With Thanksgiving behind us and Hanukkah wrapping up, it’s high time to unabashedly pull out all the stops for Christmas. Cut down a tree, put up your lights, bust out your tacky sweaters and most importantly: get yourself to the annual Tamales! Holiday Festival.
For the fourth year in a row, a tamal extravaganza will overtake the grounds of the Pearl. This free, family- and pet-friendly event runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 7. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample tamales, paletas, drinks and other treats from more than 30 vendors. Prices range from $1 to $5. Roving performers will include Mariachi Sol de Tejas, Mariachi Fiesta de San Antonio, Capoeira Luanda and more.
New additions to the lineup of professional tamal makers include Celorio, Barbacoa y Tortillas, Alfonso’s Tamales and Guacamaya Tamale Express. As always, parking is free in Koehler garage and around the grounds of the Pearl.
A panel of judges will determine the winners of an amateur tamal-making competition on the afternoon of the festival. Shelley Grieshaber, the director of culinary operations at the Pearl and a former director of education at the Culinary Institute of America—San Antonio, reported that she received more than 200 entries to the contest, which awards $100 H-E-B gift cards to each of the semifinalists in three different categories: traditional pork, chicken and wildcard, which could contain anything from quail or duck confit to smoked brisket or a sweet filling. The final winners of each category will receive a prize of $1,000.
The festival will take place along Pearl Parkway and on the east side of the property, including the lot in front of the Brewhouse as well as the area in front of Il Sogno and Green Vegetarian. “It’s really going to have a great flow this year,” said Grieshaber, “a nice footprint for people strolling along Pearl Parkway and a good outline for all our vendors.” Saturday’s farmers market will temporarily relocate to the large west lot in front of La Gloria.
A few tips: Bring cash (small bills, unmarked if it makes you feel dangerous) for the easiest and quickest tamal transactions, carpool or ride your bike and above all—wear your stretchy pants.
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