Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Texas BBQ Day Tour

A couple of weeks ago, Devon got this idea to take a Saturday to sample the best BBQ within driving range of Houston (meaning, within a couple hours of the city), and posed the idea to Noel and me to see if we were interested. We thought it was a good idea, so he invited like TWENTY other people, some of whom had an ounce of sense and said, "uh, no." For those of you still recovering from that day: I salute you.

We all got together at 8:30 at Devon's apartment; the idea was to get started as early as possible because Snow's, our first stop, is only open on Saturdays, from 8AM to "whenever we run out of meat."

This is Snow's.

Here's our group at Snow's.

This is one of Snow's BBQ pits. That's the owner there, showing us how everything works. As I understand it, the smoking process goes something like NOM NOM NOM NOM okay I admit it, I was not listening at all.

We arrived in Lexington (after many a false start, because of course) at around noon, and they only had brisket left at that point. They had gone through 800 pounds of meat - pork, beef, and chicken - before we even got there. I hesitate to say "only" brisket though, because OH MY GOD you guys. This is the best brisket I've ever had. This is some of the best food I've ever had, full stop.

And here is what 2 and 1/2 lbs of meat looks like.

One of my favourite things about the trip was the standardization of certain practices within the BBQ Restaurant Industry. For example, the restaurants never had plates: they just gave us each a square of butcher paper, a set of dinky plastic forks and let us have at it. Here's a picture of my plate at Snow's:

Aren't you glad I made you wait for the colour pictures?

At this point I was fully aware that we had three more stops, so I decided to just have a couple of bites at each place after this. Not everyone was as smart (DAVID). Our next stop was in Lockhart, which is about a 20 minute drive from Lexington. And of course we all had to get on our phones to look up directions...

...or (in my case), Twitter-document our experience:

"Thank god for Crackberries."

The drive to Lockhart was just gorgeous - we were all perfectly satiated, and on the freeway, we got a great show of of really lush fall colours in the trees; it was the kind of nature display you rarely see in Houston.

Of course, Noel's photos are all in sepia tones. Meanwhile, in our car, I chose to do this:

That's helpful.

Even though he had a badass GPS navigator IN HIS VERY PHONE, Devon eventually had to pull over and look at an actual map to find his way:

David saw us from the other car and sent me one of the best in-the-moment-texts I've ever received:

Oh, here's a picture of David from when his car pulled up next to ours in the parking lot while Devon consulted his sextant...doesn't he look like a drug dealer?

Who wants some crack?!

Finally, we got there. Smitty's!

The food here was really good, too, but it didn't have sauce like Snow's - and the saucier, in my opinion, the better. Even if some (unnecessarily combative) places do consider it "cheating". The sausages were delicious, but were really...explodey. Like when you bit into them they had a defense mechanism. A tasty defense mechanism that did not deter me at all, really.

Here is a guy preparing the sausages. MMMM.

Here's one of the meatcutters. He just looks like a badass, doesn't he?

Another standardized procedure of the BBQ Industry was to tie the sausages into these little U-shapes that each weighed a pound (or maybe half a pound?). Think about how much food we've eaten even this early in the game, and Jessie and I decided that it would be a good idea to buy some ice cream. I don't know why. But it was fucking just what the doctor ordered and I don't regret it at all.

Mmmm. Thick...meaty...explodes in your mouth. That's what she said.

After Smitty's, we noticed that our next stop, Kreuz Market, was a mere jaunt away, so we decided to walk it - "to try to burn off some calories" as though that were possible. As it turned out, the route we chose took us under a freeway into this terrible ditch and we had to cross a river and I was like AUGHHH and everyone had to wait for me, OF COURSE. But we did manage to find some cool (if you're 15) graffiti:

So obviously everyone had to have a picture with it:

This explains a lot, when you think about it.

We finally got to Kreuz and saw the following sign that we were in for no sympathy whatsoever:

There was another sign next to this one that said, "No sauce: We've got nothing to hide. No forks: They're at the end of your arms" and then something along the lines of "no napkins: you're wearing one on your back" and "no mercy: you came here for meat and we're gonna give you some goddamn meat so stop your crying, you little babies! What, are ya worried about your daily caloric intake? Take your $200 dungarees and go back to your mama in the city! (spits in the dirt)" You can tell just how much of a wall we were hitting at this time, because look at the sad little amount we ordered here:

But it gets worse. After cramming that down (and a second helping of ice cream - I CAN'T ANSWER FOR MY ACTIONS I WAS OBVIOUSLY CRACKED OUT ON BEEF), we had just one more place to visit. At this juncture, we'd all just started sweating grease freely, and none of us were smiling. Noel looked up after finishing off the ice cream and said, "does anyone else feel like a marathon runner? Like, we're just working through the pain?" and just as he said it I wondered if there was such thing as an eater's high. And then I wondered just how angry an actual Kenyan marathoner would be if he had heard what we had just said.

NEXT UP: City Market, in Luling. This is what we ordered.


After we picked away at this tiny pile of meat, we wiped our faces and hands as best we could, and packed up our stuff. Devon thought we should commemorate the event with another group picture - kind of a before and after thing, I guess? And here we are:

This is our group (minus Devon, who was holding the camera), wishing that we could all just lie down. Right here in the road, maybe.

As we dragged ourselves back to the cars, we passed a table stacked high with Girl Scout Cookies. A brownie poked her head out from behind a pile of Samoas and said, "Would you like to buy some - "

"NO THANK YOU" yelled David, almost tonelessly. That should paint you a vivid picture of our respective states of mind: David - DAVID - yelled at a little girl for offering him one of the most delicious treats known to mankind, and we couldn't even muster up the energy to chastise him properly. And yet, stuffed though we were, to the point of not being able to comprehend even ONE Thin Mint entering our collective system, the lesson of the day was: "NEXT year, we'll pace ourselves better."


drknoll said...

Great post! One thing I forgot to mention to you was the look of pure disdain that the meat counter guy gave us at the last place when we told him how much meat we wanted. "That's IT?"

Priya said...

HAHA and it was just the three of us standing there. I wonder what he would have thought if he knew that little portion was destined for SEVEN people.

L said...

Oh my goodness, what a BBQ n00b!

PS - i'm sad i wasn't a part of this trip. would you be up for a BBQ tour around austin/central TX in a few weeks?