Let's be honest...there's only one choice for the game of the week. I could talk about Bama's revenge, or A&M being disrespected, Manziel's chance at a second Heisman trophy, or Alabama's quest for it's third consecutive national title. I could talk about that, but I won't. Those stories and many more are being told ad nauseum all over the internet.
I'm old enough to remember the "Hurricane Bowl" between the Aggies and Tide the last time they met in College Station. Remember, for a long time, Texas A&M football wasn't as popular as it is today. Sure they would sell out when they played Texas, but for most of the other home games, if you bought a Blizzard at the College Station Dairy Queen, you got a free end zone ticket to that weeks game. I seem to recall that being the case for Bama, but I may be mistaken.
I do remember the circumstances surrounding the game. The Tide were supposed to visit A&M in September for an early non conference game (Bama was SEC, but A&M was in the Southwest Conference...look it up). Then Hurricane Gilbert looked as if it were headed straight to College Station. Citing player safety, Alabama coach Bill Curry asked for (and received) permission to postpone the game until December. On that September day, the day that it was supposed to happen, it was sunny and beautiful in College Station.
The Aggie fans had a field day...I vividly remember several of the Chicken Curry t-shirts being worn by the Ags. And after A&M beat Texas on Thanksgiving, they were riding high and ready to defend their house. But it was not to be. Led by the late, great Derrick Thomas, Alabama won 30-10. Thanks to Dairy Queen, I was there.
Other Games I'll be Watching:
TCU at Texas Tech - TCU's starting QB is out for "several weeks" and Tech is still using a true freshman walk on. If he leads them past the Frogs, it significantly impacts the race for the Big XII title.
Iowa at Iowa State - Okay, I won't actually watch this game...but I do like knowing who holds the Cy Hawk trophy.
* Let's not concern ourselves with who Dustin took shots at. Let's just send angry thoughts his way.
I wish that I could tell you that I had some strong memories of Notre Dame and Michigan, but I don't. I wish that I could tell you that I had strong feelings on either of those teams, but I won't. I wish I could tell you that I will be cheering for (or against) one of these storied programs, but I can't.
I do have some early positive memories about the Wolverines. A long time ago, kids, not every team, nor every bowl was available for you to watch. There was no internet, and no DVRs. So, if you did stumble upon one of those rare games, you either got sucked in or indifferently turned the channel and moved on with your day. I remember being mesmerized by Jaime Morris and the Wolverines in the Hall of Fame Bowl. It made such an impression that I rooted for them the following year when they won the NCAA basketball tournament. I was even wearing a Michigan jersey in the middle of the North Carolina section when "the Timeout" was called a few years later.
People tell me that I'm supposed to hate Notre Dame. I tried to for a while, but I don't. They are arrogant, entitled and have unfair advantages. But it seems that every advantage they have, my beloved Longhorns have similar circumstances. I have liked and rooted for Brian Kelly since his U of Cincinnati days. I was entranced by the Manti Te'o story last year (as you were too, admit it). I don't particularly like Rudy, I just can't hate Notre Dame for that.
This Saturday the first and third winningest college football programs will be meeting. And, since Notre Dame is (sort of) joining the ACC, they are meeting for the last time in the foreseeable future. They each claim 11 national championships and have sent too many players to the NFL to count. This is why I'll be watching.
Other Games I'll be Watching:
South Carolina at Georgia - USC had a big win last week and UGA had a big loss...If UGA loses, their title hopes are done. If South Carolina wins, they have a very favorable schedule going forward.
Florida at Miami - Nostalgia...that and seeing what a Florida team with (almost) its full roster can do.
West Virginia at Oklahoma - With the Mountaineers rebuilding, this game isn't as exciting as it was last year. However, this game should show how far they have to come and will give us a better indication on how good (or bad) Oklahoma is.
Washington State at USC - Could this be the first big upset of Mike Leach's Wazzou career?
Dustin is clearly biased...but so are you. Let's all move on shall we? And thanks to Wikipedia for it's help.
I've had the pleasure of visiting 2nd Bar and Kitchen a handful of times, but with all of these restaurant posts, I wanted to visit it once more before I wrote about it. Before I get to the food though, I want to mention Congress Bar which is adjacent to 2nd. It's simply my favorite bar to watch the bartenders perform their craft. Eye droppers, test tubes, zesting...it's really a show when they are concocting their drinks. Even if you aren't drinking anything stronger than Austin tap water, it's worth going just to watch the show.
Back to 2nd...the food is fantastic. As I've said, I've had the chance to visit a handful of times before and since I've moved to Austin and they've always exceeded expectations. This time I went the safe route and ordered the Bar Congress Burger. I enjoyed it but the Pork Belly Bahn Mi that my sister ordered was so delicious that nothing else on the table could match it. You can't really go wrong with either of those. Nor can you go wrong with the Short Rib Sliders that my brother in law ordered. We started the whole thing off with fried buffalo pickles and each ended with a dessert (I had the peanut butter cookies...wow). It's was a great meal from start to finish.
The item that I would recommend above all others at 2nd is easily the Black and Bleu Pizza. Normally I'm not a big fan of red onions, but in this case, don't alter a thing on your first try. Everyone will get to experience what a true foodie (which I am definitely not) gets to experience with this pizza. Without fail you get how the blue cheese and black truffle mix perfectly with each other to make this beautifully sweet taste that easily balances out the onions. The pork belly confit melts in your mouth and the medjool dates complete the experience. It is an eye opening culinary experience that speaks to every palate. It is amazing.
If I can't convince you to try the black and bleu, seemingly everything else on the menu will be the best thing you've eaten that day. Enjoy!
The phrase "food coma" gets thrown around a lot these days and I've can't say I've ever really experienced what I think that means. Until today. Today I had the pleasure of trying Franklin BBQ. If you aren't familiar with Franklin, its considered one of, if not the, best barbeque restaurants in the world. Celebrity chef and food critic Anthony Bourdain has said that the brisket is the best he's ever had. Texas Monthly named it the best barbeque in the state. There's usually a three hour wait and people swear it's worth it. On their website, they state that they have run out of brisket every day they have been open (think about that...that blows my mind). What I'm saying is that it's pretty highly regarded.
There's a line. There seems to always be a line. The doors open at 11 and people are there before 9. When I first drove by it was around 9:45 and there were about 50 people waiting. Even with a long wait, you aren't promised anything. When they run out of meat, they are done for the day, There's a way to skip the line, but if you have the time and the patience (which I lack) it looks like quite the scene. People line up for hours. They bring iPads and magazines. They bring coolers and folding chairs. They mingle with their neighbors in line and there seems to be a real sense of camaraderie. I am impatient and lazy so I found a way to skip waiting in line. I won't bore you with the details but it involves pre-ordering, a minimum of two weeks and the entire process can be spelled out with an email to Franklin.
I had the turkey (moist and delicious), pulled pork (also moist and delicious) and the brisket (um...also, also moist and delicious) with a side of potato salad and some key lime pie. If you are on a diet, avoid this place at all costs. There doesn't seem to be anything "lean" or "skinny" within blocks of this place and you'll just be mad at your diet.. Everything was tender and seasoned perfectly. The potato salad was the only thing that wasn't amazing, but it was still good enough that there weren't any leftovers. The sauce (vinegar based) was superb and I'm glad I have extra. Having lived in Texas 90% of my life, I've had plenty of BBQ. This is easily on my list of favorite BBQ places. Go and don't let the line scare you away.
I am constantly amazed by how much great food there is in Austin. Our store is lucky enough to be on the same block as Lamberts, La Condesa and Leaf. We are fortunate to be on the same street as Jo's Coffee Shop, Taverna, Austin Java, Cru, and Coal Vines. And if you venture further down there's 2nd Bar and Kitchen and Berry Austin. This is all on our street. You could be full and happy at any and all of these places. If you venture off in any direction you could end up at Bob's Steak and Chophouse, the Bonneville (a personal favorite), III Forks, and I could go on and on and on.
My problem is that I live and work in this area. Why is that a problem? Because there's no need to venture more than a block or two for an amazing meal. And I haven't even scratched the surface of all of the culinary hotspots, Top Chef winners and James Beard recipients or renowned food trucks that are all throughout the city. I told myself that when I moved here, I would constantly try new places and I've failed in that. That changes now.
I'm going to start hitting some of these places up and I'll report back. I'm no food critic, but I know what I like. I know when service is good and when it isn't. I know what places I would recommend to anyone who walks in the store and I know what places never seem to be on that list. Take my advice, listen to my recommendations or ignore me completely...that's your choice. But if you're interested in some Austin dining information, I'll try my best to provide it. These will be my likes and dislikes and mine alone, and I'll try to be fair. I'll have more tomorrow...because it starts then.
Sorry for reusing that dated NBA marketing slogan, but these playoffs have really pulled me back in. Sure, after March Madness and MLB's opening few weeks, I start paying some cursory attention to the Association. My man crush on Kevin Durant has even kept me engaged at times during the long regular season. But this year it seems to be even more exciting.
After a first round featuring my two favorite teams (Houston and OKC), the up and coming Clippers, Nuggets and Warriors, and drama in the Brooklyn/Chicago series and the NY Knicks/Boston series, I noticed I was making the late night games a little higher on the viewing scale at the house. I had no idea how intense it was going to get in round two.
There seems to be a lot of bad blood in the east. The Knicks/Pacers undercard is great theater if only because the Knicks could win or lose any game by 20 depending on how they are shooting that night. The Bulls/Heat series...that's on a whole other level. If there were a drinking game involving the how many times a Heat or Bulls player was thrown, pushed, pulled or tripped onto the floor, Starlight Vodka might run out of inventory.
Then there's the West. Wow. Manu Ginobili may have hit the shot of the playoffs with 2 seconds left in the second overtime of game 1. And Steph Curry is becoming a star before our eyes. Kevin Durant is proving how great he is coming 1 assist shy of a triple-double. And the Grizzlies are showing everyone why they were a popular pick to make the finals.
I hope that this is a sign of things to come. I love this game (another old NBA slogan).
* Dustin is not a doctor. Take this post as his opinion only and stay in school
February is a tough month for the sports fan...the Super Bowl signals the end of the NFL season, college football is all but forgotten, baseball hasn't started yet and, for me anyway, my Basketball Jones hasn't arrived. Fortunately, it's the shortest month and March Madness is right around the corner. Pitchers and catchers have reported for spring training and the post All Star Game NBA season is starting to become more and more compelling.
So how do you pass the time? Usually, I try to catch up on movies and tv shows I've missed, read a couple of books, and spend more time outdoors as the temperature rises. The hibernation needs to end sometime, people.
This February, I used my time to pick up and move to Austin. Getting a second Gameday Cloth up and running plus unpacking and organizing my (so called) life has been more than enough to pass the time. I know that we are all excited to bring the Gameday Cloth lifestyle to our friends, old and new, in the state capital. It will all be worth it.
So, I ask again...how do you pass the time? What helps the sports fan in you get through this month?