Culinaria hosts Hospitality Tour Music Festival

William Clark Green will headline the Hospitality Tour Music Festival which will benefit the Culinaria Hospitality Fund. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

On Saturday September 12, Culinaria will host an outdoor music festival at the Historic Freiheit Country Store to benefit the Culinaria Hospitality Fund in support of the New Braunfels community. The Culinaria Hospitality Fund provides aid to restaurateurs and furloughed workers. (Culinaria, 2020)

William Clark Green and Statesboro Revue, known for music that redefines rock and roll, headlines the Festival with a performance at 7p.m. Tony Taylor with his country, folk and Americana tunes, opens the day of music with Blue Water Highway, known for Americana roots-rock, at 11a.m., followed by a rock performance at 3p.m. with Austin Gilliam and Mario Flores, Latin Jazz.  Tickets are $10 for the 11a.m. and 3p.m. performances and $25 for the finale.  A small number of VIP tables are available for the entire day, $300 for a party of four, and $450 for a group of six. Tickets are available online.

Freiheit Country Store is in New Braunfels at 2157 FM 1101. The venue is limiting access to less than half of its capacity and social distancing is required as well as masks when inside or purchasing beverages outside. Between each show, staff will disinfect and sanitize the venue for the next audience.

Cash donations to the Culinaria Hospitality Fund are welcome and can be made through PayPal, Venmo, or by check payable to Culinaria, 999 East Basse Road, Suite 180-448, San Antonio, TX 78209.  Donations are tax-exempt through Culinaria. 

Culinaria is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination while fostering community growth and enrichment. Culinaria is a registered 501 c (3) tax-exempt organization. A volunteer board of directors who represent the community and guide the organization in its mission to champion the wine and food industries governs Culinaria.


Book review: ‘Act of Deception’ by John Bishop, M.D.

‘Act of Deception’ is the second novel in the Doc Brady mystery series by John Bishop, M.D. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

John Bishop M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon, keyboard musician and author of the beloved Doc Brady mystery series.  The series includes “Act of Murder,” “Act of Deception,” “Act of Revenge,” “Act of Negligence,” “Act of Fate” and “Act of Atonement.” Doc Brady is the protagonist and his fictional counterpart – an accomplished orthopedic surgeon with a talent for solving medical mysteries who moonlights as a blues musician. The series is set in the 1990s and features Houston and Galveston locales. In “Act of Deception,” Doc Brady, a Houston orthopedic surgeon, is being sued for medical malpractice because a mysterious infection caused a knee replacement to end up as an amputation.

In the second book in the Doc Brady mystery series, “Act of Deception,” the story takes place in 1995 and begins with Doc Brady waking up with the sweats again.  He is preoccupied with his impeding lawsuit even though it is not the first time he has been sued. Nothing in his notes or recollection of the event backs up the malpractice claim but he is determined not to settle even though everyone from his lawyer to his co-workers tell him it is the best thing to do. The case involves William Jones, a farmer whose treatment for severe arthritis in his right knee joint ended with an amputation.  Preparations for the trial begin to take a toll on him until he ends up in a coma after he is assaulted in a parking garage. There is also an ambulance chaser on the loose and no one knows where he is getting his information. As it turns out, Mr. Jones received treatment from a doctor covering for his usual doctor while he was out on vacation but the page that notated this in Mr. Jones’ medical record was missing, which is why no one was able to figure out what went wrong. In the end, after all the sleuthing and help from his family and friends, Doc Brady is exonerated and the hospital worker responsible for the medical records leak is fired.

This is another excellent medical novel from John Bishop M.D. and this time he combines legal drama and medical mystery. In this case, the mystery involves how one of his patients could have developed an infection that required an amputation. He almost gives away the ending when he mentions the missing medical records page, but not until the end does the reader find out why it was missing and who took it. The story is told in first person narrative which gives the reader an in-depth look into Doc Brady’s mind and the character development makes the characters real. With detailed explanations of the medical and legal issues, the balance between his personal and professional lives makes for fascinating storytelling. The final courtroom scene when Don Shaw, the plaintiff’s attorney, attempts to attack the witness when he realizes he is about to lose the case, is an exciting conclusion to the case:  “At the same time, Judge Barbara Woods deftly jumped out of her chair, hopped down to the witness stand, and got in front of the doctor. In the second or two it took for Shaw to reach the stand, she reached inside her robe and stood there, waiting for him, with the biggest handgun I had ever seen.” Even though it stands perfectly well on its own,  it would be best to read the first one in the series, “Act of Murder,” to get to know the characters better. As a big plus, there is a sneak peek at the third novel in the series: “Act of Revenge” at the end of this one.  “Act of Deception” is recommended for readers who appreciate an exciting mystery novel involving down to earth characters and intriguing plots.

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Hola Mexico Film Festival features first film in the Teenek language

This year’s Hola Mexico Film Festival will be a virtual event and will feature “At’ Anii,” the first film in the Teenek language. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

The 12th annual Mexican film festival, Hola México Film Festival, will make its virtual debut September 11 – 20 exclusively through the spanish premium broadcast service PANTAYA, a partnership between  Lionsgate  and  Hemisphere Media Group, Inc. The festival is offering the public the opportunity to enjoy the best of Mexican cinema and serves as a reminder of how much Mexican cinema has evolved over the past two decades. As usual, the festival will feature 20 films, starting with “Chicuarotes” from renowned Mexican actor, director and producer Gael García Bernal. (Hola México Film Festival, 2020)

Due to the COVID-19 situation, organizers of Hola México Film Festival, have decided to practice social distancing by offering the festival, for the first time, in virtual format. The festival will also include Q&A sessions with filmmakers and virtual red carpets.

The opening film “Chicuarotes” focuses on the story of “the cagalera” and “the Molotheque,” two youngsters struggling to get out of poverty that plagues their community. To achieve that, they start working as public transport clowns but soon realize that they do not earn enough even for their basic needs. The story takes a radical turn when they decide to assault the passengers. The  2019 Mexican drama film was screened in the “Contemporary  World Cinema” section in “Toronto International Film  Fesitval,” “Cannes Film Festival” in 2019 and was selected to compete in “Shanghai International Film Festival.” The festival will feature an awards ceremony. The awards will include best director, best short film and best film selected by the audience.

To enjoy the festival using PANTAYA for only $1.00, use code HMFF2020. With this economic incentive, festival organizers hope to create more access to the films this year while hoping to inspire new generations of filmmakers.

Hello Mexico Film Festival consists of the following categories: México Ahora, Documental, Hola Niños, El Otro México  and  Nocturno. México Ahora presents the best of Mexican cinema released in recent years, covering all genres. Documental includes the best documentary films made by Mexican filmmakers. Hola Niños  presents Mexican animated films  for children. Otro México highlights the experiences of Mexicans who are almost never portrayed on screen, presenting perceptual narratives that challenge the status  quo. The Nocturno category features Mexican films that are purely horror or strange.

México Ahora: “Asfixia,” “Amores Modernos,” “Classes De Historia,” “Chicuarotes,” “Los Paisajes,” “Blanco De Verano” and “El Deseo De Ana.”

Documental: “Retiro,” “Disparo,” “El Guardián De La Memoria,” “Radio Silencio,” “Erase Una Vez,” “Yermo,” “Vaquero De Mediodía” and “Obblatos, El Vuelo Que Curco La Noche.”   

Nocturno: “Club Internacional  Aguerridos” and “Desde Tu Infierno.”  

El Otro México: “At’ Anii” and Tio Yim.” 

Hola Niños: “Un Disfraz Para Nicolás”

“At’ Anii” is the first film in the Teenek language. Lucio and Enedina are a happily married, young Teenek couple that lives in the Huasteca Potosina’s jungle with their three children. They love each other and share everything; nevertheless, everything crumbles when the construction of a highway, that their community has been requesting for so long, finally arrives. As part of this development, workers from other towns also arrive, among them there’s Juancho, a machinist that accidentally comes across beautiful Erendida and begins seducing her. Soon, rumors spread in their community until they reached Lucio’s ears, unleashing consequences they wouldn’t be able to survive.

Founded in 2008, Hola México Film Festival, the largest Mexican film festival, attempts to highlight the best of Mexican cinema and film talent. Covering comedies, dramas, horror and documentaries, the festival features high-quality cinema in a festive atmosphere in conjunction with exclusive celebrations and outdoor concerts. Celebrating its 12th edition, Hola México Film Festival will be presented virtually in September 2020, offering film enthusiasts the opportunity to see a variety of Mexican films.

La Panaderia’s newly expanded outdoor patio now open

La Panaderia’s Broadway location has a newly expanded outdoor patio. Photo: La Panaderia, used with permission.

La Panaderia’s newly expanded outdoor patio is now open for dining at the restaurant’s Broadway location. In a continued effort to provide a safe and socially-distanced environment, customers can now enjoy the perks of al fresco dining, and the restaurant’s signature menu items, in the renovated green space. Customers now have the option of ordering La Panadería’s full menu from the comfort of their table through a new QR code system.  Online ordering for contactless curbside pickup and delivery remain available from La Panadería’s Broadway and Downtown locations. (La Panaderia, 2020)

Hoping to share their Mexican heritage with citizens in the United States, José and David Cáceres opened La Panadería in San Antonio, Texas in 2014. The bakery, which specializes in handmade bread, pan dulce and pastries inspired by Mexico’s Golden Era, or Epoca de Oro, also draws influence from French, Italian and American bread making techniques. La Panadería’s unique approach to bread making includes a minimum 48-hour fermentation process that results in artisan bread and pastries unlike any other. La Panadería has two locations in San Antonio, Texas.

Garrison Brothers raises funds for Good Bourbon for a Good Cause

Garrison Brothers raised $400,000 using their Laguna Madre bourbon. Photo: Rob Cordes, used with permission.

In April 2020, Garrison Brothers Distillery launched Operation Crush COVID-19, a fundraising campaign to help American communities recover and rebuild from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The initiative raised $400K by pivoting and dedicating the release of their rarest, most exclusive, top-shelf bourbon called Laguna Madre.  Fundraising ended on August 15 and recipients of the donations included 53 Texas bartenders, veteran-led disaster response organization Team Rubicon, Southern Smoke Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund and the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s TX Restaurant Relief Fund. (Garrison Brothers Distillery, 2020)

Laguna Madre is named after the beautiful blue waters along Texas’ Gulf Coast. The ultra-premium bourbon was first aged for four years in new white American oak barrels. It was then aged for four more years in barrels made of Limousin oak from France, which is prized for the vanilla flavor it bestows. Limousin oak imparts spirits with distinct flavors of vanilla, sweet candy, cacao and thick, white chocolate. There are only 400 bottles of Laguna Madre remaining and they are available for purchase for $299/each exclusively at the Garrison Brothers Distillery Gift Shop in Hye, Texas. Additional donations to Good Bourbon for a Good Cause are strongly encouraged at point of purchase. 

Garrison Brothers Distillery is a small farm and ranch, located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, that authentically produces straight bourbon whiskey. Garrison Brothers introduced the first bourbon whiskey legally made in Texas in 2010 and they currently have a wait list of more than 17,000 people hoping to land a spot on bottling days. The distillery and its barrel barns are open to the public for tours in Hye, Texas.

Funds of Good Bourbon for a Cause  are distributed to charitable organizations in Blanco and Gillespie counties of Texas and also to charitable organizations that serve current and former American military personnel nationwide. The types of charitable causes that are supported include but are not limited to:

  • Organizations that help current or former American military veterans and their families
  • Organizations that help former American military personnel get back to leading a rewarding life
  • Organizations that help American veterans recover from debilitating medical, mental health or psychological challenges
  • Organizations dedicated to conserving and preserving nature, wildlife, green spaces, or historical landmarks and historical sites
  • Other charitable organizations that the board of directors determine to be within the intent and spirit of the formation of this corporation

To date, the nonprofit organization has raised and contributed over to $500,000.

 “The mission of Good Bourbon for a Good Cause is to change the world through the power of good bourbon. The highly-anticipated Laguna Madre release provided us the best tool to raise the maximum amount of money, and I’m inspired by the coalescence of our community during these uncertain times.” Dan Garrison, founder and proprietor of Garrison Brothers Distillery. 

Taco Cabana launches QuesoMania and new MargaritaPalooza flavors

Taco Cabana is retired some flavors and adding new ones to their popular MargaritaPalooza margaritas. Photo: Taco Cabana, used with permission.

Taco Cabana is excited to announce several new food and beverage items coming to its locations throughout Texas beginning Wednesday August 26, 2020. The popular restaurant chain is launching ‘QuesoMania’ and expanding its MargaritaPalooza flavor offerings. (Taco Cabana, 2020)

With the launch of QuesoMania, guests can enjoy three new and delicious loaded queso options. Quesos are available for purchase in size small or large for $2.99 or $4.29 respectively in the following flavor combinations: 

  • Queso with corn, cotija cheese and Taco Cabana Hot Sauce
  • Queso with chorizo, beans and jalapenos
  • Queso with ground beef and pico de gallo

Due to overwhelming demand, Taco Cabana is also extending its MargaritaPalooza offerings, replacing six current flavors with six new flavors. As of this week, the Frose, MojitoRita, Prickly Pear, Passion Fruit and Star-Spangled Banner Margarita flavors will be retired. Starting August 26, 2020, Taco Cabana will launch six new margarita flavors, including:

  • Green Apple
  • Pineapple Chamoy
  • Tamarindo
  • Spicy Guava
  • Sangria
  • Strawberry Mango

The Lime, Strawberry, Mango, Blue Curacao, Mangonada and Watermelon margaritas will remain available for purchase as part of MargaritaPalooza and the popular Dr Pepper margarita will also be available upon request. $2 margaritas are available for purchase all day, every day at locations in Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio.  

Guests can add chamoy to any TC margarita for no charge as well make any margarita a Jose Cuervo for an additional $2.  Margaritas are available via online ordering for front counter and curbside pick-up, as well as via the drive-thru with food purchase. Margaritas are also available for delivery via online ordering in San Antonio only.

MYTC! loyalty guests who complete the TC MargaritaPalooza Tour – purchasing all 12 flavors by September 30, 2020 –  will see their name on the TC MargaritaPalooza Virtual Wall. Download the MYTC! app to join and start earning points on all alcohol and food purchases.

To continue the celebration around MargaritaPalooza, Taco Cabana will also launch its Drive-Thru Weekend Fiestas starting Saturday, August 29, 2020. The fiestas will take place every Saturday and Sunday and will feature a special weekend-only menu, Taco Cabana MargaritaPalooza collectible cups available for $1, music and more. See below for the MargaritaPalooza Drive-Thru Weekend Fiesta offers, available Saturdays and Sundays only.

  • Any margarita + 3-pack of Flautas – $5.99
  • Any margarita + any Soft Taco – $4.00
  • Any two margaritas + 6-pack of Flautas – $9.99
  • Any four margaritas + Kickin’ Nachos – $13.99

Taco Cabana is also asking guests how they MargaritaPalooza at home by conducting a MargaritaPalooza At Home promotion launching tomorrow, August 26, 2020.  Guests who post a photo or video to Facebook or Instagram showing how they MargaritaPalooza at home while enjoying Taco Cabana menu items, tag @tacocabana, and include the hashtag #TCMARGARITAPALOOZA in their post will have a chance to be featured in an upcoming Taco Cabana TV spot or social media post.

“The response to MargaritaPalooza has been unbelievable and we’re very excited to expand our margarita flavor offerings for our guests.  To complement our $2 margaritas, we’re looking forward to the launch of QuesoMania as well. We invite everyone to Taco Cabana to try all the new items and to be a part of MargaritaPalooza Drive-Thru Weekend Fiestas.” – Fiesta Restaurant Group President and CEO, Rich Stockinger

Television adaptation: ‘Lovecraft Country’ by Matt Ruff

The television adaptation of Matt Ruff’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ is now on HBO. Photo: google

Matt Ruff is an American author of thriller, science fiction and comic novels, including “The Mirage,” “Bad Monkeys” “Fool on the Hill” “Set This House in Order” and “Lovecraft Country.” “Lovecraft Country” makes real the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects and combines historical fiction, pulp noir and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.  It has been adapted into an HBO series by J.J. Abrams, Misha Green and Jordan Peele. Starring Jonathan Majors as Atticus, Jurnee Smollett as Letitia and Courtney B. Vance as George Freeman, it premiered on August 16 and follows Atticus as he joins up with his childhood friend Letitia and his Uncle George on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father.

 “Lovecraft Country” is a dark fantasy novel that explores the topics of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror fiction and racism in the United States during the Jim Crow era as experienced by black science-fiction fan Atticus Turner and his family. Set in Chicago in 1954, when Atticus’ father goes missing, he sets off from Florida with Letitia and his Uncle George, publisher of “The Safe Negro Travel Guide,” to Chicago to try to locate him. On their journey, they encounter the terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the strange tales that George loves to read. It is a blend of magic, power, hope and freedom that stretches across time and touches diverse members of two black families.

Celebrate National Dog Day with Whataburger and San Antonio Humane Society

Celebrate National Dog Day this Wednesday August 26 with Whataburger. Photo: Whataburger, used with permission.

This National Dog Day, Whataburger and the San Antonio Humane Society are partnering to host ‘The Ulti-Mutt Pooch Party’ for dog lovers everywhere. (Whataburger, 2020)

Set for Wednesday August 26,from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Whataburger’s YouTube channel, the live-stream celebration will feature adoptable pets, pool playtime with pups of all shapes and sizes, plenty of dog-friendly cake eating, an orange-and-white striped doghouse and maybe even a shout out to cats. Whataburger will also be launching their new pet collection that day, details coming soon.

Whataburger has been making burgers since 1950 when Harman Dobson opened a humble hamburger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He wanted customers to take one bite and say, “What a burger” so he named his stand on Ayers St “Whataburger.”  Now with more than 800 locations across the country, Whataburger continues to deliver fresh, made to order meals every day with superior customer service.  Community support includes charitable giving and volunteerism to nonprofit organizations that focus on children’s charities, cancer research, hunger assistance, disaster relief and military support.

‘Winter of the Wolf’ by Martha Hunt Handler is the coming of age novel of a young girl coping with her brother’s suicide.

Martha Hunt Handler is an environmental consultant and author who grew up in Northern Illinois dreaming about wolves and understanding that her role is to tell stories and be a voice for nature.  After she and her family relocated from Los Angeles to South Salem, New York, she began to hear wolves in her backyard and for the next twenty plus years, she has been an advocate for wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center, where she currently serves as Board President. Her first novel, “Winter of the Wolf” is an exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism and Inuit culture told through the perspective of Bean, a fifteen year old girl.  All books sales from this novel will go to the Wolf Conservation Center.

“Winter of the Wolf” begins as Bean wakes up feeling cold, stiff and covered with a sheet and her first instinct is to believe she is dead.  Instead, she is in her northern Minnesota room in the middle of winter with her bedroom window open. She is still recuperating from the trauma of the previous night, when she, her best friend Julie and older brother Sam were in an automobile accident. The night ended in tragedy with the discovery of Sam’s dead body in his room from an apparent suicide by hanging. With the entire family in shock, the household is in disarray and Bean makes it her mission to find out the truth surrounding Sam’s death, since they were extremely close and she knows in her heart that he would never commit suicide. He loved life and nature and admired the Innuit culture, who do not believe in suicide. With Julie’s help, they review Sam’s life, his last days alive and his deeply held beliefs and in the process, reconnect with their own spiritual beliefs to get to the truth, no matter how painful.  In the end, they discover that he was a victim of auto asphyxiation, also known as ‘the choking game,” but in knowing what really happened, the family is finally at peace and Bean experiences her own spiritual growth, which includes accepting that souls never really die, they just move on to other forms.

In a note after the last chapter, Martha Hunt Handler explains that she was inspired by the death of her best friend’s 12 year old son, of what at first appeared to be suicide, to write this book. She combines this experience with her work as an environmentalist, her love of wolves and spiritual beliefs to tell a young girl’s inspirational coming of age story.  Narrated in the first person point of view, it is classified as a Young Adult novel but the themes of grief and spiritualism appeal to any age group.  It tactfully approaches the topic of teen suicide without making it just another depressing teen angst novel. The positive spiritual angle is refreshing, including the thought that ‘we are energy, and as such, according to the first law of thermodynamics, we cannot be created or destroyed but can only be transferred or changed from one form to another’ –  death only means that a person’s time in a human body is over, but their soul lives on, becoming part of the world around us. The extensive character development creates relatable characters and because it is written in language that is easy to understand, the story flows easily from page to page, making it an exciting page-turner. There is an-author-recommended list of sources for further reading on spiritualism, life after death and the Innuit culture. “Winter of the Wolf” is a must-read and recommended for anyone dealing with grief and in need of comfort, spiritual guidance and one viewpoint surrounding the mystery of life after death.

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Television adaptation: ‘The Coroner’ by Matthew Hall


Matthew Hall is a British screenwriter and novelist, often credited as M.R. Hall, who practiced law until 1995 when he became a full time writer. His first novel “The Coroner” was published by PanMacmillan in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2009. It is the first in the Jenny Cooper series which centers around Jenny Cooper, a lawyer who is appointed Severn Vale District Coroner. She is hoping for a quiet life where she can recover from a traumatic divorce but the office she inherits from the recently deceased Harry Marshall contains neglected files hiding dark secrets and a trail of buried evidence. Adapted into a television series by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it stars Serinda Swan as a recently-widowed coroner in Toronto who investigates suspicious deaths and has been renewed for a third season. The first season premiered on the CW on August 5.

In “The Coroner,” the tragic death in custody of a young boy seems to be linked to the apparent suicide of a teenage prostitute and the death of Harry Marshall, the previous coroner. Jenny discovers that Marshall was behaving strangely before his death and that he was investigating a case but abruptly changed his mind. In the face of powerful and sinister forces determined to keep both the truth hidden and the troublesome coroner in check, Jenny embarks on a lonely and dangerous one-woman crusade for justice which threatens not only her career but also her sanity. Subsequent books in the series include: “The Disappeared,” “The Redeemed,” “The Flight,” “The Chosen Dead,” “The Burning,” “A Life to Kill” and “The Innocent” – a short story.

In the television series, Jenny is a former ER doctor whose husband dies of an aneurysm and leaves them in debt because he had a gambling problem. She suffers from clinical anxiety and is haunted by her husband’s sudden death and her inability to save him since she was there when he collapsed. During her first case, she fires the senior coroner when she uncovers his apathetic attitude and afterwards she is faced with the possibility that his past cases will have to be re-investigated. It also stars Roger Cross as Detective Donovan “Mac” McAvoy who helps Jenny in her investigations. The first two episodes show promise and the troubled Jenny, who powers through her own demons to speak for the dead, is an intriguing character.