Having only been in Texas during plane changes at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, I was thrilled to be invited to attend the recent New World Wine & Food Festival in San Antonio. Beginning last Wednesday, events were held throughout the gorgeous south Texas city, spotlighting great chefs, restaurants, hotels, and beverage producers in the area, from the VIP Bubbles & Cocktails to the Burgers, BBQ, and Beer Bash.
Upon my arrival on Friday, I attended a marvelous luncheon hosted at Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas, where their 2009 Roussanne really won me over (though every Becker wine was impressive). The luncheon itself included a pan roasted pork belly as well as a choux farci d’agneau provencal, presented by chefs from Tost Bistro Bar, Bistro Vatel, and the Westin La Cantera. Each dish was paired with a variety of wines from Becker and other neighboring wineries.
The weekend also included two larger, collaborative events – the luscious Grand Tasting and the delish Best of Mexico. Friday’s Grand Tasting took place at the city’s convention Center, scattered throughout its gorgeous ground level grotto. The food offerings were top-notch and included a spectacular smoked scallop with avocado mousse from Chef Cesar Gallegos of The St. Anthony of San Antonio, a Hawaiian striped marlin with togarashi, yuzu, coconut, and radish from Chef Nicholas Melbourne of the Omni La Mansion del Rio, and albacore with foie gras, yuzu foam, and apple puree from Chef Jeff Balfour of Hotel Valencia. I was also impressed by the fab beers produced by local brewery St. Arnold Brewing Company.
Saturday evening saw a wonderful presentation of the Mexican food and culture at the JW Marriott Hotel, with dishes prepared by many of the local restaurants to feature the Best of Mexico. From fantastic chicken mole to more ceviche than you can imagine, the tastings were terrific.
During Friday’s Grand Tasting, I had a chance to chat with Chef Steven McHugh who’s heading the development and kitchen of Chef John Besh’s new Lüke San Antonio location. Check out my post tomorrow for all the details on the new restaurant, plus Chef McHugh’s thoughts on how the recent oil spill could impact the local restaurant community.
Many gracious thanks to the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau for inviting me to attend the weekend’s events! Catch more photos and notes from the festival over at Chef John’s Food Wishes as well.
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender