May in San Antonio means it's time for another edition of the Culinaria Festival, where local top chefs and wineries offer bites of the best of their delectable creations. The festival, celebrating its 18th year, will take place May 18-21. Once again, La Cantera Resort and Spa will be the main place for Culinaria activities, although a few events will unfold in equally intimate settings elsewhere.
Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, Culinaria's president/CEO, says every festival event gets a tweak here and there. "Every event has changed, only the name has stayed the same," Etheredge says. "There is a big focus this year on Texas, Texas products, and locally sourced items. Beef will play a starring role for sure. Fire is a key component.”
Culinaria kicks off at 7 pm on May 18 with From Campfires to Tablecloths at Kirby's Prime Steakhouse. It's an elegant, family-style, candle-lit dinner focusing on Texas beef, accompanied by gourmet appetizers, entrees, and desserts paired with wine.
On May 19, Becker Vineyards will host an already sold-out luncheon involving renowned local chefs, such as Jeff Balfour, John Brand, Jeff White, and Nicole Patel. Exquisite dishes are paired with wines from the likes of Bar Z Winery, Grape Creek, Lost Oak, Villa Pozzi, and Becker Vineyards.
Back at La Cantera, Bubbles and Pearls takes over the night of May 19, beginning at 7 pm. It's an evening of elegance and a showcase for Texas Gulf Coast culinary delights. Samples of oysters, shrimps, and scallops are paired with champagne and cocktails as guests mingle poolside.
Saturday is literally a day-long affair at Culinaria. Tex-Mex and Tequila begins at 11 am on May 20. A variety of tequila brands will offer samples and cocktails with their best products paired with tasty cuisine from around the region. Not into tequila? Don't worry, there will be wine to enjoy. Enthusiasts of wine and liquor will have their hands full with an array of wine and mixology seminars, including a blind taste test of Texas wines.
That night at La Cantera, the Grand Tasting arrives. It's a vibrant event including a full range of restaurants and caterers offering samples of gourmet food paired with an equal standard of beverages. Guests also get to enjoy music and a silent auction. Those lucky enough to include VIP admission will see something new — the VIP Chefs' Tables, a limited-seating dining experience. "VIP for Grand Tasting is amped up this year with seatings with some amazing chefs — an event within an event," Etheredge says.
You may want to pace yourselves on Sunday, May 21. That's when Culinaria wraps up with back-to-back events in the morning and afternoon. The Southern Sunday Brunch, beginning at 9 am, is where the resort's chefs will share their sweet and savory creations at different stations. Boozy beverages will be sold separately.
Then, starting at 1 pm, Burgers, BBQ and Beer will serve as your unofficial, full-blown kickoff to summer dining and partying. Several top local chefs will grill up their traditional and creative takes on burgers and barbecue. And, yes, there will be plenty of beer and wine to boot.
Culinaria event tickets can be purchased separately, or you can take advantage of the all-inclusive package for $350. Proceeds benefit Culinaria, which, as a nonprofit, promotes San Antonio as a premier wine and cuisine destination. Culinaria also fosters community spirit and education with other events and initiatives, such as the ongoing development of an urban farm.