Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

Bluebonnets, Bats, and Barbecue: April 14, 2013: Driskill Hotel, South Congress Food Trucks

We bade farewell to Steve and went off for a walking tour of downtown Austin. (We like walking tours in general on these tours; it gives us a little time to digest.) This was a fine walking tour, particularly because it was free, but I can't remember much about it at all.

I do remember the unabashedly pro-Confederate tone of the Civil War memorial.
Civil War Memorial

And I remember the tale of Angelina Eberly. She saw the soldiers of the Republic of Texas coming into town to move the government records to Houston, and she fired the town cannon (damaging the land office) to rally the citizens of Austin to resist.
Untitled Untitled

The tour ended at the Driskill Hotel, so we stopped in at the 1886 Cafe and Bakery in the Driskill for a drink and a snack. (And we noticed that Steve was in the Starbucks next door, so we invited him to join us.)

The two we chose were both fancy renditions of plebeian treats. The house made Moon Pie was not a smashing success. I don't recall that I've ever had a genuine MoonPie, so I lacked a basis for comparison, but this was not a pleasant treat; it tasted mostly of thick, crumbly graham cracker.
Moon Pie at Driskill Hotel

The banana pudding, however, was outstanding. (The description from the menu: "Layered with "Nilla" Crust and Banana Bread, Banana Sabayon, Warm Banana-Rum Sauce".) It had a superb, rich banana flavor, and a nice play of textures - this was one of the best things we ate on this trip.
Banana Pudding at Driskill Hotel

Lori says of the Driskill Hotel: "It is now my ambition to spend a night (if not a weekend) in this beautiful old hotel. There are many stories of the Driskill Hotel being haunted; I looked and looked, but saw no ghosts."

I had marked time in the schedule on Sunday afternoon for us to visit Austin food trucks, but I didn't have particular food trucks in mind. Multiple Austinites recommended East Side King as a food truck par excellence, but their hours were wholly incompatible with this time - for example, at one location, they are open 5pm - 1:45am, Monday - Saturday. So instead we drove down to the South Congress food court to see what was to be seen there.

The first truck we saw was Burro, serving specialty grilled cheese sandwiches. I hope they have some good air conditioning, because the thought of being stuck in a metal can on a hot Texas day seems really fierce to me.

We ordered their special of the day, a grilled cheese sandwich with brisket from La Barbecue (formerly run by John Mueller), Redneck Cheddar (cheddar made with beer), and mango serrano sauce. It was good, but really quite mild. The brisket was very gently flavored, without the pepper punch of so much other barbecue we'd had. And though I could slightly taste the mango, I couldn't taste the serrano peppers at all.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Brisket

We also ordered fried pears, because we hadn't heard of fried pears before. I think I had been expecting something batter-fried and tender, but these were batter-free and mostly hard. The frying softened the outsides a little, but mostly it just made them very hot - which was no virtue on a 90° day. I wouldn't order them again.
Fried Pears

We ambled past the rest of the trucks (I remember Wurst Tex; I'm not sure whether we actually saw Mrs. P's Electric Cock or whether I've just constructed a memory based on Travelin' Man's description) but the thing that really appealed to us on this hot day was shaved ice. It appealed to others as well; the line was much longer than at any of the other food trucks.
Frigid Frog Shaved Ice Frigid Frog Shaved Ice

Unfortunately, I didn't record which flavor Amy chose, but it was sweet and fruity.
Shaved Ice

I saw that they had a special "pickle" section on the menu, and I remembered that Central Texas was the origin of the Pickle Pop. So I ordered the Dilly Surprise: shaved ice with pickle juice and chunks of pickle. The four of us had widely diverging opinions on the Dilly Surprise. At one end of the spectrum, Lori thought it was freaky and unpleasant, but on the other end, I thought it was great. The sour pickle juice cut through the dusty taste of summer heat, and It wasn't at all sweet and cloying the way lemonade can be. But although I happily finished it, no one else seemed to be hoping I'd share more than a sample.
Dilly Surprise

(In the course of writing this up, I've learned that the South Congress Food Truck is now gone; the food trucks have been sent elsewhere to make room for a new hotel.)
Tags: roadfood
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