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

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

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.

souffle

The Gridiron Gentleman

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, DallasNews.com

"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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Behind the Scenes: One Lucky Duck

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.

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Matthew, at One Lucky Duck

 

Sarma's Green Kale Shake

 

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Coffee Talk with Culture Spoon

Today Culture Spoon celebrates International Coffee Day with a new “Coffee Talk” interview series. Each month, Culture Spoon will feature an individual who has pursued their passions in work and life, and how they’ve used that passion to better their local and global communities. In our first Coffee Talk, Culture Spoon sat with Rebecca Anne Ruiz, a powerful advocate for the Fair Trade Movement. Ruiz works as a Chief Storyteller for Ten Thousand Villages, is the co-founder of the Tender Heart Foundation, and recently traveled as a Fair Trade Ambassador to Oaxaca, Mexico. In this interview, Ruiz explains her passion for fair trade, and proves that great things can happen when you follow your passion.

International Coffee Talk

SA Brunch: Why I get out of bed on Sundays

For most San Antonians, Sunday is still a day reserved for rest. Whether we are recovering from Saturday night, or preparing for a new week, we look for opportunities to unwind and enjoy ourselves. My favorite antidote for a stressful, busy week? Brunch.

If you're in need of a truly great brunch experience, head over to The Arcade Midtown Kitchen, located in the Pearl Brewery. Last weekend, Arcade Chef/Owner, Jesse Perez, unveiled a new brunch menu sure to delight locals and visitors alike.

Perez grew up in San Antonio, but spent the last decade as a chef in some of the best restaurants in the country before returning in February 2013 to open The Arcade. The well-traveled chef brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes; Perez has helped introduce new flavors and dining experiences to the San Antonio culinary community.

The Arcade's Bar Manager, Christopher Ware, pays homage to brunch with a great selection of delicious drinks. Savor and enjoy a delicious bloody Mary or a refreshing, bubbly mimosa.

Even on the laziest of Sundays, you have to admit this brunch looks way better than staying in bed.

Bloody Mary at Arcade's Sunday brunch

In "El Rancho" you see evidence of Chef Perez's San Antonio roots and Latin training.

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I'm not ashamed to say I tried to sneak this dish away from my brunch companions. The eggs were beautiful, the chorizo was perfect, and the salsa verde surprised me with complex, subtle flavors.

Make sure to try the piping hot,fresh California coffee, delivered daily from City Bean Coffee in Los Angeles. Perez worked as an executive hotel chef in LA for several years,where he first discovered a respect for fresh, seasonal ingredients.

California coffee freshly imported from City Bean Coffee in LA.

Bacon enthusiasts will rejoice in Chef Perez's Chicago-inspired bacon plate.

"I take my bacon seriously," Chef Perez said. Rather than the usual bacon strips, Perez serves perfectly cooked bacon slabs.

Bacon slabs served at Arcade's Sunday brunch.

In'THE' Chicken meets the Waffle, Perez recognizes his time spent as a chef in Atlanta. Fans of the chicken and waffles trend will appreciate the Chicken Milanese style (no bones!) served with a Pioneer Flour Waffle, and an endless supply of Maple Syrup.

'THE' Chicken meets the Waffle

Check out other Arcade brunch menu items here: [gallery columns="4" ids="931,933,934,932"]

The Arcade serves brunch to a full house on Sundays, between 10:30 am- 2 pm. I'd recommend calling (210) 369-9664 or clicking here to reserve a table.

Happy Eating!!

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Photography and Place revisited

  Photography may not preserve absolute truth, but it reminds us of the places we have been, the people we were or felt we were, and helps illustrate transitions too difficult to explain with words alone.

The black and white film photographs were taken 2 years ago, when I was a photo student living in Austin. I wanted to document my environment and how  surreal the relationships between buildings, art and people. felt to me.

The second set of photographs were taken earlier this week, on a roadtrip to Austin with my siblings. The only relationship between the two sets of photographs is the physical spaces. I enjoy documenting the changes in cities, and I enjoy documenting my changing relationships with cities. Revisiting places and planning trips for new, unfamiliar cities is at times frightening, but overall, an exciting process.

Photographs help me to create narratives that better explain why I am in my current city, who I've been in the past, who I am at this moment, and I search for clues as to who I will become.

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Meatopia tranforms San Antonio into Carnivore's Paradise

SAN ANTONIO, TX- Meatopia, a food festival often described as a "Woodstock of edible animals" will celebrate great Texas meats Nov. 2-3 at the Pearl Brewery. Although it was originally founded by food writer Josh Ozersky as a New York City food event, Meatopia will celebrate its tenth year in the Lonestar state. "This will be the greatest meat event that Texas has ever seen," Ozersky said.

On Saturday night, the festival opens with Beefsteak, a tribute to food traditions and excesses of the Gilded Age. On Sunday, Meatopia will feature 33 of the best chefs in the country and their culinary creations. Carnivorous attendees can expect great beef, as well as "pork, veal, chicken, duck, quail, bison, and many other animals,from snout to tail."

Joshua Ozersky speaks at Meatopia Conference at the Granary at the Pearl Brewery, in San Antonio, Texas

All the meat will be "cruelty-free, hormone free, and anti-biotic free," Ozersky said. "Meatopia focuses on the relationship between the (meat) producers and chefs.

Meatopia will showcase the greatest meat collaborations in the country, including San Antonio's Jesse Perez of Arcade, Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno, Tim Rattray of The Granary, Geronimo Lopez of NAO, Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria, and Jason Dady of Two Bros BBQ.

Chefs representing Austin include: Top Chef winner Paul Qui, culinary team Laura Sawicki and Rene Ortiz, Foreign and Domestic's Ned Elliott, and Bryan Butler and Ben Runkle of Salt & Time.

Meatopia collaborators

Meatopia offers general admission tickets at $75, VIP tickets at $125, and a bundled VIP package for both Meatopia and Beefsteak for $195. Single event tickets for Beefsteak run at $195. You can buy your tickets here.

Meatopia

The Granary and Salt & Time collaborated to serve delicious snacks including mouth-watering pastrami, samples of porkbelly with jicama, salami, and sausages.

Porkbelly with jicama

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Culinaria's Restaurant Week celebrates San Antonio food culture

San Antonio has become a mecca for fine dining and culinary innovation. Culinaria's Restaurant Week celebrates local food culture, and makes fine dining experiences accessible to the community. Between August 17-24, participating restaurants, food trucks, and pop-ups will offer 3 course, prix-fixe lunch menus for $15, and dinner specials for $35. Click here for a list of participating restaurants.Culinaria 2013 On Tuesday, the Restaurant Week on the Move Event at Travis Park featured eight local food trucks, each offering special 3 course lunches. Restaurant Week on the Move, at Travis Park

I selected delicious DUK tacos from DUK TRUCK, a food venture owned by local Chef Jason Dady. The duck was cooked to perfection, and the pineapple chunks made the tacos a perfect combination of sweet and savory. I will be on the hunt for the bright yellow truck again soon. Duck Tacos from Duk Truk

Another great reason to dine out during Culinaria's Restaurant Week? Some of the event's proceeds will be used for community based projects, including Culinaria's new Garden Project. During the Travis Park event, I spoke with Culinaria President Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, who was excited for the garden to promote healthy living and education in San Antonio. To learn how you can contribute to the Culinaria Garden Project, email: info (at) culinariasa.org

Check Culture Spoon throughout Restaurant Week;  More food news and event updates coming soon! Happy Eating!

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Creative CANstructing for a Cause

Most people don't feel inspired when they reach for a can of black beans or sliced carrots, but non-profit group CANstruction proves that each can become a work of art.  CANstruction's work illustrates that overwhelming, somber issues like world hunger can inspire beauty and creative solutions. ©Atlanta Competition in 2009, photo credit : Collin, http://www.atlantaintownpaper.com/2009/11/canstruction-project-returns-to-underground-nov-6/

Since 1992, CANstruction has helped increase canned donations to local food banks across the country, and throughout the world. Each year, CANstruction  hosts regional and international canned food sculpture competitions for architects, designers, students to increase food donations while engaging local communities.

© The Watering Mouth, 2012,  http://thewateringmouth.com/canstruction-exhibition-2010-nyc/

Some interesting numbers to consider:

  • Between 2011-2012, Canstruction exhibits and competitions collected over 3.4 million pounds of food for local food banks throughout the world.
  • Between 2011-2012, Dallas, Texas ranked as the number one participating city in food contributions. They collected 85, 302 pounds of food, which roughly amounts to 86, 175 meals

Click on your city below to learn more about the free Texas CANstruction art exhibits available to the public

Dallas, Tx (10/05/2013- 10/20/2013)

Fort Worth , Tx (10/05/2013- 10/13/2013)

Austin, Tx (11/09/2013- 11/17/2013)

Houston, Tx (11/18/2013- 11/23/2013)

To learn more about participating in the CANstruction competitions, visit  http://canstruction.org/content/host-competition

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Hatch Pepper Salsa

Bright green, smooth and symmetrical- these are qualities to look for in a great hatch chile pepper. Hatch chiles may have originated in New Mexico, but Texas has adopted them as a favorite spicy ingredient in summer dishes, particularly in salsa. I used what was available in my family's garden, but you can find hatch peppers in season at most grocery distributors. Enjoy! Warning: You want the beauty of the salsa, not burning chiles to bring tears to your eyes- always wear gloves when handling peppers!

Ingredients: 4 Hatch chiles 2 tbs Garlic 3 Roma Tomatoes Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Total time: about 20 minutes Serves: 4

Pre-heat oven to 350. Brush hatch peppers with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast peppers ten minutes, or until the skin blackens and blisters. Wearing gloves, add roasted hatch peppers to food processor.

Roasted Hatch Chiles

 

I added 1/2 of a Habanero pepper, but if this is out of your spice range (slice off a sliver to test), try substituting with more hatch or a combo of red onion and cilantro for some kick.

Habanero Peppers

Dice tomatoes and garlic before adding to food processor.

Roma Tomatoes

Pulse until ingredients are combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Hatch Pepper Salsa

I rarely make salsa the same way twice; I think it's more fun to experiment and see what works. Instead of tortilla chips, my family tried the salsa on veggies (like zucchini), quinoa and salads. Have fun!

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Pearl Brewery: What's happening NAO

Although the Pearl Brewery closed its doors in 2001, the site remains a source of culinary innovation through its ever-expanding farmer's market and diverse restaurants. NAO, a restaurant headed by Chef Geronimo Lopez, breathes new life into familiar Latin American dishes. Lopez and CIA student chefs observe cultural traditions while using local and seasonal ingredients to create delicious new plates.

Chef Lopez

NAO has introduced several new "traditions", which are sure to please locals and visitors alike.

Fire & Ice at NAO is a new happy hour special on Fridays and Saturdays, 5-7, featuring drinks and tapas.

On Saturdays, head over to the plaza for spit-roasted pork breakfast tacos, prepared by NAO and CIA students. (9:30 am- 1pm) Best menu deal: 2 tacos and any beverage for $5!

Chefs

Update: NAO will also offer a Market Lunch in the dining room during the Pearl Farmer’s Market from 11:00am to 2:00pm! Roasting pork for Breakfast tacos

Note: Saturdays at the Pearl Brewery are busy with culinary events, so the earlier you arrive, the better! Happy eating!

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