Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue

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Ralph Melton
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Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/22/13 10:26 PM
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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.
  


icecreamchick
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/22/13 10:30 PM
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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!
 

Tex-Max
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/22/13 11:12 PM
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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!

mar52
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/22/13 11:13 PM
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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!

catosaurus
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 12:24 AM
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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.

mar52
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 1:30 AM
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Thanks, Pilar.
 
I now know they hold a second seat to our California Poppies. 

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 1:41 AM
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After a nightmarish start, it looks like a great trip!  That strawberry tart sounds and looks delicious.  I also enjoyed your writing style.

lleechef
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 10:50 AM
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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.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 1:07 PM
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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.

mar52
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 1:22 PM
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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.

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 2:15 PM
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Ralph - that's some benchmark for "nightmarish!"  I can see why you'd make such a distinction.  

EdSails
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 2:52 PM
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looks like an amazing trip, Ralph!
 

Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 3:24 PM
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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

rumaki
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 04/23/13 3:34 PM
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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.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sat, 04/27/13 10:54 PM
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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.



leethebard
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 04/28/13 1:21 AM
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I'm really enjoying your report. Thanks for the fun and food. Great job!

BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 04/28/13 1:22 AM
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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

mr chips
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 04/28/13 1:32 PM
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Love the report. I had a great trip 4 and half years ago and i envy your chance to see the city.

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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 04/28/13 2:56 PM
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Thanks for posting this Ralph. I do love a good travel report!!

Michael Hoffman
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 04/28/13 3:12 PM
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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.

icecreamchick
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/29/13 3:51 PM
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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. 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/29/13 4:24 PM
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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.

Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 04/29/13 6:22 PM
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Ralph:  Your contributions to Roadfood are much appreciated by all but especially me.  Great pics, food and adventures.
 
Paul E. Smith
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 05/6/13 9:09 PM
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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.



1bbqboy
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 05/6/13 9:40 PM
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well done so far.

mr chips
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 05/7/13 3:15 AM
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Fantastic. Eagerly awaiting your next installment.

will_work_4_bbq
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 05/7/13 7:35 AM
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Great report - love all the pictures!

Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 05/7/13 8:05 AM
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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

wanderingjew
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 05/7/13 8:22 AM
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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.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 05/12/13 11:58 PM
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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. 



ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 05/13/13 7:18 AM
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Love Austin...so many places to visit, so little time!  Didn't make the Dr. Seuss museum but wished I had.  Thanks for sharing! 

rneiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 05/13/13 8:01 AM
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Thanks for the post on Southside Market we go to AUSTIN every winter the market is one my favorite spots.

ScreamingChicken
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 05/13/13 9:46 AM
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That plate of brisket and sausage is beautiful!

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Mon, 05/13/13 10:46 AM
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I'm enjoying your report!  All those breakfast tacos looked fantastic, and the Dr. Seuss art exhibit was great.    Oh yeah--and the BBQ!!  Mmmmmm

ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 05/14/13 6:12 PM
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I still remember on that tour being introduced to the term "meat sweats" for the first time. That was some mighty fine eating!

Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Tue, 05/14/13 6:33 PM
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The best sausage I had around Austin was with some Roadfooders about five years ago.  Bushie bought some sausage at Smitty's in Lockhart and sampled  a little of it.  Outstanding and I had brisket at Kreuz.  I like mine with some fat on it and the same with sausage.  Lockhart is in my opinion the best BBQ town in TX.
 
http://kreuzmarket.com/
http://www.smittysmarket.com/
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 11:06 AM
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We had a special dinner planned, and it ended up being not just special, but utterly outstanding.

Our dinner destination was Royer's Round Top Cafe in Round Top, Texas (population 90 according to the sign at the town limits).


If you look closely at the picture, you may notice what we noticed when we got to the porch: Bud Royer was sitting outside. (I don't think you can look closely enough at the picture to make out the sign on the beer cooler: "Beer on the honor system. Lawyers and bankers pay cash." We recognized Bud from meeting him at the New Orleans Roadfood Festival in 2010. Chris was the first to introduce himself and shake Bud's hand. And Chris's explaining that he was a senior writer for Roadfood.com may have contributed to the feast we were about to have.

Chris said that we were five for dinner, but I corrected that to seven. In retrospect, I should have called to book a table in advance, because the cafe does not have that many tables. But they had a large table open right next to the door.

As we were ordering iced tea and lemonade, the door opened, and in walked Steve Koenigsberg. I wasn't surprised; I had been receiving text messages about his progress, under the name "Mystery Guest". (I had renamed his entry in my phone, in case I had to ask Lori to read my texts while I was driving.) I had been trying to surprise Chris and Amy - but Chris said that he has met Steve in enough unexpected places that no encounter with Steve surprised him anymore.

Steve was accompanied by Cara, a professional colleague of his. I hope that he will chime in, because this is really his story to tell. But it's something like this: he and Cara had been together at a recruiting fair in Houston, and he had offered to give her a ride back to Austin. When the fair had ended, there was just enough time for him to join us at dinner. He feared that Cara might prefer to spend time with her colleagues in Houston, but when he suggested that they drive an hour and a half for dinner in a tiny town in Texas ("Round Top? You mean Round Rock, right?"), she agreed without hesitation.

I think this picture perfectly captures both Steve and Royer's Round Top Cafe:


We ordered two appetizers that Bud Royer recommended: the grilled shrimp BLT (great)


and the enormous stuffed jalapeños (good, but tricky to cut to share among eight people).


About the time that we prepared to order entrees, we all - the five of us with plenty of Roadfood experience, our guests Adam and Cara, and Bud Royer and his staff - realized that we really were game for anything Royer's might serve. I've thought that before and had it turn out to be false, so I was a bit slow to recognize it now, but discovering now that we were all game was a heady, intoxicating realization. Where we had ordered appetizers by name, for entrees we just asked for five entrees and let Bud and the staff decide.

If you ever have an opportunity like this, to dine at Royer's with a large group of people who are all happy to enjoy whatever comes, I strongly recommend you take it. It was about this time that we started describing the dinner with words like "bacchanalian" and "epic revel". It's hard for me to describe these dishes in detail, because my impressions all swirl together in a kaleidoscope of flavors. I think presenting a jumble of pictures captures the evening better than paragraphs of careful description:

Jud's Great Steak, served with Bud's Smash (mashed potatoes, creamed corn, red onion, and blue cheese crumbles)


Grilled pork chops with chipotle-raspberry sauce, with mashed potatoes and creamed corn


"The Awesome Steak", served on mashed potato casserole, topped with portobello mushrooms sautéed in a red wine cream sauce


Fried Red Snapper


Rack of Lamb, served with a lemon, garlic, basil sauce and sautéed vegetables


Bud decided that in addition to that, we needed to try the grilled quail (top) and the stuffed quail (bottom).


Here's a closeup of the stuffed quail (stuffed with shrimp and cilantro - it was really tasty)


By the numbers, it doesn't seem an excessive amount of food - less than one entree per person. But the sheer variety (and all of it very good) made us feel overwhelmed. There were leftovers of everything after the first servings, because it's far easier to divide things into eighths than sevenths, and the vast bounty overwhelmed all greed, so we kept proffering each other the last tidbits like doting ethnic grandmothers. "Would you like to finish the lamb chop?" "Surely you want a bit more quail?" 


Of course, the other reason that we were slow to finish our entrees is that we were saving room for pie. Royer's is renowned for their pies, and for Bud Royers' insistence that his pies be eaten with ice cream, to the point that pie without ice cream costs an extra fifty cents. We asked for five pieces of pie. Bud decided that we should get eight. (When we got the check, the pie was free, which made me happier about the extra pieces. But we made up for that with a giant tip.)

One down side of ice cream on pie is that it makes it hard to take pictures of the pie underneath. This plate had pecan pie, chocolate chip pie, Texas trash pie (I can't remember what was in this. It's akin to the buttermilk delight pie that has chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, but the Texas trash pie had more stuff. Very tasty), and the Texas-sized Ho Ho.


The other plate had Junkberry pie (a medley of fruits), apple pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and cinnamon-roll bread pudding.


The Ding Dong in cross section. It was one of the best of its kind we've encountered.


All the desserts were delicious, but I do have some commentary on the pies. The filling on Royer's pies is superb, but the crust is not so great. The crust is pale and somewhat shortbread-like - it is far from the best pie crust I've had, and I can make better pie crust myself on a good day. However: ice cream is rough on pie crust; even a good flaky pie crust will turn soggy under melting ice cream. So it all fits together that a passion for ice cream-bedecked pie would go with mediocre pie crust.
To my own taste, ice cream is a better friend to cobbler than to pie. So if Royer's was going to change to suit me (I didn't even suggest this to Bud Royer, because I felt that he is obviously not), he would turn his filling talents towards cobbler instead of pie.




After such a splendid gastronomic debauch, anything else would be anticlimax. But we had one more stop: I had discovered that this trip would give us a chance to see the Austin Lounge Lizards perform in Texas, at the Bugle Boy in La Grange. The Bugle Boy is a very nice space for a concert - it is very strongly focused on listening to the performance, instead of dancing or drinking or talking. I hope that the others enjoyed the Austin Lounge Lizards at least half as much as I did; I had the advantage of being familiar with most of their songs. And some of their topical tweaks to "Old Blevins" made me laugh so hard that I became lightheaded.

I had planned for us to visit Weikel's Bakery for kolaches before the concert, but our long dinner at Royer's made that impractical. After the concert ended at 10:30, I drove us to Weikel's under the belief that they closed at 11. But Weikel's was dark and empty. But this was not exactly a case of not doing my homework: when I checked my notes later, I saw that according to my notes, Weikel's closed at 10pm. So does this count as being travelin-manned, or was this merely being dumb? 

 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 11:37 AM
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Sundancer7


The best sausage I had around Austin was with some Roadfooders about five years ago.  Bushie bought some sausage at Smitty's in Lockhart and sampled  a little of it.  Outstanding and I had brisket at Kreuz.  I like mine with some fat on it and the same with sausage.  Lockhart is in my opinion the best BBQ town in TX.

 
We visited Kreuz Market and Smitty's on Monday, April 15. Descriptions and pictures will come.

icecreamchick
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 12:32 PM
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Our meal at Royers' was really amazing. Good company, good food...and the "Pie Man" himself sat with us for a while!  Of course, I went easy on the main dishes so I could try lots of the desserts, and I wasn't sorry I made that choice. That said, Royers' makes an awesome steak, and I recommend that place to everyone!

HollyDolly
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 1:27 PM
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Great photos and a great trip. I've been to the New Braunfels Bucee's and it is huge. Now I've been to Bastrop,but never Elgin or Round Top.But i have heard of both places up there.

BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 2:20 PM
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That meal at Royer's may be the single most beautiful array of dishes I've ever seen!  What a feast.
 
And the fact that you invited The Travelin' Man to join you, thus risking the restaurant might be closed when you got there, showed great courage on your part.
 
I think you should end the report here; I don't see how it can get any better than it already is.
 
Buddy

ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 3:26 PM
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Ralph & Lori and the gang of five - what a night!  I loved your description, photos and Bud's choices!  A Roadfood night in heaven! 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 9:02 PM
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BuddyRoadhouse


I think you should end the report here; I don't see how it can get any better than it already is.


 
Well, you're not wrong. That could have been the high point of three Roadfood trips, and it deserves to be recorded in the annals of the greatest Roadfood meals, to never be forgotten. Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but we’ll remember, with advantages, what feasts we did that day. 
 
But we were in Austin for three more days, and people may take a moiety of pleasure in some of the remaining barbecue pictures. So I intend to continue with this chronicle.

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/15/13 10:07 PM
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Wow--pies at Royers--I'm so envious!  They're legendary and look/sound amazing.
 
I hope there will be pics of Texas CFS coming! 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Thu, 05/16/13 9:41 AM
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The next installment of this report should have pictures of chicken fried steak.

mr chips
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Thu, 05/16/13 10:04 AM
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If there is a heaven, i think u all went there. What a feast! what food! what company! good to see the photos of TTM and other favorite roadfooders i have had the privilege of mreting. it looks like such a marvelous time. Frankly meals like that are what this site is all about and what makes our road food meet-ups so special. Congrats to u all.Can't wait 2 hear more.
 

ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Thu, 05/16/13 2:13 PM
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I loved the CFS at Hoovers...one of my most favorite meals ever! 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/22/13 10:53 AM
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One of the sad truths of taking the lead in a trip like this is that people may follow you when you don't know where you're going. And that in one sentence is the story of how Steve joined the four of us at Threadgill's gospel brunch.

I thought that Threadgill's gospel brunch would offer us a way to get two desirable things at once: we could get good food at Threadgill's, and sample another slice of Austin's music scene.

 

Unfortunately, instead of getting two good things together, we got two mediocre things. The brunch buffet was perfectly serviceable, but it was just a brunch buffet, distinguished only by two things: it included migas (albeit not splendid migas), and it served salsa in the largest bowl I can recall used for serving salsa. There was probably two gallons of salsa in a large metal bowl.
The gospel was not what I had hoped for either. We were seated in a different room from the musicians, so it was hard to hear them over the sound of our own conversation. Because I didn't hear them well, I can't say much about the quality of the band, but I think that if they had gotten the room clapping, we would have heard it.


Chris suggested that we order the chicken fried steak, to get a sample of one of their specialties that wasn't on the buffet. It was certainly a good chicken fried steak, but I had been hoping for an outstanding one.



We finished at Threadgill's with enough time to pay a visit to John Mueller Meat Company. This visit itself was a fortuitous result of our trip to Royer's Round Top Cafe the night before, because Bud Royer had said that the best barbecue to be had in Austin was at Franklin Barbecue and John Mueller's. Now, I only know of changes in the Austin barbecue scene fromscrumptiouschef's posts to the Roadfood forums, but I had been under the impression that John Mueller had been kicked out of the business bearing his name. But because Bud Royer mentioned him, I did some research that morning: John Mueller had indeed been fired from one business earlier in 2013, but he had started a new enterprise, John Mueller Meat Company.

John Mueller Meat Company was a food truck in a fenced lot of its own.

  

They opened at 11am, but by 12:30, they were already sold out of brisket and side dishes. There was little line, so we speculated that they must have had a very large order. (The prices look cheap at first glance, but they're sold by the half pound instead of the pound - correcting for that makes them seem on the high side.)


Bereft of brisket, we ordered some luscious smoky turkey


and some sausage. The sausage had a very heavy hand with the black pepper, so much so that the bite of the pepper clobbered all the other flavors.


Steve thought through the lack of brisket and concluded that if he was to sample beef at John Mueller's, it would have to be in the form of the beef ribs. Then he added pork ribs (behind the beef ribs in this picture). Both species were very tasty, but the beef ribs were particularly notable, succulent and unctuous with rendered fat, with a flavor-packed bark.
 

 

icecreamchick
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 05/22/13 11:48 AM
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To clarify one thing: the music wasn't bad, we just couldn't really hear it. The food was fine, but not great, it's true. But the decor of Threadgill's is outstanding! I could've spent all morning looking at their collection of signs and old neon. However, the siren call of barbecue was not to be ignored, so I left with my ride. 
 
<message edited by icecreamchick on Wed, 05/22/13 11:50 AM>

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Thu, 05/23/13 11:34 PM
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Beautiful picture of CFS!  Glad it was at least good CFS, too.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sat, 06/1/13 6:14 PM
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We bade farewell to Steve and went off for a walking tour of downtown Austin. (We like walking tours in general on these tours; it gives us a little time to digest.) This was a fine walking tour, particularly because it was free, but I can't remember much about it at all.

I do remember the unabashedly pro-Confederate tone of the Civil War memorial.


And I remember the tale of Angelina Eberly. She saw the soldiers of the Republic of Texas coming into town to move the government records to Houston, and she fired the town cannon (damaging the land office) to rally the citizens of Austin to resist.
 

The tour ended at the Driskill Hotel, so we stopped in at the 1886 Cafe and Bakery in the Driskill for a drink and a snack. (And we noticed that Steve was in the Starbucks next door, so we invited him to join us.)

The two we chose were both fancy renditions of plebeian treats. The house made Moon Pie was not a smashing success. I don't recall that I've ever had a genuine MoonPie, so I lacked a basis for comparison, but this was not a pleasant treat; it tasted mostly of thick, crumbly graham cracker.


The banana pudding, however, was outstanding. (The description from the menu: "Layered with "Nilla" Crust and Banana Bread, Banana Sabayon, Warm Banana-Rum Sauce".) It had a superb, rich banana flavor, and a nice play of textures - this was one of the best things we ate on this trip.


Lori says of the Driskill Hotel: "It is now my ambition to spend a night (if not a weekend) in this beautiful old hotel. There are many stories of the Driskill Hotel being haunted; I looked and looked, but saw no ghosts."

I had marked time in the schedule on Sunday afternoon for us to visit Austin food trucks, but I didn't have particular food trucks in mind. Multiple Austinites recommended East Side King as a food truck par excellence, but their hours were wholly incompatible with this time - for example, at one location, they are open 5pm - 1:45am, Monday - Saturday. So instead we drove down to the South Congress food court to see what was to be seen there.

The first truck we saw was Burro, serving specialty grilled cheese sandwiches. I hope they have some good air conditioning, because the thought of being stuck in a metal can on a hot Texas day seems really fierce to me.


We ordered their special of the day, a grilled cheese sandwich with brisket from La Barbecue (formerly run by John Mueller), Redneck Cheddar (cheddar made with beer), and mango serrano sauce. It was good, but really quite mild. The brisket was very gently flavored, without the pepper punch of so much other barbecue we'd had. And though I could slightly taste the mango, I couldn't taste the serrano peppers at all.


We also ordered fried pears, because we hadn't heard of fried pears before. I think I had been expecting something batter-fried and tender, but these were batter-free and mostly hard. The frying softened the outsides a little, but mostly it just made them very hot - which was no virtue on a 90° day. I wouldn't order them again.


We ambled past the rest of the trucks (I remember Wurst Tex; I'm not sure whether we actually saw Mrs. P's Electric Cock or whether I've just constructed a memory based on Travelin' Man's description) but the thing that really appealed to us on this hot day was shaved ice. It appealed to others as well; the line was much longer than at any of the other food trucks.
 

Unfortunately, I didn't record which flavor Amy chose, but it was sweet and fruity.


I saw that they had a special "pickle" section on the menu, and I remembered that Central Texas was the origin of the Pickle Pop. So I ordered the Dilly Surprise: shaved ice with pickle juice and chunks of pickle. The four of us had widely diverging opinions on the Dilly Surprise. At one end of the spectrum, Lori thought it was freaky and unpleasant, but on the other end, I thought it was great. The sour pickle juice cut through the dusty taste of summer heat, and It wasn't at all sweet and cloying the way lemonade can be. But although I happily finished it, no one else seemed to be hoping I'd share more than a sample.


(In the course of writing this up, I've learned that the South Congress Food Truck is now gone; the food trucks have been sent elsewhere to make room for a new hotel.)
<message edited by Ralph Melton on Sat, 06/1/13 6:35 PM>

Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sat, 06/1/13 7:13 PM
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Where is the write  on Lockhart.  I was sorta looking forward to that?
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

myterry2
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 06/2/13 5:24 AM
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Great report...wish I was with you...pictures turned out A1...Thanx.

billyboy
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 06/2/13 5:43 AM
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Man, so jealous of this trip.  That meal at Bud Royers' place looked and sounded EPIC!  And I'm just about swooning over the barbque!  So glad you and Lori were able to break bread with so many RFers.  Just a great mix of people and places.  Love that David Komie billboard.  I think he should form a firm with a New York/Florida based attorney, Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro.  They could be Hammer & Rocks, LLP!  He had the craziest, in-your-face ads!
<message edited by billyboy on Sun, 06/2/13 5:45 AM>

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Sun, 06/2/13 10:40 AM
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Our trip to Lockhart was midday Monday - my chronicle has only made it to Sunday afternoon so far.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 06/12/13 10:20 AM
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One of the pleasant surprises of this Austin trip was how many dear friends we were able to meet there. I’ve already told of how we got to spend time with Steve, in spite of the fact that he lives in Florida. And weren’t really surprised by the chance to spend time with Adam, because he lives in Austin. But we were surprised when Adam told us that his parents were coming through Austin on Sunday evening, and we happily made plans to join them for dinner at Hoover's.
We didn't try to draw Frances and Elliott completely into our habits of sharing everything equally, but they did fit right in with our Roadfood group, cheerfully sharing their own plates and sampling ours.



I think the most exotic choice of the evening was Amy's drink selection: the beetarita. A margarita made with beets could be anywhere from very good to horrible; this turned out to be pretty good, but there are some good reasons that the beetarita is not as popular as its lime-flavored cousin.


I was skeptical of the smoked hamburger, because a hamburger usually wants to cook too quickly to pick up much smoke. But this smoked hamburger really did have a nice smoky taste.
The candied sweet potatoes were super sweet.


Fried catfish, flanked by fried okra, porky green beans, and bacon-laced mustard greens.


Chicken-fried steak, flanked by black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, and jalapeño creamed spinach. Chicken fried steak may be one of those foods that I like more in my imagination than on my plate (haluski is another). Although this was a very good chicken fried steak, it didn't satisfy my desire for a chicken fried steak against which all others would fall short.


Frances and Elliott did join us in sharing all the desserts. The peach cobbler was my suggestion, and again it wasn't quite what I wanted it to be; it was topped with a pie crust, and I much prefer a biscuit crust on my cobbler.


The pecan praline bread pudding was probably the best thing we ate at Hoover's.


I think we were all surprised that the buttermilk pie was served in a bowl. The filling was good, but my notes say that it was "a little strange" (without providing details, unfortunately). The crust was only so-so.


The banana pudding cheesecake was very good, but not nearly as good as the banana pudding we'd had at the Driskill.





I don't recall who suggested miniature golf after dinner, but it was a lovely suggestion. I love mini golf; it reminds me of summers with my grandparents and and simpler times that may or may not have actually existed. And Peter Pan Mini Golf turned out to be a nice course, with some interesting holes and funky statuary. I would have been most delighted if it had had a motorized windmill, but it is nigh impossible to find a motorized windmill in mini golf these days. It was a great pleasure to play a foursome on a warm evening, and I hope that everyone else was as happy as I was.
 

It took us a bit of looking to realize that this statue was depicting an armadillo atop a lone star atop a mustang's head with a cowboy hat flanked by a pair of cowboy boots. It's hard to get much more Texan than that.


I may have won the match on points, but Lori gets the glory: she got two holes-in-one in eighteen holes!


After that, a warm summer night called for ice cream, so we went out to seek a location of the local chain Amy's.


Although we had enjoyed Amy's ice cream at non-Amy's locations, our blackberry ice cream with cake mixed in was a disappointment, because it had large ice chunks.



Although we'd had a full day of eating, Chris incited us to just one more, because he noticed that near Amy's was Home Slice, which he had read to be the best pizza in Austin.


We spent quite a while discussing the figure depicted on the neon sign. She seems feminine at first glance, and the signage says "Queen of Pies" - but she sports a virile bushy mustache. (I later discovered that this is addressed on their website, in the Flash animation at http://www.homeslicepizza.com/queenofpies/ .)


I don't have enough experience of New York pizza to judge this slice by NY standards. It was flexible and a bit messy, but it was satisfying in a late-night way.



brisketboy
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 06/12/13 10:47 AM
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Tell ya what, I'm jealous of this trip and I live here.

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 06/12/13 10:58 AM
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Cute animation about the Queen of Pies!!!
 
Wow--Hoover's has been on my bookmark list for a long time.  I'm a big CFS and fried catfish fan so your pics looked GREAT.  I've been thinking about making smoked hamburgers in my Cameron smoker, and your experience just reinforced that. 
 
What a great trip!

icecreamchick
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Wed, 06/12/13 12:31 PM
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Ralph gives a false impression in his write up of the mini golf. Oh, don't get me wrong - the course was delightfully kitschy. 
 
But he makes it sound like I'm a good mini golfer. This is really, really wrong. I am terrible at it (usually), and I informed our companions that I sometimes get frustrated and cheat horribly (but not on the scorecard). For example, I kicked a ball up a steep incline that night. How I got two holes in one that night is beyond me. :-)
 
I also want to say that I sampled several flavors of Amy's Ice Cream at several different locations, and the icy blackberry was an anomaly. They make a superior ice cream, and I really loved a rocky-road style flavor purchased at their airport location. I neglected to write down the name or take a picture, sorry. I was too busy saying "Mmmm...do we really need to leave Austin?"
 
It is also worth recording that at Homeslice Pizza (which was yummy, despite my full stomach), there was a bumper sticker on the trash can that read "Don't Dallas up my Austin." I really do hope Austin stays weird forever. It's a great town!

billyboy
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue - Thu, 06/13/13 2:44 AM
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Beetarita, eh?  You're all braver souls than I!!  Those meat & threes sure do look good but I think I would ask for the gravy on the side of the CFS, for dippin' and to keep the crust from getting soggy.  Love that pic of you and Chris!!  He looks worried that you might toss him on the grill! 
The mini-golf place in my hometown (Rome, NY) always had a motorized windmill that endlessly taunted me as the ball would inevitably bounce off of it.  While I never acted this out, I sometimes imagined myself "going off" on that windmill like Adam Sandler and the Laughing Mini-Golf Clown in "Happy Gilmore! 
 
Lori, love that bumper sticker!  Anytime you want to come to NYC and do a pizza slice tour I'll be happy to put one together for you and show you my fair city.
<message edited by billyboy on Thu, 07/25/13 7:23 AM>

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