For restaurants and chocolate makers Valentines Day sits there on the calendar waiting to pounce on you. I felt like this year we looked at this important date from a little further back with a better plan. Valentines Day is the peak season for the chocolate world, and it is a big date for restaurants too. We wanted to bring something a little more special to the occasion this year, so we came up with a Valentines Day edition of a new dinner series we named The Tejas Quarterly.

This was a fancy smancy sit down 5 course eating and sipping dinner event.

Michelle had Tomball’s Bramble & Bee design a center piece that fit our joint and event quite nicely.

Chamomile flowers in an old soda pop bottle was a simple rustic touch worthy of a barbecue feast.

We even broke out the good silver plastic ware.

The menu was as big as our ambition to pull off the dinner.

Planning, preparation, and set up took over Monday.

We didn’t have a perfect plan, and we scrambled early to catch up, but we sure had a darn near perfect time of it. Sometimes you just don’t know what you just don’t know until you know it. I got so deep in the weeds pouring drinks that I forgot to take as many pictures as I wanted of the dishes we were serving. I caught this shot of the line and of the lamb dish.

The lamb was my favorite bite of the night. The mint basil sauce in that picture didn’t have its final touch of the balsamic reduction but trust me it was special. The lamb was tender, juicy and not overly lambie if you know what I mean.

There was either a beer or wine pairing for each course. Chris Green said he enjoyed beers he didn’t think he would, so there you go.

Three band members of Folk Family Revival set up in The Study for some mighty fine pickin’ & a grinnin’ as the evening’s entertainment. We named them The Saucy Barbecue Boys.

The boys played music and were compensated with food, beer, and some cash in no particular order. It was a square deal is how I saw the transaction. They played while Michelle in The White Room worked on the dessert course.

I got to eat a slice of her chocolate roulade cake the next day. It was light, airy, and moist with the creamy elegance of mascarpone. When given time, Michelle can bake your socks off.

Many of the attendees heaped flattering praise upon us. We appreciated this kindness very much. The dinner by all measures was a success and we are happy that we took on the challenge. We look forward to more. Stay tuned about details and dates for future Tejas Quarterly Dinners.

Lunch on Valentines Day began with special visitors.

Cody is the guy who first called The Michael Berry Show a couple of Monday’s ago to brag about The Craftory. He had a Valentine’s lunch with his wife Amelia who works for The City of Tomball. It was a pleasure to chat about the publicity Cody helped create for us. We also discussed the romance in sharing a barbecue sandwich and chasing it with a chocolate truffle. It’s a good way to put a crush on your best good girl.

There were lots of new visitors again this week that heard about us on Berry’s radio show. One lady had fun with me when she winked and promised not to sauce her barbecue. You had to have heard the conversation I enjoyed with Micheal Berry two Fridays ago to catch this nice lady’s well timed comment.

Pastrami Thursday was very busy, but not so much so that I couldn’t take a moment to have myself a pastrami sandwich with our house made sauerkraut and mustard. The brisket and beef rib pastrami we are doing just keeps getting better and better.

There is also a russian dressing made in house if that is what you prefer. I happen to like our mustard the most.

One of the board members of PTSD Foundation’s Camp Hope grabbed some lunch at our joint on Friday. Michael Berry is the spokesperson for Camp Hope, so the gentleman had heard about us on the radio. He brought us some information for military veterans to use in case they need some help. I was told about a veteran in the Tomball area that was recently lost and didn’t know Camp Hope was there to assist. It was hard to hear this. They asked if we could help them get the word out to veterans who might need a hand. We’re glad to do it.

More information is inside near the chocolate counter. We hope to help Camp Hope find military veterans that could use some support. Help is out there for them.

A special chocolate industry friend came to visit us on Friday. Adrienne Newman aka “Madame Cocoa” dropped in while in town from Austin.

Adrienne knows her chocolate and now also knows her Austin real estate. If you need a realtor in Austin look up Adrienne here at Austin Home Tours. She’ll take great care of you. Adrienne is a fantastic advocate for craft chocolate producers like us. I was happy she took the time to visit us.

A food writer for Zagat rolled in on Friday. I asked Janie to make a photo ready tray of barbecue and chocolate. Now that we’ve had the big fancy smancy V-Day dinner Janie showed us that she is clearly still in fancy plating mode.

I never got the whole story from Janie about what happened to the center wedge of the Martha Washington truffle in the top right of the picture. It looked like a truffle maker’s tax too me.

There had been some heavy rain early in the week but the sun setting one evening was a comforting sight.

I love watching the smoke billow from the cooker on a nice evening like that, so I took a picture of it for you. You are welcome.

Lines on Saturday were to and out the door. I did put some complimentary Dr. Pepper cans and beer in a cooler on the front porch where some did take advantage of that while they cheerfully waited a short spell for good food. A line just means you are at the right place, right? The wait was never more than 20 minutes. It was such a nice day for some barbecue and chocolate.

There was a moment when the line was down the sidewalk a fair bit when a lady told me that she was truly here just for the chocolate. I encourage this kind of behavior, so I helped her bypass the barbecue line and got her over to the chocolate counter. Had to keep my eye on her in case she was trying to pull a fast one and skip the line though. I kid of course, but do know that you can come around the line for chocolate if need be. Just know we are watching you. 🙂

Claude & Linda

Every morning that we are open for business, I run the American flag up the pole, and thank God for the grace to let me do what I do. Saturday morning wasn’t all that busy for breakfast, so it afforded me an opportunity to have a conversation with a woman that comes in with her husband regularly here lately. She’s always smiling and she’s always “assisting” her husband with his barbecue order. It is as cute as it can be to watch. I’ll chime in where I can but try to remain neutral in all of these spousal ordering exchanges. There are many people that visit us who enjoy helpful ordering advice from their spouses. I love this.

Anyways, this woman ( I hate that I can’t recall her name) came over and said to me “I want to tell you about something I experience when I come to this building and watch you and the people that work here”. At first I thought I was in trouble, but quickly realized that she had some bigger stuff to say too me. She went on to explain that she always feels like that there is someone that comes to this building that needs comforting from God. She couldn’t explain exactly why or who, but that she feels an energy that is comforting and there is someone that comes here that needs this comfort. I really didn’t know what to say except I hope they get what they are needing.

We got crushed again on Saturday. After the main storm and very near the time we were sold out of just about anything to eat Claude & Linda walked in the front door. What you need to know about Claude and Linda is that there are not nicer people on this planet. I’m not sure where they are from, but they have a grace about them that you’d expect from a proper southerner. Michelle always noticed that Linda wears a hat, and Linda does so with a warm gentle smile. Over the last few months we’ve gotten to know Linda and Claude a little better. You can see the light in Linda even though she’s got the real fight on her hands. Michelle and Linda have a connection that only having cancer can create. Michelle beat it, and Linda is working on it.

My conversations with Claude and Linda are usually fairly short, casual, and nice. Michelle’s conversations with them run deeper. This last Saturday I got to visit a bit more. We shared hugs and took a peak under Linda’s hat to see that her hair is making a come back. Michelle talked about how her own hair came back black at first. We even rubbed Linda’s head and had a good laugh together. After they left, Michelle turned to me as said “I just love her”. She told me how Claude tells her how much Linda loves coming to our place. The food might be alright, but Linda comes mostly because it makes her happy. The honey lavender truffle is their favorite. Linda always gets one from Michelle.

I didn’t connect the dots until today after some chase lounge time listening to a steady stream of American Folk music. The woman I chatted with Saturday morning might have been speaking of what Linda needs from Michelle. I don’t know. God knows. So when I thank God every morning for the opportunity to serve our community maybe he has more than barbecue and chocolate on the menu from us, and it’s not always that obvious. He has his way we know and that is something I’m even more grateful for.

Thanks for hanging in there with me on this story. I wanted to tell it.

We had some cousins from Castroville, TX in town for a visit on Saturday.

Mom & Chef Greg’s son Kai joined my first cousin Kevin and his family for some barbecue and chocolate. The giant beef short rib was a hit. The red head Curtis on the right is the spitting image of his dad in the green shirt except that Curtis does gymnastics and has hair. Kevin doesn’t vault or have any hair so it is easy to tell them apart anyways.

I broke Kevin’s collar bone rough housing when he was 5 years old. I like to tell him that I did it on purpose. His mom said he deserved it and at the time she told him to stop complaining and go to bed. Anne on the left is a budding air rifle competition star. She can shoot the eye out of a gnat from a 100 paces. I’m not even kidding. Anne worked for us at The Craftory last spring break. We didn’t pay her any money so we wouldn’t violate any child labor laws. I was informed that this year Anne has a shooting competition on spring break. Either that or she finally figured out that she didn’t get paid anything for working all week. I like to call her Annie Oakley.

Annie Oakley once said “When a man hits a target they call him a marksman. When I hit a target they call it a trick. Never liked hearing that much.”

Go get ’em Annie is what I have to say about it. Just keep shooting their socks off and I hope you kick sand in some boy’s face in the process of hitting all your marks.

Curtis’s gymnastics meet was over in Kingwood. They said he nailed the vault, but his dad, who had one job to do, screwed up the video.

How nice is the toll road 99 for that Tomball to Kingwood commute? That used to be the most dreaded commute ever for me back in the day when I needed to drive over to Kingwood for business or to play golf. I used to bitch about driving in traffic to play golf. That’s pretty funny.

The gym meet gang came back over on the 99 to revisit The Craftory afterwards for a recap and a good sip. We decided we could eat, so we hit Rita’s in Pinehurst for some high quality Tex-Mex. Go eat at Rita’s Cantina Mexican Kitchen if you haven’t already. They have really good food there.

A solid Tex-Mex dinner with cousins, moms and sons was a great ending to a special week.

A special shout to my third grandson Noah Kingston who turned one on Valentines Day. Happy birthday little man.

Here’s the post from last year about Noah’s arrival in case you wuz feeling nostalgic and all.

See ya around the hood.

Cheers! Scott



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