If there’s one thing I love, it’s BBQ. But here in the Northeast, finding a good barbecue joint is pretty much impossible. But down in Texas, there is amazing ‘cue everywhere you turn. Heck, there’s even a Salt Lick BBQ in the Austin and Dallas airports, so you can get your BBQ fix the moment you touch down in Texas!
So when our friends at Chevrolet invited me down to Houston to join them for a BBQ road trip to Lockhart, Texas (the Barbecue Capital of Texas), behind the wheel of some rugged Chevy Silverado and Colorado trucks, it took me exactly 0.0005 seconds to say YES.
Our adventure started in Houston, at the world-famous Gator Pit of Texas, which was featured on Discovery’s King of the Grill. This small metal fabrication shop makes custom-made, hand-fabricated BBQ pits that are second to none, and award-winning pit master Ritch Robin was kind enough to take time out of his day to give us a tour of their operation.
When it comes to Texas BBQ, it’s all about the offset smoker, and cooking that meat (brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, etc) low and slow. Ritch gave us a behind-the-scenes look into how BBQ pits are built, what makes his pits so desirable, and how customers can customize their pits to the smallest detail.. Like adding a Texas shaped brake light, because why not?
You don’t see workmanship like this very often (everything is made by hand, with one person working on your pit from start to finish), and it’s clear to see why there’s a 1+ year waiting list to get one. Needless to say, if you’re serious about barbecuing, you should definitely consider having them build you a custom pit of your own. Pricing starts at $1,200 for an entry-level pit and goes up from there depending on your needs.
After our crash course in barbecue pits, we hopped into our trucks (thank god for A/C, because Houston was HOT!) and set a course for Kyle, Texas, where we would be spending the night. Along the way, I made the obligatory stop at Buc-ee’s, a Texas rest-stop that has become a rite of passage for anyone traveling between Houston and Austin. Trust me, it’s a Texas institution that everyone should experience at least once in their life.
For this first leg, I was driving a ruby-red Chevy Colorado Duramax. Had I been towing one of the Gator Pits, I would have had no problem, as the Turbo-Diesel engine offers best-in-class towing, with 369 lb-ft of torque and a 7,700 pound towing capacity. This was actually my first time driving a Colorado, and I quite liked the mid-sized pickup. Not everyone needs a full-size pickup, and I could totally see myself driving a Colorado (but make mine a ZR2).
Roughly 2.5 hours later, I finally arrived at the Twin Cabins Hotel, our home for the night. As you can see, this was a rather unique spot for us to spend the night, a Victorian-style country cabin that is off the beaten path, with cows, bulls, and even some mini horses roaming around out back. It’s hard to believe that this place is just 20-30 minutes from Austin.
Once everyone arrived, we embarked on a BBQ cooking class, courtesy of the folks at BrisketU, where we learned from accomplished pitmasters the art of smoking brisket (the toughest piece of beef to master) from start to finish. They showed us how to pick the right brisket, trimming techniques, rubs and prep, wood selection and smoke profiles, starting/managing a firebox, timing the cook, and slicing the end product.
Afterwards, we got to eat all of this amazing food they made for us (brisket, ribs, chicken, and more), and everything was delicious. And I’ve gotta say, after seeing how much time and effort went into preparing this meal, I had a newfound respect for the pitmasters out there. My belly nice and full, I decided to get some sleep so I’d be nice and refreshed for tomorrow’s activities.
The next morning, I had a light breakfast (no reason to fill up when there’s a ton of BBQ ahead of us) before heading to Lockhart. My buddy James wanted to drive the Colorado, so we traded and I took the keys to his Silverado. The ventilated seats were a welcomed addition, as it was still crazy hot, even at 9:30 in the morning.
Then came the tough part, deciding which BBQ joint to hit up first. After consulting with the experts at Google, we decided to start off at Black’s BBQ, which has been in operation since 1932, and is thought to be the oldest barbecue restaurant run by one family in Texas. They’re known for their Brontosaurus-sized “Giant Beef Rib”, so naturally we had to try that, along with the brisket, which is smoked in a most unique way.
OH. MY. GOD. I thought I had experienced great Texas BBQ before, but Black’s just blew my mind. The beef rib (which is insanely huge) is so tender, moist, and delicious. My stomach is growling just thinking about it. And the brisket was perfection, so full of flavor that you don’t even need any BBQ sauce to go with it. My suggestion? Bring some friends, order everything on the menu, and eat it family style.
Next up was Kreuz Market (pronounced “Krites” by the locals), another Texas institution that opened back in 1900 (though it’s only been in this location since 1999). Since Lockhart is all about brisket, I decided to see how theirs stacked up to Black’s. I really enjoyed the black crust of the brisket, which was loaded with flavor, but I thought the meat itself was a little on the dry side. Next time, I’ll have to try their smoked ham, as I hear it’s really good.
As you can imagine, I was in a bit of a food coma by now (and it was only 12:15pm), so I hung out here for a bit while I got my second wind. Then I hopped back in the truck and drove over to Chisholm Trail BBQ, which is “where the locals go”. Sadly, my digestive system was crying Uncle by this point, so I just took a quick peek inside before driving off. Amazingly, they even have a drive-thru for those who don’t want to leave the comfort of their A/C.
Overall, Lockhart really lived up to the hype, and it’s no wonder that they hold the official title as the Barbecue Capital of Texas. I wish I could have stayed longer so I could have sampled some more delicious BBQ, but I had a flight back to Philly that I had to catch.
As you can see, if you’re a barbecue enthusiast, you absolutely must come check out the BBQ scene in Lockhart, TX. Come hungry, and bring lots of napkins. 🙂
Wendy’s Is Giving Away Free Burgers Through The End Of September
Wendy’s is getting an early start on National Cheeseburger Day this year, offering up a free Dave’s Single cheeseburger (with any purchase) every day in September.
That’s right. The purveyor of square-shaped burgers is celebrating National Cheeseburger Day all month long, meaning that you can take advantage of this delicious deal as many times in September as your stomach can handle. Oh boy, time to break out the sweatpants!
So what’s the catch? Wendy’s wants you to download their handy-dandy mobile app. I’ve had it for months now, and they’re always loading killer deals on there, so it’s really a no-brainer. Simply fire up the app, click on the “Free Dave’s Single” offer, and add a Frosty or fries to your order. Boom, you’re out the door for less than $2. How great is that?
Boss: We need more app downloads
Us: Give them free food
Boss: Fine. Free Dave's Single with purchase, every single day, for the rest of September.
Us: *tweets this tweet telling you to go get that free food*
— Wendy's (@Wendys) September 10, 2018
For those of you not in the know, Dave’s Single is Wendy’s name for their quarter-pound, single-patty burger. It comes with toppings of your choice, and may include tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, ketchup, mayo and American cheese.
Happy eating! 🍔
4 Ways Millennials Are Changing Coffee For Better Or Worse
It seems like the media is obsessed with the Millennial apocalypse. Not a week goes by without headlines claiming that Millennials are killing the housing industry, the wine industry, cable television, napkins, chain restaurants, and just about everything under the sun.
Truth be told, Generation Y isn’t “killing” these industries. They simply have their own buying habits that differ from their parents’ generation; and cantankerous companies regret having to change their business models to match changing times.
One prime example of this is coffee.
Coffee may have a long history, but it is constantly evolving. As you might expect, Millennial consumers are rapidly changing the way coffee is sourced, brewed and enjoyed. If you prefer big coffee makers, chain stores, and the like, you might view these changes as bad. If not, these might be welcome changes to you.
Below are four ways Millennials are changing coffee for better or worse:
Millennials Prefer Smaller Coffee Machines or No Machines at All
Research shows that Millennials are more mobile than past generations. They are more likely to go out of state for college, more likely to move to an urban area for a good job, and more likely to live out of a small apartment. If you are moving often or live in a small space, it’s unlikely you’d want to spend big bucks on a clunky coffee machine.
While smaller single-serve coffee machines were heralded as the perfect dorm room necessity, these machines fell out of favor rather quickly with Millennial coffee drinkers (more on this below).
Instead, Millennials are giving up on coffee machines all together in favor of machine-free single-serve coffee capsules. Brands like Caffè di Artisan offer gourmet coffee pods that can be poured into hot water or steamed milks for black coffee or a café latte. This is much easier (and perhaps more sanitary) than using a bulky, expensive coffee machine.
Here’s the bottom line… When’s the last time you saw a Millennial with a copy machine or home phone? Generation Y is moving away from machines, and toward simpler and more effective solutions to their needs – and this includes coffee!
Millennials Like Ethical & Eco-Friendly Brands
With regards to single-serve brewing machines, the reason that K-Cups and Nespresso coffee makers fell out of favor was due to the unparalleled levels of waste. Believe it or not, it’s something that Keurig actually apologized for! Turns out, all those plastic containers and grounds could neither be recycled nor composted. Yikes.
Millennials prefer to purchase their products from ethical brands. When it comes to coffee, this means buying from brands with recyclable packaging and eco-friendly sourcing. They don’t mind spending a little bit more on coffee that is high-quality and from an ethical brand.
Millennials Have Outgrown Starbucks
When Starbucks came out with the Unicorn Frappuccino, it was an obvious play for Instagram and Snapchat-obsessed Millennials. After all, it’s the “Me-Me-Me” Generation that enjoys posting images of their food online. Unfortunately for Starbucks, the frozen beverage was widely known for tasting “sickeningly sweet.”
Still, it’s likely that coffee chains will continue to push kooky promotions to attract Millennial customers. And for a while it will probably work. But overall, Gen Y prefers to patronize smaller coffee shops or – due to thrifty spending – make coffee at home.
Then again, it’s not like Starbucks will disappear anytime soon, as Millennials will continue to visit the coffee chain for free Wi-Fi, to kill time or to conduct meetings.
Millennials Will Make Up Their Own Minds
Millennials are the first generation to be (over) exposed to marketing at a very young age. Perhaps you can remember the first kids-only networks in the 80s and 90s pumping out toy and cereal commercials.
This trend hasn’t stopped, of course. But there’s a key takeaway that is often ignored – the fact that Millennials are somewhat immune to marketing and advertising. This makes sense when you think about it. After all, they’ve seen it all before!
So, while brands may continue to push marketing messages in the form of memes, interactive campaigns or phony grassroots movements, Gen Y will likely be hip to the true intention of these ads. In the end, Generation Y won’t be fooled. They will make their own decisions when it comes to coffee. It’s time the market caught up to Millennial expectations; whether you like these changes or not will color your judgments.
Bud Light Kicks Off The Football Season With Two New ‘Dilly Dilly’ Spots
I don’t know about you, but I just cannot get enough of those hilarious Bud Light Dilly Dilly commercials. And lucky for us, Bud Light is back with two new “Dilly Dilly” ads to celebrate the long-awaited return of the NFL football season.
Bud Lights For Everyone:
During the college football kickoff weekend, Bud Light previewed this spot, which depicts our regal King gifting his kingdom’s loyal habitants with his favorite light lager, Bud Light, when one of the pub patrons asks for a mead. The ad highlights the one friend in every group who tries to show off their sophisticated palette, even when it contradicts the group’s preference.
This commercial introduces two new characters from the neighboring kingdom, Count and Countess Pamplemousse. The Pamplemousse’s represent the snobby friends you always seem to invite to a party. Royal Affair celebrates Bud Light as the light lager of choice for a large group of friends (and foes).
Here’s hoping that these two are just the first in a long line of Dilly Dilly commercials that run throughout the season!