Barbecue is synonymous with summer, though in Texas we take it for granted as more of a year-round food indulgence. Nonetheless, The Special Projects Social was in a full, smoky swing on the cusp of October after a summer hiatus. In typical SPS fashion, the location of the pop-up dinner event was kept secret until 24 hours beforehand. This one was at the Art San Antonio Gallery in the Monte Vista neighborhood. The backyard was strewn with fluttery white gauze and stamped tea towel-esque canvases, perfect for picking up summer breezes.

In addition to Peter’s furniture, the informal yard setting had comfy, overstuffed chairs and oriental rugs in nooks. Like the inside of the historic home perched in front has thrown up its living room’s contents in the backyard. When I arrived a bit late, the place was already buzzing and the meat was about to run out too. Tim went back and forth from the smoker to the table, serving, and pouring more wine in whoever’s glass looked lonely. I kept hearing about the pork roast sliders on brioche. “I stole the last one!” said Tim, setting it in front of me. It was worth the wait as the meat was so tender and juicy, the sandwich so complexly flavorful (how did she know all of those flavors would come together so well?), there was no way to express how good it was except in moans.

I chatted with a fresh-faced photojournalist and his wife, then admittedly, took advantage by talking shop about what camera I should buy (well, more like invest in). This whole learning photography bit is a huge undertaking and is in its preliminary phase. Oh, didn’t I tell you? I’m learning photography for this very blog for your increased visual pleasure, and mine.

Back to SPS: The next one is coming up quickly–so snap up those tickets! “Change of Venue” (Can you guess why they called it that?) is on Saturday, November 12, with guest artist Waddy Armstrong and tunes by DJ Leonard Trujillo. Go to for tickets. Friend them on Facebook here


Peter Zubiate party-prepping.

Coleslaw with serrano cumin dressing and roasted pumpkin seeds


Pork roast with chilies, coffee, chocolate, herbs and almonds with an apricot, cherry, fig and cilantro chutney

Beef brisket with peppercorn-herb crust

Coleslaw with serrano cumin dressing

Corn with shrimp butter

Potato salad with tarragon and creme fraiche

Mac and cheese “And I mean cheese, like gruyere and cheddar and reggiano,” said Tim.

Apple Crumble “with good old vanilla ice cream,” said Tim.

Peter Zubiate of Zubiate Projects and Tim McDiarmid of Tim the Girl Catering and EatSmart SA, co-founders of The Special Projects Social, pioneers of smashing food and art into cool monthly dinner events in San Antonio.

Braised Pork in Spicy Chocolate Sauce and Dried Cherries
Recipe from “Sides” event, Special Projects Social – By TimtheGirl, Oct 2011
Recipe ingredients
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 1/4 lb.  pork shoulder roast or Boston Butt bone-in
  • 2 Tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 each red and green peppers, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. instant expresso style coffee
  • 1 tsp.  ground cumin
  • 1 tsp.  ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp.  ground cloves
  • 1 tsp.  ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz.  flaked almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups  Irresistibles chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups  canned whole Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4 1/2 oz.  70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Garnish:
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 20 dried cherries (or other dried fruit )
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, minced
Season pork, both sides, generously with salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and brown meat all sides. Remove and set aside.
In the same pot, put the onion, peppers and chilli powder. Cover and sweat 2 – 3 minutes over medium heat, until onion is glassy.
Add cumin, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, sugar and almonds, and heat until fragrant.
Deglaze with chicken broth. Add tomatoes and chocolate. Bring to a boil.
Return the pork shoulder to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 3 hours or so.
Just before serving, mix orange zest with cherries and coriander and sprinkle over meat.
During cooking, the meat should be sitting in liquid 3/4 up its sides. If there isn’t enough liquid, add chicken broth.