- Rick Canfield
It's been just over a month since the fourth San Antonio Cocktail Conference ended, and I'm finally feeling like myself again. Jokes aside, the collective boozin' the city took part in this past January enabled Houston Charities to raise $115,000, which was doled out to four benefitting nonprofits including HeartGift San Antonio, The Children's Shelter, ChildSafe and Transplants for Children. This year's conference drew in participants from 115 cities in more than 20 states, which were served 168 cocktail varieties throughout the four-day marathon gathering. Cocktail nuts can start getting their livers' endurance up as the next conference is set for January 14-17, 2016.
One way to get amped for next year is to take in a special screening of Samuel Goldwyn Films A Year in Champagne, which follows renowned wine importer Martine Saunier through six bubbly houses in this follow-up to 2013's A Year in Burgundy. Learn the process from start to finish with intimate looks at big-name producers such as Gosset, Bollinger and independent makers like Champagne Saint-Chamant. The screening ($10.50) will be held Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse Park North (618 N.W. Loop 410).
In sad news, Cocina Heritage, the quaint little interior Mexican café, has closed its doors due to a work extension to Medina Street. While sisters Silvia Alcaraz and Lupita Rivero will continue offering catering services, fans of Cocina's cochinita pibil and that habanero sauce that goes along with it can look forward to weekly supper take-out service along with monthly dinners at Dorcol Distilling Company (1902 S. Flores).
While some spots close their doors, others are knocking down walls to expand. Tiu Steppi's Osteria (9910 W. Loop 1604 N., Suite 123, 688-9885) doubled its capacity and added more seating in order to keep up with the demand of upscale Italian and solid pizzas. To celebrate the roomier digs, Tiu Steppi's will offer $9 to-go pizzas every Monday in March.
O'liva, a new sustainable dining concept by chef Chuck Hernandez of Arugula Catering, is slated for a late spring or early summer opening inside the new Plaza de Armas City Center in Downtown San Antonio. Foodies can sample some of Hernandez's eats on Saturday, March 7, as his brainchild Mercado O'liva returns to the Spanish Governor's Palace (115 Plaza de Armas) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market will feature vendors such as Uncommon Fare, Black Gold Garlic, a demo by EatSmart chef Abel Rodriguez and more.