I was delighted at the invitation I received to attend the Culinaria Wine Makers Dinner on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013. Having been a fan of Luke San Antonio, since it’s arrival to the San Antonio downtown culinary scene in December 2010 (attending the very first event!), I’m always happy to go back. It’s actually a favorite of both mine and my sister and we meet there often for catch up lunches since she already works downtown. Having lost my husband to his MBA program, my sister was the perfect “plus 1″ for this lavish affair.
It also always means more to me when I get to know the chefs of local restaurants more personally, which if you’ve met Chef John Russ, is very easy to do! I actually first met him at the beginning of this year during the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, when Luke was one of three stops on the Riverboat cruise (another fabulous cause!). Having not seen a picture of him, and apparently not eating at Luke since Chef Steve McHugh left in September 2012 to focus on his own restaurant…I started chatting up the guy shucking oysters, shooting the breeze about how fabulous the oysters were and to keep them coming. At some point I asked him what it was like with the new executive chef…if he missed McHugh or was the new guy as good as I heard? Well, thank goodness I had heard only good things! Turns out the chef is a man of the people, happy to talk to the restaurant’s guests shucking oysters! I thought, “Wow what a humble guy!”
I learned that he was from NOLA, where he had met Chef John Besh and worked with him at August (’nuff said!) He’s got lots planned for the restaurant this year, will continue cooking up great meals and supporting not only great nonprofit, local causes but especially our local farmers. Having met a lot of the local farmers myself at the Pearl Farmers Market, I knew exactly who he was talking about when he would mention where the pork (South Texas Heritage Pork) and strawberries (Oak Hills Farms in Poteet, TX) came from. He actually went as far as to change the planned five course dinner because Fredericksburg, TX peaches came into season, just in time.
My sister who in recent years is a MILLION times more adventurous than the shell of a foodie she once was, enjoyed all the courses too (a test for the reformed picky eater…) We loved each perfectly paired course with the refreshing Texas wine from the Duchman family (more about them later.)
Pop Up Dinners!
Be sure to become a fan of Luke San Antonio on Facebook here! They have a fantastic private dining area that has a clear view into their main kitchen. When the space isn’t booked for events on Fridays and Saturdays, the chef will prepare a unique tasting menu and post it, pop up style, the day of on their social media accounts! (You can subscribe to alerts from a specific Facebook page by hovering over the Like button and then selecting “receive notifications”.) Thanks Justin Solomon, the incredible front house man, for the tip!
‘Sweet Heat’, Marinated Gulf Coast Shrimp,
Pickled Grape Tomatoes, Fried Garlic, Spanish Olive Oil, Ms. Julies’ Pea Greens
Charred Bandera Quail, Fredericksburg Peaches
Spiced Pecans, Goat Milk Ricotta, Local Lettuces
Roasted Cabrito, Eggplant Confit
Heirloom Tomato and Sweet Pea Ragout, Sea Island Peas
Ms. Cora’s Strawberries
Crumbled Amoretti, Mascarpone