Headed off, last week, on a quick trip to Austin for a couple of days discussing taxes in Texas - learned a lot and had a terrific time. Now, I know many people can't imagine having a wonderful time with a bunch of tax accountants and tax attorneys, but you'd be surprised, well, okay maybe it's just because I love tax and all of its intricacies. But, wait until you see what we did in between all of those tax discussions and I think you may come over to my way of thinking when it comes to tax geeks. ( I think my colleagues will be okay with me calling us tax geeks, well, we kinda are...)
I arrived Tuesday evening and we had a meet 'n greet at Serranos. http://www.serranos.com/home.html They served really tasty margaritas, beers, soft drinks and the apps were perfect - jalapeno rellenos that were big and juicy and had a real kick to them, lots of tortilla chips with salsa and chile con queso, and finally chicken and ground beef flaquitos. A great opportunity for getting to know everyone again.
After a busy morning, we headed over to Gumbos. http://www.gumbosaustin.com/ Wow, what a meal. Now, when I saw the menu I vowed to have the blackened shrimp with white rice and broccoli since I knew we would be having BBQ in the evening. Well, as soon as our server told us about the Angus beef ternderloin, all of my resolve went right out the window. My colleague quickly came to my aid and helped me to rationalize by saying, it's only one day. Ah, true, so true, beef tenderloin it was, oh with mashed potatoes, not white rice. This piece of beef was cut with your fork tender, blackened and served with a gentle red wine reduction. One of my colleagues had jumbo shirmp served with blackened rice. Now none of us knew what blackened rice was so he kindly asked our server and it turns out that it is pork and beef, cooked way down and mixed with white rice.
But, wait I'm getting ahead of myself. We started out with either soup or salad. The soup was a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo - wow, was it good. I've read up a little bit on gumbo and apparently there are two types, Creole and Cajun. Creole gumbo uses a lighter roux and has tomatoes, while Cajun uses a darker roux, resulting in a darker broth, and it never includes tomatoes. Gumbo's gumbo was Cajun, as you'll see from the pic. As soon as I get my kitchen back, I'm going to try to make some.
By this time our stomachs were begging us to stop, and just when we thought it was safe to get up from the table, our server says, "warm bread pudding on a whiskey cream sauce, with vanilla ice cream will be right out". But, I did notice that no one declined when our server brought it around, though I did hear a lot of "well, just a taste..." It was a gorgeous dessert, and as Jim always says, flecks of vanilla in the ice cream are an indication of the highest quality - boy, were there a lot of flecks in this ice cream.
After several more hours of tax talk we adjourned to our hotel for a brief time before we headed out to an evening of fun. Our first stop was the beautiful stadium - is it gorgeous - we can only hope for something like that here someday. After a fun tour including standing right down on the field we headed out to the evening meal - BBQ - yay! It took about an hour to reach The Salt Lick BBQ. http://www.saltlickbbq.com/locations_driftwood.html It's BYOB and cash only so remember that before you head out but, oh, it is so worth the trip. When I walked in and saw the BBQ I had to take a pic. The guy at the cash register immediately invited me behind the counter to get a close up. The smell was just incredible and boy, was I ever looking forward to dinner. Got back to the table and we all got situated with our wine, beer, ice tea, etc. Then began the food. Thank goodness we were sitting at sturdy picnic tables, because by the time they stopped bringing the food, even these tables were groaning from the weight of the smoky goodness.
Out came the potato salad, beans, cole slaw, bread, pickles, onions and, of course, the star of the show, the beef brisket, sausage and pork ribs. Was I ever in heaven - my only "problem" - I couldn't stop eating!
Now, can you believe - after all of that food, everyone of us nodded when asked did we want dessert. Well, actually we were pretty good - most of us split something. There was a wonderfully, fruity cobbler and, of course, being in the South, a perfect pecan pie. As you can see from the pic below, I couldn't even get my camera out fast enough to take a before picture, so here is the after. Alright, alright the reason I didn't get a before pic was because I was too busy stuffing my face with the cobbler, sorry!
Our meeting wound up around noon on Friday and a few of us had late flights so had some extra time - what to do? Um, how about eat, because we clearly hadn't yet had enough! So, we took a drive out to Oasis - a gorgeous spot overlooking Lake Travis. Because of the lack of rain, the lake was really low, but the view was still gorgeous and the company was wonderful - a really great way to end an informative, learning filled couple of days.