Where to Eat on Valentine's Day 2015 in Houston

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Photo by Sam Howzit
Have all the champagne you want; V-Day's on a Saturday this year.
Love is in the air -- because Cupid's favorite holiday is right around the corner! Whether you're looking for a date night that's cute and sweet or an evening full of champagne and over-the-top romance, we've got the lowdown on the city's best dining deals happening Valentine's Day (and Valentine's Day Weekend).

024 Grille
945 N. Gessner, 281-501-4350

Head to Memorial City's 024 Grille on Valentine's Day to indulge in a four-course dinner with an amuse-bouche from the chef for $90 per couple (plus $45 per additional person).

60 Degrees Mastercrafted
2300 Westheimer, 713-360-7757

This elegant steakhouse will be offering a specially crafted 4-course V-Day menu on Saturday, Feb. 14 for $75 per person.

Américas
2040 W. Gray, 832-200-1492
21 Waterway, 281-367-1492

Both the River Oaks and Woodlands locations of modern Latin restaurant Américas will be offering a three-course menu -- featuring lobster corndogs, their famous churrasco steak, one of the best tres leches in town, and more -- for $75 per person on Feb. 13, 14, and 15.

Artisans Restaurant
3201 Louisiana, 713-529-9111

You'll have a bonne Saint-Valentin at this sexy, rustic-chic bistro on Valentine's Day. From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., enjoy a special pre-fixe menu -- think Pacific ahi tuna, pan-seared lamb, triple chocolate mousse, and more -- for $140 per person.


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Dish of the Week: Hoppin' John, a New Year's Day Classic

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Photo by urbanfoodie33
And if it doesn't bring wealth and prosperity, at least it's delicious.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a recipe perfect for New Year's Day: Hoppin' John.

Hoppin' John is a popular Southern dish made of black-eyed peas and rice, often with bacon or ham hock and chopped onion mixed in. In the Low Country of South Carolina, field peas (which are smaller than black-eyed peas) are common.

The first written recipe for Hoppin' John appeared in The Carolina Housewife in 1847, though most food historians agree the American Southern dish has its roots in African/French/Caribbean cuisine.

In the South, the dish is eaten New Year's Day to bring wealth and prosperity into the new year, with the peas symbolizing pennies or coins. Sometimes, a coin is even left under supper bowls or added to the pot. Another tradition is leaving three peas on your plate to ensure a year filled with luck, fortune and romance. It is often served with collard, mustard or turnip greens, as the green color also symbolizes wealth. Eaten the day after New Year's Day, the dish is referred to as Skippin' Jenny, and it is said to demonstrate one's determination of frugality.

But no matter when or how you eat it, the comfort food classic is delicious.


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Dish of the Week: Classic Eggnog

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Photo by nate bolt
Someone's getting buzzed this Christmas...
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're moving on to a Christmas staple: eggnog.

Eggnog is a sweet, custard-based beverage that is traditionally made with milk/cream, sugar, and whipped egg, which gives the drink a frothy texture. Brandy, rum, or bourbon and cinnamon or nutmeg are often added to take the holiday drink to a new level.

The term "nog" dates back as early as the 17th century, when it was used to describe a strong beer brewed in East Anglia. "Noggin" referred to a small cup or mug to drink the nog out of. According to most culinary anthropologists, the nog as we know it today is said to have been a descendent of a medieval drink called posset, which was a hot milk and booze drink spiced with whatever the lord of the castle had on hand.

Eggnog was trendy among British aristocracy, but it became particularly popular in American colonies where everyone had access to cows, chickens, and rum. And when the supply of rum was reduced because of the Revolutionary War, whiskey and bourbon made the perfect substitutes.


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Houston Grocery Stores Open on Christmas Eve and Day

Categories: Season's Eating

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Photo by appaloosa
Need a last minute dessert because you burned your gingerbread? We've got you covered
Whether you forgot an ingredient for your famous egg nog, can't fit in the shopping, or just really, really like to wait until the last minute, here's a list of the grocery/convenience stores that will be open this Christmas Eve and Day:

Note: All information is based on telephone checks with the stores or their websites, so please don't be mad at us if you show up somewhere and that individual store is not participating. Consider this a spirit guide to where you can start looking. And feel free to add any extra openings in the comments.

Central Market - Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.
Holiday Hotline: 713-386-1785

Costco - Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.

CVS***Open both days! - All locations (including 24 hour stores) are open normal hours on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for front of store operations (pharmacy hours vary).


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Where to Eat This New Year's Eve in Houston

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Photo by Sam Howzit
Ring in the new year in style.
Whether you want a quick bite before a New Year at home or an extravagant feast complete with overflowing champagne, here is your 2014 Guide to Dining Out on New Year's Eve:

Note: Don't forget to make your reservations quickly, as these spots are bound to fill up!

60 Degrees Mastercrafted
2300 Westheimer, 713-360-7757

Enjoy a special 4 course prix fixe menu alongside live music under the patio tent from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve. Feast on mock turtle soup, caviar, Akaushi strip steak with béarnaise, and more.

Amalfi
6100 Westheimer, 713-532-2201

Enjoy a classic coastal Italian dinner at this Galleria area restaurant, which is offering 3 seatings on New Year's Eve. Feast on a la carte dinner featuring Mediterranean sea bass encrusted in rock salt, frutti di mare, handmade braised short rib tortellini, and more.

Américas
2040 W. Gray, 832-200-1492
21 Waterway, 281-367-1492

Ring in the New Year at one of these swanky Latin American hotspots, who are offering a 3-course meal for $67 per person. Feast on lobster corndogs, ceviche mixto, their infamous churrasco steak and more before finishing off the meal on a decadent sweet note. Choose tres leches, a chocolate delirium cake, or alfajores.

Artista
800 Bagby, 713-278-4782

Enjoy Latin beats from a live band alongside a 4-course meal featuring goat cheese salad, lobster chupe, churrasco steak, tres leches and more. Tickets ($145 per person) include a champagne toast, party favors, prizes, and 3 drink tickets. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.


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Five Awesome Houston Treats to Bring to a Holiday Party

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Photo by Deb Smalls
Chocolatier and owner Annie Rupani makes some of the most beautiful chocolates.
Whether you want to gift the host a special treat or bring holiday eats for the party to share, here are 5 Awesomely Delicious Local Treats to Bring to Your Next Holiday celebration:

Exotic Artisan Chocolates
Where to get them: Cocao & Cardamom, 5000 Westheimer

These luxury artisan chocolates will make any party goer swoon. Get them in unexpected flavors like Szechuan peppercorn, coco curry, and five spice praline. Less daring chocolate lovers will go nuts for the flavors like smores -- made with housemade roasted marshmallow, milk chocolate ganache and graham cracker crumbs; or Nutella banana. Boxes starting at $20.

Gourmet Holiday Scones
Where to get them: Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, 3701 Travis

At $6 per order, chef Monica Pope's scone dough is available in flavors such as sour cherry pecan, gruyere chive, and lavender fig. Each ball of dough yields 10-15 small scones that will make the perfect bite-sized appetizers. And hey, people may even think you made them yourself. Order at least four days in advance from now through the end of the month.


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Where to Eat This Christmas Eve & Day in Houston

Categories: Season's Eating

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Photo by Joe Buckingham
Let go of the stress this Christmas.
We can feel it in the air -- Christmas is almost here! And while we do love a good homemade feast, sometimes it's easier to let the professionals do the cooking, especially on the holidays where all you care about is when you're getting your next glass of egg nog. Oh, and your family and friends and spreading cheer and love, of course. Those things too.

From casual options and brunches to fancy four-course affairs, here is your Christmas 2014 Dining Guide:

Note: Don't forget to make your reservations quickly, as these spots are bound to fill up!

On Christmas Eve:

60 Degrees Mastercrafted
2300 Westheimer, 713-360-7757

Join this upscale grillhouse for an elegant 4-course prix fixe dinner on Chrismas Eve. For $75 per person, enjoy housemade duck prosciutto, lobster bisque, Cajun turkey with giblet gravy, and more. A limited a la carte menu will also be available. Reservations are from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Arturo's Uptown Italiano
1180 Uptown Park, 713-621-1180

This Italian restaurant will be offering their regular menu alongside a lobster tail, filet mignon, and sea scallop Christmas Eve special.

Backstreet Cafe
1103 S. Shepherd, 713-521-2239

Head to this stunning restaurant to indulge in a three-course menu complete with live music, and complimentary amuse bouche and egg nog for $52 per person plus beverage, tax and gratuity. Feast on dishes like sausage-stuffed quail, seafood pot pie, and more.

Bistro Provence
13616 Memorial, 713-827-8008

This cozy French bistro will be open for a special three-course Christmas Eve dinner for $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. With open seating at 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., feast on dishes like foie gras terrine, lobster tail à l'orange, herb-crusted rack of lamb, or seared duck breast. For dessert, choose between a lemon meringue tart with red berry coulis or a Christmas flavored chocolate mousse.

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Countdown Thanksgiving: Excellent To-Go Side Dishes and More

Categories: Season's Eating

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Photo by Brandi Key
Punk's Simple Southern Food is offering a handy "fixins kit" to go with your Thanksgiving turkey.
So, you've got the turkey covered for Thanksgiving but you're still overwhelmed? Focusing on what you really want to cook at home and picking up the rest can save a lot of time and headaches.

This handy guide includes suggestions from Houston Press readers and staff. Some of what's listed here have become new traditions for my own Thanksgiving table.

When a restaurant is noted, it is extremely important to contact them immediately. They all have a cutoff time when they are no longer able to take or fulfill orders.

See our other holiday food and drink suggestions:
Dine Out on Turkey Day: Where to Eat This Thanksgiving in Houston
These Houston Area Grocery Stores Are Open on Thanksgiving Day
10 Things Your Mother Didn't Teach You About Thanksgiving Wines


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A Thanksgiving Wish: My Dee Dee's Pie Shop Still Needs Help

Categories: Season's Eating

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Photo by Mai Pham
Help is needed if more pies like these are to make their way into Houstonian hands.

Almost exactly a year ago, My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe on West Gulf Bank burned to the ground. Owner Bella-Katherine Curtis's home was connected to the shop as well. It was not insured. Out of 8,000 square feet, 5,000 burned.

Looters quickly ransacked the place, taking anything they could that was portable and of any value.

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Triniti's New Seasonal Menu a Lovely, Leisurely Taste of Fall

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Photos by Christina Uticone
Tomato soup with pimento kolache and eggplant jam is the opening dish on Triniti's new Vegetarian Tasting Menu.
Every meal at Triniti makes an impact. From a dinner with coworkers, to cocktails with girlfriends, to an anniversary brunch with out-of-town family, each meal exceeds the last in both beauty and flavor. We've never left the table at Triniti without a newcomer commenting on the lovely décor, and welcoming atmosphere. So when Chef Ryan Hildebrand added a seasonal tasting menu to the mix--one featuring fall's best vegetables--the invitation to preview the dishes couldn't be passed up.

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