Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Major Development

Who doesn't like salt? Who doesn't like bacon? What about a combination of the two? What if I told you that such a product existed? Now, here is the twist: it is low sodium, zero calorie, zero fat, vegetarian and kosher. Yes, bacon salt exists. Their tag line is "Everything should taste like bacon." Beautiful.

I don't know how it is kosher. I don't know how it doesn't have calories. I don't know how it's vegetarian. I don't know how it is low in sodium. And I don't know how it has no fat. It's bacon. And it's salt. It's a combination of the two. A trult magical combination. But, somehow it works. Who am I to question it?

Bacon Salt comes in 9 flavors. Original, hickory, peppered, natural, apple wood, maple, cheddar, jalapeno, and mesquite. Apparently, you can put it on anything you would add salt to. There is even a product these fine people make called Baconnaise, which a bacon spread. Apparently, mayonnaise needed more bacon flavor. Who knew? Has anyone tried this product? Jordy? These are things I need to know.

I'm buying stock, if possible.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Meat and potatoes kind of guy

With graduation around the corner, I was discussing with my family where we would go out to dinner to celebrate. For me, it was an easy choice. A steakhouse. A nice filet, medium rare. Some sort of potatoes. A salad, some dessert. A single malt. Seems just about perfect. Call me old fashioned, but I'm just a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I'm not saying it has to be a rubbery steak and soggy french fries, but sometimes simple is better. At the same time, I don't want to dress up in a tuxedo or a polished beaver fur top hat to eat, but a nice happy middle ground seems just about perfect.

Question for you guys: If you were celebrating a special occasion, such as graduating from law school or some other event, what kind of food would you eat? Leave comments with your ideas. Thanks, and have a nice day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New addition to the blogosphere

Ladies and gents, I've recently joined another blog as a columnist. This is a Houston Texans blog, dedicated to all things Houston Texans and is the definitive Houston Texans blog. My first story has been submitted and should be posted soon. This blog, if I say so myself, is work friendly, unlike some other Texans blogs, which are heavy on profanity and short on analysis and insight. I can read the newspaper myself, other blogs. Feel free to tell me something that's not there. Anyway, check out the other blog if you're interested in the Texans, or, if you're like me, dependent on the team's success for your self worth.



Monday, March 23, 2009

When Pat Green Jumped the Shark

(Photo caption: Pat Green, former Texas country singer)

No, he's not dead. He's just no longer a Texas singer, in my eyes. Pat Green is now a sell out, a Nashville pop singer, worthless. You choose. It's official: Pat Green jumped the shark.

I'll admit it, I was Pat Green fan. He was really good in concert, especially at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He has a lot of good songs, including 3 days, Wave on Wave, Somewhere Between Texas and Mexico, Way Back Texas and Dixie Lullaby. Pat Green has some truly outstanding Texas Country music. It's not just because he sings about what makes Texas Texas. He had great songs that were mindless drivel.

But, recently, he has jumped the shark. I contend it began when he toured with huge sellout Kenny Chesney (as well as epic jackass) in 2006. Songs such as Let Me and Country Star are truly crap-tastic, especially Country Star. In that songs, it seems like he is making fun of d-bags and sell outs while becoming that same kind of d-bag and sell out himself. Now, the reason I like country is because of the stories in the songs. Reckless Kelly, Randy Rogers Band, Robert Earl Keen, Aaron Watson, etc. all sing true country songs. So do Willie Nelson, Pam Tillis, George Jones, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, among countless others.

Recently, Nashville music is all generic, mass produced, poppy, whiney and bad. Examples inlcude Tim McGraw, Dirks Bentley, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley. Pat Green now belongs in the second group.
The man jumped the shark.

(Note: Click the links above, people)

Friday, March 20, 2009

BBQ Road Trip Day 8: End of the Line

(Caption: This was the meal we all shared in the best BBQ place in Texas. Read on to find out where that was.)

The last day of the BBQ came way too quickly, but we were able to end on a high note. Luling, Texas is home to City Market, one of the top 5 places in Texas. Unlike Pappy's, this place did not disappoint. The food was served fresh out of the pits on butcher paper and without forks. The city market was packed when we left a little before noon. The brisket, ribs and sausage were all very good. While this place was not as good as Kreutz's in Lockhart, Texas but was miles ahead of Pappy's, which should really be called Crappy's. But I don't want to be negative (it could be a first for me). Overall, we all have City Market between a 7.5 (Wes and I) to an 8 (Leighton).

Our consensus for best places and also for best items for the trip follows:

1. Kreutz's took the top spot by having the best sausage (Prize! for best sausage) and a close second (oh so close) ribs and brisket. The lack of sauce was not a problem. In fact, sauce was not even needed. Crackers in addition to bread was a great addition (Prize! for best innovation). Lockhart, Texas is home to the best BBQ in Texas.

2. Snow's in Lexington, Texas was very good. The brisket and sauce combination was very good and this was the best brisket we had. This was the #1 spot coming in and was narrowly edged out. Eating BBQ at 9:15am because the food runs out soon thereafter was also an interesting experience. I only wish the sausage was better and the prices were a little more in line with some of the other places. Nonetheless, this was the best brisket (Prize!) and was truly great.

3. Louie Mueller's in Taylor, Texas was our first stop and was a great start to the trip. The rubs were heavy on pepper and I loved it. Best ribs (Prize!) and the best quirk (Prize! for Shiner in frosted mason jars).

4. City Market in Luling, Texas was also very close to third. Spots 3 and 4 could really be a 3A and 3B but I chose to do it this way. The beans were very good and was the best side (Prize) we had the whole trip.

5. TC's Ponderosa is the last in our top 5. The sausage was very good and came in 4 varieties. The brisket and sauce combination was also very good. This was a distant fifth, but not because of anything it did or didn't do. The other places, specifically the top 2, were just that good. TC's is noteworthy because they use propane instead of wood. The meat are still very tender but are missing the smoke flavor that mesquite, oak or pecan would have added. Still, a good BBQ place. If you're ever in Dickens, Texas, check it out. It's not hard to miss as there is nothing else in Dickens, Texas. This is good small town BBQ.

BBQ Road Trip Day 7

We got back on the road again. (click the link, people) Thursday we headed to Pappy's in Monahan's, Texas. We drove about 4 hours from El Paso, Texas to eat at his place in a tiny Texas town. It was included in Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ places in Texas that inspired our trip. Pappy's should not have been included. I suppose something could be said for the three of us being spoiled on great BBQ over the past week, but Pappy's simply did not measure up. Besides the utter confusion by the geniuses behind the counter when we tried to order anything other than their BBQ plates, the experience was anything but funny. The brisket was not very tender, the ribs were only ok and the sausage was Eckridge Farm. The potato salad came from Sam's, as did the other sides. The (self-proclaimed) world famous apple dumplings were, in a word, crapola. Everything tasted store bought. It doesn't even get its own customized review. Wes gave this place a 4 and described it as "generic." Mountain man Leighton gave it a 3.5 and described it as "store-bought" while I gave it a 2.5 and described it as "disappointing."

The best part of the day was the long drive to San Antonio. At one point, we went nearly 90 miles without turning and saw only 3 other vehicles. San Antonio, when we got there, was a lot of fun and we ate some more good Mexican food, including puffy tacos.

We were all somewhat disappointed that the road trip was nearly over and had gone by so fast. It was truly a great escape from reality and a much needed diversion before the grind of finals and the bar exam.

BBQ Road Trip Day 6

After a long day of driving on Tuesday, it was good to relax with Trey in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday. We had a good Mexican lunch with some medium-sized margaritas. Technically, we did not have BBQ this day, but we did have some fajitas and tacos al carbon. I think it counts. Just being able to hang out was great and we were able to break up the two long days of driving.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BBQ Road Trip Day 5

Today, we broke away from our Austin nest and headed to West Texas to eat at TC's Ponderosa in Dickens, Texas. Suffice to say, Dickens, Texas is truly in the middle of nowhere. There was the gas station in which the BBQ joint was located, an out of business feed store and a restaurant open only on Friday and Saturday in Dickens, Texas. The population was around 340 people. Not exactly a bustling metropolis. Nonetheless, the BBQ was good. The scenery was also quite nice.

Leighton: This place is the quintessential Texas BBQ joint. Its truly in the middle of nowhere. Dickens, Texas consists of one road, a few structures, and a big hill in the background. Classic small town Texas. The BBQ was quite good as well. This place has been run by 2 very cool women for the past 10 years. And they cook some great sausage and brisket. The jalapeno and cheese sausage was the best, followed by the hot link and traditional German sausage. The sauce was good, nice and thick, with a little kick to it. The place definitely got a boost when one of the owners came out and gave us a free link of sausage. Very nice of her. And the free sausage was very good. Overall, I rank this place a 7.5.

Wes: The brisket was good, but lacked the smokey flavor I have come to expect. As was said above, all of the sausages were very good. The atmosphere defined small town Texas, but limited our total enjoyment. They skimped us on pickles (Vik ate all of them) and the truck stop set-up rushed our meal. Vik was busted for trying to sneak in a beer. 7

Vik: The sausages were all very good, especially the jalepeno and cheese version. The sauce was very good. The brisket was pretty good. It was very tender but did not have much of a smoke flavor. Wes does not recall exactly what happened in the same manner that I do, but it's ok. The sides other than the potato salad were useless. TC's was noted for having exceptional pineapple pudding but they did not have any when we arrived. It should be noted we drove over 13 hours today.

We are in El Paso now. Before we leave, I'll leave you with some funny quotes.

Leighton -- Is that all whiskey? Vik -- No. Some of the ice melted.

Leighton, who has not shaved in 4 days, declared himself to be a mountain man.

Finally, I nearly ran over a dog today that was trotting down the highway in the middle of nowhere, Texas. I was able to avoid it, but it was sad.

Monday, March 16, 2009

BBQ Road Trip Day 4: The Top of the Mountain?

This afternoon, a truly glorious Texas spring day (makes you glad to be alive and a Texan) Wes, Leighton and I headed out to Lockhart, Texas to eat at Kreuz's Market. Just look at the sky. Beautiful. This place had been in operation since 1900. Without giving too much away from each of the reviews, we may have reached the top of the mountain. Simply amazing. Kreuz's does not have sauce or forks (they say it is at the end of your arm). They do have 2 kinds of sausage, brisket and ribs (although beef ribs are only available on the weekends). The beans were good. An interesting addition was the saltines. Finally, before we get to the reviews, it should be noted that the building is enormous. I mean enormous.

Leighton: Kruez's can be summed up in a single word: bold. They do not offer any BBQ sauce or forks for that matter. Now, I think BBQ sauce is an integral part of the experience, so to not offer any is quite a brazen move. However, this place met, and surpassed, all of my expectations. The jalapeno and cheese sausage was probably the best single item of BBQ I have had this whole trip. The brisket, both the lean and fatty, were excellent. Being Texan born and bred, I prefer the fatty, or full flavor, brisket, but I must say the lean was great here. The pork ribs and jalapeno beans were very tasty as well. As Vik eluded to, we might have found the pinnacle of BBQ places today. While other places may beat Kruez's on a single meat dish, Kruez's was strong on every single BBQ item. An all around incredible experience. Overall, I rank it a strong 9.5.

Wes: Everything was fantastic. The jalapeno and cheese sausage was phenomenal and was by far one of the best portions on the entire trip. Both briskets were exceptionally tasty and proved to serve the "snacker" well. I was not expecting this quality from such a large operation, but Kreuz's proved to be the best yet. Nothing is finer than an ice cold Shiner. 9.5

Vik: These fine gents spoke to a lot of what I was going to say, so I'll (try to at least) keep this short. Incredible. Both briskets were great. The sausages were great, the ribs were great, the beans were great, everything was great. It was the best BBQ I've ever eaten. 9.5 out of 10. I don't know what could have made it perfect, but this was as close as anything could have come.

I'd also like to add a short bit about the taco truck around the corner from Jon's place. Breakfast tacos are a dollar and are freshly made. Really good, and a nice bonus on the trip.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

BBQ Road Trip Day 3

Before we get to the BBQ analysis, there are a few more comments I'd like to bring to your attention. This morning, I noticed I had a new blog follower (Hi Katy). I now have 11. I told Wes and Leighton, jokingly, that if I can only get one more I could call myself the blog Jesus. Wes pointed out it was Sunday. I was undeterred.

On the way to Salt Lick, we noticed a Hindu temple. Leighton said that they have all sorts of weird "stuff" out here. I raised my hands in indignation.

So, on a beautiful Austin day, we drove to Driftwood to eat at Salt Lick. It's not in the top 50 but it is one of the places people talk about in the Austin tradition, along with Stubb's, Rudy's, Green Mesquite, etc. Anyway, on to the reviews.

Leighton: Let me start off by saying I have been to Salt Lick before, but it is an Austin BBQ staple so we had to add it to the list. Salt Lick had an uphill battle because it is a whole different category of BBQ joint. The others we have been to have all been small town places and Salt Lick is more along the mass produced BBQ line. That being said, the ribs and sausage were quite good. However, the brisket was not near as good as the other places. Salt Lick's BBQ sauce is fantastic. It has a strong honey mustard flavor to it, which I love. And unlike everyone else, I liked the habanero version of the sauce better. There were several negatives though. The service was not good, and I am big on service. The sides (potatoes, beans, and cole slaw) were not very good either. Also, the cobbler was just decent, but still cost like 7 bucks. One good note is that Salt Lick is BYOB, which added a bit. Overall I rank it a 6.5. Salt Lick is decent, but it could not compare with the bastions of BBQ that we have experienced thus far.

Jon: I've also had Salt Lick before, though I hadn't been to the actual restaurant. We get catered barbecue at my job every now and then, and Salt Lick has been head and shoulders above the others. After visiting Salt Lick proper I may want to stick to getting it closer to home. The food was good, but while I don't usually care about "the atmosphere and the attitude" when I go out to eat, Salt Lick suffers in comparison to yesterday's trip to Snow's. I won't go into great detail, but there's something to be said for eating barbecue off of butcher paper rather than a plastic three-compartment plate. The ribs were very good, and while the brisket was also good it wasn't nearly as tender as Snow's. I liked the sausage a little more than yesterday's, though there were a few pieces where the casing was tough. There also, unfortunately, wasn't any pork (at least not as part of the meal we had). The potatoes and cole slaw we had were, in a word, bland. The real standout at Salt Lick is the sauce. It's a little thicker than the sauce at Snow's and has a good balance of tangy and sweet. In the end, when I compare the meat at the two places I've had the privilege to visit on this strip, Salt Lick is a level below Snow's. Rating: 7

Wes: Great for the massive quantities of food they produce, but not in the same league as the other joints on this tour. 6

Vik: I also had not been to Salt Lick before, but had heard good things and had seen it on TV before. The ribs were very tender and fell off the bone. Sausage was very good, as was the sauce and bread. The brisket was pretty good but not anywhere near as tender as the other places. Don't get me wrong, it was good but just not fall apart tender. 7 out of 10.

See the photo above. Wes came up with a great idea for Super Bowl and other such viewing parties. A piece of brisket, along with sauce, a pickle and onion on top of one piece of bread. Not the whole sandwich, but open faced. Keep in mind this "snacker" is to be eaten in one bite. Don't try and eat a bigger piece in one bite, never mind if somebody says no way you can eat that and you say sounds like a wager to me and you eat it all and when you try to chew it you nearly vomit. Don't do that. Make smaller pieces. Trust me.

In other news, we played mini golf in the Barton Springs area. All I'm saying is, when we played a dollar per hole, I ended up winning $16. I'm just saying.

Finally, we went to eat dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant named Dong Nai. Jon begged me to act like an adult. I did pretty good until the food came out. I remarked "here comes a boat load of food." I did not mean to (hello Thai), but will admit that I did, nonetheless, make a joke about boat people. For that, I'm sorry. On a final note, that was one of the most PC things I said all day. None of those can be published here; this is a family blog.

BBQ Road Trip Day 2: After Snow's

As we were leaving Snow's, an old man remarked that based on the amount of food we had eaten, we must work for the railroad. I'm not sure what that means, but I found it quite funny. Either we ate a lot of food, or the rail road pays well. Either way, we are taking it as a compliment.

Anyway, Saturday night we went to the Austin Rodeo. We saw Extreme Bull Riding and the Randy Roger's Band. The band was awesome. They played for 90 minutes or so, including all their hits. Heckuva show. There was also a girl who was incredibly drunk who fell down the stairs. One of us, and I won't say who (it wasn't me) was ready to perform CPR.

The bull riding was equally impressive. One guy was thrown off the front of the bull after their heads collided. He was knocked out. The replay showed him limp as a rag doll when he hit the ground. In addition, we also ate corn dogs. One of the greatest inventions of all time. Jon (posts as Frink) may be allergic to corn dogs as he sneezed for a solid 3 minutes after his first bite of corn dog. Gross.

In other news, there was a young child who participated in the Mutton Bustin' competition who looked exactly like a young Leighton, only with his hair (not one out of place!!) parted (straight as a razor part) on the other side of his head. He was even wearing cuff links (that may not be true).

Photo caption: Wes poses with one of the Austin Rodeo mascots.

Salt Lick in Driftwood for BBQ today. Should be great. Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

BBQ Road Trip Day 2

7:40: Vik -- I'm gonna show you a trick. Leighton -- Is it re-using yesterday's undershorts? Vik -- (pulls up pants)

After chilling on a rainy and cold Friday night, we headed off at 8:05am for Lexington, Texas, home of Snow's BBQ. Snow's is only open Saturdays from 8am until they run out of food, which is usually around 11am. We arrived after nearly killing a buzzard and flying down some country.

Leighton: Seeing as how Snow's was ranked #1 in Texas Monthly, we all had high expectations for this place. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint! We had brisket, ribs, sausage, and pork which were all very good. The brisket was very tender with just the right amount of fat and the pork was incredible. I must say that the pork ribs were not as good as Louie Mueller's. However, the side dishes at Snow's were top notch. We had a mayonnaise based potato salad (I usually prefer a mustard based but was still great) and they also had free beans which were fantastic. Finally, the BBQ sauce was just perfect. It was a fine mix of sweet, spicy, and tangy and added a great finishing touch for the main course. All in all, I give Snow's an 8.5.

Wes: The shack on Main Street met all my expectations. The brisket and sauce combination was fantastic. Only negative, no alcohol. 9

Jon: I'm the requisite northerner for this leg of the group (I'm from Virginia), so I didn't grow up eating great barbecue like these people. I've had good barbecue, and I've had very good barbecue since I moved to Austin, but I wouldn't really call myself a connoisseur at this point in my life. Snow's is one of those places you have to be looking for to find. While Leighton was ordering the meat and chatting up the staff Vik decided he wanted more brisket. As it turns out, we ordered way too much barbecue, which to be honest is better than the alternative. The best thing about Snow's is how tender the meat is. The meat fell off Vik's rib when he shook it a little (though who knows why he was shaking his rib), and the pork and brisket were both cooked really well. The brisket got the most praise from the group, but I'm gonna go to bat for the pork for a minute. It was so tender and had this great smoky flavor that didn't overwhelm the meat. I wasn't as big of a fan of the sausage as some of the others, but it was very good. The sides of potato salad and beans were both also very good, but let's be honest; this a barbecue road trip (or so I was told), so the barbecue should be the main consideration. Luckily, Snow's set a very high bar. Rating: 8.5

Vik: Rating -- 8.5. This was an incredible BBQ place. The brisket was the perfect blend fat and lean meat. The sausage was pretty good. The ribs were also good, but not as good as Louie Mueller's. There was a pork loin that was great as well. The sauce was much better than Louie Mueller's. I only wish there was more pepper and spice on the rub. From what I could tell, the rub they used was red chili pepper, salt and black pepper (just not enough of it). Even though we arrived at 9:05 am, there was a line and people gathered outside. Great BBQ.

I'm also hoping the weather improves soon. Not being able to go outside in Austin is somewhat disappointed, although I'm sure tonight's rodeo with the Randy Rogers Band and extreme bull riding (how that could be more extreme, I don't know). More to come later.

Friday, March 13, 2009

BBQ Road Trip Day 1

11:21. Leaving Houston on Friday the 13th. In the rain. Not worried, however. Optimism is high. Our destination is Louie Mueller's (pronounced "Millers") in Taylor, Texas for a late lunch.

11:29 Leighton -- You know a buzzard's defense mechanism is to throw up? Vik -- I realize we're going to small towns in Texas, but I don't plan on being in any situation where provoking a buzzard is an option.

11:50 Vik -- Guys, I forget the Febreeze. We might need it. Leighton -- What are you planning back there? Vik -- You never know man. Wes -- Are you wearing a thong? Vik -- Good things these are leather seats.

12:03pm Vik -- I'm getting hungry. Leighton -- Me too. Wes -- I have some crackers in the back to tide you over, big guy. Vik -- That won't do. At this point, it has to be beef.

12:18 Driving through Brenham. Sure am glad we moved to Houston back in 1992. Thanks Mom and Dad. Vik -- There is a Chili's!! Leighton -- Brenham is booming, man.

1:40 Arrived at Louie Mueller's in Taylor Texas. Here is everyone's review, in their own words.

Wes: Shiner bock in a frosted mason jar. Perfect. 8 out of 10.

Leighton: 7.5 Pork ribs were very good. Covered in a ton of pepper and enough grease to drown a small child. Two kinds of brisket: moist (aka fatty) and lean. The moist was excellent, a lot of flavor. I found the lean brisket to be too dry for my taste. Sausage was alright, my least favorite of the stop. Potato salad was just right, maybe too much celery. The surprise of the stop was the pickles. With their full flavor they were the perfect combo with the BBQ. I must say that I was disappointed in the sauce. IT was vinegar based and way too runny for my taste. All in all a great first stop. Top quality family run joint. Actually met the third generation owner, very nice guy.

Vik: 7.5. Pork ribs were great. Unlike Leighton, I liked the lean brisket better. The moist one was too fatty for my taste. I do agree with Leighton tat the sausage was only ok. It was too loose of a consistency for me. It just fell apart when you cut into it. The atmosphere was great, even if it was cold because Leighton hid my jacket in the car. We met the third generation owners, 2 sons of Bobby Mueller. One served us and the other spoke with us at length. We told them that we were on a bbq road trip for spring break and they thanked us for including them on our trip. We learned about the history of the place and the area. For some reason they were under the impression that we were from Texas Monthly and doing a bbq inspection. Wayne Mueller gave us a media kit after running back to his office for it. Overall, it was a great experience.

3:00. We went to Wes's family land in Jonah, Texas. Saw some really wet cow dogs and an old dairy barn. Too cold to stay much longer that the time required to look around. On to Austin, Texas.

3:35. In Georgetown, Texas. Met with Travis and Meredith Holmstrom (Wes's brother and sister in law) along with their son William and 2 huge dogs. Leighton was almost castrated by a golden law named Brandon. He would have had to change his driver's license.

8:05 Luke Wilson walks out of Guero's Taco Bar. Delicious Tacos were then consumed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Texas Heritage Tour 2.0: BBQ Road Trip

So, spring break (Spring Break?) starts tomorrow (or this evening, if you don't have Friday classes [or whenever you decide to stop going to classes]) and this is the last spring break of my life. Sad, a little, admittedly. But, along with Leighton, I decided to make the most of this week off from class and work. After discussing the merits of a road trip across the country and stumbling across Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ joints in Texas, we struck lightning in a bottle. Road trip across Texas for BBQ. We spent a few hours mapping and planning. We have our five thousand country songs on our mp3 players (Note: it's not a Zoon, because we are not losers) and are set to leave Friday morning.

I am planning on blogging from the road with updates on BBQ, small towns in Texas and general shenanigans. Things will only be editted for language, as I'm sure some people (probably me) will get possibly (its pretty much a sure thing) carried away. Upon our return, we will provide our top 7 BBQ joints from the trip. Why 7 you ask? Well, 7 days on the trip, it just seems to work. (Also, 7 is a much better number than 8).

Before we leave, however, I will do a pre-season top 7. Feel free to discuss. Also, and I always took pride in this, but people from Texas always (almost always, at least) say they are from a city, Texas or are going to a city, Texas. For example, when Vince Young was being interviewed after winning back to back Rose Bowls and a National Championship, he said he was bringing the trophy back to "Austin, Texas." My brother was born in Brenham, Texas. I go to school in Houston, Texas. It's just how it is. I can dig it (which is becoming my new phrase of the week).

1. Lexington, Texas. Snow's BBQ. Only open Saturday morning from 8am till they run out of food. The top place in Texas, according to Texas Monthly. Run by an 80 year old woman. Supposed to be the best brisket in Texas. It's the favorite, going in.

2. Lockhart, Texas. Kreuz BBQ. Supposed to have the best sausages in Texas. You don't even get a fork at Kreuz BBQ. Forget a plate. You get your meal in butcher paper along with an optional plastic knife. Use bread or tortillas to dig in. The spot that will take the top spot if Snow's fails to deliver.

3. Driftwood, Texas. The Salt Lick. Not much needs to be said here. This reliable joint outside of Austin is annually on the lists of top BBQ places in Texas. It is also one of the last open pit places in Texas.

4. Taylor, Texas. Louie Mueller's BBQ. This is the darkhorse to win the championship. All-beef jalepeno sausage, two kinds of brisket. Screen door. Order by the pound. No plates, only butcher paper. This is the way BBQ was meant to be eaten.

5. Dickens, Texas. TC's Ponderosa. Even though Dickens, Texas is awful close to the Sand Aggies, TC's is a beacon of BBQ light in the deserts of West Texas.

6. Luling, Texas. City Market. Another dark horse to rise up in take the top prize. Only serving brisket, ribs and sausage. Again, no forks. But you won't need a fork here. The same pit has been smoking post oak wood for more than 50 years.

7. Monahans, Texas. Pappy's BBQ. You're asking yourself, how could a place called Pappy's be last? Well, it's not last, it's just number 7 on our top 7. It's still good. Also, we will be leaving the West Texas town of El Paso (Texas) before eating at Pappy's. Just thought I'd get that Marty Robbins song stuck in your head.

Just for the record, the worst BBQ in Texas is served at the cafeteria at the Criminal Justice Center in Houston, Texas. Just awful. They should be slapped.

Friday, March 6, 2009

And even more on Shaq

Over his admittedly illustrious career Shaquille O’Neal has proven himself one of the most dominant big men in the history of basketball. He’s a 4-time NBA Champion, the 2000 NBA MVP, was the ‘92-’93 NBA Rookie of the Year, has been a NBA Finals MVP three times, was the NBA scoring champ twice and has earned a trip to 15 All Star games.

You can’t argue with that success. What you can say, though, is that he’s an obnoxious ingrate that doesn’t deserve a lick of it.

Shaq hit the genetic lottery and he’s translated that into a remarkable career. Good for him. But it’s been a decade since we can actually say he worked hard for an entire season. He takes more games off than any player in the league and more often than not shows up to camp woefully out of shape, content to rest on that raw physical supremacy and never push himself to his fullest potential.

He’s never bothered to learn to shoot free throws. He hasn’t made a 12-foot jumper in about four years. He’s never made an effort to foster team chemistry or to get along with teammates or coaches. He’s never put the team before his own bloated, sweaty ego.

He’s feuded with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, ending a Lakers dynasty that could have been one of the best in NBA history. He’s made racist remarks about Yao Ming. He’s dug on nearly every former coach and former city and team he’s played for. There’s a reason fans in every city he’s ever played in have learned to hate Shaq shortly after his departure (usually by virtue of a trade demand): he’s an ass. Be careful where you devote your idolatry, Phoenix. You’re next. Nobody in the NBA better personifies petulance than the Diesel.

Of late he’s been spouting off with renewed vigor. His idiot man-child brain unable to process his own increasing irrelevance, he’s lashing out. Hot off his unprovoked attack on NBA good-guy Chris Bosh in which he called the Toronto Raptors center, “the RuPaul of big men,” Shaq proved to be just getting warmed up. O’Neal tried to start a war of words with the gregarious Dwight Howard prior to their meeting on Tuesday, one which Dwight wisely didn’t want anything to do with. Dwight, the NBA’s current best center despite Shaq’s indignance, and the Magic prevailed. Poor Shaq didn’t like it. The big man’s response proved the axiom: jealousy is ugly.

After the game Stan Van Gundy, his former coach from Miami, expressed dismay at a Shaq flop. It’s understandable because not only is O’Neal the biggest man on the floor but he’s also been the most outspoken critic of flops in the NBA for ten years. Van Gundy said after the game, “I was shocked, seriously, shocked. And very disappointed cause he knows what it’s like. Lets stand up and play like men, and I think our guy did that tonight.”

Shaq’s response? Take gutless, shallow, and pedantic shots at everybody he could think of from Stan Van Gundy to his brother Jeff to Patrick Ewing. The transcript is below. I’ve never understood why he gets such a free pass for his childish behavior and remarks and why the NBA blogosphere is always all-too-eager to yuck it up at the latest instance of “Shaq being Shaq,” but I think we can all agree that this time he’s not just crossed but obliterated the line of decorum, professionalism and adult behavior. The man is an insufferable jackass by any definition of the term.

Can we finally stop shrugging his antics off and call a spade a spade? Shaq is the most classless professional athlete in America.

Thanks to C.Y. Ellis over at Hoops Vibe for the following transcription of Shaq’s response to Stan Van Gundy:

He (Howard) came with the same old, stale Patrick Ewing move so I tried to stand there and take the charge. The new rules say if you come through, you fall. But as I fell, I realized that it was a flop and it reminded me of Coach Van Gundy’s whole coaching career. The one thing I despise is a frontrunner. First of all, none of his players like him. When it gets tough, he will become the master of panic like he did before and he will quit like he did before. The one thing I despise is frontrunners. Yeah, he’s got a young team playing good but don’t be a frontrunner. Him and his brother and even the legend on the bench ain’t done what I’ve done in my whole career. So flopping would be the wrong choice of words.

I just tried to take a charge. The (expletive - deleted) rules say you can’t stand there and get hit. You’ve got to fall. He got the same old stinking move that Patrick Ewing has been doing his whole career. I went down, got up and didn’t complain. I see him and Stan complaining the whole game because they’ve got to. Remember, I’ve done more than him, his brother and Patrick Ewing.

Stan Van Gundy reminds me of a broke navigational system. He knows everything about everything but ain’t never been nowhere. Think about that. If I’m right here and I type in the address of where you’re going, I know where it’s at but I’m not going there.

When a bum says some shit about it and I respond, you can (expletive - deleted) cancel that cuz I know how he is in real life. We’ll see when the playoffs start and he (expletive - deleted) panics and quits like he did when he was here (in Miami). And you (expletive - deleted) print it just like that. Do I look soft to you like you can say something and I’m not going to say something?

Notice they didn’t play me straight up. We’ll see how far they go cuz I know Stan. I said this a long time ago but I was actually talking about him: ’When the general panics, the troops will panic. Like in business, when the head panics and takes out all his stock, what happens?

All the players hate him. The players don’t even like him. I hate frontrunners. I really do. I don’t like any frontrunners. There’s a pecking order involved. I’ve been there six times.

I ain’t going to let no bum like him rip me and not say anything back. You can cancel that (expletive - deleted) all the way. Usually, I let (expletive - deleted) go. Not that. Not him. Hell no.

The rules say when a guy goes through your chest you’ve got to fall to get the call. It was a flop. You’ve watched me play for 17 years. I don’t play like that.

I’m not going to sit around and let nobodies take a shot at me and he is a nobody to me. And if he thinks he can get in a little press conference and take shots at me like I’m not going to say something back, he’s got another thing coming.

Usually you let things go, Shaq? Strange, I can’t remember that ever happening.

For me it took place long ago, but hopefully for many others that’s the final straw. Hopefully he’s ensured that we don’t remember Shaq for any of his on-court greatness, but as one of the biggest jackasses in sports history. A big, hyper-sensitive child.

Recently, Shaq knocked down Dwayne Wade towards the end of this weeks Phoenix - Miami game. In trademark Shaq fashion, instead of offering a hand to help his former teammate up (the guy he rode to an NBA Championship), he chose to arrogantly stand over Wade, glaring at him like the big, stubborn mule that he is.

Stay classy, Shaquille.

More on Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal has been hit with a restraining orderOh, that Shaquille O’Neal is such a kidder.

You’ve recently seen him jumping onstage at a rap show to belittle Kobe Bryant, heard his hil-arious racial jokes plucked straight out of the ‘50s, and seen him on TV spouting off innumerable quips and one-liners that get the adoring media in stitches.

It seems he’s now added another trick to his repertoire of uproarious hijinks—making prank calls to female rappers in which he heavily pants into the phone like a hippopotamus in heat before hanging up:

The Suns center has been slapped with a temporary restraining order by hip hot artist Alexis Miller – known professionally as Maryjane – the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported today. Miller filed the restraining order in Atlanta with Fulton County Superior Court, alleging that O’Neal stalked her, threatened her with bodily harm and made harassing phone calls in which he breathed heavily into the phone before hanging up.

The Journal Constitution reported that Miller, 23, claimed she ended an intimate relationship with O’Neal last month. She alleged he then threatened to pay performers $50,000 each not to work with her.

Under terms of the temporary restraining order, O’Neal is prohibited from having any contact or coming within 200 yards of Miller or her 19-month-old son. O’Neal, who resides in Florida, is not the father of the child, Wolfe said.

The fun just never ends with this gentle ambassador for the NBA. We could not confirm that O’Neal is now available for appearances at your child’s next birthday party.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Call me old fashioned

Call me old fashioned, but there is something wrong with people today. I'm not claiming to be a saint, by any means, but there used to be a certain level of decency and decorum in society where every personal thing in somebody's life was up for public debate.

By way of background, I went to get a hair cut today at Fantastic Sam's on West Gray. Half way through the hair cut, all was good. I'm not much of a talker during the hair cut. I want the person cutting my hair to pay attention and not screw up my hair. Yes, I know, I don't even brush my hair but it still doesn't need a huge gash in it from the shaver. Anyway, back to my point. The lady next to my chair was, oh, about 275 pounds and 5'4". She was bemoaning the fact that her fiancee would not let her get a dog, unless she ensured that the dog would not get on the bed or couch. This seems reasonable. What you do in your house is your business. I have no problem respecting that.

Then, however, things took a turn for the worst. The same lady who wanted the dog said that her fiancee would not let her sit on the couch unless she was wearing proper panties. If she was wearing a thong under a dress, she could not sit on the couch because her "bare a$$" would be on the couch.

Now, I don't even know where to start. I'll leave it to your imagination to fill in the gaps (no pun intended), but I found problems with the controlling nature of the fiancee (that can't be a healthy relationship [ he also won't let her wear shoes in the house and since she is a self-professed snorer, she has to go to bed after him]), the image of that "beefy" woman in a thong, and, finally, the notion that a woman that large is even able to purchase a thong. I won't make cheap jokes light maybe it was a pair of bloomers that just got stuck in the crevasse of her backside. I just won't make that joke. All I'm saying is, there should be a maximum size that thongs come in. I'm also not going to judge people for being overweight. But you can't wear belly shirts if you have a gut, ladies. Fellas, if you need to wear the next size up on your shirt, do so. Nobody needs to see the imprint of your back fat. That's just gross.

My take on Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal, a force never before seen in the NBA, is a big baby. Not Big Baby on the Celtics. But an actual baby. Sure, Shaq has been dominant. But he's only been able to use his immense size to overpower opponents. All he can do is dunk. Without a doubt, he's an incredible athlete. A man of that size, doing what he does (did?) is truly remarkable.

But, at the same time, he's not the best basketball player. He can't shoot. He can't shoot from more than three feet away from the basket. Forget free throws. He's never won anything without a dominant player next to him. Kobe in LA. Wade in Miami. Even now in Phoenix, he's got Nash and other good players around him. In Orlando, he had Penny and shooters around him. He's nowhere near the player Hakeem was. (As a note on Hakeen, remember what happened to David Robinson in 1995? Here's your reminder.) And don't forget what happened when Dream and Shaq played in the Finals in 1995. Sweep, back to back, Clutch City.

Anyway, back to Shaq. I think he's hilarious. I really do. His ESPN commercials are truly great. He was good in other commercials, as well. The Big Diesel is even a heckuva dancer.

But Shaq can NOT take a joke. One jab at Shaq and he's calling everyone else this and everyone else that. He's thrown every teammate under the bus who ever crossed him or said one word edge wise. Even to D-Wade, who placated the Big Aristotle. He asked Kobe how his "backside" tasted. Then, when he got called out for it, claimed it was a joke. Forget the rest of the feud, when two grown man threw away at least 2 championships because of ego. He always has an excuse. He always whines. He's called out coaches Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley. Every owner. As soon as he leaves somewhere, he feels the need to burn bridges.

Its almost pathological. Allow me to play amateur psychologist for a moment. Since Shaq's step-father, Sgt. Phil Harrison (do I know too much about sports if I knew that off the top of my head?) moved around so much in the army, causing young (notice I did not say small) Shaq to constantly need the grass in his new destination to be greener than in his old stomping grounds? Did his desire to not be the new guy but everyone's friend require him to make fun of everything in his past so as to gain acceptance in his present? Does that metaphor work? I think it does. What's the deal with that? Any thoughts from you guys?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


(Disclaimer: Some people could argue I've had senior-itis since I was 13, but that's not the point here, folks.)

I'm in the last semester of my last year of law school. Spring Break starts next week (more on that later -- a running blog is likely in the works on a week long BBQ road trip across Texas). School is almost out for summer.

I'll be honest, in law school there have been times that have been tough. Other times have been a little less tough. There have been some good times and some bad times. (Enough with the Charles Dickens, you say? I get it. Sorry.) For the most part, you show up, go to class, shake some hands, talk to some people, eat lunch, go to another class, read a book and then go home. Overall, it hasn't been that bad. I've made some good friends and had some good laughs.

But, back to that last semester, last year thing. Senior-itis (and I'm pretty sure it needs to be hypenated) has definitely kicked in. I don't care when professors (read: Wheeler) hide the ball. I just want the black letter law so I can study for the exam. I shouldn't feel this way, but I don't even care about exams that much. My grades have stayed almost the exact same all of law school (except for consumer transaction of all things). The last 9 hours that will be graded aren't that important when you consider the other 81 in the bank. I also don't want to burn out before the bar exam (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). So, to cut a medium length story just a tiny bit shorter, I have senior-itis.

But there have been some strange examples recently. There was the guy who wet his pants in Pretrial last semester. I've already discussed that so I'll just move on.

But today I heard of another strange happening. I'll admit, I wasn't there. I was studying for the MPRE (which is really starting to grind my gears. Katy, I'm sure you agree) at home. Mostly. I also watched some TV and chached around. I won't lie. But I was told by a reliable source (Leighton, who is quite the gossiping Betty if I say so myself) that a student who I won't name (Michah Binum) volunteered to recite in First Amendment and somehow convinced the professor to allow him to make a demonstrative on the board. Now, and this has been confirmed by Nathan Wood (hi Nathan), Mr. Binum decided to draw a penis on the board. Yes, you read that correctly, a penis. I don't know why. Maybe he thought he could get everyone to laugh. Maybe he wanted to get tossed out of class (which happened).

Look, I never claimed to be a shining beacon of morality (actually I have, but indulge me) but there are just some stupid people out there. If you want to go get a drink or two with your friends, go ahead. But don't come to class so drunk you pass out and wet your pants. If you don't want to go to class, stay home. But don't draw a penis on the board to get kicked out. It's just dumb.