Monday, May 30, 2011

Without further ado...

Thanks to Jordan Rich for having me on his show last week. We had a lot of fun talking about last meals...felt like we were on death row.

I've been slowly ramping up the audio component, so without further ado, here's another attempt to post some audio. As always, feel free to share your thoughts. There will be more to come, like it or not...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Now this is a rib!!!

Please join me tonight (Friday, May 20) on The Jordan Rich Show on WBZ 1030AM at midnight, where we'll be talking Texas BBQ, burritos and your recent restaurant experiences, both good and bad...

To whet your appetite, I share the following:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tune-In...testing,1, 2, 3

Finally, the moment many of you have waited least those of you that can't tune in to WBZ 1030AM-the Critical Palate audio blog!!!

This is merely a test, with plenty more where this came from. For now, sit back, relax and enjoy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Final Countdown…

Well, the end came too soon if you ask me. While it would be nice to get home to Mrs. Palate and the kids, there was still more bbq to consume and opinions to render (and I’ve been known to render a few). However, work and other responsibilities beckon, and while I could just keep waddling from joint to joint, all good things must come to an end. But not without one last hurrah!

Like the other days, we got up and out early. After checking out of the hotel with the requisite last visit to Starbucks, we hit the road for “The County Line” in Austin. County Line, like “Rudy’s” (see earlier post) is part of a small chain. However, unlike Rudy’s, the County Line seems to have retained a little of its “joint”-like feel from its origins.

Separating the County Line from the others was carpeting, literally. It was the only place that actually had a carpeted dining room. Our table overlooked a hilly vista onto Texas Hill Country, and it was slightly incongruous to be eating messy bbq with such a beautiful view on carpeting. I would think that Stanley Steamer is on-call.

Unfortunately, the County Line was the weak link in the bbq chain. The food was good, but not great, and other than the view, the only other exceptional item, for me, was the cole slaw. Sides tend to take a back seat in Texas, but for me, it’s nice to have something to sample other than meat. I enjoy a good side of beans or cole slaw as much as the next guy, and the County Line takes the blue ribbon for best side. I was hoping for better, but still, not a bad way to end.

Next post will be my final observations, but here’s something to chew on…the worst bbq meal in Texas is better than anything I’ve ever had here in Massachusetts or across the Northeast-it was even better than the bbq I had in Columbia, MO or St. Louis while I was away in law school. BBQ is in their blood down there, and they just know how to do it right.

Until next time America…eat well, eat often!

"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.