Battle of the BBQ

Inspiration for writing topics sometimes comes in the most unlikely of places…in this case, it was in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina. I was there for a wedding and because I’m a dumbass and didn’t actually google to see that the hotel was 2 hours from the airport, I booked a 7:30am flight back to NYC.

I am not–as you either know, guessed, or experienced–a morning person. And while I’m usually up early, it is usually to sit on the couch and drink coffee. Not to check out of the hotel at 3:45am. So while I handed back the room key, I was only half paying attention to the chatty night desk clerk by wondering if there was any hot coffee available at this hour…or cold coffee…or anything to help make the dark and rainy 2 hour drive back to Charlotte a bit more bearable.

And then I head him (alas, I didn’t catch his name because, well, 3:45am) ask: so…do you just travel around and eat food?

Slow blink, while raising an eyebrow.

He quickly continued: sorry, it’s really slow here at night and I was reading through your website…

Awkward pause.

Me: um…yes, [chuckle] I suppose I do just travel around and eat things.

And of course I should have seen the follow up question coming, but again, now 3:47am. So which BBQ do you prefer? Carolina or Texas.

Bigger awkward pause to give me time to think up a diplomatic answer.

Me: I enjoy both, but c’mon I will always, always pick Texas especially when it comes to BBQ, beer, football, and Willie.

But it did give me a good chuckle and the perfect excuse to share with you and start posting again, so thanks for that kind sir–even if I forgot to get your name and was just thinking about coffee and/or going back to bed and missing my fight!

In case you were wondering what the difference between the two styles are, I would say that Carolina BBQ is more saucy and usually pork–and don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a nice tangy, saucy, pulled pork sandwich. But Texas BBQ is where it’s at–their BBQ is cooked usually (at least in the Hill Country) with a dry rub and low and slow. Sauce is on the side and brisket is king. If you wanted accurate descriptions and nuances of each, you’re probably better off just googling it.

To me, the best part of Texas BBQ is picking your meat off the grill and then sitting inside, eating off of butcher paper at a communal table, passing the bread, pickles, and napkins amongst everyone else sitting at the table and their BBQ stained fingers.

And if you find yourself traveling through the Texas Hill Country and happen upon either the town of Mason or Llano, go to Coopers and try just a little bit of everything–or better yet, go to both and try a bit more! Both restaurants now have different owners and are no longer affiliated, but thankfully–at least insofar as the last time I visited–both were still as delicious as they always have been. Although I fully expect every family member reading this to text me later and tell me which location they prefer–proving that the Battle of BBQ isn’t always about regions–sometimes it hits a lot closer to home.

Home Sweet Home

Slight error in judgement.  I know, I know…it rarely happens 😉  so when it does, it is the job of the BFF to, of course, call me on it.

Remember yesterday’s post about the ABCs of Shez?  Well, if you read it and then all the comments you would have seen my egregious error, which is that T is always for Texas (that is a direct quote from the niece).  Now, I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that T is always for Texas, so I thought it okay to list something else for T–silly, silly Shez.  Obviously too much beer (or perhaps not enough beer?).  Regardless, my other family (aka BFF’s family) decided to help “remind” me of my roots and the error of my ways and came up with their own ABCs–all about TEXAS!  It is just too fabulous to leave in the comment section where you may or may not ever see it.

So grab your beer and enjoy 🙂

Girl, let me be the first to tell you Texas IS what makes you interesting! So because we love you and see that you have lost your way Dad, Becca, Chelle, Lizzie, & I came up with a little something to help you back on the path home to TEXAS.

THE ABC’s of TEXAS:
A = ALAMO because that is where it all began. AUSTIN the capital of the greatest state in our nation. AMARILLO well because that’s where your other family lives. ARMADILLO.

B = BBQ; BLUEBONNETS; BUFFS(aloes) BOOTS and lets not forget BLUE BELL ICE CREAM

C = COWBOYS the ranching kind, the western bar kind, & the ones in Dallas with a big blue star! CADILLAC RANCH; COWS; & COUNTRY MUSIC.

D = DALLAS, it’s called the big D for a reason; DEER; DANCING; DONT MESS WITH TEXAS; DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS; DESERT; (& Becca & Chelle remind you of the DEAD cow hit with their truck)

E = out in the west Texas town of EL PASO…; The EYES OF TEXAS ARE UPON YOU

F = FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Yes folks it’s real; FOOTBALL; FREDERICKSBURG; FORT WORTH (because George asked if it crossed your mind); FRIENDLY

G = GIANT because everything’s bigger in Texas; & GUITARS as in the only two things in life that make it worth living…; GILLEY’S; GALVESTON; & GIG ‘EM

H = HOME SWEET TEXAS; HILL COUNTRY; HOUSTON; HORNEY TOADS; & HOOK ‘EM

I = INDEPENDENCE

J = JOHNSON as in Lady Bird; & our LBJ; & JACKRABBIT

K = KINGS RANCH

L = LONE STAR STATE; LONGHORNS; LADY BIRD; & LUCKENBACH (because Everybody’s Somebody)

M = MARGARITA; MUSIC; MOCKING BIRD; MEXICAN FOOD

N = NIGHT SKIES (as in The Stars at Night are Big & Bright…); & NASA

O = OIL (as in black gold Texas T) OUTLAWS (the originals)

P = PECAN TREES; PECAN PIE; mmmm; PICK UP TRUCK; PLAINS; & PALO DURO CANYON

Q = QUANAH PARKER; QUARRIES;

R = RIO GRANDE; RODEO; RAILROAD; RANCHES; RANGERS (baseball & lawmen) & RATTLESNAKES

S = SAN ANTONIO; SPURS; SHINER; SIX FLAGS; SCHLITTERBAHN!!!

T = TEXAS (T is always for TEXAS) (Lizzie said “it’s what you should have put in the first place!!!)

U = UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS

V = VILLA (as in Taco Villa); VENISON

W = WILLIE (you got this one but mistakenly put it under N, to those of us in the know it’s just WILLIE). WIND, WILDFLOWERS

X = XIT RANCH

Y = YELLOW ROSE; Y’ALL;

Z = ZZ TOP; & a ZILLION REASONS TO LOVE TEXAS!!!!

 

IMG_2596

BBQ–The Stuff Legends Are Made Of!

Call me biased (but I’m not wrong!), Texas has THE best BBQ on the planet.  Sure, you can go to other places that like to brag about their BBQ-making abilities and you can find really good BBQ, but it’s just not the same.

I could probably fill an entire blog with every place in the great state of Texas to get BBQ that will make your eyes roll back in your head, but my favorite place is Coopers BBQ in Mason or Llano, Texas (go to Austin & head west or go to San Antonio & head north–I don’t think either town has more than 5,000 people–and that’s being very generous!).

When I pull up with newbies, their first comment is “This is it?” because it doesn’t look like anything special.

Why?  Because the specialness is in the BBQ.

Don’t wear white.  And don’t panic–there are no plates.

And yes, you really DO pick you out your meat on the grill before you go inside.  Try a little bit of everything (this is why it’s good to go with people–you can each get something different and share!).  Just don’t get too overzealous (it’s hard not to!) because you pay by the pound and it’s easy to rack up quite a bill!  Don’t know what to try?  Ask the guy manning the grill wearing boots, Wranglers, and a BBQ sauce stained tshirt who’s name is probably Bubba.  Don’t make fun of him because he’s probably related to me and I’ll have to kick your ass.

After you pick out your meat, you’ll go inside to get your sides.  There are a plethora to choose from, but I always get the potato salad–it’s a nice cool compliment to the BBQ.  And beans.  Don’t ask for them–they’ve been simmering in a big pot since about 5am.  Grab a bowl and fill’er up.

Then go sit at a picnic table, unwrap your BBQ, and introduce yourself to your neighbors at the table.  Everyone shares.  Everyone laughs.  Everyone has a great time.  It’s a good mix of locals and tourists, both of whom have been stopping in for decades.  Everyone leaves happy…and with a little BBQ sauce on their chins.

Go to Texas.  Eat BBQ.  Fall in Love.  Send me a thank you email.