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 Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue

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Ralph Melton

Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/22/13 10:26 PM (permalink)
The seeds of this trip were planted in October, when Chris Ayers answered the question "what region would you like to visit?" with "the Texas Hill Country". I said that I would love to go there with him and Amy, because I've spent lots of time visiting relatives in New Braunfels but little of it touristy. Over the next few months, that turned into a concrete plan to visit Austin for a long weekend in mid-April on Chris's spring break.

We started our Austin weekend with a flight to Dallas on Wednesday evening, for two reasons:
- Even though Austin is more than two hundred miles from Dallas, it is within that psychological radius that says we should detour to Dallas to visit my parents.
- Texas sows the margins of its interstates with wildflowers, so a long drive through Texas in early April can be really gorgeous.

We were delayed getting to the airport on Wednesday; there was an accident early in the afternoon that caused a traffic jam, and I took a wrong turn in trying to detour around the traffic jam that canceled out any possible savings I might have achieved. Our arrival at the airport was delayed enough that we would have dashed through the terminal and postponed dinner until we landed - except that our flight was delayed even more by lightning and hail. We had time to eat dinner (at Bar Symon, a new restaurant in the airport) and much more before our flight finally left. (Side question: why don't they update their predictions? When it's 8:30 and you haven't boarded, having the display at the gate predict that you're leaving at 8:10 just makes it look like the airlines have no hope to offer.)

I have been halfheartedly keeping track of how many of our journeys have been messed up by airline problems, and I wasn't sure how to count this incident, because the flight delay did counterbalance our car delay a bit. But the question became moot.

We didn't arrive at my parents' house until 1am. I'm sure that was hard on my parents; they tend to make their bedtime 10pm. I felt very touched that they stayed up to receive us, and I regretted that we'd missed a chance to socialize that evening.

Thursday morning's breakfast was homemade pancakes with strawberries. I won't describe these in depth; the folks who are likely to eat pancakes at my parents' house already know what they're like.

For lunch, my parents took us to Holy Frijoles, their Tex-Mex restaurant of choice. I had some rather good tacos al carbon; Lori liked her sour cream enchiladas with guacamole.

The direct route from Dallas to Austin goes straight southwest Interstate 35, but my mother's map suggested that we could get some scenic driving along less-traveled roads by taking Interstate 45 southeast to Corsicana, and then wending our way to Austin on back roads from there.

Billboards in Corsicana reminded me of an old favorite: Collin Street Bakery.
 

From the parking lot, I was able to take a picture of the bluebonnets on the side of the interstate.


Collin Street Bakery sells the best fruitcake I have ever had. This is not necessarily saying much; it would be equally accurate to say that this is the only fruitcake I have enjoyed. Most of my other fruitcake experience has come from supermarket fruitcakes that taste like stultifying tedium and sugar-mummified citron. The Collin Street Bakery fruitcake, in contrast, tastes like apricots and nuts and just enough cake to hold everything together.
Or rather, the Apricot Pecan Cake lil on the left tastes like this. The cake on the right is the Texas Blonde Pecan Cake, which tasted of harder-to-distinguish fruits; we preferred the apricot cake.


We also shared a strawberry tart, and this was a delight - it really tasted like fresh puréed strawberries and cream.


Once we left the interstate for the side roads, we discovered something: we had turned onto the side roads to make it easier to pull off to take pictures of flowers - and we did get that. But off the interstate, the wildflowers are more widely scattered. (The Texas Department of Highways sows wildflowers by the highways, and apparently sows them more by the interstates.)
But we did get some pictures of wildflowers and pure blue sky:
 
 
 

The our detour was a pleasant one, but it somehow took much more time than I was expecting, and we got in to Austin almost two hours than I had planned. But we still managed to make contact with my cousin Adam, and he suggested a favorite restaurant of his: Kerbey Lane Cafe.


Adam recommended the Kerbey Lane Queso. The distinction of the Kerbey Lane queso is that it conceals a secret: beneath the queso hides a generous portion of guacamole. The combination of the two dips with good chips was very nice.


Lori's chicken topped with bacon and pesto was really good, probably the best entree of the evening.


I didn't love my frito pie with bison chili as much, but it may be that it just wasn't the right time for it. The chili was served steaming hot (temperature, not spice), and it was such a large portion that the flavor became monotonous. But I can't figure out what would have made it better, and I wouldn't have wanted it to get so fancy that it lost touch with the nature of frito pie.


This location of Kerbey Lane offered one more advantage: it was half a block away from the Broken Spoke. I had asked Adam to recommend a honky-tonk for our visit, and he immediately nominated the Broken Spoke, saying "it has the best of Austin and the worst of Austin all in one place."


It was incongruous to walk half a block from an ordinary suburban shopping center to a joint with a dirt parking lot and an illuminated cow on the roof.


The Broken Spoke offers dancing lessons from 8 to 9, but we arrived at 8:55. Adam said that the lessons were only so-so, but I wish we had been able to attend, because I didn't feel able to pick up the two-step on my own; even when Adam explained the basics, I couldn't hear the two-step rhythm in the music. I'd have loved to feel able to join in the dancing, but I didn't feel adequate. So instead we watched others dancing, and it was fascinating. There were a lot of really good dancers on the floor, and they didn't seem like they were showing off, just dancing admirably for the pleasure of dancing.
And there was a great diversity of dancers, from grey-haired men dancing with the low-key competence of decades of practice, to young women with tattoos and cowboy boots.
  

 
#1
    icecreamchick

    • Total Posts: 99
    • Joined: 9/26/2009
    • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
    Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/22/13 10:30 PM (permalink)
    The middle picture in the last group is me dancing with our awesome cousin, Adam. Luckily for me, Adam was a good enough dancer to make it look like I knew what I was doing. :-)
     
    I really recommend the Broken Spoke for a shot of local color when you're in Austin. We had a great time there!
     
     
    #2
      Tex-Max

      • Total Posts: 103
      • Joined: 12/15/2011
      • Location: Saratoga County, NY
      Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/22/13 11:12 PM (permalink)
      Ralph and icecreamchick
      Thanks for the pictures of the Bluebonnets and Buttercups.  I was missing Texas in the Spring. 
      290 between Austin and Hempstead is a great road for bluebonnets this time of year.  The Broken Spoke, Wow, what a treasure!  One of my favorite Old Texas Dance Halls.  That place has been there a while and it doesn't look like it has changed a bit.
       
      Oh the Food!  The queso looks delicious, I have never seen guacamole on the bottom before, very interesting.
       
      Keep it coming!
       
      #3
        mar52

        • Total Posts: 7590
        • Joined: 4/17/2005
        • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
        Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/22/13 11:13 PM (permalink)
        Looks like fun.  You're so right about Collin Street Bakery.  I stopped and shopped at their Waco location.  Luckily I had a credit card.  Those fruit cakes are not inexpensive!
         
        The buildings in the 2 cities look alike.
         
        All the trips I've taken through Texas and I've never seen Blue Bonnets in bloom.  Nice!
         
        #4
          catosaurus

          Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 12:24 AM (permalink)
          Marlene, I've seen the bluebonnets, and they are lovely, but they look almost exactly like a lot of the lupines that grow throughout California, so don't feel too bad about missing them.
           
          #5
            mar52

            • Total Posts: 7590
            • Joined: 4/17/2005
            • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
            Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 1:30 AM (permalink)
            Thanks, Pilar.
             
            I now know they hold a second seat to our California Poppies. 
             
            #6
              love2bake

              • Total Posts: 1269
              • Joined: 8/10/2008
              • Location: SFBay Area, CA
              Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 1:41 AM (permalink)
              After a nightmarish start, it looks like a great trip!  That strawberry tart sounds and looks delicious.  I also enjoyed your writing style.
               
              #7
                lleechef

                • Total Posts: 6200
                • Joined: 3/22/2003
                • Location: Gahanna, OH
                Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 10:50 AM (permalink)
                You two might want to consider booking very early morning flights with the hopes that you will arrive before midnight. 
                Nice trip report!  I am not a fan of fruitcake but my uncle used to send one from Collin Street Bakery to my parents every Christmas and it was actually very good.
                 
                #8
                  Ralph Melton

                  Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 1:07 PM (permalink)
                  My own favorite Texas wildflower scenes are the ones where bluebonnets, yellow buttercups, and red-orange Indian blankets cover a field with splotches of multiple bright colors. I love California poppies dearly, but I love fields of many colors even more.
                   
                  love2bake, thank you for the kind words. The strawberry tart certainly was one of the delights of this trip.
                   
                  But I would gently disagree with the description of the start as "nightmarish". Compared to our record of plane travel over the past few years, it was slightly inconvenient, but not bad. For example, this is what happened when we tried to fly to Dallas last December:
                  We wanted to attend a wedding reception on the afternoon of December 27, so I booked a nonstop flight for the morning of December 26, because I thought there was a risk of weather delays.
                  On the evening of December 25, I learned that our flight had been cancelled, and we were rescheduled for a flight through Chicago on the afternoon of December 27. I waited on hold for an hour and a half to discover that there was no way for us to attend the reception.
                  On December 27, we drove out to the airport. The flight to Chicago got delayed, so we couldn't make that connection. We got rescheduled for a connection through Chicago on December 28. We tried to fly standby on the evening nonstop flight to Dallas, but they only had one seat available. We spent the whole day in the airport without actually flying anywhere.
                  On December 28, we drove out to the airport again, and finally managed to get to Dallas. We even got a nonstop flight, because the 9am flight was delayed until 1pm.
                   
                  So this departure was merely annoying, not nightmarish. I'll save all my cursing for the return trip. (cue ominous foreshadowing music).
                   
                  lleechef, our flights might well be more reliable in the early morning. But it's often the case that we're trying to plan our travels around my work. For example, on this trip, I wanted to work on Wednesday and have dinner with Adam on Thursday evening. Within those constraints, my reasonable flight options were Wednesday evening or Thursday during the day. But an evening flight offered the chance of visiting my parents. Within these constraints, I'm not sure I had a better option.
                   
                  What other fruitcakes do folks like? Collin Street Bakery is the only fruitcake I've heard good things about.
                   
                  #9
                    mar52

                    • Total Posts: 7590
                    • Joined: 4/17/2005
                    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
                    Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 1:22 PM (permalink)
                    Collin Street is my favorite.  I've had the varied types but the 'ol standard is number one.
                     
                    I can't get it anymore and I don't know the name...
                     
                    But, the May Company Department Store in Los Angeles (when they were in business) had very good fruit cakes during the Christmas season.  They were even better the day after.
                     
                    #10
                      love2bake

                      • Total Posts: 1269
                      • Joined: 8/10/2008
                      • Location: SFBay Area, CA
                      Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 2:15 PM (permalink)
                      Ralph - that's some benchmark for "nightmarish!"  I can see why you'd make such a distinction.  
                       
                      #11
                        EdSails

                        • Total Posts: 3541
                        • Joined: 5/9/2003
                        • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                        Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 2:52 PM (permalink)
                        looks like an amazing trip, Ralph!
                         
                         
                        #12
                          Sundancer7

                          Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 3:24 PM (permalink)
                          I always enjoyed the drive in and out of DFW.  Lotsa beautiful bluebonnets.  Planted of course but still beautiful.  I always enjoyed my visits with Bushie in and around Austin.
                           
                          Paul E. Smith
                          Knoxville, TN
                           
                          #13
                            rumaki

                            • Total Posts: 966
                            • Joined: 3/1/2008
                            • Location: Minneapolis, MN
                            Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 04/23/13 3:34 PM (permalink)
                            I, too, agree about Collin Street Bakery fruit cakes.  I haven't had one in several years.  My father used to send them to us every Christmas before he passed away.
                             
                            Nightmarish air travel is the order of the day, it seems.  Here in Minnesota, we've had big late spring snow storms three times in as many weeks (the most recent one last night), and both last week and the week before I thought I wasn't going to get out of town.  Two weeks ago, I was supposed to go to Eugene, OR on April 11, and because of the "winter weather waiver," managed to get rebooked for a flight out the evening before, which ensured that I made my connection in Salt Lake City.  Last week, I was scheduled to go to Indianapolis on April 19. We did have a heavy, wet snow the night before my 10:15 a.m. flight, but although the roads were a mess, the flight left on time.
                             
                            I can't complain; I got where I was supposed to go when I was supposed to be there. But it was stressful.
                             
                            #14
                              Ralph Melton

                              Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sat, 04/27/13 10:54 PM (permalink)
                              We started the day late. There is much that I have not yet figured out about traveling successfully, but one of the things I have learned is the necessity of recovery time and unscheduled time. Lori had slept very poorly the night before we left, and although my parents have improved their guest accommodations from the days of their foldout sofa, the late arrival meant that there was no way for us to get great sleep. And we had quite a lot scheduled ahead, so it was right to have some blank time then.

                              We returned to Kerbey Lane for brunch, because Adam had previously praised their pancakes and given us their pancake mix. (The package claims "If all the pancakes made by Kerbey Lane in one year were lined up along the equator, it would be a tremendous waste of good pancakes.") We sat on the porch this time, because we felt keenly that it was a lovely day to sit outside and that such days were rare - it was too cool for outdoor dining back in Pittsburgh, and very likely to be too hot very soon in Austin.

                              Mimosas were really cheap. The champagne was very dry, but a breakfast cocktail really makes us feel that vacation has begun.


                              Lori's pancakes were every bit as good as she had anticipated. They were light and fluffy, and they tasted of cinnamon and vanilla. They may not have quite won Lori's heart away from the pancakes at the Camellia Grill, but there is no shame at all at coming in second to those.


                              Her bacon was great, too, with a very hearty flavor. Her fruit cup was not so good, but we cherish the good things and leave behind the bad.


                              I ordered my first migas in Austin. (Lori: "What's migas?" Ralph:"It's like Tex-Mex matzo brei." L: "What's matzo brei?" R: "It's like Jewish migas." I then gave a more helpful explanation: migas is scrambled eggs with tortilla chips and stuff.) I hadn't planned out our breakfasts, and I wasn't sure that we'd get migas or breakfast tacos another day, so I ordered my migas in taco form. I included queso at the waiter's recommendation. These migas tacos were delicious. There was lots of flavor from the queso, onions, and peppers, and nice crunch from the tortilla chips.


                              The other reason that it worked out well to go to Kerbey Lane Cafe was that it shared a parking lot with our next destination: the Art on 5th Gallery and its Hats Off to Dr. Seuss exhibit. I had noticed the Dr. Seuss exhibit in some of the tourist material in the hotel room, and though I was intrigued, I didn't mention it to Lori try to put it on our schedule. But Lori saw it and was eager to go. And I'm very glad that she did, because we really enjoyed the exhibit.

                              We learned that Dr. Seuss had a great enthusiasm for hats. There was a large trunk full of fantastic hats he had owned, many of which served as models for the hats in The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins. He would apparently have dinner parties featuring outlandish hats; a quote on the wall talked about how it really loosened up a formal dinner once everyone was wearing a silly hat. We weren't allowed to take pictures of the hats, but we were given permission to take pictures of the paintings.

                              "A Child's Prayer"


                              "Freebird" really delights both of us. I would consider hanging it on our wall - but I hesitate a bit because Dr. Seuss has some childish associations as well as childlike associations.


                              We learned that Dr. Seuss was into fanciful taxidermy as well:


                              Another thing learned: I had no idea that Dr. Seuss had painted so many nudie pics. And here's the thing: his nudie pics look almost exactly like what you would imagine if you tried to imagine nudes painted by Dr. Seuss. For example, this is Dr. Seuss's "The Abduction of the Sabine Women". I think the expressions of the animals on the right are the best part. (With some clicking through to Flickr, you can see larger-resolution versions.)


                              Lori loves "O Solo Meow" a bit more than I do.


                              I make up for it with my deep affection for "Cat from the Wrong Side of the Tracks."


                                

                              Once we were done with the Dr. Seuss exhibit, we went to see the tourist sites at the Texas State Capitol. As a segue, I offer one last Dr. Seuss image:

                              The caption is "The Knotty Problem of Capitol Hill… Finding a Way to Raise Taxes Without Losing a Single Vote."

                              Texas does have a good-looking capitol, especially on a beautiful cloudless day.




                              We looked at the exhibits in the visitor's center, walked through the capitol briefly, then ambled down to 6th Street, which is densely packed with clubs and bars. I love this of the gold boots dangling from the power line as a symbol of 6th Street, although the picture didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.


                              We did not tour the Museum of the Weird, because Lori feared being grossed out. We did, however, spend quite a bit of time touring Hatbox, an exceptional haberdashery on Sixth Street. I had been very partial to the Man's Hat Shop in Albuquerque as my hat shop of choice, but Hatbox may be even finer. And it was particularly nice to visit with Adam, who is even more of a hat-wearer than I am. I am notable for my hat-wearing by the standards of the early twenty-first century; I wear a wool felt hat all winter and a canvas hat all summer, except for the rare occasion where my top hat is called for. But Adam has a whole tonsorial wardrobe; we saw him five times on this visit, and he wore a different hat each time.

                              For supper, Adam suggested Frank, an artisan hot dog shop a few blocks away. 

                               

                              I ordered one of the specials, the "mini sausage flight" of three of their featured sausages. (I was very attracted to the chance to try many different dishes, but I admit, calling it a "flight" instead of a "sampler" raises my hackles a bit.) From left to right, with descriptions copied from the menu:
                              Jackalope: "Our custom-made smoked antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage, cranberry compote, sriracha aioli, cheddar"
                              Texalina: "Our custom-made smoked pork and beef sausage, grilled horseradish coleslaw, Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, white cheddar"
                              The Notorious P.I.G.: "Our custom-made smoked pork, bacon, jalapeno, sage sausage topped with mac n’ cheese, Dr. Doppelgänger BBQ sauce"
                              I liked the variety, but none of these sausages really delighted me. The cranberry compote in the Jackalope overwhelmed its other flavors, and the Notorious P.I.G. had a very spicy sausage that clashed with the messy mac and cheese. The Texalina had my favorite sausage of the three, but also had too much going on.


                              I much preferred the delicious corn cup ("Grilled corn served off the cob with chili mayonesa, lime juice, cilantro, and cotija cheese"). This is a combination of flavors that I've seen served elsewhere, and I suspect that being tumbled in the collective experience of hundreds of cooks has smoothed away the rough edges of this recipe in a way that the house-specialty sausage recipes have not been polished.


                              I also quite liked Lori's choice, a plain dog with grilled onions and cheese, on a pretzel roll.


                              But though Lori's hot dog beat mine, her side did not. The Campfire Hash was described as "Griddle-cooked Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 100% Vienna Beef Frankfurter, diced peppers, and onions", but it just tasted like undistinguished home fries.


                              For dessert, we shared the bananas Foster. Bananas Foster is one of those dishes that I love in concept but am often disappointed by in practice. (Haluski is another example.) In the case of bananas Foster, I think that the discrepancy is because the first bananas Foster I had was extraordinarily delicious, and I have formed my opinions of bananas Foster as if that were the average. This dessert at Frank had a nice flavor, and the flavor went very nicely with Amy's Mexican vanilla ice cream. But there was so much cinnamon in the sauce that it ended up with an unpleasant gritty texture.


                              Overall, I enjoyed Frank, but I found it spotty - I suspect that if I went regularly, I'd figure out the dishes that worked and converge on a very specific order that dodged the misfires.

                              We ambled back to Sixth Street and looked through the beautiful Driskill Hotel.
                               
                               

                              The Driskill was the starting point for a special treat for Lori: a horse-drawn carriage tour. We'd planned for a sunset tour along the lake, but we were told that a festival had blocked off all the paths to the lake, and we were offered a tour of historic homes instead. I've forgotten almost everything our driver said about the homes, but I remember more about what she said about herself. She had grown up with horses, and she had been a part of the NCAA Equestrian team at Texas A&M. But she had learned that being a professional horse trainer was not for her. (She said this in a way that made us infer that there was some specific event that led her to this conclusion and also infer that it would be intrusive to inquire.) So she moved to Austin and was driving a carriage to pay the bills while she tried to get into a job in screenwriting. I wish her every luck.
                               
                               

                              After our tour, we wanted to cap off the evening with ice cream. And I'd read of an artisan ice cream place that piqued our interest: Lick Ice Creams


                              I sampled the caramelized carrots and tarragon ice cream because of the novelty, and I was surprised by how good it was; it had a very sweet and earthy flavor, even sweeter and less carroty than glazed carrots. I don't know that I could correctly identify that flavor from tasting it, even after already tasting it once.
                              The flavor on top is strawberries and cream, which I ordered without tasting. Perhaps I should have tasted it before ordering; it tasted like sweet cream ice cream with just a touch of strawberry. Still good, certainly, but I prefer a lot more strawberry taste.


                              Lori also took advantage of the chance to get two flavors: chocolate orange and chocolate pecan in butter caramel. The chocolate orange was very good, but it overpowered the flavor of the chocolate pecan in butter caramel. Lori also points out that the ice creams from Lick were not as rich and creamy as the best ice creams we've encountered elsewhere.


                               
                              #15
                                leethebard

                                • Total Posts: 6067
                                • Joined: 8/16/2007
                                • Location: brick, NJ
                                Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sun, 04/28/13 1:21 AM (permalink)
                                I'm really enjoying your report. Thanks for the fun and food. Great job!
                                 
                                #16
                                  BuddyRoadhouse

                                  • Total Posts: 4074
                                  • Joined: 12/10/2004
                                  • Location: Des Plaines, IL
                                  Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sun, 04/28/13 1:22 AM (permalink)
                                  That "corn cup" looks like a high end version of the Mexican street food called "elotes".  It also looks darned tasty!
                                   
                                  Nice report Ralphie!  Hope you and the icecreamchick had a great trip.
                                   
                                  Looking forward to more postings.
                                   
                                  Buddy
                                   
                                  #17
                                    mr chips

                                    • Total Posts: 4714
                                    • Joined: 2/19/2003
                                    • Location: portland, OR
                                    Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sun, 04/28/13 1:32 PM (permalink)
                                    Love the report. I had a great trip 4 and half years ago and i envy your chance to see the city.
                                     
                                    #18
                                      agnesrob

                                      • Total Posts: 1790
                                      • Joined: 6/4/2006
                                      • Location: Park Ridge, NJ
                                      Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sun, 04/28/13 2:56 PM (permalink)
                                      Thanks for posting this Ralph. I do love a good travel report!!
                                       
                                      #19
                                        Michael Hoffman

                                        • Total Posts: 17795
                                        • Joined: 7/1/2000
                                        • Location: Gahanna, OH
                                        Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sun, 04/28/13 3:12 PM (permalink)
                                        Thanks for the shots of the Driskill. Back about halfway through the last century it was where I had shrimp remoulade for the first time.
                                         
                                        #20
                                          icecreamchick

                                          • Total Posts: 99
                                          • Joined: 9/26/2009
                                          • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
                                          Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/29/13 3:51 PM (permalink)
                                          I really enjoyed this day, despite it not being the most "food-intensive." I did feel I ought to have liked Lick more, but we had better ice cream on this trip at Amy's Ice Creams. 
                                           
                                          #21
                                            Ralph Melton

                                            Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/29/13 4:24 PM (permalink)
                                            Thanks for the kind words.
                                             
                                            I don't know whether you can still get shrimp remoulade at the Driskill, but we got some extraordinary banana pudding at the Driskill's 1886 Cafe on April 14.
                                             
                                            Coming up next: a mystery guest contributes to one of the most amazing revels of 2013.
                                             
                                            #22
                                              Sundancer7

                                              Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 04/29/13 6:22 PM (permalink)
                                              Ralph:  Your contributions to Roadfood are much appreciated by all but especially me.  Great pics, food and adventures.
                                               
                                              Paul E. Smith
                                              Knoxville, TN
                                               
                                              #23
                                                Ralph Melton

                                                Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 05/6/13 9:09 PM (permalink)
                                                Saturday brought us Chris and Amy, barbecue at last, and a mystery guest joining us for one of the most outstanding revels of my Roadfooding.

                                                Unfortunately, it didn't bring us Chris and Amy at 9am as we had expected. In order to satisfy their own travel requirements, Chris and Amy had carried out an elaborate plan under which they had flown to Dallas and then woken at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to take a bus down to Austin. But they shared some of our travel luck: at 9:20, Amy sent me a picture of the road ahead of the bus with the text "Don't know the deal, but the fact that people are turning around on the highway isn't a good sign." We have had that happen to us in Kentucky and Indiana, and we agree that it is not a good sign. We found out later that tractor trailer accident had happened at 7am and blocked the interstate for hours.

                                                This derailed our breakfast plan, because I had planned to make our first stop one of the donut shops that Chris had specifically requested. So I sought out breakfast tacos, because I had not scheduled them for later. Yelp suggested a food truck named El Primo. I felt happy when we arrived: it certainly looked like a place that was more authentic than upscale.



                                                The "migas-ham & egg" taco was very good, with lots of savory flavor and interesting textures.


                                                The chorizo and egg taco was also tasty. I tried to add a little salsa from a squeeze bottle on the windowsill, and I got a lot of salsa instead - and the salsa had a definite burn.


                                                We were very amused by this billboard across the street:

                                                We were particularly amused because this is the lawyer billboard we see most often in Pittsburgh (someone else's picture):
                                                 
                                                It's pretty clear that David Komie has all the hair that Edgar Snyder lost and more besides. (We commented on those billboards to Adam at one point, and he said that he has played in jam sessions with David Komie, and that David Komie throws killer parties. I know nothing about how raucous Edgar Snyder's parties might be.) 

                                                There was also a court of food trucks across the street from El Primo. We wandered among them briefly, but none of them were open. We did stop to take some pictures of the freestanding murals:
                                                  

                                                This mural depicts Leslie Cochran, a famous Austin character in every sense. He was apparently famous for hanging out on Sixth Street wearing women's clothing, and the tutu and bikini top pictured here was a common outfit. We were told by a tour guide on Sunday that although he was believed to be homeless, it was discovered after his death that he had a mansion - however, I note that claimed mansion is not mentioned in the Wikipedia entry or the eulogies I checked.


                                                I know nothing of the quality of these food carts, but I really liked the names "Bananarchy" and "Lard Have Mercy".
                                                 

                                                Lori suggested we stop in at La Mexicana, a nearby Mexican bakery.


                                                I ordered a fruit cup, because I've learned that going out of my way to eat some fruits and vegetables helps me on these Roadfood trips. What I ended up with was about a pound of fruit - apples, strawberries, mangoes, pineapple, and grapes - topped with a sprinkling of chile pepper. (This is as close as I have come to the pico de gallo of Arizona, and I don't know how close it actually is.) This was really good; the fruit was very fresh, and the chile really woke up the flavor.


                                                Lori's chocolate shortbread was not so good.


                                                Since Chris and Amy were still stuck on the road, we decided to pursue Saturday morning's plan without them. We drove out to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but discovered that there was a garden and flower show that meant that there was no parking to be had within half a mile.

                                                Our next idea was to go to Franklin Barbecue, renowned for both its barbecue and its long lines, and spare Chris and Amy some line-waiting. We were told that our line would be three hours. Shortly after we joined the line, Amy texted us that they expected to arrive in Austin in half an hour, so we left the line without getting Franklin barbecue that day. But this visit gave us two glimpses of the secondary economy that has emerged around Franklin Barbecue. 
                                                1. Across the street from Franklin Barbecue was a man offering chair rental for those standing in line.
                                                2. When the staff member came along to tell us that we had three hour's wait ahead of us, the man ahead of us said that he had heard of people selling their places in line on Craigslist, and asked what the going rate was. She replied that Franklin's discouraged that because it wasn't really fair, but the typical price for a place near the head of the line was two to three hundred dollars.
                                                My rudimentary understanding of economics suggests that in a situation like this where the price doesn't balance supply and demand, a secondary market will emerge to narrow that gap, like the ways people make deals with rent-controlled apartments in New York and San Francisco. I haven't seen that at work with Franklin Barbecue yet, but I haven't had much time to observe. I wonder what other sorts of secondary barbecue economy will develop around Franklin's. Barbecue futures? Default swaps hedging against sellouts?


                                                Picking up Chris and Amy brought Lori some relief from my speculations about barbecue economics. For our first stop together, we visited another barbecue place recommended to me by Roadfood posterscrumptiouschef: Micklethwait Craft Meats.
                                                I really love the setting of Micklethwait; eating outdoors on a tree-shaded picnic table was a lovely way to start our adventures.


                                                And the barbecue was fabulous, too. We shared a combo plate of brisket, lamb sausage, and ribs. 


                                                The brisket had a gorgeous smoke ring and a splendid flavor to back it up. Looking at this photo makes me hungry again.


                                                The lamb sausage was very coarse and firm, with a rugged chew.


                                                The pit masters at work:


                                                Next door to Micklethwait was proof that in Austin, mobile trucks aren't just limited to food: this is Gypsy Rose Vagabond Beauty Parlor. (We thought it was a fortune teller at first.) My primary thought is how beastly hot it would be in a metal trailer in the Texas summer unless it has outstanding air conditioning.


                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  1bbqboy

                                                  • Total Posts: 4542
                                                  • Joined: 11/20/2000
                                                  • Location: Rogue Valley
                                                  Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Mon, 05/6/13 9:40 PM (permalink)
                                                  well done so far.
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    mr chips

                                                    • Total Posts: 4714
                                                    • Joined: 2/19/2003
                                                    • Location: portland, OR
                                                    Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 05/7/13 3:15 AM (permalink)
                                                    Fantastic. Eagerly awaiting your next installment.
                                                     
                                                    #26
                                                      will_work_4_bbq

                                                      • Total Posts: 398
                                                      • Joined: 1/11/2006
                                                      • Location: Birmingham, AL
                                                      Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 05/7/13 7:35 AM (permalink)
                                                      Great report - love all the pictures!
                                                       
                                                      #27
                                                        Sundancer7

                                                        Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 05/7/13 8:05 AM (permalink)
                                                        Ralph and Lori:  The advantage of food travels are many but you get a chance to compare what you have discovered and compare it with others.  What you may have previously thought was the best sometimes is replaced or in some cases never.  BB, WJ, Mayor, many others and even myself have discovered that.
                                                         
                                                        Great write and pics.
                                                         
                                                        Paul E. Smith
                                                        Knoxville, TN
                                                         
                                                        #28
                                                          wanderingjew

                                                          • Total Posts: 7379
                                                          • Joined: 1/18/2001
                                                          • Location: East Greenwich/ Warwick, RI
                                                          • Roadfood Insider
                                                          Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Tue, 05/7/13 8:22 AM (permalink)
                                                          Ralph,
                                                           
                                                          Loving your report. I really wanted to make it to The Broken Spoke when I was in Austin last year but didn't have any time
                                                          I saw the Ayersians this past weekend and Chris told me about your get together with them
                                                           
                                                          Being in the insurance business, I got a kick about your comment about Edgar Snyder, as you know I lived in Pittsburgh and dealt with his office many times while I was there.
                                                           
                                                          #29
                                                            Ralph Melton

                                                            Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue Sun, 05/12/13 11:58 PM (permalink)
                                                            Another wildflower picture, taken from the window of the minivan at a stoplight near Bastrop. (It boggled me that Texas allows driving 75 mph on roads with stoplights.)


                                                            As we were passing through Bastrop on the way to Elgin, we saw more than one billboard advertising Buc-ee's. Upon learning that none of us had experienced Buc-ee's, Adam declared that our Austin visit would be woefully incomplete if it did not include an experience of the glory of Buc-ee's. And as it happened, there was a Buc-ee's just on our route.



                                                            Adam suggested that I pass him my phone, and so we have photographic record of my expression upon entering Buc-ee's:


                                                            Buc-ee's is not a Roadfood stop; it is a convenience store built on a massive scale. I would be hard pressed to throw a paper airplane from one end of the store to the other. (In more prosaic terms, the Buc-ee's website claims that the Bastrop location is 50,000 square feet, though it is eclipsed by the New Braunfels location which is the largest convenience store in the world at 67,000.)



                                                            The other claim to fame of Buc-ee's is their restrooms, which Adam strongly encouraged us to visit. The restrooms at Buc-ee's were immense and immaculate. There were two dozen urinals on one side of the men's room, each in their own alcove to prevent any inconvenient risk glancing sidelong and seeing another man. I took no photos from inside the men's room, because there wasn't a moment when the room was empty. But we did take a few pictures of the decor just outside the restrooms:
                                                              

                                                            We enjoyed samples of the sausage, and Chris bought a hat. We also sampled the Buc-ee's Beaver Hut, a candy concoction of pink goo enclosed in chocolate and peanuts. Unfortunately, it was nasty - I cannot recommend it in the slightest.




                                                            Our destination in Elgin was one of the famous sites of Texas barbecue, Southside Market, the originator of Texas hot sausage (also called "hot guts", to Lori's dismay). But Southside Market is no longer a small storefront on the town square, but a large barbecue establishment.
                                                             

                                                            The interior was spacious and efficient, but redolent with the scent of smoking meat. 
                                                             

                                                            We shared a beautiful platter of brisket, sausage, beans and potato salad. 
                                                            The brisket was delicious we decided that we might prefer the brisket to the sausage.


                                                            But I argued that even so, if one were to have one meat here, it should be the sausage. The sausage was unusual among all the hot guts we sampled; it was extremely tender, even soft. But very rich and flavorful. 


                                                             
                                                            #30
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