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San Antonio’s 18th Annual Culinaria Wine and Food Festivals

What to expect from this weekend’s Culinaria and where to find event tickets

The 18th annual Culinaria Wine and Food Festival kicks off in mid-May with “From Campfires to Tablecloths,” a delectable dinner showcasing world renowned Texas beef at San Antonio’s award-winning Kirby’s Steakhouse.

The family-style candlelight dinner features prime “Cowboy Cut” ribeye, Blue Ribbon filet mignon, Angus ribeye, and a host of other mouthwatering Texas steaks prepared to perfection by several award winning chefs. Advance tickets for this one-of-a-kind dining experience are $125 per person.

Culinaria is a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 with the goal of promoting the Alamo City as a premier wine and food destination. Culinaria is guided in its mission by an all-volunteer board that encourages community growth and enrichment.

“When it started, we really just wanted to celebrate San Antonio’s great chefs and restaurants. There’s a confluence of cultures here not found anywhere else, so it was in that spirit of celebration that it all began,” said Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge, the nonprofit’s founder and president/CEO.

The Culinaria Wine and Food Festival, set for May 18 through 21 at select venues, is only one of several wine and food events held throughout the year. The four-day spring event attracts thousands of wine and food lovers to venues in and around San Antonio. For tickets, go to their website.

One of the most popular epicurean adventures takes foodies to the Texas Hill Country’s “Becker Vineyards Lavender Haus” luncheon on Friday, May 19. The annual event is the second gastronomic experience on Culinaria’s festival list. Advance tickets for the all-inclusive luncheon are $75 each.

Set in Becker’s Lavender Haus Reception Hall, guests will notice the scent of lavender fields, wild flowers and peach orchards as they approach. Inside, Southerleigh’s chef Jeff Balfour, Hotel Emma’s John Brand and Boiler House’s Jeff White will prepare delicious dishes paired with wines selected by guest winemakers.

The popular vintner’s luncheon allows guests to tour the 10,000-square-foot winery owned by a San Antonio endocrinologist, Dr. Richard Becker, and Mrs. Bunny Becker. The late nineteenth century winery is a reproduction of a German stone barn. It’s the hub of Becker wines, which have been poured at the White House and the revered James Beard House.

La Cantera Resort & Spa, a 550-acre oasis perched atop San Antonio’s spectacular Hill Country, is the venue for the remaining five culinary events. Three events offer additional pairings of beer, spirits, Champagne, and even tequila. So get ready to dine in style back in town.

La Cantera, part of the Destination Hotels Luxury Collection, will indulge every desire. It boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses, nine restaurants and bars, four swimming pools, an Olympic-size spa and many amenities unequaled in the Lone Star State.

This is the perfect setting for “Bubbles and Pearls,” a poolside event on Friday, May 19, featuring Texas Gulf delicacies paired with Champagne. A bevy of chefs will put their culinary artistry to work preparing fresh Atlantic Coast oysters, shrimp, mussels, and much more. Advance tickets are $75 each.

San Antonio wouldn’t be worthy of the “world heritage” label without a “Tex-Mex and Tequila” event. Not only is it the next culinary fête, it’s also a tribute to a cherished local cuisine and world-renowned Mexican beverage.

The Mexican-style food fiesta starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 20. Guests will indulge on nourishing nachos, tasty tacos, burritos, and anything served on a tortilla or covered with cheese. Advance tickets are $35 each.

Each year, the culmination of Culinaria’s festival is the “Grand Tasting” held in La Cantera’s opulent ballrooms. This year’s event will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. Award-winning chefs both local and visiting will prepare exquisite creations paired with premium wines, spirits, and beer.

Chief among the chefs participating at the evening event is Laurent Rea, the newly appointed executive chef of Signature restaurant, anchored at La Cantera’s foothills. Rea gained international experience in the kitchens of Italy, France, and Great Britain before arriving in Texas.

Inspired by famed chef Andrew Weissman, whose Le Rêve French restaurant put San Antonio on the culinary map, Signature restaurant elicits rave reviews. And Rea, with the help of newly appointed general manager Patrick Bean, will make sure they live up to the great expectations of their guests.

La Cantera’s own chefs, Robert Carr and John Zaner, head a lineup of award-winning chefs poised to impress and indulge the most discerning palates expected at the annual Grand Tasting. A silent auction, music, and live entertainment are all on tap. Advance tickets are $100 each.

New this year at the Grand Tasting is the “VIP Chefs’ Tables” option, a limited-seating, multiple-course dinner with designated chefs, such as the Food Network’s Iron Chef Gauntlet chef Jason Dady. Advance tickets are $150 per person.

The “Southern Sunday Brunch” at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 21, may be a more attractive alternative for the laid-back individual. The setting is La Cantera’s Primero Cantina, and Texas fruits, jams, jellies, breads, and the like are on the menu. Advance tickets are $40 each with beverages sold separately.

The four-day Culinaria festival comes to a tasty end with “Burgers, BBQ and Beer” at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 21. The backyard-like barbecue features all sorts of meats, offered on a bun or on the bone. The outdoor family event also offers children’s activities, and children under 5 are admitted for free. Advance tickets for adults are $35 each, and tickets for kids 6 to 20 are $10 each.

There are festival tickets to fit every budget, including all-inclusive, à la carte, or weekend passes. Proceeds benefit scholarships funds for culinary students who attend the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus and the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Culinaria’s annual summer Restaurant Week will run from Aug. 12 through Aug. 26. For tickets to the May festival or future events visit Culinaria's website or go directly to the ticket sales page at Eventbrite. For any questions, call (210) 822-9555.

 

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