Friday, June 7, 2013

Sit. Stay. Eat.

OK, Ben's been hogging all the blog space, it's about time I joined in. Because today, it's all about the food. Finally. We're out of Texas, and no longer is everything chicken-fried. I mean it: chicken-fried steak, chicken-fried chicken, chicken-fried-Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot.

We left Brenham, Texas, none too soon. Don't get me wrong, Brenham is a lovely little town -- about 50 years ago. We did investigate the downtown area when we arrived yesterday, and found a real, live, soda fountain! However, when we went inside, we found it had been transformed into a self-serve cafeteria-type eatery. The chocolate milkshakes were still good, despite the fact that they were served in styrofoam instead of the old soda-fountain glasses that still graced the counter under a couple layers of caked-on dust. It's sad that someone hasn't figured out the gem they have, and made it into what it really could be: an opportunity for people to visit a past that isn't quite yet forgotten, and have an experience way beyond the McRestaurants of today. I'd pay a lot for that; and I think a lot of other people would, too.

We walked up to, and hoped to stay in, the one old hotel that was still standing in the old downtown; the Ant Street Inn, a relic of the past that looked absolutely awesome. Unfortunately, I guess the owners decided to take a day off, for we couldn't raise anyone when we went inside, and had to settle for a not-very-interesting, yet quite comfortable, chain on the highway.

In the morning, about half an hour into our drive east, we saw roadside billboards advertising "Waller's BBQ -- The Best BBQ in Texas!" Things were looking up! How could we not test such a confident statement? OK, it was 10:30 in the morning, perhaps not the ideal time for BBQ, but then, what time isn't good for BBQ? Waller's is located inside a Shell gas station -- one point in its favor already, as I, personally, believe that BBQ located in gas stations is kinda like really good diners being identified by how many calendars they have displayed on their walls. Waller's was out of baby back ribs, so we "settled" (and I use the word advisedly) for the brisket.

Well, OhMyGod. We got a half-pound of
brisket, and I have never had any brisket like this -- we fought over that half-pound. It was so tender, you couldn't pick up a slice without it falling in half. And, happily, falling into the spicy BBQ sauce that came with it. We got a side of jalapenos, but the sauce didn't need the spice; I left with my eyelids damp, for more than one reason.

Then we stopped (dare I say it?) at a Starbucks. I wouldn't mention it, except that, as we were waiting for our coffees, a young African American guy with beautiful dreadlocks tied in a thick ponytail on top of his head looked us over and said, "You guys look amazing!" I paused, stunned, and said, "What?!?" I don't know whether it was Ben's purple hair, my tattoos, or what, but clearly we made an impression. I guess we're not in California anymore. I told him, "You look amazing!" He found out we were from the Bay Area and said he was planning to move there. More power to him -- I'm thinkin' he'd belong.

Tonight, we're staying at T'Frere's Guest House , a lovely B&B in Lafayette, Louisiana, where we're booked for the next two nights. I will have much to say about our amazing journey through the Bayou country today, but not tonight -- tonight, it's about the food. I'll talk about staying in the room that was an infirmary and allegedly has ghosts after we've spent our first night...

We went to Blue Dog's restaurant, and, but for the brisket this morning, it was the most amazing meal we've had on this trip. Ben had the Crawfish Tasso Alfredo: crawfish (which are in season, fresh and local here) and spicy Poche's tasso (tender lean pork tumbled in a seasoning mixture of salt, red pepper, black pepper, garlic, jalapeno peppers, mustard, vinegar, and liquid smoke, then smoked) in a classic Alfredo sauce, served over angel hair pasta with the vegetable du jour.

My dinner was marinated, grilled chicken in an herbed-wine cream sauce with artichoke hearts and toasted pecans served over perfectly-cooked penne. With the vegetable du jour.

Vegetable du jour: squash, of course, both green and yellow. Those of you who are home gardeners know that, at this time of year, everyone is trying to rid themselves of their over-abundant squash -- it is, literally, "du jour!". Well, we got some of it, served with some of the yummiest garlic-herbed butter I've ever tasted.

The Key Lime and Pecan Pie both called to us but, alas!, we were too full of buttery, spicy goodness to have any more. We finished our bottle of Napa cabernet to the strains of "Satin Doll" played by the in-house band, and went off in search of more Cajun music on this Friday night...

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