Monday, June 16, 2014

San Antonio's Culinaria Grand Tasting Evening of Food and Drink!

Michael and I were invited to attend the Culinaria Grand Tasting last month. This fun event is San Antonio's premier food and wine event, featuring some of the city's best chefs...along with lots of great wine and spirits. The Grand Tasting was held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center last month. This amazing evening was just one of many great events that comprised the annual week-long Culinaria Festival. An evening sipping cocktails and nibbling on food presented by some of San Antonio's best chefs...and in a gorgeous setting? Sounds like the makings of a perfect foodie evening to me! We parked our car, enjoyed a stroll along a peaceful section of the Riverwalk, and were greeted by colorful lights in the Grotto section of the Convention Center. The entire area -- both indoors and outdoors -- was filled with enticing aromas and mouthwatering food stations. We picked one end to start and made our way around the entire circuit, savoring bites of so many delicious foods! Our first stop was Stella Public House, which was featuring Italian delights.
I especially loved Stella Public House's light and refreshing Caprese Salad Skewers and the luscious, creamy Salted Caramel Panna Cotta. Both dishes were expertly prepared and delicious. Our evening was already off to a fantastic start! Another highlight of the evening was the creative and refreshing Golden Tomato Gazpacho from Las Ramblas, located inside the Hotel Contessa. This cold soup was the perfect light bite on a warm Texas evening!
With all the tasty bites we were enjoying, we needed something to wash it down. Enter the large wine sampling stations, which offered something for everyone. Whether you prefer white or red (...or both, maybe?), they had plenty of offerings to sample. One of my personal favorites was the Barrel Reserve Port from Texas' Messina Hof winery. It was sweet, smooth, and medium bodied...and very easy to drink! If wine's not your thing, no worries! There were also several spirit companies on hand providing samples and mixing up some fun cocktails.
We took our time visiting each station to chat with the chefs and sample their delicious culinary creations. One of the most creative dishes we tried that evening was created by Chef Jason Dady, one of San Antonio's best chefs. He was featuring a dish from his newest restaurant, Umai Mi.

His Asian spin on the classic Chips & Dip combo included shrimp chips and fresh Thai red curry crema, sliced jalapeno, crispy shallots, and herbs. This dish was a fantastic combination of flavors and textures: crispy, creamy, and spicy. Chef Dady is known for his inventive use of flavors, and this appetizer was fantastic.
Before we knew it, it was just about time to head home...but not before sampling a few sweet treats first! We especially enjoyed the authentic Mexican pastries offered by Lux Bakery. Their cookies and empanadas were buttery and tender...perfect examples of traditional Mexican sweets. We especially loved their earthy-sweet pumpkin-filled empanadas, but the quality of all their baked goods was clearly evident.
Our last stop of the night was to sample a trio of Saucy Sweets' amazing booze-infused sorbets. They were providing samples of pina colada, berries and bubbly, and mint julep. All three flavors were light and bursting with flavor. This frozen treat is definitely for adults only! This was the perfect way to wrap up our Grand Tasting experience. We walked back to our car, enjoying the evening early-Summer breezes and the hustle and bustle of the Downtown/Riverwalk area. It was a fantastic date night from start to end!

Disclosure: Culinaria provided me with a complimentary pair of Grand Tasting tickets to facilitate this feature. All opinions expressed are my own, and all photographs are copyrighted by Michael K. Garcia. They may not be copied or otherwise used without prior consent.

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