Friday, September 6, 2013

An Overnight at Stay at Eilan Hotel, Including a Visit to Ripe Market and a Market Dinner and Brunch at Sustenio...

Michael and I recently enjoyed a fun, relaxing overnight getaway…right in our own backyard! The recently opented Eilan Hotel Resort & Spa hosted us for a visit so we could experience their luxury resort up close and personal, check out their fabulous new Ripe Market, and attend the August Market Dinner at Chef Stephen Pyles's Sustenio. We had an amazing time relaxing at this gorgeous resort…and enjoying some delicious food and wine. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, dropped our car with the valet and were quickly checked in by the friendly staff. Eilain is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, and it boasts a fabulous spa that offers a wide range of spa services that can be enjoyed by guests and members of the general public. Eilan's lobby area is large and beautifully decorated. We absolutely loved our room…it reminded us of a beautiful bedroom in a private mansion! The teal and brown color scheme was soothing, and the bed was very comfy. We also loved the spacious bathroom, which featured a huge marble shower and his and her sinks.

We settled in, explored the gorgeous landscaped grounds a bit, then it was time to get ready for the evening’s Market Dinner at Sustenio. Sustenio is the hotel’s signature restaurant, created by Dallas chef Stephen Pyles. It was named Best New Restaurant in San Antonio last year and features a big-flavor menu that focuses on local, sustainable ingredients. Each month, the private dining room hosts a small group of diners to a themed meal created by Sustenio Executive Chef Mike Spalla and guest chef Kyle Barham, Executive Chef for Stephen Pyles in Dallas. The August theme was Chillin’ and Grillin’ and featured appetizers, a four-course meal, cocktails and wine pairings. The price is $75 per person, definitely a bargain for the quality and amount of food served. We arrived and were greeted with a grapefruit cocktail and shown to our table. Each table seats 8 guests, and the meal was served mostly family style. This was great fun, allowing us to meet some friendly fellow food lovers. We enjoyed great conversation with our tablemates over the course of the evening!
After we were seated, it was showtime…we looked at the far wall in the dining room. Suddenly, the wall opened up…revealing a full demonstration kitchen! Not only did we enjoy a fabulous dinner, we were able to watch our host chefs prepare each course and explain the menu and their recipe techniques to us. For food lovers like us, this was an amazing experience! Then, the food began arriving. We started out with appetizers to enjoy with our cocktails. These included Gulf Crab Deviled Eggs, Foie Gras Mousse with Grilled Bread and a smoky Gazpacho Rojo. All were expertly prepared and served family style at the table. 

The First Course consisted of two fabulous salads: Heirloom Tomatoes with Jamon Serrano and Basil and Compressed Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Arugula. Both were very refreshing on a hot Texas evening. I especially enjoyed the combination of tangy goat cheese and sweet Texas watermelon.
The Second Course was comprised of Ahi Tuna Ceviche with Peaches and Passion Fruit and Grilled Wild Salmon with Chimichurri and Sunflower. The salmon was smoked on a wooden log that the chef chopped down himself. It was perfectly smoked, and the zesty chimichurri was the perfect partner for its richness.

The Third Course included Grilled Ribeye with Chorizo, Barbequed Vital Farms Chicken and four side dishes. Our favorite side dish was the Texas Sweet Corn Elotes. The ribeye coated with spicy Mexican chorizo sausage was amazing, and the chicken is literally the best barbequed chicken I've ever tasted. I asked the chef his secret and was told that the chicken is brined for 24 hours before being slowly smoked. The result is chicken that's perfectly moist, flavored to the bone, and slightly smoky.
The Fourth Course featured a showstopping dessert, with each diner receiving individual plates of Ernest's Modern Summer Fruit Shortcake. It was gorgeous and bursting with flavors and textures, including bites of cake, fresh fruit, chocolate "dirt" and a creamy ice cream. It was almost too pretty to eat...but we somehow managed!

After the meal, we made our way back to our room to relax. It was so nice to jump in the elevator and be in our comfy clothes in 5 minutes instead of have to drive across town back home. We slept like babies in our room's comfy bed! We still had a full morning agenda ahead for Sunday, including a visit to the new Ripe Market and brunch at Sustenio. 

After three monthly preview markets this Summer, Ripe is officially kicking off its permanent weekly market this week. Starting this Sunday, September 8th, the Ripe Market will be held each Sunday from 10 am – 2 pm. For local residents, Ripe is easily accessible from both IH-10 and Loop 1604. More than a farmers market, Ripe is a vibrant new gathering spot for food, live music, art and culture — the perfect spot to hang out on a lazy Texas SundayRipe features just-picked produce from local producers, artisan foods like olive oil and tamales, and more. You’ll also find hand-crafted treasures including candles, ceramics and plants for your garden. Curated by Chef Stephen Pyles and cookbook  author  Paula  Disbrowe,  Ripe  is  devoted  to  sustainably-minded  Texas  producers.  “We’re committed to supporting local farmers and ranchers and creating a rich culinary community in a new area of town,” says Chef Pyles. 
Ripe will feature an ongoing calendar of market-driven  meals,  cooking  demos and other special culinary events. At the September 8th market, Chef Pyles and his team will lead two cooking demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Sustenio’s demonstration kitchen, located  just  off the  restaurant’s  patio  and  adjacent  to the market. The demonstrations will show how to make the most of the week’s market bounty. Throughout the afternoon, Ripe also features live  music  under the gazebo  and  lots of family-friendly fun,  including:  free face painting, arts and crafts, and other activities for kids.  The market extends beyond the  hotel’s Promenade: Ripe is a multitiered experience that  offers an array of activity framed by the stunning  backdrop  of √Čilan’s Tuscan inspired architecture. A circular drive at  the base of the hotel features a food truck rodeo with local favorites like Jason Dady’s Duk Truck, Bite Street Bistro and Wheelie Gourmet. A patio surrounding √Čilan’s bubbling fountain is filled with more vendors including Austin favorite Johnson’s Backyard Garden, River City Cactus, and Sol Y Luna Bakery.  
Visitors can linger on Sustenio’s patio to enjoy a  seasonal market brunch...a steal at $15 for three courses, featuring ingredients like organic eggs and vegetables the chefs have hand-selected from the market. Sustenio will offer monthly market dinners like the one we attended. Each one will showcase an array of products from market vendors. This month’s dinner will be held on September 28th and will feature Chef Pyles and offerings from Farmhouse Delivery, an Austin-based company that delivers fresh produce and artisan foods to your doorstep each week. For this month's dinner, Chef Pyles will interact with diners as he describes the dishes and their preparation. Each course is paired with wine or cocktails that complement the dishes, making the meal a true experience to savor. For more information or to make reservations for this limited seating event, contact Sustenio at 210-598-2950.

After we explored the Ripe Market, we headed inside to cool off and enjoy Sustenio's Sunday Brunch. After our dinner the previous evening, we were eager to try their brunch items. They did not disappoint! We started out with mimosas while we looked over the menu. Michael chose the Greek Yogurt Parfait with Strawberry-Ancho Granola and Market Fruit to start his meal. The granola was mildly spicy, but it paired nicely with the juicy berries and creamy Greek yogurt. His entree was Chicken-Fried Tenderloin Tips and Eggs, served with sunny-side up eggs, peppercorn buttermilk gravy and country biscuits. This was comfort at its best! 
Since it was Culinaria Restaurant Week, I opted to try their $15 three-course Restaurant Week lunch menu. Three amazing courses for such a low price was a true bargain! My menu included Individual Coppa, Poached Apple, Edam and Argula Flatbread for my starter. It was a little sweet, a little smoky from the coppa ham, and altogether fabulous. My entree was Southwest Crab and Cobia Moqueca with Smoked Cornbread and Compressed Dirty Rice. It reminded me a bit of fancier jambalaya, and it was perfectly spicy. My dessert was Banana Bread Pudding with Rum Raisin Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. The flavors worked really nicely together, and the rum raisin ice cream was the best I've ever tasted. 
After our meal, we walked around and snapped a few more pictures of Eilan's beautiful grounds. It was a typical hot Texas afternoon, but the sky was a gorgeous shade of blue. We loved the beautiful architecture of the property. There are so many comfy places to sit outdoors and enjoy the Hill Country views and people watch. There are tons of comfy sofas and chairs in the lobby area as well, and they even offer fruit-infused chilled water at the entrance so guests can stay hydrated. It was a really nice customer service touch that we really appreciated!

Before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags and head back home. We agreed that Eilan was absolutely perfect for a San Antonio staycation or for out-of-town visitors. It offers a gorgeous setting with a fabulous spa, amazing onsite gourmet dining, and the Sunday Ripe Market. For those who like to shop, The Shops at La Cantera are less than a mile away if you find yourself in the mood to do a little shopping. To learn more about Eilan or to book a room, visit their website. To make a reservation for Sustenio, visit their reservations page.
Disclosure: Eilan hosted us overnight to facilitate this feature. In addition, our dinner and brunch were provided by Sustenio. All opinions expressed are my own, and all photographs are copyright by Michael K. Garcia. They may not be printed or used without prior express permission.

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