Great report. Those pictures from Hoover’s have me salivzting right now for CFS! Looking forward to your final days on the road. Good eating!
Bravo. Not for following my suggestions (although you gotta admit, I HAVE been right), but for showing a wonderful spirit of adventure in my home state. When you get home and start to miss it, you can order a copy of Robb Walsh’s "Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook," because he’s been too all of the shrines.
The Cooper’s experience was great. Being able to see them making the charcoal, all the smoke and ash, eating at big long tables with everyone who walked in the door, all these told you that you were someplace where they took their barbecue seriously. The town square reminded me of Prescott, AZ when I lived there for three years in the ealry 1980’s. Also, it was very similar to other town squares that I have seen this week.
I have already determined to return to Memphis for a serious investigation over a few days. Tomorrow I will sample what I can as I drive through. Rendezvous will have to wait until I have the time to truly appreciate it.
Mentioning Highway 61 always reminds me of the Bob Dylan song. I spent a lot of time on it visiting relatives south of St. Louis before I55 was built. That trip was 66 from Chicago to St. Louios and then 61 soputh out of St. Louis.
Also, last year I took 61 from I10 up to the Natchez Trace Parkway which I used to get to Nashville and then the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive back to New jersey. Still had to do some spots on the interstates, but the parkways were beautiful in early spring.
So what did you think about the whole Cooper’s experience? To me, it’s not just the meat, but the entire setting. Llano’s town square is like something from a movie set. This thread is just fantastic. I just hope you stop in Memphis. I can’t wait to read what you think. Even though it’s supposed to be touristy and overrated, The Rendezvous to me is worth a trip to Memphis in and of itself. An ideal way to get there is to go up Hwy. 61 (Natchez, Greenville, Clarksdale, etc.). A lot of Q in that area. Makes you understand and appreciate the influences on Memphis bbq. Akavar, you’re the man.
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Day 13: Austin to Llano to Dallas Hill Country sightseeing
Roadfood: Cooper s Old Time Barbecue
Today was a casual travel day. Our only objectives were to drive through the Hill Country and get some barbecue in Llano.
After a leisurely start we found our way over some scenic back roads to Llano, arriving about 12:30. Many people were arriving at Cooper s after church services and the place was quite crowded. We had to wait about 15 minutes to get to the pit and place our order with the pit man.
Coopers uses charcoal rather than wood to fire their pits. This charcoal is made on premises in large hollow steel silos behind the BBQ pit area. The general area can get quite thick with smoke and ash if it is a windy day, so be careful where you park your car. As we waited in line we talked with some people from the area and they told us that Cooper s also makes their own sausage on site.
Our newly made friends recommended that we get the steak because they thought that it was better than the brisket. Cooper s usual smokes large pieces of rib eye, prime rib, and sirloin steaks. In addition Cooper’s offers sausage, chicken, pork chops. Our partners in line recommended we also try the goat. They said they have a relative who will bring a goat down to Cooper s to be smoked and then takes it back home to eat it.
When it was our turn to order we got some sausage, brisket, half a chicken, sirloin steak and a pork chop. I wanted to try some goat, but there was none at that time. Cooper s offers to dip the meat in their sauce before you leave the pit. We opted to dip our own at the table. This way we could try the meat with or without the sauce so we could experience both. All the meat was put on a try and we went inside to have it weighed, pick up our sides, and pay for everything.
We got sides of potato salad, warm blackberry and peach cobblers, and a pickle. Drinks were iced tea and Big Red. The condiments are free and consist of onions, jalapenos, and barbecue sauce. Beans come with the meal and are also supplied at the condiment bar. Loaves of white bread are placed on the table. Cooper s provides silverware so you do not have to eat with your fingers. I was polite and only ate a few bites with my fingers.
Here is a run down on the meats. The brisket was excellent. Sharon really liked how tender and flavorful it was the smoke having seeped through the entire brisket. It was as good as any that I have eaten on the trip. Cooper s uses the same rub on all their meats and it seems to work very well with the type of hardwood charcoal that they use.
The steak was a little on the dry side as was the pork chop. I think the pork chop was made the day before and rewarmed which caused it to lose some tenderness. The chicken was tasty, but the side with the bone was a little dry. The side under the skin was much more tender and juicy. I found the sausage to be similar in concept to a kielbasa, but with less garlic and much more heavily smoked.
We agreed that the brisket was the best of the meats we had sampled, but since we were coming home we had some fantastic leftovers to take back. We even stood in line a second time so Sharon could buy some more to bring back. She wound up buying an entire brisket.
As to the side orders other than the relatively ordinary potato salad we thought they were very good. The beans were excellent. They were prepared with salt pork and tasted just like they were home cooked. The pickle, raw onion, and jalapenos were just the jolts to waken up your taste buds in between different types of meat. We found the barbecue dipping sauce to be thin as sauces in real Texas BBQs tend to be. However that does not mean it is not flavorful. The thin sauce leaves a slight coating on your meat after you dip it. We found this ,21,203894.081,1,7586,18.104.22.168
203974,203894,203894,2006-05-29 15:27:00,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”
Don’t thank us for reading this. THANK YOU for writing about it.
Thanks for the comment. I very much enjoyed this and am looking forward to doing it asgain.
I vote this as "Post Of the Year". Great writeups and pictures speak volumns. Wish I could be there too. Thanks.
I guess I should have had a cfs at Hill country cupboard, but I opted for the pork chop. After all, they have sold 37 or 38 CFS’s since they opened. I have not bewen to Solvang but have seen it in the travelogs. I did not feel like the folks in Fredericksburg were trying to make it a fake or real German toiwn – as if it were in Germany. The feeling I got is that they were saying "We are Texans. Our ancestors are from Germany and we are proud of that and want to remember that. We hope you like that too."
The hill country was beautiful. Yesterday we went from Austin to Llano to eat at Cooper’s. Then north through the hill country on 281 and gradually worked our way back to Dallas from Hico. I hope to write that up later today.
Thanks for continuing to read this.
I also had the taste described as cherry jello as well as your calling it bubble gum. I think both fit.
I found that Big Red grew on me. I had three – one bottle and two fountain. I always prefer soda from a bottle. Cans and fountain are me last choices. But this did not seem to make a difference to Big Red. I found the sweetness, flavor, and coldness to be a perfect way to wash down great barbecue. And me a beer man talking about soda over beer with barbecue. What is this world coming to!?
Did you have cfs at the Hill Country Cupboard? I found theirs to be great. I’m surprised by the bad experience. The location, wait staff, locals, and overall ambience were quite memorable to me for positive reasons. Maybe because I went for lunch.Fredericksburg reminds me of the fake Danish town Solvang in California. I don’t know if that’s good or not. What did you think of Hill Country overall (the area, not the restaurant)?
Red, of course. [:o)]
Actually, I’ve always called it "bubblegum" flavor. I’m not that fond of it myself, but there have been times when it hit the spot with some central TX BBQ. Many people around here swear by it.
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Day 12: Sightseeing – Austin to Fredericksburg and back
Roadfood: Hill Country Cupboard, Hoover s Cooking
We wanted to tour the Texas hill country so we decided to go to Fredericksburg for some sightseeing and to get a German meal. Fredericksburg was settled by German immigrants and maintains that influence. They also use it as a magnet for tourists.
In addition we wanted to stop at the LBJ boyhood home in Johnson City and take a tour of the LBJ ranch. But first, we decided to stop at the Hill Country Cupboard for breakfast.
We did not have a pleasant experience at the Hill Country Cupboard. It took us three tries to find a clean table – they all seemed to be sticky that morning. Then it took three times of asking the waitress for some coffee. I guess that did not put us in a good mood, because we were unimpressed with the food.
The fried pork chop had very little taste and did not look very appetizing. The crisp hash browns were crisp but not impressive. The only things that were above average were the biscuits. They were light and fluffy and freshly made. I would have to rate the Hill Country Cupboard as a bit below average for breakfast.
Next we went into town for the tour of the LBJ boyhood home and then on to the LBJ ranch for the tour there. We found this to be an interesting and worthwhile stop.
Next we went to Fredericksburg. Many buildings in this town are built of local sandstone. You get the impression that this is a town that was built with the intention of it lasting a long time. Everywhere you turn you encounter German themes and most restaurants offer German dishes along with their other fare.
We decided to stop at the Der Lindenbaum – a reataurant that claims German cooking to be authentic. Sharon had a good meal there during a previous visit and we were anxious to see what they offered. I was a little apprehensive because once we walked in I noticed that the dining room was filled with kitchen smoke and that the air conditioning was not working. I have not mentioned it, but this has been a very hot week in Texas. The temperature was in the 90 s outside and I was hoping for a nice, cool place for lunch.
I was pleasantly surprised with the meal. Also, the smoke gradually cleared and the air conditioning started to cool things down. Sharon decided on the schnitzel with cabbage and noodles and I had the sausage platter with kraut and warm German potato salad. Sharon was very pleased with her schnitzel. Being of German extraction, she found the meal to be very much like what her immigrant German grandmother made.
I liked the variety and taste of the sausages I ordered. The knockwurst, bratwurst, and Polish sausages had their distinct taste and texture, and were served properly not burst or broken. The kraut was good it had caraway seed in it which is my preferred method of preparing kraut. The warm German potato salad was not remarkable so it largely was left behind in preference for the sausages and kraut.
We spent a couple of hours wandering through the tourist area of boutiques and shops along the main drag. We did stop for some Blue Bell ice cream. We had a scoop of coffee mocha and tin roof sundae flavors and were pleased by both. I admit to having come to like Blue Bell ice cream in the short time I have been in Texas. They seem to make an outstanding product.
Next we traveled back to Austin for dinner at Hoover s Cooking and a walk along 6th street in the evening.
Everyone raves about Hoover s cooking and I can see why. The place is clean, bright, unpretentious, ,21,203894.072,1,7586,22.214.171.124
203965,203894,203894,2006-05-29 08:19:42,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”
It’s hard to go to Dallas once you’ve been in Austin. I think Waylon Jennings said that.
Akavar: there is a story behind the yellow orange doughnuts. Bushie can explain to you. They are my favorite.
you did a very good good at photographing your journey, experiences and taste.
I hope you enjoyed Fredericksburg.
Paul E. Smith
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