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Kara's Sights & Bites: 48 hours in Grapevine: ‘Christmas Capital of Texas” is the perfect getaway

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Describing the unique features and sights of charming Grapevine, Texas in a few hundred words is an impossible task. Visiting the city on the outskirts of Dallas was an enjoyable, eye-opening experience that left me wanting to return.

I knew little about Grapevine before I arrived to spend a whirlwind 48 hours with writers and tourism officials from Travel Texas and Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. Every stop on the tour yielded one memorable experience after another. It’s impossible to list them all, so I’ll share just a few of the many reasons Grapevine attracts 12 million visitors each year.

  • Location, location, location – First, Grapevine is a mere 60-or-90-minute (depending on the plane) flight from Jackson, MS International Airport. And it gets even better upon landing at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport; Grapevine is less than 15 minutes away. After being picked up at DFW (more on transportation below), within 30 minutes I was seated at a table at Mac’s on Main, sipping an iced tea and awaiting lunch.   

  • Grapevine Main Station – The saying, “Everything old is new again” is an apt description of one of my favorite Grapevine buildings. The sprawling brick station located next to the railroad tracks was built to resemble a 19th Century steam railroad station. In fact, in a byone era, the old railroad tracks went right through the space on which the building is located. Today, within the station's stately brick walls is a spacious European-style food hall offering a variety of dining and beverage options and plenty of seating areas for people-watching.

Twelve stories up, the Grapevine Observation Tower proved to be a breathtaking experience. Clear skies afforded 50-mile radius views in four directions of AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys; Dallas and Fort Worth and a birds-eye view of nearby DFW. Just below, the TEXRail, which transports travelers from the airport to Grapevine Main Station, was completing a run to the city. For $5, travelers can hop on the train at the airport, eliminating the need for an expensive Uber or car service.

  • Gaylord Texan - Visiting one the nation’s largest resorts located on 150 acres next to Lake Grapevine has been on my bucket list for a while. Sadly, plans for our group to stay in some of the 1,814 guest rooms didn’t work out. However, a tour of the breathtaking 2-1/2-acre atrium during the nightly light show eased my disappointment.

      It’s hard to describe the experience of gazing up at the star-lit Texas sky through a massive glass skylight covering almost three acres of the resort's atrium. A replica of The Alamo; flowing river reminiscent of San Antonio's Riverwalk; hundreds of flowers and trees, including a life-size replica of a Live Oak, are interspersed throughout this breathtaking space. Visitors are welcome to visit the Gaylord to dine at one of resort's restaurants or simply enjoy the scenery.

  • Grapevine Mills – In addition to numerous small boutiques, vintage and antique stores, Grapevine Mills is the largest shopping destination in North Texas. It’s filled with 180 stores, including national chains as well as SEA LIFE Aquarium, LEGOLAND; interactive museum Meow Wolf and an outdoor splash pad. 

  • Historic Main Street District - Grapevine has done an amazing job of transforming 18th and 19th century stores into modern buildings with elements of the past. All buildings along the picturesque Main Street are locally-owned, ranging from restaurants, boutiques, bakeries, wine bars and coffee shops. There’s even an old bank, now operating as a jewelry store, that was once robbed by a member of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde gang.

  • Speaking of restaurants, over 200 eateries offering a variety of cuisines are located throughout the city. I’m still dreaming about lunch at Mister O1. Fresh burrata served with homemade focaccia bread, followed by made-from-scratch pizzas set a new standard for all pizzas to follow.

That evening, dining at Teatro Bistro was the perfect ending to 48 hours in Grapevine. Owner and culinary director Carla Pellegrino has appeared on numerous TV shows, including Throwdown with Bobby Flay, which she won. After opening restaurants in New York City and Las Vegas, Pellegrino brought Teatro to Grapevine to rave reviews.

Sampling Pellegrino's famous meatballs, delicious Rigatoni Bolognese and a few bites of the some of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted was one of the highlights of the trip. Somehow, small servings of mixed berries and homemade gelato; chocolate lave cake; New York style cheesecake and the lightest, most delectable tiramisu on the planet melded together beautifully, a testament to Pellegrino's superior skills in the kitchen. 

Last, Grapevine is billed as the “Christmas Capital of Texas” for good reason. Over 1,400 holiday events are scheduled during the 40 days before Christmas, including ice-skating; rides on the Grapeview Vintage Railroad; a gigantic lighted Christmas parade; Christmas markets, festivals, movies and much more. Every business along Main Street is adorned with lights and decorations, each one more elaborate than the other. Learn more about Christmas in Grapevine and other aspects of the city at: www.grapevinetexasusa.com.

Grapevine is the perfect quick weekend getaway from Mississippi, or anywhere, really. In short, everything you could possibly want – memorable dining, shopping, accommodations, historical sights and more in a unique, charming setting -  can be found in Grapevine. 

Classic Italian Meatballs by Carla
Serve 8/10
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ garlic clove, peeled and minced (optional)
1 ½ cup bread crumbs
¾ cup lukewarm water
½ cup regular olive oil - not extra virgin (Bertolli or Felipo Berio)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Corn oil enough to fry (do not use fry mix oil to fry it)

Procedure:

    Combine beef, veal and pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands or a mixer with a paddle on low speed, blend the ingredients together.

   Then during mixing process, add the bread crumbs into the bowl and slowly add the lukewarm water and olive oil, mix it together until the mixture becomes homogeneous.

   Make a small (2 ounces) pad, place an 8 inches sauté pan over a medium hi flame for about 2 minutes, add a spoon of vegetable oil and sear the meat pad, both sides. Taste it to make sure meatball is moist and seasoned enough before rolling it.

    Shape the meat mixture into balls (about 5 ounces) and with your hands roll it well until the core feels bonded (to make sure it won’t lose its shape or open up at frying time)

    Place a large sauté (14 inches) pan over medium high flame and add the oil (corn, canola or vegetable oil, enough oil to immerse half of the meatballs). Once oil gets to 425 degrees, place in one layer of meatballs (do not deep fry or overlap them), make sure the oil just reaches half of meatballs; discard the excess if needed. When bottom half of the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp. turn it and cook the top half. Remove it from heat and let drain in a perforated pan or on paper towels.

    Lower cooked the meatballs into simmering Marinara sauce or Sunday gravy for about 10-15 minutes or until them reach 135-140 degrees inside. Serve it over pasta or on their own in marinara sauce.

                          Recipe from Chef Carla Pellgrino

 Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at kkprco@yahoo.com.