Monday, May 2, 2011

"I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president"

With two days left for the bbq binge-fest, and plenty of space in my stomach, we awoke with a plan for Sunday, albeit a less aggressive one.

First stop, “Rudy’s” in Austin. Rudy’s was the first restaurant we dined at that was part of a chain. With 30 locations across Texas and Oklahoma, Rudy’s more corporate approach is apparently a winner, or at least popular. While the environment was more sterilized/corporate, and clearly designed to replicate a roadhouse as opposed to actually being one, the food wasn’t bad at all.

Upon walking through the front door, we walked up to the counter to order. While the employees were friendly and greeted us in a humorous fashion, there’s a palpably different essence here, where the crew is wearing nicely pressed shirts and clean aprons, as compared to Black’s or Kreuz, where it doesn’t look like anyone has laundered their clothes or showered in a week. Frankly, I prefer the filthy, worked-in clothes.

Once we identified that we were from out of town, the guy at the counter launched in to a presentation about their food, plus some sampling, to help assist me in my decision-making. I opted for my usual: brisket and smoked turkey (they did not have beef ribs on the menu). The food was tasty, and I give them the blue ribbon for best smoked turkey; it had a nice peppery crust, and was very moist. Even with the corporate feel, the food was tasty and they seem to be doing something right, judging by the crowds.

After lunch, we took a leisurely drive to the University of Texas-Austin campus for a visit to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. I really enjoy visiting places like this-the library was so much more than a vanity tribute to President Johnson; it was also a museum of modern American political history. No matter which side of aisle you sit on, a visit to a presidential library and a glimpse into history is always a worthwhile diversion.

After essentially three days of bbq binging, for dinner we decided to cleanse our palates with a change of culinary pace; what better way to re-boot than with Chinese food in Texas!

Marty was familiar with a small chain called “Pei Wei”; a quick-serve Chinese restaurant owned and operated by P.F. Changs. For you dedicated readers, I am not a huge fan of P.F., but I’m willing to give peace a chance, and so we went to Pei Wei. Honest assessment-pretty fine, especially for a semi-counter service establishment. Marty and I agreed-it’s similar to “Panera Bread”, except it’s Chinese instead of sandwiches.

When you enter, you come upon a colorful digital menu board, listing the menu items and showing you video of the food itself. You approach the counter, and order. Upon completing your order, the cashier hands you a number, which you display on your table, and a few minutes later, a server brings you the food. Quick, but fresh, hot and tasty!

Finally, what better way to end the day than with a little ice cream. Thanks to our trusty friend Garmin, he was able to locate an “Amy’s Ice Cream” for us. Amy’s reminded me a lot of “Bart’s” in Amherst, or the old, funky “Steve’s” before they went corporate. They do the whole “mixing ice cream and ingredients on a slab of marble” thing, but my small coffee ice cream tasted terrific just the way it was.

So another day of consumption came to an end, with more to come on our final day…as we prepared to depart, we planned our final stop…the County Line in Austin. Would it live up to expectations?

Until next time America…eat well, eat often.

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