Monday, November 4, 2013

2013 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest 11/3/13

Sampled 11/3/13, Austin, Texas
as always, click on the photos for larger views.

Oops we did it again.  The TMBBQ Fest, that is.  What a time, what a time.  This one started like the last one with my buddy Dave in Austin waiting around online to score us some VIP tickets when they went on sale several months back.  His good luck continues and we have been salivating towards this date ever since.

We arrived at the Long Center about 10:45 and were quickly informed scanning of tickets would not begin until 11 am.   We were instructed to join the VIP line and wait to be called forward.  Sorta weird considering they had booths full of people standing around waiting til 11 am.  We ended up about 15th in the VIP line and maintained that spot after finally getting called forward to get our tickets scanned.  Kind of a weird process, but whatever.  Then we sat in for the long wait til the gates were opened at noon.  I saw the BBQ Snob, Daniel Vaughn, wandering around, but he seemed to always be in heavy conference so I just hung in our spot awaiting the meat to come.  A little before opening, Daniel and the pit master from Snows went over to the start of the line for general admission and upgraded those first in line to VIP status.  Pretty cool, and those folks were very happy!

Dave's buddy Bill joined us in line a bit later.  Every once in awhile a few folks would be seen at the rail upstairs and someone usually yelled "throw us some ribs!", but no one ever did.  That hour of waiting seemed to take forever.  As usual, I had fasted the previous day in anticipation of a belly full of meat.  It had been a long time since those 2 tacos I had Friday night!
The gates finally opened at noon and the stampede up the stairs to the food began in earnest.  We had already picked Snow's, Franklin, and Pecan lodge as our starters and we made a beeline in that direction.  Just after topping the stairs I heard someone call my name and it was Daniel saying hello.  We shook hands and said "howdy" but that was about it as I was on a meaty mission!  Sorry if I ran off Daniel, but I am sure you understand if anyone does!

On approaching Snow's booth I saw they did not yet have their food out, so I detoured toward Franklin, only to find a line already wrapping around the side!  Gah!  So on to Pecan lodge I went.  Justin had a line, too, but much shorter than Aaron.

 From there we spent the day grabbing food from 2 or 3 spots at a time, then sampling and discussing what we had.  My main goal was to get through as many joints as possible before the general admission folks roared in at 1 pm.  I managed to get through 17 booths before the hoards descended and the lines got stupid.    I never did make it by Franklin's booth.  I have had plenty of his food before but I felt my time was better spent sampling all the other places rather than waiting in line for what I knew was good.  I think that was a good plan.  Especially when trying to score as much food as possible before the general admission folks flooded the place.
I did stop by later in the day and got myself a t-shirt.  Sampling 20 of the 21 joints represented made for a very good day indeed.

The food this year was a mixed bag, as it usually is.  The size of the sample varied widely among the booths.  Some gave you just a bite, others practically an entire meal.  As to the meat, some was great, some average, a few "bleh".  Yes that was actually what I wrote in my notes about a couple of the places I tried.  I know, that's not a very thorough review, but that pretty much covered it for those two stops.  "Bleh!"

The two top stops for me were Pecan lodge and Black's.  Both shared greatness in all of their samples.  I scored high individual marks for Buzzie's jalapeno sausage, Miller's brisket, a great brisket end from Cousins, Hutchin's rib, and Stiles Switch sausage.  I bagged a few leftovers to take home, but not more than a pound total.  At the other booths I had some very nice maple finish Crown Royale.  They made a sale there.  I will be purchasing some of that!  The fried pie shop was not around this year, but a developer was offering some free chocolate pecan pie.  I don't think it was anything too fancy, maybe just some chocolate chips thrown in with the Karo syrup, however it was mighty tasty.  I even went back for a second taste.
They moved the stage down the hill this year and there were several different acts scheduled.  However the one I wanted to see was the great Bobby Patterson, Mr. "TCB or TYA", "How do you spell Love", etc.   We wandered down and caught part of his set before calling it an afternoon and retiring for a well deserved meat coma.
I do have to crab about the t-shirt that came with the VIP this year.  After last year's outstanding "Smoke 'em if you Got 'em", this year's shirt with just a small front logo and no list of participants on the back, seemed very plain indeed.  Surely they can do better than that.

I never did see Drew and the Man Up crew or the Texas BBQ Posse folks, but I am sure they were all there somewhere.  We did run into Alice from the Meat Fight (Dave was wearing the shirt I got him last year).

The weather could not have possibly been better.
I finished my day with a nice belch about 10:30 pm with a wonderful smoke flavor.  A nice reminder of some mighty fine smoked meats on a beautiful day in Austin.

Below are a couple of posts showing booths and food samples from the fest.  It is split into two posts to make loading easier for slower connections. 

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