Thursday, March 18, 2010

BBQ foods with me: Texas Hill Country

Last weekend I was down in Texas Hill Country outside Austin for my friends wedding. And Hill Country means one thing, BBQ. Beef BBQ to be precise. We also had excellent Tex-Mex, naturally, but it's the BBQ I'll focus on here. Before this trip, my favorite BBQ was at Salt Lick, where some friends took me on a visit years ago. It's outside Austin, but well outside Austin. I'm talking complete boonies. You leave Austin and drive for a while through absolutely nothing until you approach the Salt Lick compound. The town it's in is called Driftwood, if that gives you any idea.  And the compound is huge.  The trip is worth it though.  Note, it's BYOB.  Oh, and I think it's all you can eat, a very dangerous proposition indeed.  This is the kind of rib sticking food that you will taste the residue of on your lips the next morning (which is awesome, if perhaps a bit painful you get so full). 
As luck would have it, the rehearsal dinner for the wedding I attended was at Salt Lick, so I got to revisit my beloved BBQ mecca.  While perhaps not quite as awesome as I remembered from my first trip, it was still awesome.  The sausage is my favorite.  Oh, and some band called Reckless Kelly played for us that night too.  I had not heard of them, but the Texas crew seemed very excited.  I'm not a huge country fan, but they were pretty good.

Perhaps my favorite morsel of the weekend was the barbacoa, aka cow head, or "face meat" as my friend describes it, that I got Saturday morning (ok, afternoon). It was so luscious; everyone deduced how much I enjoyed it from the moans emanating after each bite.

It might not look like much, but it is as pure a distillation of beef as you can imagine.  And where would you guess I obtained this beautiful food? That's right, the gas station next to the hotel, it says so in lights right on the sign. I was unfortunately a bit late for the breakfast tacos.

Shortly after enjoying my barbacoa, being in Texas, we headed for the shooting range outside Lockhart.  I don't hit the range often, but the few times I have have always been quite fun.  After playing with a wide variety of heavy artillery, a few of us rushed into Lockhart to squeeze in some of its world famous BBQ before heading back to get ready for the wedding.  We decided to hit Kreuz Market:

There was quite a line even at 2pm, but we braved it and here you can see the fantastically aromatic smoke filled room where we picked up our grub:

Weighing out our bounty:

The motherload:

We tried the regular sausage and the jalapeno sausage, as well as the brisket (requested extra fatty, naturally).  The sausage was fine, but not as good as Salt Lick's.  Here, it was all about the brisket.  Damn it was good.  Salt Lick entered the weekend as my favorite BBQ place, but Kreuz left the weekend with the title.  Moist, succulent, salty, smokey, perfect.  We deliberately chose to sit int the alcove connected to the magical smoke filled room where we got our meat rather than the unconnected main dining room to further enjoy the fumes while we ate.  My shirt smelled so much of smoke and beef I enjoyed it on the ride back to the hotel where I sadly had to change for the wedding and lose the lovely scent.  Oh, did I mention that there is no sauce?  You won't miss it.  Oh, also, no forks.  You eat with your hands.

Here at Kreuz a friend introduced me to the bubble gum flavored Big Red soda, which sounds kinda disgusting, which it is, but it's also kinda awesome at the same time and definitely grew on me as I grew closer to reaching the bottom of the bottle. I won't be stocking my fridge at home in NY with it or anything, but I suspect I'll enjoy it again next time I fund myself enjoying brisket in Lockhart.

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