louisville – day 1

like many folks these days, our plans have been canceled or rearranged, and while some days we might feel down about it all, others you just have to make your own happiness happen.  phillip and i did just that this past weekend with a quick getaway to louisville, ky.  it was a good halfway point to meet up with my dad (who drove up from alabama) and my younger brother clark (who flew down from chicago).

phillip, clark, and i got in around lunch, so after we dropped our suitcases at the hotel, we took a walk to the highlands to try out el taco luchador.  this spot was recommended by my friend sara, who lived here for several years, and is bright and fun, serving up delicious food and beverages.

round one was a couple of coronas, of course, while clark tried the frozen watermelon margarita.  clark said his drink was tasty and only made better with an order of chips and queso.  apparently, the only way they serve queso in chicago is fundido-style which, although good in its own way, cannot quite compare to the runny, mouthwatering white queso you find at mexican restaurants in the south.  i think clark was in heaven with each bite!

as for the tacos themselves, we all three tried the baja fish taco and declared it the uncontested favorite.  between the perfectly battered filet and crispy cabbage, it was a taco that would satisfy any taco-lover in town.

baja fish tacos & the al pastor taco.

also tried (and devoured) were the al pastor, carnitas, and chicharron tacos.  they, too, were a tasty trio, and for me, the chicharron was so perfect and tender that i had to order a second!

the carnitas & chicharron tacos.

later that day, milo rolled into louisville and, inevitably, it was time to eat again.  if you’ve ever been on a trip with my family, you know the plans largely revolve around food.  surely we aren’t the only ones?

we wanted something good but not too fancy and soon settled on trying feast bbq.  how did we decide on trying feast?  i’d be lying if i told you it wasn’t because of the bourbon slushies they prominently feature on their site… 🙂  also, it was a short drive from the hotel.

dad had the brisket sandwich, which he rated as an 8 out of 10.  i feel like that’s saying a lot seeing as how he has lived in the south over 30 years now and has tried his fair share of brisket.

clark went for the pulled pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.  he commented that it all was perfectly satisfying.

phillip and i were in a sharing mood since we were still full from lunch, so we munched on the simple salad (gotta get some greens, somehow, some way) and crispy mac & cheese balls (which, in our opinion, didn’t need the overpowering horseradish sauce at all).

overall, we ended our first day in louisville two for two.  not a bad start!

austin – day 2

the austin adventure continued bright and early saturday.  no rest for these young travelers, no siree!  with only a short 36 hours left on this trip, we needed to make the most of it, and we did just that.  erin, shawn, kyle, kari, and i made our way over to la barbecue for what would end up being maybe the best barbecue i’ve ever had in my life.  we had wanted to go to franklin barbecue, as it is probably austin’s best-known bbq joint, but waking up at 6 a.m…..on a saturday….on vacation didn’t sound like the most appealing idea.  plus, our uncle craig had already given us the inside scoop that he thought la barbecue was better than franklin’s (ooooh, quite a statement to make), so we took his advice.

only around since 2012, la barbecue has created quite a following for itself at the somewhat sketchy corner of east 1st street and brushy.  this dirt yard hosts picnic tables under tents and umbrellas to shade you as you eat.  the smoker is right there also, and you order, as you would expect, from a friendly cashier at a food truck.  there wasn’t much of a crowd just yet, but as more folks started showing up, we decided we’d go ahead and create the line.  we weren’t first, no, we left that to a group of younger twentysomethings that were drinking water out of previously full vodka bottles. rrriiiight.  we got there about 9:30 and held down the fort as the rest of the crew arrived around 11 to hold some table space for us.  when you’re traveling with 13, you’ve gotta be on top of it!

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the texas morning was warming up nicely, so as we waited, we gladly took part in the free keg of beer that was being served up to the thirsty la barbecue patrons.  just give ’em a tip and enjoy!

kyle, shawn, & kari.

kyle, shawn, & kari.

there was no sense in having everyone get in line individually and order, so shawn, kyle, kari, and erin took the lead to order for the whole bunch.  what did we end up with, you ask?  almost a pound of everything!  yes, let’s see what we had here.  a quart of the potato salad, a quart of spicy cole slaw, a quart of beans, three links of spicy sausage, one frito pie, a pound of pulled pork, a few pork ribs, a pound of fatty brisket, a pound of regular brisket, and a handful of white bread because, you know, no barbecue meal is complete without good ‘ole white bread.

the meatz.

the meatz.

when we were ordering, we were so kindly given a sample of the brisket.  the gentleman pulled out a brand new parchment, and as he unwrapped it, a charred slab of meat peeked out between the folds.  he cut off a few hunks for us to sample, and we all looked at each other with that thought “oh man, we’ve never had good brisket until this moment.”  kyle took his bite and closed his eyes.  he was quiet for a solid 15-20 seconds, and finally when we he finished, he opened his eyes with a smile and said something to the effect of, “i could die right now and not be unhappy.”  that, ladies and gentlemen, is what should happen when people eat food.

as we grabbed utensils and waters, the girls got place settings put out, and we passed the trays among everyone, one tray down one side and the other down the the opposite.  they don’t have plates here, so you’ll either be eating directly off the tray or off a piece of brown parchment paper.  hey, whatever works!

the next hour or so was full of “mm’s” and “ooh’s” as we all got a taste of this austin staple.  i can’t speak for the other end of the table (i mean, it’s a little tough to get reviews from 13 people all at once), but on our end, there were different takes on all we had eaten.  we’ll start with the sides.  the potato salad, from what i remember, was quite good, while the spicy coleslaw may have been a touch too spicy.  i am, though, a spice wimp as many of you know, so if you, i don’t know, grew up in texas eating spicy food all your life, you’d probably be embarrassed for me.  whatevs!  now, let’s talk about the beans, and, just beans in general.  i feel like beans get a bad rap around town because of their, ahem, after effect, but you know what?  i’ll just say it, though:  i like beans!  i like refried beans on my tacos, i like black beans in my chipotle rice bowls, i like great northern beans in my chicken dinner, and i like baked beans in the summertime alongside some good barbecue.  there, i’ve come out with it!  and these baked beans at la barbecue were yummy.  i liked them so much i wanted to ask for another helping but didn’t get the chance before the leftovers were chucked in the garbage.  well, another time then, baked beans, another time.  the summer season has just begun!

now let’s talk about the important stuff, the barbecue.  the spicy sausage, as you can guess, wasn’t really up my alley.  it actually looked quite red when you cut into it, and i gladly let phillip eat the other half of my hunk.  i really liked the pulled pork and could not get enough of the pork ribs.  what we all agreed on, though, was that the brisket truly was to die for.  kyle and i had excellent brisket up in salt lake city, but this stuff wasn’t just out of this world; it’s like it was in another galaxy completely.  to this day (a mere 14 days after having been there), i have dreams with slabs of brisket dancing around me, hunks of it jumping into my mouth as i savor each bite.  hm, did this just get weird?


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austin – day 1

as most of you know by now, the andrich family is a big ‘family’ family.  we had the time of our lives when everyone came to atlanta for kari and kyle’s wedding last october, and since none of our parents are turning 60 this year, we figured we’d begin a new tradition in an annual cousin trip.  yep, just like that we instituted the first of these new get-togethers over in austin, texas.  most of us had never been, and with it being pretty much halfway between georgia and california, it seemed like a pretty solid destination.

thirteen of us total made the trip, and that number included phillip.  oooh, our first time traveling together!  and so soon!  yes, yes, we’ve only been together a couple of months, but when you know, you know.  so, it was a very early five a.m. when we woke up, packed our suitcases, and made our way to hartsfield-jackson international airport.  after getting our boarding passes, we shuffled through security with hundreds of other sleepy travelers.  although it was a busy morning there already, it was quiet, so we tried not to be too disruptive as we waited for our plane.

since we’d checked our bags, we relaxed at the gate and coolly walked on that md90 towards the end of the line.  we were on the left of the plane in the two-seat row, a nice cozy setup for a quick two-hour flight westward.  we of course took a few pictures, but none of them had both of us looking our best at the same time, so phillip craftily composed this cropped mashup of the two of us.  hehe.

such a happy couple!

such a happy couple!

it seemed like we had just finished our breakfast smoothies when we touched down in the lonestar state.  with an early flight came an early arrival, and we practically had the whole day ahead of us.  we deplaned and snatched our suitcases from carousel five.  the taxi line was short, so we quickly hopped in a cab with a driver who looked exactly like quint from the movie jaws.  he had a little bit of an oddball demeanor that made for an entertaining ride to san bernard street.  we grabbed the luggage, thanked the driver for his advice, and joined kyle and kari in chinquapin, our massive and funky abode for the next 48 hours.  when you’ve got a baker’s dozen to accommodate, your selection pool is narrowed down pretty quickly.  we got a speedy tour of the common space and then took a stroll up the block to the nearby liquor store j&j spirits.

me, doing about what you would expect me to be doing.

me, doing about what you would expect me to be doing.

okay, yes, it wasn’t even noon yet, but we needed to stock up the fridge for all the cousins who would soon be in town!  the cashier was kind as we perused this quaint shop for the necessities:  seagram’s, fireball, white wine, red wine.  yep, that oughta do it…at least for a rew hours.  kyle and phillip used their big muscles to lift those heavy bags, and it was back to the house we went.

look at our hunks!

look at our hunks!

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smokebelly bbq – atlanta, ga


last weekend was relaxing and beautiful down here in georgia, and i spent as much time of that perfect spring saturday outside as i could.  phillip came over to the condo where i was happily chatting with my neighbors chris and suzy and their sweet little pup shorty.  the trees in our courtyard were providing the perfect amount of shade, and the slight breeze kept us cool.  we cracked open some bud lights and caught up on the latest.  it’s wild how much you don’t see your neighbors when the colder months are here.  i felt like i hadn’t visited with those two in months!

as the early evening crept in, i could feel my stomach rumbling.  we weren’t in the mood to cook, so phillip and i were trying to figure out where we should go for dinner.  we knew we wanted to dine alfresco since it was such a gorgeous night, and with that must-have, chris and suzy were quick to recommend smokebelly bbq just down the street off east andrews.  i’d gotten their flyers and coupons in the mail after their grand opening but hadn’t yet given it a visit.  suzy was armed with several suggestions, and since i never turn down good bbq, we knew just where we’d be going.  her fingers were crossed that we would like it just as much as she did; considering she’d been back several times after first going with chris, it sounded like a pretty good bet.

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the pig & the pearl – atlanta, ga


you guys, i have very much been looking forward to writing this review.  why, you ask?  well, i’ve a few reasons.  number 1:  there were eleven of us at our new restaurant dinner this past week – how exciting!  number 2:  we were going to a restaurant in atlantic station, and we haven’t ventured there in a while.  number 3:  my younger brother clark was going to be there with his friend a-dex, and it was her first nrw since moving to atlanta.  welcome to the city, girl!  and finally, number 4:  a fellow blogger alannah was joining us.  ah, an adoring fan, what a thrill!  alannah has been a loyal follower for many months, and after getting to know each other through our writing, we decided it was time to meet in person.

so, just exactly where did we get to enjoy all of these wonderful things?  at the pig & the pearl, your “one stop shop for all things smoked.”  they serve up the finest cuts of pork, beef, and lamb alongside the freshest raw seafood and shellfish.  get it now?  pig and pearl?  ah, yes, there ya go!  as you will soon find out, the sides are also incredibly crafted and pair well with the extensive spirits list.

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