Monday, November 28, 2011

Hotel Indigo San Antonio

When looking for a Hotel in a place that you have never been before, it is sometimes hard to figure out the best location.  The convenience of having a hotel close to the action can sometimes be a detriment if the "action" is very noisy.  For instance in Barcelona, I discovered that I was glad we were a little away from Las Rambles as those English tourists could be very noisy partying in to the small hours of the morning.  This turned out to be true in San Antonio also, though our hotel was right on the River walk it was a 15 minute walk up stream from the down town on a very quiet peaceful stretch.

The river walk north of downtown
It was a pleasure to step down the steps from our hotel right on to the walk where it was peaceful and shady due to the abundance of vegetation.  The front of the hotel was not as beautiful, but really after arriving we hardly went out the front again.

The hotel was oriented to the back where there was swimming pool and comfy chairs for sitting outside enjoying the warm weather.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chocolate pecan pie

Every year at American Thanksgiving a good friend, who happens to be American, hosts a Thanksgiving feast for our neighbourhood friends.  This started many years ago when our children were all small, and many were picky eaters. They are all now grown with the youngest graduating from high school this year, and so the volume of food has ramped up. Including all "kids" parents and even a couple of grandparents there were 32 for dinner and two 20lb turkeys!  

We are a group very bound by traditions, and every year we each bring the same dishes, my allotted dish is pie.  This year someone else was bringing pumpkin pie, which is an essential part of the Thanksgiving feast and so I was going to bring Pecan pie, another pie that completes some peoples vision of Thanksgiving dinner. Last year I made a  Straight forward Pecan Pie so to shake it up a little this year I made a chocolate pecan pie.

I found this recipe on and I hardly changed it at all. The pastry that I made is my version of shortcrust pastry I made the pastry and lined a pie plate with it and let it rest while I made the filling.

Pecan Filling:

1 1/2 cups pecans toasted and chopped
2 ounces  unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup  granulated white sugar
1 cup  light corn syrup
2 tablespoons  butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon rum or bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup  whole pecan halves toasted

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Boudros San Antonio

We wanted to eat one meal sitting right on the river walk enjoying the bustle of all the people and the warm summer like evening.  I did a fair bit of research to find the right place as on our wanderings we had seen quite bit of rather bad looking Mexican food and really did not want sacrifice good food for location.  Boudros had come highly recommended both in a book that we had, as well as on the Internet. So with no reservations and high hopes we headed out.

Boudros by day
It does not have a large waterfront eating area and looked to be very full when we arrived, but we approached the waiter any way. He declared that he had a table for two inside, but when I said that we were willing to wait for one outside and asked how long it would be, miraculously a table for two appeared.  Feeling very lucky we sat down and ordered a glass of wine each.

It was very crowded and the waiter was making guacamole table side  for another table, but he was right next to me so I could see and smell everything.  And it smelt and looked very good.

It turned out that this was the house speciality and we had to order it as well, it was every bit as good as it looked.  After watching twice and asking some questions I pledge to try and replicate this guacamole for my friends back home soon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

La Villita and Guadalajara Grill

La Villita was in the guide books as an arts village just off the River walk, and sounded interesting so we went to check it out on our first day after visiting the Alamo.  The first thing was to find somewhere for lunch, the Fig Tree looked very interesting and very expensive, so we decided to try the Guadalajara Grill for some Mexican food.

we managed to get a table outside in the shade and the first order of the day was a Margarita my first of the trip.

This came along with some chips and salsa a pleasant way to start any meal.  I ordered pork tacos though that was not exactly what they were called.

The beans, rice and flour tortillas were fine, but the pork appeared to be cold roast pork cut in to cubes, not very tasty or fresh.  My husband ordered the tortilla soup.

This was very tasty and came with chicken, fresh fried tortilla strips, cheese, avocado and sour cream.  He thoroughly enjoyed this and had obviously made a better choice than me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Alamo and breakfast at Schilo's Delicatessen

The first morning in San Antonio we headed down river on the River walk to the downtown area, this is where the Alamo is, the number one tourist attraction in San Antonio.  As breakfast did not come with our hotel we were also on the look out for somewhere for breakfast.  We wandered for quite a while on the river walk, but it seemed that very few opened for breakfast, and there was not a coffee shop to be found.  After asking at the tourist bureau and turning down their first two suggestions of Denny's or Macdonalds we decided to try their third Schilo's Deli.

This was a couple of blocks from the Alamo and just 1/2 a block up from the river walk. When we walked in we realized this was just the sort of place we were looking for. It appeared to be an old San Antonio institution harking back to it's early German roots.

 Our coffee came quickly served in one of those thick white cups which always remind me of American diners.

My husband ordered a german sausage with scrambled eggs and grits, this was Texas after all.  The sausage was good and the eggs as expected, the grits were bland and unappealing.  But this is not the fault of Schilo's but the fault of grits which I am afraid I find bland and unappealing, I don't really like polenta either, it is something about the texture.

Monday, November 21, 2011

King William district of San Antonio and Titos

The King William District is just South of Downtown and easily accessible by walking, biking or the trolley buses that circle the city. It is a nice neighborhood to walk or bike around as the streets are tree lined therefore providing some shade on a hot day and their are some beautiful examples of old San Antonio homes.

Some of them quite grand like the one above and some of them far more modest.

But mostly well maintained and rather inviting.  I suspect that this neighborhood has recently become a more desirable place to live and looks to be benefiting from some gentrification.  Amongst the houses are several bed and breakfasts and some restaurants.  We stumbled upon Tito's one evening and were pleasantly surprised by the food and the ambiance.

I can not remember the name of the dish that I ordered but the description was very similar to Taco al Pastor except with beef instead of pork

The beef was very tasty grilled beef on hand made corn tortillas with chopped onion and cilantro to sprinkle on and several wedges of lime.  This was served with a bowl of beans.  All very delicious and fresh.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SAMA San Antonio Museum of Art and Cafe des Artistes

Close to the Pearl farmers market was the San Antonio Museum of Art so we decided to go visit and get some culture.  The Museum is housed in an abandoned brewery, of which there seemed to be several in San Antonino and like almost everything else here was on the banks of the River walk.

There were two towers with a glass bridge between them.  The tower on the right of this picture housed an amazing collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts not what we had expected at all, but interesting never the less.

View from the glass bridge
There was also a traveling exhibit of jade from China.  This was wonderful with some ancient very beautiful jade pieces.

There was another reason for visiting the museum it was their restaurant Cafe Des Artistes  over looking  the river which had received good reviews.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pearl Farmers Market San Antonio

Two of the places that I really enjoy visiting when I travel is supermarkets and farmers markets.  The product that you can get is different where ever you go and a supermarket will show what the residents are eating at home.  If this holds true San Antonians are not eating very well, as we could only find dollar stores and corner stores that sold frito lay chips, beer and pre-made food.  I know that outside of the downtown this is not true but as we did not have a car  and so we did not experience a real Texas supermarket.

We did however find a farmers market which we were able to get to by walking out of our hotel right on to the river walk and heading north for about 20 minutes. The  Pearl Farmers Market had received mixed reviews on the net so I was a little apprehensive that it would be lame as some had suggested.  I was pleasantly surprised however it was a very nice location on the River walk in the Shadows of the Pearl Brewery which was closed and in the process of being renovated.

We found many of the same things that you would find in the Northwest if a little later in the year than up here.

There were some spectacular radishes that my husband had to buy a bunch of to eat as we strolled around the market.  There was however somethings that we never see up here such as black eyed peas.

Black eyed peas in the shell
These came both in their shells as well as shelled.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

San Antonio River walk

There is no doubt that the River walk in San Antonio is the best thing in San Antonio, in fact with out the River walk the city would be a bit of a wasteland.  Back in 1921 An architect named Robert Hugman had a vision of how the river could become an asset to the city instead of a detriment as it was prone to flooding. 

Though it took many years and a lot of work that would probably be considered ecologically incorrect today it has created a haven in the middle of the city.  It is damned to to the north and is really more of a canal today than a river, the path has been diverted to suit the planners rather than the natural flow of the river.

The loop that goes through down town reminded me a bit of Disneyland with nothing but restaurants, hotels and tourist shops.  In fact there is no grocery store withing walking distance of down town, easy to buy a tshirt, a souvenir mug, a bag of corn chips or even a bottle of wine but no fruits and vegetables or any real food.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunny in San Antonio

Beautiful weather here in San Antonio sunny but not too hot, great sightseeing, and eating weather. Just the iPad with me so no pictures until I get back on Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes

A good friend from work who shares my passion for food came for dinner on Saturday. She hunted and gathered the  vegetables to go with roast pork that I was cooking At the winter market in Vancouver.  She came with the largest and most amazing sunchokes that I had ever seen.

I have cooked these before but not too often and have usually made soup with them.  I did a little research and found that these are indigenous to North America and were cultivated by the Native North Americans long before the Europeans arrived.  It is the root of a particular specious of sunflower.

We washed them and then cut up in to equal size pieces and boiled until they were tender. Then I mashed like a potato with a little butter and salt.

They have a distinct artichoke flavour, but we decided to serve them with 2/3 mashed sunchoke and 1/3 mashed German butter potatoes.

These were served along with roasted Brussels sprouts which had also been picked up at the winter market still attached to their stalk.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quince cheese or Dulce de Membrillo

I found these beautiful looking quinces at the farmers market and could not stop my self from buying them.

They look like a cross between an apple and a pear, and though they are related to these fruits they are quite different.  They really can not be eaten raw as they are extremely hard and dense and are very sour.


I have never cooked with quinces before, but I have had quince cheese before and enjoyed it so I thought I would have a go at making it. What we call quince cheese here is a traditional south American treat called Dulce de Membrillo which is served with manchengo cheese.

I peeled the quinces cored them and chopped in to small pieces.  This was much harder than it sounds as they fruit is so dense that it is hard to cut the core out.  I was ready to give up at one point but I persevered.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Roast pork - Plain and simple

In England all pork roasts come with the skin on, but here in North America it is a rare treat.  A well roasted pork with crackling is both a wonder to behold and treat to eat. This week I discovered that one of the butchers at Granville Island sold not only suckling pig! but loin roast with the skin on, so I had to get one.

You do not have to born in England to enjoy crackling, we shared this with a friend from work and her husband both of whom were born in Canada and we were fighting over the crackling. (in a very polite Canadian kind of way) There is I believe a misconception that you cook pork on high to get a good crackling.  Pork really benefits from a long slow cooking to keep it moist and tender. This is how I cooked this pork roast, and the meat was moist and flavourful, and the crackling was everything crackling should be.

I rubbed the whole roast with a healthy helping of salt then placed it on a bed of fresh sage.

Conveniently the butcher had scored the skin all over and tied up the roast so I was saved from doing this. I placed the pork in a 400 oven for 30 minutes and then turned down the heat to 325 for 2 and 1/2 hours. and this is how it came out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasted Parsnips

Parsnips are a much underrated vegetable here in North America, I am not sure why, but at this time of year along with the potatoes, carrots, beets and other root vegetables they are the kings of the farmers markets. My favourite way to cook parsnips is the same as many other vegetables, roasted.

This is dead easy.  Peel and cut the parsnips in to equal sized pieces place in a roasting tin, drizzle over olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.