The Redbud was allright in my book. When I walked in one of the cooks in the kitchen started waving oddly at me like she knew me. I had stopped briefly in Blanco on my way up to the park a few hours earlier but didn't make any acquaintances in the five minutes I was there so I didn't know her. Then it sunk in that she was giving a thumbs-up to the WFMU t-shirt I was wearing.
The soup, salad and local beer were all good but I needed something else to finish the meal. In small-town Texas that something else is spelled DQ. I ordered the smallest cone they had at the Dairy Queen and sat down to see Blanco's ladies of purple and red attire enjoying their lunch.
Here's why I went to Luling. The City Market has been smoking meats since the 1930s. It is one of the holy of holies of Texas BBQ. They cook three things: beef brisket, pork ribs and beef sausage. To order you go into the pit room at the back of the market. Make sure the door closes behind you. As I was eating someone in line did not and she was informed in a manner that left no doubt that the door should be closed.
Once inside the pit master takes your order, cuts the meat, puts it on butcher paper, and rings you up on a cash register protected by a plastic cover that is blackened with smoke and worn through at the more popular buttons. Back in the dining area I picked up the plastic utensils and a Big Red soda.
Brisket isn't a cut of meat I'd normally get but in the interests of science I gave it a try. I mean, when am I returning to Luling? The brisket was really good. I made a little sandwich out of it and the house-made orange bbq sauce. The ribs, hiding underneat the brisket, were outstanding. Outstanding as in, wow, way more tasty than any ribs I've ever eaten. The homemade sausage? Let's just say I could have happily sat there eating sausage until the cows came home, at which point more sausage could have been made and the cycle could continue.
Having consumed more than my fair share of protein, I headed out into the sunshine to see what else Luling offered.
Believe it or not there's an open-faced ham sandwich beneath that mound of cheese and fries. This is a ponyshoe sandwich, little sibling to the better known horseshoe sandwich. There's nothing quite like a 5,000 calorie lunch on a hot July day.
The horseshoe sandwich dates to 1920s Springfield. In classic form the sandwich consists of white bread toast topped with horseshoe-shaped slices of ham. In turn the ham is under a mound of french fries and Welsh rarebit cheese sauce. The particular sandwich above is in the little cafe just south of the square in Carlinville. The diner, which is called either Dick and Judy's or Abella's, may be the most perfect example of a small-town Midwestern cafe in existence, but the cheese sauce on the ponyshoe was more melted velveeta than an actual cheese sauce.
A glazed donut from Mel-O-Cream seemed like a fitting way to say good-bye to Springfield. Our schedules did not mesh so I sadly was not able to meet Springfield correspondent Marie. Next time! All the Lincoln sights were given Marie's seal of approval, as was Frank Lloyd Wright's marvelous Dana-Thomas House. As we were warned, the house was closed for renovation (since re-opened) but was fun to see from the outside.
The two pies at top were my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. On the left is an apple-cranberry pie and that's pumpkin on the right. I put way too many apples in the apple-cranberry pie. The crust was done but the innards were still plenty crunchy. The pumpkin pie, I will humbly submit, turned out perfectly.
The pie at bottom was not dessert but dinner on the drive home last night. Don't worry, I did not eat while driving! I stopped at Modern Apizza, one of the great pizza places in New Haven, for a sausage pie. It did not disappoint.
I had heard good things about Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle so I swung by their original Capitol Hill location one morning to check them out. Maybe it was the yuppie vibe, or that the tray of fritters the guy brought out just as I was about to order did not turn out to be fresh from the oven, or that I had been to the world's best donut shop a few days earlier, but Top Pot did nothing for me. The fritter was fine but it was no bacon maple doughnut.
Legend has it that the tuna fish sandwich was invented, or at least popularized, in Astoria. Perhaps the first sandwich was made here on Pier 39 where Bumble Bee once had a cannery. Today the pier hosts a cannery museum, a Rogue Ale pub, offices and the Coffee Girl coffeehouse.
They brew an excellent chai at the Coffee Girl, the toasted (shudder!) non-NYC bagel was piled high with lox, and the view from the end of the pier can't be beat. Is it normal for tugboats to sit that low in the water?
Ha! This isn't going to mean anything to anyone other than myself but that exclamation means I just found a bunch of photos that I was looking for a couple of days ago. There's more to come from Astoria but I have to go out of sequence to hit an anniversary on Saturday. Believe it or not but there sometimes is a plan to what gets posted here.