Just thought I’d mention it.
I have to admit I got a kick out of the reaction I saw from some of you guys in the comments to my post about my trip to Austin. As I got a few requests for my foodie impressions from there, here’s a brief summary, in chronological order.
First stop was La Barbecue, in East Austin. To give you some sense of my priorities, we stopped there on the way from the airport to the hotel where we were staying. Like many of such places in Austin, it’s housed in an upscale food truck park.
It was hot as hell, by the way. I felt for the folks working inside there, but they were all friendly and helpful. Not that it mattered, because they could have been the biggest assholes on the planet and I still would have loved them for serving me this:
The first bite of that was as close to an Oh. My. Gawd. moment as I’ve had eating… well, anything. Brisket isn’t supposed to melt in your mouth, but that came damned close. The texture was matched by a wonderful smokey goodness and a terrific bark that, somewhat surprisingly wasn’t that strongly seasoned. The sausage, which they make as well, was great, but ultimately came off as a dining experience that would have been better spent on more brisket. By the way, La Barbecue also makes its own dill pickles, which were excellent and nicely complimented the meat.
Final grade: glorious.
The next day was my pilgrimage to Franklin’s, also in East Austin. We didn’t discover until we got there that it was only three blocks from the hotel where we stayed. (Marketing note to Sheraton: you might want to make a bigger deal about that.)
Franklin’s is the hot thing right now. How hot? Well, it opens at 11AM and we got there at 9:15 to discover a few people had the same idea:
That’s on a Friday morning. I thought we’d beat the working crowd, but it turned out that most of the line was like us, people visiting Austin who had to try the place.
For a joint with a long wait for its clientele, Franklin’s has management of the time down to a fine art. There are umbrellas to borrow to keep the sun out. There are chairs you can grab to settle down for the hours until you’re served. They put out a water station. A woman came around to sell cider, beer and coozies. Plus, you get to talk to your neighbors. All told, it’s almost like a tailgating experience. No, really.
And in the end, if it were analogous to a tailgating experience, I felt like when I got my order, my team had kicked some righteous ass.
Brisket, pork ribs and turkey. The brisket was easily the match of what I had the day before, although Franklin’s seasons the meat a bit more than La Barbecue. The pork ribs were excellent, but, again, kind of a place holder that would have been better spent on more brisket. The turkey was, surprisingly, a revelation: juicy, flavorful and nicely smoky. I would order that again.
Final grade: worth the four-hour wait and then some.
We took a day off from barbecue before heading to the town of Lockhart on Sunday. I was on an ambitious schedule, intending to sample the wares of three of the town’s best known places in a couple of hours.
The first of those was Kreuz Market.
Kreuz bills itself as the oldest continually operated barbecue joint in the state. This is its second location, as it’s moved from its original spot on the square in the heart of Lockhart.
Given the schedule, I did pace myself a little, ordering a little brisket and sausage.
Florescent lighting isn’t kind to barbecue, I’m afraid. The brisket, while not up to the standards of my first two stops, was still quite good. The flavor and the bark excelled, while the meat was not quite as tender and juicy as what I’d eaten in Austin. The sausage was terrific. If I made a return trip, I’d have that again.
Final grade: good, but you can do better.
From there it was a short drive to Black’s, which bills itself as the oldest, continually operated by the same family barbecue restaurant in Texas. (It seems that family disputes are a large part of the Texas barbecue story.)
Black’s is a little different from the other places I tried, in that in addition to the barbecue, they have a quasi-buffet set up where you can order lots of sides. I didn’t go down that path. I was there for the meat.
Damned good. The ribs were as tasty as the ones I had at Franklin’s, and while the brisket wasn’t quite as good as its counterparts in Austin, it was certainly nothing to sneer at. The bark, in particular, was excellent.
Final grade: if I had eaten here first, I would have been more impressed, but still, I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.
On to the final destination: Smitty’s Market. This was the original location for Kreuz until there was a family falling out. This is what you see when you walk in the front door.
The gentleman running the pit was a great guy. He let me walk around and check out what he was smoking at the time.
Anyway, I ordered — guess what? — fatty brisket and sausage.
Again, apologies for the lighting, which doesn’t do the food any favors. The brisket wasn’t up to the highest standards in that it wasn’t quite as tender and juicy as what I had at La Barbecue, Franklin’s or Black’s, but it was tasty. The sausage was great, though. Lockhart kicks some major ass in the sausage department.
Final grade: fourth place, which is more impressive than it sounds.
So there you go, a thousand words on Austin barbecue. Eating it was better than writing about it.
All their goals are still ahead of them.
Maybe Kirby won’t apologize for the win in the post-game presser.
If you’ve ever wondered what Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel” might sound like if 1,000 folks got together to perform it in a stadium, well… wonder no more. (h/t)
Damn, if that doesn’t put a smile on your face this morning, I’m doing something wrong. I know the logistics would make it near impossible to pull off, but I have this fantasy that it would make for the greatest college football halftime show evah.
BTW, Rockin’1000 has a website, if you’re interested.
When it comes to music, I’m pretty broad-minded about different opinions than mine. But one argument I can’t accept is that “River Deep, Mountain High” isn’t the greatest achievement of Phil Spector’s career. It marries his production to an incredible performance by Tina Turner.
The song’s backstory is fascinating.
Written by Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich, “River Deep – Mountain High” was among the first recordings that Ike & Tina Turner did for Phil Spector’s Philles Records. Spector was well aware of Ike Turner‘s controlling attitude in the studio, and therefore he drafted an unusual contract: the River Deep – Mountain High album and single would be credited to “Ike & Tina Turner”, but Ike was paid $20,000 to stay away from the studio, and only Tina Turner‘s vocals would be used on the record.
The track was recorded using Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production technique, cost a then-unheard-of $22,000, and required 21 session musicians and 21 background vocalists. Due to Spector’s perfectionism in the studio, he made Turner sing the song over and over for several hours until he felt he had the perfect vocal take for the song. Turner recalled, “I must have sung that 500,000 times. I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing.”
If you’ve never seen the official promo for the song, it’s awesome. (And, yes, Ike is in it.)
Wow. Just wow.
I’m way off the plantation with this — no, not that plantation — but, since you asked, here’s what my new car looks like.
It’s a 2016 base Porsche Cayman, and, no, I didn’t set out to get one with that color scheme in mind. Fortunately, it just worked out that way. School affiliation aside, the other benefit to Guards Red (that’s what Porsche calls it) is that I’ll never lose the car in a parking lot.
The car is an absolute blast to drive. It’s mid-engined, and if you’ve never driven a car with its engine in the middle, it’s hard to describe the sense of balance you have driving. Between that and the sound of the flat-six engine behind your head when you hit the throttle, it’s as intoxicating an experience as you can have behind the wheel without alcohol being involved.
The car’s not for everyone, I know. I’m just lucky enough to be at the stage in my life when I can get away with a two-seater that has modest storage capacity. The rest of the package more than makes up for its shortcomings.
I’ll leave the final word on it to the smug musings of Mr. Ferris Bueller.
Today, it’s the daddy of rock and roll car tunes, Chuck Berry.
My problem is that there are two Berry songs that qualify for a MPC. Only solution is to clip them both here.
First, here’s “Maybelline” live, from 1955.
And from a few years later, here he is performing “No Particular Place To Go”.
The man had an… um, interesting stage presence, to say the least.
Feel free to add on any musical driving selections you may have in the comments.