I spent the last week in Houston for business but, of course, managed to pack in social, culinary, and fitness adventures a plenty!
The culinary highlight by far was my first visit to Killen’s BBQ, which has taken the Houston BBQ scene by storm over the last two years. To be honest I was pretty skeptical that it would be worth a drive outside the loop and lining up before they opened, but I was willing to give it a shot because . . . BBQ!
I met a couple of friends and colleagues there at 10:30 on Thursday – apparently you have to wait for hours on weekends but weekdays are more manageable. We took a number (which turned out to be meaningless), got in line, and then filed in when they opened at 11:00. Waiting in line outside, we could smell a little of the pecan, oak, and mesquite awesomeness, but it wasn’t until we crossed the threshold into the building proper that the aromas really set our salivary glands into action.
Because I wasn’t sure when I would ever be back there (and because I was hungry), I ordered every meat they had available: lean brisket (delicious), moist (read: fatty) brisket (more delicious), pulled pork (delicious), turkey (very good but a bit salty), pork belly (aka bacon that hasn’t been cured – very tasty but so fatty as not to be my thing), pork rib (kind of underwhelming), jalapeno sausage (delicious), and the pièce de résistance: beef rib. A noted restaurant critic has called the Killen’s beef rib “the Mona Lisa of beef” and it did not disappoint. It was the best beef rib I’ve ever had and much of the rest of the meat was some of the best I’ve ever had as well.
For sides I had pinto beans and green beans – both very good but not mind blowing. One of the other members of our party shared some of his bread pudding with me and that was pretty outstanding. Overall I have to say that Killen’s is definitely a cut above – truly craft BBQ. Craft isn’t that important to me when it comes to BBQ, though, so I’m not likely to endure too many long drives and longer waits in line for it. Still, it was fantastic to try – especially that beef rib.
I had ordered so much meat that other people in the restaurant came over to take their picture with my tray. At another time in my life I might have tried to eat it all (including the 2-lb beef rib) in one sitting, but instead I focused on trying a little of everything and then I took a lot home. Like a snake devouring an elephant, I slowly/surely made my way through all the leftovers over the next few days. In fact, I ate so much BBQ that my urine even smelled like smoked pecan, oak, and mesquite – that’s a first for me!
Saturday I defended my title as Fittest Entrepreneur in Houston. Results haven’t been posted yet but, once they are, I will post a blog entry about that experience. Lots of people have heard of carb loading before a big race but have you ever heard of protein loading? Neither have I! But, given my BBQ binge, that’s exactly what I did and it seemed to go pretty well for me.
Saturday evening I attended the housewarming party for some former students of mine (all grown up now!), which featured some of my Houston favorites for dinner: Torchy’s Tacos, Madras Pavilion, and Bombay Pizza Company – mmmmm!
Then, later in the evening, I joined a former Rice colleague to continue my Barolo education. We did a mini-horizontal tasting of two 2003 Baroli, one from the Barolo region and one from Serralunga. While they both needed some time to open up, they really developed into very, very nice wines – and they paired perfectly with the steaks that my host grilled up. We ate, drank, and chatted about all ranges of topics until about 1 AM – an excellent way to wind down a very active day.
Sunday started with beach volleyball, a real luxury compared to the snow and frigid temperatures Katie was experiencing back in NC. I didn’t have much stamina, unfortunately, due to soreness and recovery from the previous day’s exertions, but it was still fun to play with one of my long-time partners.
It has been a great week, full of food, wine, fitness, and friends! Now it’s back to work as Smart OES will soon be making a very big announcement!