Yesterday morning, not quite bright and much too early, I hopped a flight down to Texas for one reason and one reason only: food. A four-day-long culinary festival in San Antonio. I was invited by the San Antonio Conventions and Visitors Bureau on an all-expense paid trip to the lone star state to explore the festivities—to eat my way through them, actually—and then share my experience. I’m somewhere far, far beyond grateful to be here, preparing for all of the eating and exploring to come. The good news is that I toted my fancy camera with me and I packed my reserve stomach; the bad news is that I can’t share bites and sips with you, and for that, I’m sorry. I’ll do my best with extra-delicious words.
I should start by telling you a little about the festival. Now in its 14th year, Culinaria is a multi-day, multi-venue event that celebrates San Antonio’s diverse culinary scene and brings together the city’s hottest chefs, visiting celebrity chefs and winemakers from around the world. There are formal dinners at area restaurants, casual luncheons, food truck showdowns, tequila and Texas produce tastings, cooking classes, chocolate and champagne pairings, and more. All of it serves to highlight and explore the city’s Latin and European culinary and cultural roots.
I arrived in San Antonio early on Thursday afternoon, checked into my room at the gorgeous and trendy Hotel Havana (review to come!), and then used the few free hours I had before dinner to explore the surrounding area.
I strolled along the famous River Walk (the stretch of walkway along the San Antonio River), which my tour book described as a “crossroads of culture and commerce offering meandering pathways that connect hotel, museums, sidewalk cafes, theaters, and more.”
By early evening, it was time for our group welcome reception at Hotel Havana’s Ocho.
I just love the decor.
To sip: Blackberry sangria.
To snack: (clockwise from the top) House cured and smoked salmon on a wheat berry toast point with harissa remoulade, ocho braised beef flatbread pizza, bacon-wrapped shrimp.
After the meet and greet, I headed to the city’s 2nd annual Food Truck Competition. And when I say I headed there, I mean—I raced to it. I downright adore a good food truck—and all street fare for that matter—so having a dozen of them congregated in one spot, ready and willing to feed me two of their unique dishes? You’re going to have to carry me home.
Pulled pork slider with homemade (truck-made?) sweet pickles. This was, by far, my favorite dish of the night.
Spice Sea Gourmet had Virginia crabcakes and gumbo.
Mars Mobile Kitchen: The Vermontster: grilled Angus ground beef topped with sautéed Crimini mushrooms and Vermont white cheddar cheese, served on Texas Toast with mustard, mayo, herbed field greens, tomato, red onion, and sweet and spicy pickles. They also served Korean Gochujang wings, which were baked chicken wings marinated in a Korean fermented red pepper paste, then fried to order and tossed in a sweet and spicy blue agave nectar Gochujang sauce.
Mars Mobile Kitchen’s Chicken Street Tacos: twice caramelized marinated chicken thighs, grilled then sautéed with garlic, red onion, and fire roasted jalapenos. Served on corn tortillas and topped with diced tomatoes, sour cream, and chopped cilantro.
Cheesy Jane’s offered cheeseburger sliders, tater tots, and malted milkshakes.
Oreo milkshake with whipped cream and cheesy tots.
Wheelie Gourmet was one of the one trucks to boast a vegetarian option as well as the Moroccan lamb gyro, pictured above.
Where Y’At put out a fried shrimp po’boy slider and spicy beer-butter corn on the cob.
They also had beignets.
Here I am attempting to eat a gyro without massive spillage.
Crepe Nation dished out both sweet and savory options. The savory was an Asian chicken with peanut sriracha slaw.
And the sweet option was filled with strawberries and banana, then drizzled with Nutella.
Other trucks that my limited stomach capacity would not allow me to try:
Dillon’s Famous Louisiana Hot Dogs
Overall, a fun and delicious event with lots of unique offerings. Tickets are $10 to enter the lot where the food trucks are stationed, and then each truck charges for their menu items individually. Prices range from $2 to $10 and from what I gathered, servings are generous. I highly recommend going with a friend and sharing plates to allow you to try more of what’s available.
More to come!
Question: Have you been to San Antonio? Texas? Anything I do/see/eat while I’m here?