Monday, August 31, 2009

Kreuz Market: The Gold Standard

Last Tuesday, being the last Tuesday of my post Bar exam vacation, some of the guys and I went to Lockhart, Texas for the best BBQ in the Texas. In one magical stretch of Texas Highway 183, in a span of less than 20 miles, 5 of the best BBQ places produce the best BBQ imaginable. Luling, Texas has two of the best and Lockhart, Texas, has 3 of the best including the gold standard, Kruez Market.

(Photo caption: Ribs. And crackers. And some grease. Photo credit: Jon Frink)

I won't rehash all of the review from the last time we all went, but, instead, will post everyone's own review from the trip last week.

Leighton: I thought the BBQ was incredible. The moist, AKA fatty, brisket was even better than I remembered it. The jalapeno and cheese sausage was still the best sausage I have ever had. I do not remember having the beans or potatoes last time, but they were really good this time. All in all, a solid second trip worth our efforts.

Jon: I missed out on Kreuz's the first time around, but I've driven past it several times on my way to and from Houston and have thought about stopping there. When Vik called up and asked if I wanted to meet up there the following day, I jumped at the chance to try the barbecue that got the highest praise on the tour. I wasn't disappointed. From the brisket to the ribs to the sausage, everything was delicious. I was mildly skeptical of claims that no barbecue sauce was needed, but it's absolutely true. If I'm going to nitpick I could say that the lean brisket was a little on the dry side or that the ribs were just slightly too salty, but neither of those were serious enough to diminish enjoyment of the food. The ribs were really tender, the lean brisket still tasted great as was the moist brisket, the jalapeno and cheese sausage lived up to its reputation, and while I didn't try the beans, the potatoes had a nice flavor. It's been a few months so I
don't quite remember how Snow's stacks up, but I'll definitely be going back to Kreuz's, especially since I don't have to worry about them running out.

Stephen: Personally I am not a big fan of lots of sauce on meats so the fact that Kreuz relies on the rubs really fits my style. Easily the best ribs I have ever had with a great pepper and salt rub. Both lean and moist briskets were very good. I would have to say that Kreuz had some of the best jalapeno cheese sausage I have ever had. Made for a great snacker. The only thing that could have made it better was some spicy mustard. Quite frankly after listening to Kreuz being built up for 6 months I would say that this place exceeded expectations. It was also a great day trip to get away from the busyness of Houston.

Wes: Fantastic. Great brisket. One of the finer Snackers I have ever had, and I invented the damn thing.

Travis: The best endorsement i can give about Kreuz's BBQ is that it is worth a 2 to 2 1/2 drive (from Houston) to eat there. The Jalapeno and Cheese sausage,the brisket, and the ribs were excellent. The moist brisket is better than the lean brisket. the brisket was tender and delicious. the one complaint i have about the brisket is that it could have used more of the dry rub. The jalapeno and cheese sausage is probably the best I have had. The ribs were cooked perfectly and the dry rub complemented it perfectly.

Vik: Even after building up in my own head since March, Kreuz's was still the best BBQ I ever had. If you haven't been there, you need to go. Immediately. The ribs were even better this time. The sides were awesome, even if they could be considered by some to be head fakes. Both briskets were awesome. The jalapeno sausage was incredible. You don't need sauce. You don't need a fork. You just need to get there. Immediately. Eating BBQ with pickles and crackers is the best way to do it.

I brought some back for Luke and Trey. Even after a few hours, the BBQ held up great. I'd encourage both of them to post reviews in the comments.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And yet another list

Let's take care of some background before we get to the list, so please bear with me. So, before I started law school, I used to go to Panera for lunch fairly frequently. Good sandwiches, salads and soups. Fairly healthy. Fresh. It was always good, if not that spectacular. I went there again recently and was not that impressed.

During the period I was studying for the bar (it was a truly joyous time) I ate at Subway way too often. Roasted chicken sandwich, toasted, most of the veggies. Good, but not great. It's not that it's not good, but I just can't eat Subway for a good bit. All this got me thinking about my favorite sandwich places. The places on this list are national chains and do not include banh mi (which I love, but, also ate way too often during the bar period). The places on this list are places where you can run in, get a sandwich, eat a decent mean, and go on with you day. Anyway, on to the list.

1. Which Wich. This is new to the Houston area and is awesome. If you haven't been there, you should go immediately. When you walk in, you are handed a marker and a bag where you select by check mark everything you want on your sandwich. You can get as many kinds of mustard as you want, and you know how big that is for me and my family. It's all up to you, and they'll make it fresh for you. It's the best sandwich out there.

2. Jersey Mike's. This is a close second, and would win if there was only more variety. There is not much customization available. But, on a positive note, they make a great club sandwich. Everything is freshly cut, so that's another plus.

3. Antone's. This is a Houston institution, even if many of the stores are closing down or being bought out. Thankfully, they are still available in grocery stores. The turkey and Swiss is the best out there. Customization is non-existent, but not much is needed.

4. Firehouse Subs. Another good sandwich. I've only had this once (thanks again Michelle) and was impressed. The sandwich could have been bigger (Potbelly has the same pitfall) but it was good.

5. Panera. The freshness is a strong positive. The soups are always good, as are the salads. There are also a good number of sandwich options on the menu. The recent visit, I'm assuming, was an aberration, and I will keep it high on the list. Perhaps for old times sake.

6. Jason's Deli. My only complaint is that they seemingly all close early. There is a great deal of variety and I've never been disappointed. I've never been blown away, either, but there is something to be said for consistency.

7. Potbelly. There is a new larger option that works well. I like the hot peppers they offer. Freshly toasted is a major plus. Had I not eaten Potbelly before nearly every law school final, I'd go there more often and not be tired of it as I am still.

8. Subway. Again, consistency has virtue. The commercials are horrible. I think Jared was a loser and the 5 dollar footlong campaign is nearly as annoying as the Jack in the Box mini sirloin burgers. But the sandwiches are good. I do get annoyed at the weed heads who work at the Subway on Waugh at Allen Parkway who make me repeat everything 2 or 3 times before they remember "wheat" and then "chicken" before the chore of picking out the veggies.

9. Quizno's. I don't really like Quizno's. The sandwiches are expensive and when the employees weigh the meat before putting it on a sandwich, it's very off-putting. If I get an extra slice of turkey, is the corporation going to fold? I didn't think so. Quit being so stingy. But I do like Quizno's more than the next two entries.

10. Jimmy John's. I realize many of you like Jimmy John's and maybe I'm missing something, but I've never liked it. I don't like the bread, I don't like the meat, I don't like any of it. I don't care if you deliver, your sandwiches taste like roadkill (I'm not entirely sold on that joke, but I'm going with it anyway)

11. Blimpie's. And this is a looooowww eleven. This is the worst place. The meat is not cold. It's warm. But not toasted. Room temperature. I realize I'm an old fashioned kind of guy, but I'm definitely pro-refrigeration. This is a must. I don't think I'm being unreasonable in not wanting a side of botulism with my ham and cheese.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just had to post this 4...

I stole this from Holly. She can have some of the credit (or none if she complains). The best way to describe this is "an emailed forward of random thoughts and statements" but I'm going to title it as JHTPT#4. If you've already seen this, just move on. If not, please enjoy and give credit to Holly. Now, keep in mind these are not my thoughts and are to be taken as a joke, but some of these are applicable to me and some to people I know. I won't name names. But you know who you are. One other thought before we get to the list, if you don't mind. With Brett Favre returning once again, it's clear that even the NFL is using the Cash for Clunckers program.

1. More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?

4. Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

5. That's enough, Nickelback.

6. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

7. The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

8. Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.

9. There is a great need for sarcasm font.

10. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f&*% was going on when I first saw it.

11. I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I'll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone's laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I'm still the only one who really, really gets it.

12. The other night I hit a new low at an open bar. I had already hopped on highway blackout when, inevitably I had to find a bathroom. Eventually I decided it was probably on the other side of the bar so I tried to walk over there, but ran into a guy coming the other way. We played that, Both go left, Both go right game to no avail, so I finally put out my hand to guide myself past and that's is when I realized, yup, that's a mirror I just tried to walk through. And the guy on the other side is me. Even cats can re cognize their own image.

13. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

14. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

15. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

16. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

17. A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.

18. Was learning cursive really necessary?

19. Lol has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say".

20. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

21. Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.

22. My brother's Municipal League baseball team is named the Stepdads. Seeing as none of the guys on the team are actual stepdads, I inquired about the name. He explained, "Cuz we beat you, and you hate us." Classy, bro.

23. Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

24. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

25. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a dick from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

26. Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies"

27. What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?

28. While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.

29. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

30. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

31. I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

32. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

33. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

34. Bad decisions make good stories

35. Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if I do!

36. Is it just me or do high school girls get sluttier & sluttier every year?

37. If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.

38. Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....

39. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

40. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

41. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

42. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

43. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

44. I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There's so much pressure. 'I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?'

45. While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.

46. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damnit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

47. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

48. When I meet a new girl, I'm terrified of mentioning something she hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.

49. I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

50. Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...

51. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

52. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

53. It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.

54. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

55. I think that if, years down the road when I'm trying to have a kid, I find out that I'm sterile, most of my disappointment will stem from the fact that I was not aware of my condition in college.

56. Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what do to with it.

57. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, hitting the G-spot, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time...

58. My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the hell do I respond to that?

59. It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on and the link takes me to a video instead of text.

60. I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

61. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

62. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

63. The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimate d that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There's nothing like being made to feel like a fat bastard before dinner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random Musings: Las Vegas

As I try to blog more frequently after the bar exam and related blog hiatus, I thought I'd blog twice in one day. I was thinking about doing the opposite of "you know what really grinds my gears" but couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound gross, so I'm going to use "random musings" and you'll just have to be ok with it. The following list is a group of things and thoughts from my post bar trip to Las Vegas that make me laugh or make me happy. It's the little things in life, really.

1. So, Bagel, Trey and I went to Vegas. We had a great time, even if none of us won money. You could even say we lost money, but that's not really the point here. Still, a good time was had by all. One of the most random (that's fitting with this blog topic and this blog in general, I suppose) occurred at the MGM Grand around 11 AM. Trey and I were walking around (taking a break from the black jack beat down) and we happened upon the lion enclosure at the casino. Right around feeding time. We watched along with at least five hundred other people. All of a sudden, the lion immediately in front of us starting bucking it's shoulders. I thought it must have a hair ball in its throat, but Trey, predicted the lion would throw up. About a minute later, we had our answer, as the lion not more than 10 feet from us threw up 10 pounds of meat in about 1.2 seconds. It looked like chili. It was disgusting. All 500 or so people watching let out a collective groan. Some people took photos. Some left. We went to eat breakfast. It's gonna take a lot more than lion puke to keep us from breakfast.

2. Also in Vegas, the three of us had drinks in a room made entirely of ice. This place, conveniently called Minus 5, has a room in which there is a bar and drinks are served in cups made of ice. The chairs are ice, the walls are ice, the tables are ice, and so on. I'm sure you get the idea. Anyway, we all put on big coats and gloves and went inside. I asked the bartender for my drink on the rocks and got no response. I thought she was a bit icy, but, hey, it's her tip (no iceberg joke -- 2 bad ice jokes in one sentence is pushing it as is). We sat on deer pelts so that we weren't sitting directly on ice. I have to tell you, this was a lot of fun. If some place like that opened in Houston, they'd make a killing. There would have to be more to the place that just the ice room, but it could be part of a bar. It was fun. I think people would enjoy the ice experience.

3. So, the three of us were playing at the same table at New York, New York. One of the employees of the casino was selling cigars. Now, by way of background information, I'd smoked a cigar earlier. Much to the chagrin and complaint of an uncouth (and un-tipped) dealer at Mandalay Bay. Apparently, it's ok to chain smoke cigarettes, but the moment anyone trying to have fun lights up a stogie, it's like somebody flipped over a table and stabbed a cocktail waitress. Anyway, back to Trey. He, being the polite young man that he is, asked the dealer if he could smoke the cigar he bought from an employee of the casino. She said yes. Trey began smoking the cigar. Now, let me tell you, I've seen some overreactions in my day. I've done some overreacting in my day. But this woman takes the cake. She began coughing and was only able to whisper. Even though people all around her were smoking cigarettes, one guy smoking a cigar and blowing the smoke away from her caused her to lose her voice. Almost immediately. It was absolutely ridiculous. She had to whisper to talk and, coupled with her accent, made her difficult to understand. She said something to me, which I was unable to understand. Afterall, I didn't care what she had to say and my understanding of Mandarin is poor at best. So, I asked her what she said. And this lady says if I can't understand her, to blame the guy with the cigar. I had heard just about enough, so we all decided to leave before an international incident ingnited (points for alliteration and a bad cigar joke).

4. If you haven't been to Mandalay Bay and eaten at the sushi bar, you're missing out something fierce. I love sushi, and I'll gladly pay for good sushi. Discount seafood is not my idea of a good time. I've even had tuna hours out of the water in Hawaii. The sushi bar at Mandalay has the best sushi I've ever had. Hands down. If you like sushi and you're in Vegas, this is the place to go.

5. Kobe beef tacos. I don't think I need to add to this.
Just so I can be like all the other members of the media (see how I subtly called myself part of the media?), I'd like to report that Brett Favre flew to Minnesota today to take a physical before signing a contract with the Vikings.

(Photo caption: Favre "deciding" whether to have steak or fish a Morton's last Tuesday)

Look, I think if Brett Favre wants to play football, he should play. If somebody will sign him, then by all means he should play. I don't think he's anywhere near what he was in his MVP days, but how could he be that good? Athletes aren't supposed to be better closer to 40 than 30. Ahem, paging Messers Bonds and Clemens. Please report to the front desk.

I just don't want to hear about it every time Brett Favre picks up a football, or gets on a plane, or eats pretzels. Just make a decision to play or retire. Then stick with it. Or don't. But I'm beyond caring. I think I'm to the stage of actively rooting against him, solely because I stopped caring whether he would play or retire, or say he would play or retire, 4 years ago.

I also understand the nature of the 24 hour news cycle. There's only so much to say in 24 hours. But is there any other sports topic more over reported and underwhelming that Brett Favre in the plast 4 years?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hey look, another list!!

So, with YE Yang (who? [exactly]) going toe to toe with Tiger Woods and winning the PGA Championship, my brother and I flipped over to watch parts of the last round. We watched the last few holes, but this was not something we would tune in for regularly, or would plan to watch. It got me thinking of big time sporting events I would plan around and make sure I watch. Usually with BBQ and a cold drink. I'm not talking about the Super Bowl or anything like that. Everyone (who is not a communist (socialist might be term de jure with all thats being taken away these days, but that's a topic for another day [or post]) tunes in for the Super Bowl. And I'm not including any Longhorn games, or Texans games. If you read this blog (or [shameless plus for my other blog]) you know I'll be watching those games. Hell, I'm trying to plan a trip to India around the Red River Shoot Out. I'm talking about events like these conveniently listed below (in no particular order).

1. Opening Day for baseball season. It's when spring is here (even if its already been in the 90s in Houston for a while) and everything has a sense of optimism to it. Every year, on opening day, every team is in first place. It's also the sign of summer. Baseball on TV at nearly every hour. You're never bored during baseball season.

2. The first weekend of the NCAA tournament. You know you do brackets. Hell, you probably do brackets with me. I don't need to explain this one; we all know it's an awesome weekend.

3. The second day of the NFL draft. Sure, a lot of people watch the first round, or even the first day. But those of us who truly love the draft will watch the second day.

4. The Master's. Let's get get carried away with the history of discrimination at Augusta. I'm not relishing discrimination, nor am I celebrating it. But, with the azaleas in bloom and Amen Corner, the first major of the year is another sign of spring.

5. NBA All Star Saturday night. The dunk contest, the 3 point contest, and even the skills competition. I might be one of the last remaining NBA fans, but plenty of other people love this event as well.

What are some of the events you tune in for? As always, make your thoughts known in the comments.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My take on Mike Vick

Folks, just like the prodigal son, I have returned. I'm not going to continue with any House of Pain lyrics (if anyone even got that, that is) but I do plan on blogging more frequently now that the Texas Bar Exam is over and done with (knock on wood, fingers crossed, and all that stuff). Much like swimming in cold water, I'm going to dip just a toe in rather than jump in head first. But, don't fear, I'll be swimming soon, by which I mean I'll be blogging more frequently (happy, William Hayes?)

So, Mike Vick, former superstar quarterback, has returned to the NFL. This might come as a shock to some of you for a number of reasons, but I'm actually in favor of his return to the NFL. Granted, I was never nor am I now a fan of Mike Vick (he can't even spell his own last name, for crying out loud).

I think he was completed overrated. His lone playoff victory was against Brett Favre (I'm not even going to discuss this joker) and a depleted Packers team, so let's lay off the "he's the first guy to win a playoff game at Lambeau Field" nonsense. He is (was?) exceptionally fast and an incredible athlete. But an NFL quarterback, he was not. I think he could play a role on a team and be successful, but not as the starting QB.

Second, it's hard to stomach the details surrounding his dog fighting operation. Even if you're not in PETA, the details (which I will not go into here) are disturbing and chilling.

But, this is America. We give second chances in America. Some people even get third chances. (Marion Berry, I'm talking to you, "Your Honor") Mike Vick paid his debt to society. He has sounded contrite (and I'm sure those are his words and not the words of his publicist or agent or lawyer) and has done all the right things since his release. Why shouldn't he get a second chance? Other felons get second chances. Granted, it's not for millions of dollars, but they do get second chances.

A team with a strong owner, strong head coach, established quarterback and veteran team was the ideal place for Vick to land. Philly offers all of the above. He's on a one year contract, with a team option for 2010. If he screws up, he's done. He's getting a second chance, but it's really a last chance.

What do you think? Are you ok with Mike Vick playing in the NFL again? Does it make you sick to your stomach? Somewhere in between? (Please do NOT make this a racial issue, as some people are wont to do. In no way did I make this racial. No way at all. Keep it above the fray. Thank you. It's good to be back.)