wine, sandwich, cheese

A festive pink spread from Montrose Wine & Cheese in Houston. Photo by Pam Cantu.

If there was ever a Valentine’s Day to stay indoors, it’s this one. With the COVID-19 pandemic and freezing temps predicted around the state, an at-home date night will keep you warm and safe. Of course, you’re encouraged to keep it local and add some Texas flair, whether its beef from the Panhandle, wine from the Hill Country, or artisan chocolate from your neighborhood shop. Complement your feast with a festive, heart-string-tugging movie set in the Lone Star State. Whether you’re celebrating with your partner or just your pup, find a way to mark the occasion Texas-style.

A cab and a slab

Find fine beef, from a beautifully marbled rib-eye to a toothsome strip, at 44 Farms in Cameron and HeartBrand Ranch in Flatonia. You can also get a darn fine mesquite-smoked peppered beef tenderloin from Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, which also makes a great steak rub. With those meats, you’ll want excellent big reds to match. Consider some big winners in 2020 wine competitions, including Spicewood Vineyards’ 2017 tempranillo, Becker Vineyards’ 2017 cabernet sauvignon, Bending Branch Winery’s 2016 petite sirah, and Duchman Family Winery’s 2018 sangiovese.

The movie: Terms of Endearment offers lots of love and plenty of heartbreakingly good moments. Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson’s won Oscars for their performances in an unlikely but irresistible romance, and Debra Winger is at her feisty best as a passionate daughter, wife, and mom in Houston.

Barbecue and bourbon

If you don’t mind the arctic air, fire up the smoker to feast on ribs and brisket using rubs from Stubb’s or Pendery’s. Want to get barbecue delivered to your door? Order online from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, Terry Black’s in Austin, or Southside Market in Elgin. Wash that smoky goodness down with great bourbon, whether it’s from Garrison Brothers in Hye, Milam & Greene in Blanco, or Balcones Distilling in Waco.

Movie: In Urban Cowboy, John Travolta works on a rig in the Houston Ship Channel, does some fancy dancing at Gilley’s, and falls in love with a scrappy, sassy Debra Winger.

Mexican food and margaritas

Mexican food is comfort food for many Texas—so order some in to feel extra cozy. In Austin, classics at Fonda San Miguel include tortilla soup, queso fundido, enchiladas suizas, and chicken in poblano mole. In Dallas, Primo’s MX Kitchen & Lounge woos with its ceviche, chicken flautas, shrimp tacos, and crab-avocado enchiladas—don’t forget the ranch water cocktail kit. In Fort Worth, Eat Fajitas is a delivery-only business offering sirloin beef fajitas with all the fixings and margaritas (classic or top-shelf) with a shaker thrown in, too. In San Antonio, La Gloria offers meal kits at H-E-B stores for you to fire up in your kitchen, and its margarita trucks are currently roaming the city. Check social media to see where they’re stopping and pick your favorite flavor; strawberry amaretto is just one of the Valentine’s specials

The movie: Tender Mercies finds Robert Duvall as a down-on-his-luck country crooner working on redemption as he reconnects with his daughter (an early-career Ellen Barkin) and discovers love with a good-hearted woman (Tess Harper) in a Waxahachie setting.

Bubbles and chocolates

Texas winemakers craft effervescent wines as delicious as those from Champagne, France. McPherson Cellars in Lubbock makes a beautiful sparkling brut rosé; Bending Branch’s frizzante rosé is another winner; and William Chris Vineyards is known for its petillant naturel. All are sold online, and you can pick-up at the wineries. To go with any of these wines, chocolates from Wiseman House in Hico (see the Love Letter Collection, the Girlfriend Collection, and Wild Woman Truffles) or Dr. Sue’s Chocolate in Grapevine (the ginger-fig and the blueberry-chile barks are astoundingly good) can be shipped to you overnight.

The movie: In Hope Floats, Sandra Bullock gets over a rotten husband and dirty-dealing BFF by rediscovering herself in her hometown (Smithville is the setting) and giving into romance with Harry Connick, Jr.

Cheese, charcuterie, and Texas brews

Places like Ten: One Artisan Cheese in Denton; Scardello Artisan Cheese in Dallas; Montrose Cheese & Wine in Houston; and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin make assembling a charcuterie board a breeze with vast selections of farmhouse cheeses, meats from near and far, and all the accoutrements you need, from local honey to olives. Or let Central Market do the work for you and order a tray combining four or five cheese varieties with nuts, dried fruits, and more. Add on one of the store’s flower bouquets, chocolate mousse cake, and a selection of Texas craft beers. We recommend Karbach Love Street, a kolsch-style blonde beer from Houston; Martin House True Love Sour Raspberry Ale from Fort Worth; and Texas Keeper Grafter Rosé Cider from Manchaca.

The movie: Miss Congeniality maybe be silly, but you can’t stop rooting for Bullock (she obviously loved filming in her adopted home of Texas) as the ugly duckling-turned-swan undercover FBI agent thwarting a would-be bombing in San Antonio while nabbing a handsome fella (Benjamin Bratt) in the process.

The February 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine, The Return of Car Culture


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