flesh into a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork just until chunky. Add the cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, lime juice, tequila, salt and pepper and combine with the fork. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit more tequila. Serve at room temperature with plenty of warm tortilla chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

From “The Tipsy Vegan” by John Schlimm

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Tequila Tasting Will Benefit Museo Alameda


The agave plant is the basis of tequila.

An evening of food and spirits celebrating San Antonio’s and Mexico’s cultures while supporting the Museo Alameda, 101 S. Santa Rosa is set for 7 p.m. March 31.

Several local restaurants, including Aldaco’s, Cibolo Moon from the JW Marriott, Costa Pacifica and Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, will provide the food, which will be partnered with an extensive tequila tasting.
Brands represented include Caballos, Tequila Partida, Dulce Vida, Pura Vida, Tequila Patron, Tequila Uno, Tequila Baluarte, Jose Cuervo and Tequila Don Julio.
Tickets for the event cost $100. The Museo is the nation’s first Smithsonian affiliate museum. For reservations, call (210) 299-4300.
Beer, wine dinners at Lüke

Lüke, 125 E. Houston St., features a favorite from its Louisiana roots at its March beer dinner: Abita beer. Chef Steven McHugh and his culinary team will pair Southern menu selections with an array of Abita brews.

The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. March 15 with a reception featuring the Seasonal Red Ale. The first course includes fried oysters over radish choucroute with local honey and the Jockomo IPA, followed by crawfish bratwurst sliders and Save Our Shore (SOS) Weizen Pils (with 75 cents of every bottle sold benefiting the restoration of the Gulf Coast).  Local lamb, onion brûleé and sage grits with Vanilla Double Dog will be served before a crumble of Poteet strawberries and Creole cream cheese ice cream with Strawberry Harvest Lager.

The cost of the dinner is $60 per person plus tax and tip. For prepaid reservations, call (210) 227-5853 or email jsolomon@chefjohnbesh.com.

Lüke’s monthly wine pairing dinner is the following week at 6:30 p.m. March 21, with wines from the Alsace region of France.

The reception wine is Lucien Albrecht Cremant Rosé, followed by salad of Gulf crab, shrimp, mirliton and local radish with Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc.  Pan-seared sea bass “piccata” with cauliflower, capers and Meyer lemon with Trimbach Riesling will precede  roast pork “porchetta” with creamy polenta and morels with Riefle Pinot Noir. Dessert is strawberry galette with caramel and Willm Gewurztraminer.

The cost is $70 per person, plus tax and tip. For prepaid reservations, call (210) 227-5853 or email jsolomon@chefjohnbesh.com.

 

 

 

 

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Wine Dinners for All Tastes Are Happening Thursday


Culinaria, the city’s food and wine festival, gets under way this week with a series of events designed for every taste. On Thursday, four wine dinners and a tequila dinner have been scheduled for a number of restaurants around the city.

The wine dinners will be at Las Canarias, the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, Max’s Wine Dive and Francesca’s at Sunset, wihle chef Johnny Hernandez is hosting an Ambhar Tequila dinner.

David Launay, director of Chateau Gruaud Larose; Jean-Christopher Calvet, president of Aquitaine Wine Co.; and Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker of Becker Vineyards will host the six-course dinner at Francesca’s at Sunset in the Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Highlights include wild salmon and prosciutto with Chateau St. Andre Corbin 2007; South Texas Antelope with Larouse de Gruaud 2007 and Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009; and Texas Akaushi Beef with Foie Gras and Chateau Gruaud Larose 2006. Dinner is at 7 p.m. Cost: $110 a person plus tax and tip. Call 210-558-2253 for reservations.

Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., will feature the wines of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in a four-course meal plus cocktail reception. Highlights include Georges Bank Skate Wing with Karia Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008; Lavender Honey Lacquered Breast of Sonoma Duck with the Napa Merlot 2006; and Strube Ranch Wagyu with Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2007. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Cost: $85 a person plus tax and tip.Call 210-518-1017 for reservations.

The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, 1746 Lockhill Selma, will present wines from Erath of Oregon and Texas’ McPherson Cellars. highlights include Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Goat Cheese, Brioche and Basil with Erath Pinot Gris; Seared Diver Sea Scallop with Spring Farmers Market Palate and McPherson Viognier; Duo of Duck with Yukon Potato-Foie Gras Agnolotti plus Erath Pinot Noir and Erath Pinot Noir Estate Grown; and Porcini-crusted Sous Vide of Rack of Lamb with both McPherson Sangiovese and McPherson Tre Colore. A pre-dinner reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $85 a person, plus tax and 20-percent tip. Call 210-349-8466.

For information on the dinner at Max’s Wine Dive, call 210-444-9547. For information on Hernandez’s tequila dinner, call 210-822-9555.

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Tasting the Tops in Tequila


A panel tastes tequilas for Culinaria.

Tequila experts and lovers gathered at Tre Trattoria Wednesday to judge the finals of Culinaria’s first tequila competition.

The top six finalists in each category — blanco/silver, reposado and añejo — were judged on aroma, initial taste, body, finish, smoothness and quality. The tequilas were judged blindly, so the panelists did not know which labels were being tasted.

Judges included chefs Jesse Perez and Johnny Hernanadez, sommelier Steven Krueger, TequilaMe’s Neal Williamson, and Bonnie Walker and John Griffin of SavorSA.

Tequilas set for judging.

The overall winners will be announced at Culinaria’s Best of Mexico, which is being held in La Villita Assembly Building, 401 Villita St., at 7:30 p.m. May 13. Tequilas will also be available for sampling at the event, and a People’s Choice Award will be presented that evening, along with the rest of the awards.

Best of Mexico features chefs from Mexico and San Antonio preparing the best cuisine that Mexico has to offer. In addition to tequila, beer and wine will also be available.

Tickets for Best of Mexico are priced at $35 in advance or $50 at the door. To purchase tickets, click here.

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Orange and Tequila Flan


After removing the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the center of the pod and stir into the milk.

Whenever a recipe calls for orange zest, I look for a good, ripe tangelo. The zest has a more vibrant flavor. The juice does, too. It worked beautifully in this dish.

I modified the following recipe from “The Golden Book of Desserts” to use the directions for making the caramel from “The Joy of Cooking.”

Orange and Tequila Flan

3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split in half
5 large strips orange zest
1 cup sugar, divided use
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup tequila, divided use
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks

Heat the milk, vanilla pod and orange zest in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat and set aside. let the flavors infuse for 1-2 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Rinse 6 (3/4-cup) ramekins with cold water.

To prepare the caramel, place 3/4 cup of sugar with the water and 2 tablespoons of tequila in a small saucepan over medium heat without stirring. Very gently swirl the pan by the handle until a clear syrup forms. It is important that the syrup clarify before it boils, so slide the pan on and off the burner as necessary. Increase the heat to high and bring the syrup to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook the syrup until it begins to darken. Gently swirl the pan by the handle once again and cook the syrup until it turns a deep amber. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of tequila and quickly pour the caramel into the ramekins.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks and remaining sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy.

Remove the vanilla bean and orange zest from the infused milk. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod and stir into the milk. Reheat to boiling point. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the custard into the ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a deep baking pan and fill the dish with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the custard has set but is still a little wobbly in the center. Let cool to room temperature. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and dip into almost boiling water. Turn out onto plates to serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from “The Golden Book of Desserts,” edited by Anne McRae/”The Joy of Cooking,” 1997 edition

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Whataburger Helps Santa; Zedric’s Open; Z’Tejas Begins Brunch


Santa, Whataburger employees and Christmas Under the Bridge help some children have a merry Christmas.

Santa, Whataburger and Christmas Under the Bridge make the season bright.

Spreading Christmas cheer.

Whataburger gives Santa a hand

This year, Whataburger partnered with Christmas Under the Bridge as part of Whataburger Serves, the company’s long-term series of themed activities that demonstrate Whataburger’s service-oriented approach to business.

Employees from the burger chain collected 550 toys from an internal toy drive and more than 60 employees helped Santa this past Saturday distribute toys under the bridge.

As you can see from the photos, the children were more than happy to meet Santa and party with people from both organizations.

Boys & Girls Club members get cooking

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio hosted its fifth annual luncheon at Citrus in the Hotel Valencia, 150 E. Houston St.

With the help of Citrus’ executive chef Jeffrey Balfour, children from each of the area’s five Boys & Girls Clubs branches helped prepare the meal, which was served to 14 people including club board members and community supporters.

In addition, the hotel presented the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio officials with dozens of toys collected from guests and employees through the hotel’s annual toy drive.

A healthy choice for those on the run

Zedric’s has opened at 2267 N.W. Military Hwy.

The healthy, gourmet-to-go place is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Chef Zach Lutton is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., who returned to his hometown of San Antonio to cook. Once home, he noticed there was a shortage of “healthy, delicious food in San Antonio and that it was a difficult place to be health conscious,” he writes.

So, he devised a daily menu from breakfast to dinner with dietitian Victoria Dominguez that includes cage-free eggs, local produce when available and organic weekly specials. There are vegetarian dishes as well as nut-free items. All are prepared in advance and can be heated when needed.

A few items include Ground Turkey Picadillo Breakfast Tacos, Hawaiian Cobb Salad, Sirloin Steak Salad, Oven-roasted Pork Tenderloin, and Shrimp Whole Wheat Pasta Toss.

Call 210-541-0404. Click here for a menu and more information. Delivery is also available for a flat $10 fee.

If you have questions for a dietitian, Dominguez is available by appointment. Call 210-859-5673.

The agave plant

Cibolo Moon earns rare tequila certification

Cibolo Moon at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, 23808 Resort Parkway, is the first restaurant in Texas to become T certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, or Tequila Regulatory Council of Mexico.

“This is a true honor for us,” stated Scott Siebert, director of food and beverage for the resort. “Tequila is a specialty among our beverage offerings at Cibolo Moon and this designation highlights the work we have done to ensure our guests enjoy the finest tequilas available in the most unique and memorable ways.”

Cibolo Moon’s bar currently features more than 100 tequilas. Guests can enjoy a private tequila tasting, savor one of the many infused tequilas or have a favorite tequila custom-aged in one of the restaurant’s special oak barrels to enjoy on their next visit.

There are numerous requirements to receive the T certificate, including a list of drinks prepared using tequila, dishes in which one of the main ingredients is tequila, and at least 80 percent of the staff must be trained on tequila knowledge, such as the blue agave plant that is used to make tequila.

For information, call 210-276-2500.

Watermark Grill reopens

Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, has reopened under chef Philippe Pinon.

The new chef, who was most recently at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, has introduced a new menu featuring dishes such as Focaccia-crusted Atlantic Salmon with fennel and tomato confit,  Olive Tapenade Alaskan Halibut with rock shrimp and asparagus pomodore and  Chorizo-crusted Black Cod with potato baccalau and a sauvignon herbs sauce.

“Balance is very important, not only in the spices we use to ensure the best flavor, but also in making sure that as much emphasis is put on service and the guest experience,” the chef says.

More items from the menu include Velvet Lobster Bisque, Vegetable Minestrone and Gazpacho Andalou soups; Yellow and Red Roma Tomato Tart, Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Rock Shrimp Avocado, Seared Nantucket Sea Scallops, King Crab Leg au Poivre, and Lobster and Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese appetizers; as well as Panzanella, Mixed Green; and Watermark Caesar salads.

Other entrées include Fisherman Marmite, a bouillabaisse-style dish; Seared Chilean Sea Bass with hearts of palm risotto and porcini mushroom foam; Rotisserie Achiote Organic Chicken;  Rosemary Citrus Gremolata New York Strip; and  Braised Chianti Beef Short Ribs.

Watermark Grill also has new hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday; and 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 210-483-7600.

Brunch at Z’Tejas every Saturday, Sunday

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, is now offering brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dishes include a spinach and wild mushroom omelet, breakfast enchiladas, Willie’s homemade buttermilk pancakes, and a Cajun ham omelet. The full menu can be found online at www.ztejas.com/sanantonio.

The Weekend Fun Bar during brunch hours features the following for $3.50: Bloody Mary with Grey Goose Vodka,         Bloody Maria with 1800 Silver Tequila,  screwdriver with Grey Goose Vodka and mimosa with Domain Ste. Michelle.

For more information, call 210-690-3334.

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

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Melissa Guerra: Three Ways to Make Spicy Sangrita


Editor’s note: Melissa Guerra, author, rancher and television personality, owns a kitchen goods store at the Pearl Brewery Full Goods building. On Saturday, items from her store, Tienda de Cocina, will be on sale along with many other items at the first Pearl Breezeway Sale. The sale is 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Pearl Brewery is at 200 E. Grayson St.

At 11 a.m., Guerra will present a demonstration on making the drink called sangrita, a chaser or mixer that can be made several ways using lime, tomato, orange or even pomegranate juice, and a dash of hot sauce.  It is customarily consumed  with tequila. Below, Guerra shares with SavorSA her introduction to this drink that originated in the Mexican state, Jalisco.

The Story of Sangrita (not to be confused with “sangria”)

Some of the ingredients for a sangrita include lime and/or orange juice, hot sauce, fresh tomato juice or even pomegranate juice. Sangrita is a chaser for sipping with tequila.

I remember visiting my aunt about 30 years ago in Cuernavaca (has it been that long?), and was intrigued by a lurid orange beverage she was drinking out of a small glass. It was sangrita, a traditional mixer enjoyed with tequila. The name translates as “something blood colored” or “little blood.” (Sangria, of course, is a fruity Spanish punch made with red wine.)

At the time, I thought my aunt was drinking a punch, but she assured me I would not like it. It was for grown ups. She was enjoying a commercial mix (thus the horrible color), but I asked what was it made of. She said she didn’t know, so for years, I wondered what it tasted like.

Tequila is from the Mexican state Jalisco. Lake Chapala is the most famous weekend resort in Jalisco, where sangrita originated.  Imagine sitting under a palm-thatched cabana enjoying a cool breeze blowing over the lake water, and enjoying tiny sips tequila and sangrita on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I imagine my aunt was waxing nostalgic for one of those afternoons as we sat on her veranda in Cuernavaca.

Here are three recipes that I have developed.  No bizarre artificial colors or flavors.  I think grenadine would have been the original pomegranate flavor, as it was a mixer all of the bars around Lake Chapala would have had on hand in the 1940s and 1950s. Try some of the 100 percent pomegranate juices that are on the market now, for a richer pomegranate flavor.

— Melissa Guerra

Photo by Bonnie Walker

Sangrita with Pomegranate Juice

If you have a sour orange tree in your yard, use sour orange juice in this recipe instead of the lime juice, for a more authentic mixture.  If you don’t, Mexican limes are a good flavor approximation.

1 ounce freshly squeezed Mexican lime juice
1 ounce real pomegranate juice ( look for Pom brand or substitute grenadine for a sweeter flavor)
½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (about a tablespoon)
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients and chill. Serve in a shot glass alongside a shot of premium tequila.

Makes 2 shots.

Sangrita Recipe with Fresh Tomato Juice

The key to this recipe is fresh tomato juice, from a red, ripe fully flavored summer tomato. Who says getting that a serving of vegetables has to be a chore?

1 ounce fresh tomato juice, skin and seeds strained out
½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed Mexican or Key lime juice
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients and chill. Serve in a shot glass alongside a shot of premium tequila.

Makes 2 shots.

How to Serve a Bandera

A bandera is a flag. The shot glasses of green lime juice, red Sangrita, and the white tequila make a lovely presentation, honoring the colors of the Mexican flag. Some might even salute.

1 shot glass premium tequila
1 shot glass freshly squeezed lime juice
1 shot glass Sangrita
Small dish of salt (preferably sea salt or kosher salt)

Makes 1 Bandera.

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