Pan-seared Texas Gulf shrimp at The Kitchen at Sandy Oaks — Photo courtesy of Kimberly A. Suta
The Kitchen at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, located just south of San Antonio, is truly something to behold! Both the cuisine and the property are nothing short of majestic, but that's to be expected when the majority of ingredients are grown and picked exclusively for the restaurant.
Sandy Winokur is doing something that nobody thought could be done, and that's grow olives in South Texas. In fact, a study performed in the 1930s concluded that it was indeed too cold. Thankfully, Sandy proved everybody wrong!
Sandy Winokur — Photo courtesy of Kimberly A. Suta
"People thought we were crazy," explains Sandy. "But by 2001, we had 1,500 trees. It was the biggest orchard in Texas."
Now, Sandy Oaks has approximately 8,000 trees and, more impressively, they're all organic. Besides the orchard, Sandy Oaks also maintains an olive tree nursery and a remarkable garden filled with an unimaginable bounty, from peaches to peppers, greens and tomatoes - all of which finds its way into the delicious and beautiful dishes that are created by The Kitchen's new chef Chris Cook.
Chef Cook is also vice president of the Chef Cooperative, a group of San Antonio chefs who support local farms and the farm-to-table movement by hosting extraordinary fundraising pop-up dinners.
Chef Cook brings his expertise and farm-to-table mentality, what he calls farm-to-fork, to The Kitchen. It's easy to see this chef and orchard were meant for each other. The menu is inspired by the freshest seasonal ingredients available in the garden. Olives are, of course, artfully-integrated into the dishes.
Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard — Photo courtesy of Kimberly A. Suta
The new summer menu features a thoughtful array of fresh salads, soups and entrees, such as the Lump Crab Cobb Salad with garden vegetables and red wine mustard dressing; the sinfully creamy Roasted Corn Bisque made with garden peas and truffle; and the Gulf Shrimp Scampi made with local zucchini, squash noodles and heirloom tomato.
Those who aren't typically fans of olives are encouraged to experiment, as the flavors are beyond exceptional. Comments like, "I don't even like tapenade, but this is delicious!" are often overheard.
Dessert is a must! The housemade Olive Oil Cake with seasonal berry coulis is unbelievably moist, and the Olive Oil Ice Cream is unexpectedly yummy.
Sandy Oaks offers free tours of the property on Saturdays and has a wonderful gift shop filled with, you guessed it, Sandy Oaks' own olives and olive oil as well as an assortment of other edibles and unique items such as olive oil soap and skincare products, books, pottery, furniture and more! The good news is that once you get hooked, you can easily order online.
For those wishing to have this old-world charm and serenity all to themselves can rent out this unparalleled South Texas destination for a wedding or any other special event. Catering is just one of the many glorious perks.
You may also want to check out their new Passport Adventure Series events, which feature cuisine from various olive-centric countries such as Turkey and Israel. For more information, visit SandyOaks.com.