Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Bar-b-Que Road Trip
As a Texan, it is a trip that all who love bar-b-que should make. You hear about the fights in Tennessee and Kentucky about wet versus dry, but you don’t hear in Texas. It does exist, however. At the Salt Lick, you’ll receive two different kinds of bar-b-que sauce: regular and habanero. At Kruetz, the giant sign on the wall says no bar-b-que sauce served or allowed in. It is like this several towns across the state. Like football, rivalries run deep.
I grew up with a grilling father, steaks, brisket, ribs, chicken, you name it, he can grill. But even better is he does bar-b-que. His brisket is my standard to every joint in Texas and no one has ever come close to it. Now I’ve never had his ribs because I started with Salt Lick ribs. Then again, I know they are spectacular because my dad is a great cook.
So I planned the destination, the small towns, the food that is renowned to see if it lives up to my standards as a foodie and bar-b-que connoisseur.
I warned my boyfriend and my colleague that we would be leaving early Saturday morning. Both were unhappy to hear this information because I’m an early riser and it breaks my Saturday routine for my boyfriend and I. Despite this I was very adamant about the time. Six thirty sharp or I leave without you. Of course I ran late.
First stop was Round Rock for donuts at where else but Round Rock Donuts. I remember watching Food Network one morning and seeing a spot on the donut establishment, knowing I should go. And after living in Austin three and half years, I got lost finding it. I followed 79 to the H-E-B and figured out I was lost. So we went back west and down what looked to be a main street called Mays street. Down the street we saw no Round Rock Donuts sign. I was becoming frustrated. I was hungry and defiantly craving donuts.
What else could I do, but ask for directions. With two men in the car, I decide to scrap my pride and go into the 7-11. I asked the dirty, balding manager where the building was. He told me I past it, “Go back up the street and when you see the Papa John’s take a left, its right after.” With these directions I found it easily. A friend warned me of a thirty minute wait she endured once, so I was awaiting that. However, there were open spots in the parking lot and the carline only had about 6 cars long. Where was everyone?
The woman informed me that usually by now the line is out the door, but at the time it was still within the building. Can you blame the OU/UT game? Maybe.
But there we were, a girl and two guys. Me with my three donuts, them with there three and 2 dozen donut holes. The first bite of my regular Round Rock Donut was so soft and delicate. You didn’t have to tear the donut for a bite, it just gently floated to your tongue, as my colleague, Chris put it, “It’s a little angel flying on my tongue.”
With our stomachs full, and murmurs of naps, we were back on the road. Back on to 79 to Taylor, for a walk and lunch. However, through Hutto, I saw the sign for Debbie’s Pies. Nothing special, but months ago, my Grandfather, who I also, take on bar-b-que trips with me, mentioned going to Hutto for pie and Taylor for bar-b-que. And here it was the pie place. But they didn’t open until 11 and it was only 9. So we skipped the pie.
We headed back on the road to Taylor, only to find it slightly deserted and empty. It wasn't a complete ghost town, but it sure wasn't Fredericksburg either. With time to kill we explored the town, discovering the cotton gin and warehouses, plus we met three guys taking pictures of the train. They recommended 2 bar-b-que joints besides the one we were going to visit. But we had come for Louie Mueller's and we stuck to it, although we probably should had listen to our new friends.Louie's is known for the brisket. It is suppose to be smoky, tender, and juicy. However, we found it dry and lacking any taste. There seemed to be a lack of rub. I found the same with the ribs. Dry. The only redeeming menu item was the pork butt that had the right rub, and perfectly tender. But still I didn't find a reason for a repeat visit.
A need for a Coke float propelled us toward our next destination. Brenham, Texas. Home of Blue Bell Ice Cream, but we some how missed it and we drove straight into the town square. Unlike Taylor, there were people shopping and enjoying their Saturday. We hit the Ice Cream parlor first, to satisfy the need for a Coke float, which I didn't get. I went my classic Mint Chocolate Chip milkshake, cause you can never go wrong there.
The sugar rush carried overto the rest of the afternoon until we hit Elgin. Then our stomachs rumbled. Last menu item, Southside Market sausage, the sausage that put Elgin on the map. Now Homesick Texan recommended that I go visit and eat there in June and I finally made it. And it wasn't disappointing. The sausage was mixed with the right amount of spices, not to peppery, just a hint. It wasn't burned, it was the way sausage should be. It was perfect.
So where to next, I don't know. Any suggestions for the next trip?