Monday, October 09, 2006

The Palate continues his Houston adventure!

I managed to see quite a bit of the city and all the major art spots thanks to a GPS in the rental car. I fell in love with the woman who was the voice of my GPS. She got me every where I wanted to go and when I missed something she didn’t call me a “fucking idiot,” she just said “recalculating.” I thought if she could read the New York Times to me, or find the good local radio stations during the longer stretches between directions, she would be a great cross-country companion. The two highlights we saw together were the Rothko Chapel and the ArtCar Museum or "Garage Majal". Sort of opposite ends of the high art/low art scale, but I found eating barbecue between the two experiences was the perfect way to blend them. There was a lot of real Mexican food there so stopping at tacoria would work too. My personal BBQ highlight was lunch at Hickory Hollow. It was single story flat roofed building with a non-descript exterior and the door propped open. I walked in and they were playing rockabilly music, there were wooden tables with linoleum tops so the atmosphere was perfect. It was Sunday about 11:45 AM so it turned out I got there just before the church crowd. I had the HICKORY QUICKY (Chopped Beef Sandwich with Beans & Fries - $5.50), iced tea and a piece of pecan pie (that was about a quarter of a pie.) The meat was good and smokey but you know it is always about the sauce with me. This one is similar to the one at Beans and Things in Amarillo, that the Sterns like so much and claim trumps Calvin Trillin's fave Arthur Bryant's. You know I agree with them on this particular point. Do you remember that I drove from Amarillo to Cincinnati with a Styrofoam cup of it, covered in aluminum foil held on with a rubber band, in my car, just so you could have a taste? I believe we had it with grilled chicken. The spices were not as complex as Beans and Things and a bit more vinegary, definitely what the Sterns would call the three C's spice mix, it would be really good on the pork - had I known. Alas, the new liquid carry-on rules for air travel prevented me from bringing any back and my extreme light packing prevents me from traveling with anything more than a laptop and a couple pairs of underwear, so no checked luggage. I doubt a Styrofoam cup of BBQ sauce would have fared well in checked luggage anyway.

I think three days is about as much time as you need to see Houston, though. I was happy to leave all the large guts on Republicans in big cars and come home tonight. I will be in Baltimore later this week so I guess I will be eating crab cakes, meanwhile I am back in Pittsburgh. In this town whenever any one suggests there is a better place in the world the popular come back is, "Yes, but can you get a salad with fries on top there?"

Make your own Beans and Things Barbecue Sauce

2¼c catsup
2¼c water
2t beef broth
3T brown sugar
½t Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1T lemon juice
½t liquid smoke
1¼t dry mustard
1t chili powder
½t garlic powder
1t black pepper
¼T cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan and bring to boil; then simmer for 15 mins. Cool and store in refrigerator until needed. Makes 1 quart. Recipe: The Route 66 Cookbook: Comfort Food from the Mother Road

Beans and Things
1700 Amarillo Boulevard, East (Old Route 66)
(806) 373-7383
Look for the cow on top. (And Cadillac Ranch nearby)


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