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National Pie Week

Added on by lea thompson.

I am a fan of the dessert known as "pie." I grew up in a family where baking is not only an enjoyable pastime, but an essential part of life. We bake to entertain, celebrate and comfort. Whatever the occasion, pie is usually found present at the dining room table.

Thursday is National Pie Day, but I chose to celebrate National Pie Week this year. I started yesterday with traditional, "American" apple pie. I love the creative possibilities of pastry dough.

Homemade Apple Pie
Forgot to photograph the pie before we started celebrating. I love the creative possibilities in pastry dough

Today I will be making mini blueberry pies, I'm thinking raspberry pie for tomorrow; I've begun looking for new pie variations to fill the rest of the week. What are some of your favorite pie variations and why are pies important (or just an enjoyable presence) for you and your celebrations?

Happy Eating!

Late Night Menu at NAO: Where to go after 10 pm

Added on by lea thompson.

It's 10 pm on a Saturday night. In San Antonio, this usually means closing time for restaurants, a couple of movie showings before closing, or you can embark on a  frustrating search for parking downtown. Restaurants like NAO offering late night menus bring hope of a world that exists outside of downtown after 10. NAO recently launched a holiday menu with Chef Jeff Wiley, who brings his signature style and flavors to the new Late Night Wiley Experience. Chef Wiley is part of the growing talented culinary community in San Antonio, and he has found great success in recent restaurant stints, including FEAST and Beat St. Coffee.

'Late Night' is traditionally made for the chefs and restaurant workers who are getting out of work late, but it's inevitable that other people in San Antonio will be hungry.

"In cities like Chicago and New York, eating well and eating late is easy, everything is open," Chef Wiley said. " The Late Night menu offers something for everyone;  it's a happy medium between nice, playful and upscale bar food."

'Late Night' is traditionally made for the chefs and restaurant workers who are getting out of work late, but it's inevitable that dishes like Wiley's chile guero with pork belly will attract the rest of the city too.

Chile Guero

Hot meets cold: fresh tuna with a duck croquette and tarragon aioli; Part of Chef Wiley's new late night menu at NAO

Late Night at NAO Hours: 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturdays.

Happy Eating!


Wanderlust in SA

Added on by lea thompson.

I fight the urge to roll my eyes whenever a person tells me they have "Wanderlust." Anyone who has read travel and culture magazines in the last five years knows the word belongs on a list of words and phrases to retire- it's up there with "nestled" and "rolling hills" and "picturesque." The only thing that annoys me more than "wanderlust,"  is the fact that I haven't found a word that better describes my own compulsion to wander, travel and move constantly. I have kept busy with work in San Antonio since August, and I admit I have scattered my professional energies since October  trying to incorporate travel in my work in 2014. I am excited to be traveling throughout Belgium, France, Spain, and possibly Asia in the coming months, and I hope travel is something I can incorporate in my career and assignments more in the future.

I am trying to stay mindful of which people and things are around me at this moment in my life; I have grown so much in my professional and personal life because of them, and I know this moment in my life will pass. I am proud to be working in San Antonio in a time where the city's creative communities are beginning to come into their own,  particularly in the food community. Recent writing and photo assignments have reminded me that travel will always be part of my life, even if I can't find a better word than "wanderlust" to describe it.  We are always moving even when we are standing still, and I am traveling even when I simply bake souffles in the family kitchen.


The Gridiron Gentleman

Added on by lea thompson.

SAN ANTONIO- Israel Sanchez is a film producer, an actor, and a man who always roots for the underdog. Sanchez was recently named one of Texas Monthly's Modern Hispanic Gentlemen for his career achievements and his positive work in the San Antonio community. The award, sponsored by Ketel One recognized his dedication to individuals and local organizations like Gridiron Heroes, that might not usually find success without community awareness. "San Antonio is the biggest small town I know of," Sanchez said. "I love that people are so friendly here, our food is amazing, and that so many different cultures can come together."

SA film producer Israel Sanchez, one of the 2013 Texas Monthly Modern Hispanic Gentlemen

Born in Seguin and raised in Uvalde, Sanchez moved to San Antonio shortly before leaving for LA to pursue his love for film in 1997. "After college I caught the acting bug and I moved to LA," Sanchez said. " That's where I realized that producing is a lot more fun and exciting for me."

He returned to San Antonio to work on national commercials in 1999, and stayed on as a producer for film and TV,  although he still travels to LA for business each year. He began working with the non-profit Gridiron Heroes in 2008, after meeting son and father Chris and Eddie Canales at the  Dallas Cowboys training camp. Eddie Canales founded Gridiron Heroes  in 2003 to assist individuals like his son Chris, who sustained spinal cord injuries related to high school football. Chris, who became a paraplegic during his senior year of high school football has since traveled across the country with his father to advocate for positive change in the football community and safety awareness.

Chris and Eddie Canales,

"I began hitting the road with Gridiron to help the Texas and football communities," Sanchez said. " Somewhere along the way, it changed from walking with strangers to helping family."

In 2011, his passions for film and community involvement met up when he produced a documentary on Gridiron Heroes, narrated by  actor Taylor Kitsch, who formerly starred on Friday Night Lights, a TV series based on high school football in Texas. The documentary chronicles Chris Canales' strength and love for the game, despite his life-changing injury. The film also features football greats like Mike Ditka and Jerry Jones. The film has already won several documentary awards, and has helped football community efforts to address safety issues and provide resources to those who have experienced high school football related injuries.

Will Smith and Chris Canales

Always the gentleman, Sanchez insisted the award was a validation for the organizations he helps. "I'm not in the spotlight," Sanchez said. " But I'm thankful and grateful that the non-profits are getting recognized."

Gridiron Heroes

Sanchez's reception for Texas Monthly's Modern Hispanic Gentlemen was held Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the Coco Chocolate Lounge and Bistro. Benefits from the Ketel One sponsored reception were donated to the Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation.

Click here to view the trailer for the Gridiron Heroes documentary.

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What would Margaret Bourke-White do?

Added on by lea thompson.

People often tell me I was born in the wrong decade. If I had graduated 30 years ago, I would have easily found my place as a successful news writer and photographer. I try not to think about these comments too often, mostly because I wasn't born earlier so the comments don't mean much.  I prefer face-to-face interviews, I still write all my notes by hand (though I'm beginning to digitize them), and my favorite work still involves walking, listening, and exploring streets with my old 35 mm. I have a journalism/photojournalism background that stretches back to my high school newspaper days, and I use that specialized training and resentment to this day. Holly Hunter in Broadcast News, 1987.

I always ask established photographers and writers, "If you were a new writer or photographer, in today's market, what would you do?" Many of them tell me they simply wouldn't be a writer or photographer- they wouldn't make it today.  I'm sure this would apply to a few individuals, but I think true writers and photographers always find a way. I would define "true" photographers and writers as the people who work in the industry not just because they love it, or because they're particularly good at it, but because they have to do this. I've tried to envision what some of my photo and writing heroes would do if they were entering the market today, and I think many of them would still find a way to create meaningful work.


I can see Margaret Bourke-White tweeting updates from her travel assignments, but she would put the phone away to make beautiful and intelligent photographs. If Joan Didion did create a Tumblr, I would actually spend time on Tumblr, but I don't think it would detract from her writing for Vogue or The New Yorker. M.F.K. Fisher would Instagram all her food adventures, but I would still read and respect anything she published or blogged. If individuals like Nora Ephron and Elisabeth Eaves and can do it, why can't I?

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Do all writers and photographers find their niche path by working? Social media certainly confuses the path today.  I increasingly find that just because I can do something well, doesn't mean I should do it. This is why I will never be a social media associate or a traditional metro news reporter, and I've learned to be okay with that.

Finding my niche has been a difficult process, but it's beginning to make more sense. My current job title: Freelance food news writer and photographer/ commercial food photographer. I used to worry that news and commercial were incompatible, but I find that multimedia skills are necessary for a new generation of writers and photographers to remain relevant and credible (and well fed). I hope to add other credentials to this title within the year, and for the first time, I'm not worried about compromising my ethics or work quality.

What would Margaret Bourke-White say to that? I think she'd agree I was on my way, and remind me to keep backing up my work in multiple locations.


'Prisoners' features strong performances despite shaky storyline

Added on by lea thompson.

The film 'Prisoners" focuses on several well-known cinematic themes, including tests of faith, fear, and values. In this film, Hugh Jackman portrays Keller Dover, the small-town everyman who finds his family, faith and values questioned when his daughter and the daughter of the Birch family,  (Birch patriarch portrayed by Terrence Howard) are kidnapped while left unattended for a few moments. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the part of Detective David Wayne Loki, who works with and sometimes against Jackman to find the missing girls. 

Much like"The Vanishing" (1988, Franco-Dutch version , and the 1993 American version with Jeff Bridges) "Prisoners" shares the intense psychological stress of the characters with the audience. Viewers slowly feel themselves take on the stress, and the unnerving sense of dread that permeates the film. [gallery columns="2" type="rectangular" ids="1094,1093"] While Jackman and Gyllenhaal give impressive, increasingly intense performances throughout the film, the storyline fails to develop with them. The film attempts to withhold information and pieces of the story to keep the audience guessing,  but the film's greatest accomplishment is that we know what will happen but still feel frightened. Paul Dano's performance as a damaged, disturbed individual is haunting. There are several memorable visual scenes, but the plot never meets up with the rest of the film.

Film Review Prisoners

The story of parents losing their children to predators is not new; the biggest fear lies somewhere between never knowing and learning the truth.

Prisoners Terrence Howard Copyright

Overall, the film left me feeling manipulated and emotionally traumatized, as though I had just watched three hours of the Houston nightly news and then re-watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Prisoners: Melissa Leo stars as Holly Jones and Paul Dano stars as Alex Jones in Warner Bros. Pictures' Prisoners (2013)

I'm curious to see how the film will be received during Oscars season,  but I'm even more curious as to how this will affect the ongoing "nerd trends" and sales of oversize glasses.

Despite the weak storyline, once the credits appeared, I quickly exited the theater to meet up with a friend for coffee. Even after ending, the film "Prisoners" leaves you with a chill you just can't seem to shake.

Rating: B-

Behind the Scenes: One Lucky Duck

Added on by lea thompson.

I recently wrote a story on One Lucky Duck, a new juice bar and raw food establishment located in the Historical Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas. Here are few more photographs from my time spent at One Lucky Duck.  You can read the story as printed here in the SA Current: One Lucky Duck , or check out One Lucky Duck Texas menu. Happy Eating! (L to R:)Emily Melngailis with One Lucky Duck founder, Sarma Melngailis at the Grand Opening of One Lucky Duck Texas.


Matthew, at One Lucky Duck


Sarma's Green Kale Shake



San Antonio Foodies Rejoice! Edible Magazine has Arrived

Added on by lea thompson.

I'm proud to announce the debut of Edible San Antonio Magazine! Join Mayor Julian Castro, San Antonio's first Poet Laureate, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, as well as the best chefs and mixologists in the city as we celebrate San Antonio's unique food culture. 

The Edible SA Debut will be on Monday, Sept. 30, 6-9 pm in Pearl Stable at The Historic Pearl Brewery 

Edible SA Premiere tickets ($30) bring ticket holders the best food and drinks in San Antonio, as well as a premiere issue of the magazine. 

Eat, Drink, and Read Local. 

Grab your tickets here:
Hope to see you Monday night! 

Gratitude on the Move

Added on by lea thompson.

As I duk tape the last of the packing boxes, and listen to Neil Patrick Harris on TV, I reflect on the things that I am grateful for. Image

Things I feel particularly grateful for today: sincere people, notebooks, tearsheets, organization, (anything that involves) mexican hot chocolate, news articles that make me angry, applications, classic movies, leftover brie, and finding long-lost negatives. Life is good.


I've moved nearly a dozen times in the past decade, but until this move, I never got any form of peace from the process. Dealing with nosy prospective buyers and inspectors; Moving back to San Antonio from Austin; Strangers touring my family house during all hours this summer have made a stressful four months. I didn't get much sleep, I wasn't able to work much at home, and I often had to throw all my story materials with my camera to leave five minutes before someone arrived.


My home became any place serving coffee and bagels. I learned to live out of suitcases and camera bags. I'm grateful that my family can begin settling into a new home, but I'm even more grateful to have acquired these new skills. I don't find peace in a quiet house or incredible studio space (though I would love a new studio space), but I learned to find a sense of peace and calmness in myself.


I've hated this move, but I am grateful for every lesson I picked up along the way.