5 Things To Eat



I must ask for your forgiveness before I proceed. Lest I sound like a broken record, I have been tagged for a meme from the one and only Melissa of Traveler’s Lunchbox. I’m not asking you to forgive me for participating in a meme (I’m quite fond of them myself), but just for tolerance and acceptance while I rattle on about the brilliance of Melissa.

I love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love her and her blog.

Ok, I may proceed now.

It’s her first meme, and such a brilliant idea (but c’mon now, did we expect anything less from her I ask?) This time around she asks 5 bloggers to list five things they would recommend to others to try at least once in their lives. Titled “Things To Eat Before You Die”, the meme is also known as “The Foodblogger’s Guide to the Globe” and will no doubt yield some unique and savory results. Ladies and gentleman, I now give you Matt’s Five Things To Eat Before You Die:

1. Texas Barbeque from any reputable place in the Hill Country

I learned at an early age to abstain from group conversation about religion, politics, and barbeque preference. I will never participate in the big giant barbeque debate on which state has the best, but then again I don’t have to–everyone knows it’s Texas! I mean really…

Beef ribs, pork ribs, sausages, hot links, sliced white bread on butcher paper, dirty sticky fingers, rings of sliced white onions, Dr. Pepper, brisket, barbequed chicken, I need say not a word more.

2. Chicken Fried Steak

I’m certainly paying homage to my home state with my list, but if you’ve ever had true authentic Chicken Fried Steak you know what I’m talking about. Chicken Fried Steak isn’t chicken at all, but generally a less-that-stellar cut of chuck or round steak that is pounded thin, seasoned and breaded, and fried just like chicken. Chicken Fried Steak is believed to have come from German immigrants to Texas during the 19th century as it is very similar to schnitzel. It’s almost usually served with mashed potatoes and gravy and has been known to cause me to either 1) scream for more 2) faint from happiness and 3) avoid my doctor when it’s time for a physical.

3. Barbacoa

Spanish for the word “barbecue”, barbacoa has a very specific meaning in Texas and parts of Mexico. And if you’ll excuse the grisly image I’ve photographed below, I will tell you that some of the most delicious, mouth-watering tacos ever consumed by man come from Texas–and they come from the head of a cow.

I’ll wait right here while you turn away in disgust or write me hate mail.


All done?

Barbacoa involves a very slow roast, either in an oven or traditionally in the ground. Once cooked the meat is scraped off the head and seasoned, wrapped in a fluffy flour tortilla and enjoyed on Sunday mornings. I’ve introduced these tacos to dozens of friends with always the same statements: “those have to be the best tasting tacos I have ever eaten in my entire life.”  And it’s true. Barbacoa does not taste like strange organ meet, but some of the most deliciously savory, fatty beef you could ever put in your mouth.

Once you get over the shock.

4. Dry Jack Cheese

The story goes that Italian immigrants brought their cheese-making ways (thank GOD!) to California, but were diverted in the cheesemaking process by the war. Regular Monterey Jack cheese went into storage and inadvertently came out hard and aged. The result is Dry Jack cheese, one of the most heavenly pieces of food you could ever dream of putting into your mouth. Grassy, nutty and full of flavor, the wheels of Dry Jack are rubbed with oil and cocoa and it’s the only cheese I can think of that has the cajones to compare to a true Parmigiano Reggiano.

Today we have Ig Vella to thank for his Dry Jack. When I say I want to be buried with a wedge of his cheese I mean it.

5. Bugey Cerdon

If I offered you a small glass of happiness would you drink it? That’s about the best way to describe drinking Vin de Bugey Cerdon, a sparkling rosé from the area of Cerdon. This gorgeous pink sparkling wine is lower in alcohol with a wonderful acidity that makes it enjoyable with just about anything, but it never seems to last long enough around me and my partner, even when we give it as a gift. It’s refreshing, not too sweet and not too dry, but it’s the color that literally makes me smile. To say it’s the perfect summer sip would be a major understatement, and if you ever see it on the market then by all means pick up a bottle. Or twelve.


And now I pass on the meme to some new and old friends. I can’t wait to read their selections.

1. My lovely fellow Texan Melissa at A Variety of Fine Pickles
2. David Lebovitz at, um, davidlebovitz.com
3. The One And Only Acme Instant Food
4. Lara at Cookbook 411
5. Mae at Rice And Noodles


  1. says

    i really feel like the best barbecue (bbq) in texas can be found here in the hill country. i don’t know what it is that makes it so much better here, it just is. sonny bryan’s on harry hines in dallas is the best “city” bbq IMHO, but it still can’t hold a candle to the ‘q here in the hill country.

  2. says

    Chicken fried steak is one of my all time favourite foods. I knew I loved your blog and admired you for a reason 😉 The best CFS I’ve had was at a truck stop in West Texas.

  3. says

    What, no burrata?? 😉

    This is a GREAT list and you’ve succeeded in doing something no one has ever done before – you’ve made me WANT to visit Texas!! Actually I was there once before, but neither barbecue nor chicken-fried steak nor barbacoa made its way onto my plate, so I guess I have the excuse I need to go back…

  4. says

    Wow, I just can’t shake that image out of my head. I also can’t get that look of disgust off of my face. Other than that, what a delicious post.

  5. J. Wade says

    Oh, how great would a glass of that Bugey be in the Texas heat at the Salt Lick with a pile of beef ribs?!?!?!?!

  6. says

    Matt, you need to come clean with your readers and tell them that the bloody photo in question is YOU with the help of your HOLLYWOOD MAKE-UP ARTIST FRIENDS…the ones who did the make-up for “Motel Hell.”

    You as a dead cow: BRILLIANT!

    : D

  7. says

    Pssstttttt…Matt!? Can I lift the cool globe icon off the top of the post and use it in my contribution? Do I need to send a fee–like to Getty Images? I can pay in bundles of Burrata…

  8. says

    Matt, all those delicious sounding food – i really must try that Texas Barbeque and Chicken Fried Steak! Do they deliver? :)

    I’ve noted down Bugey Cerdon as a ‘must’ to try – i love the word sparkling and pink together!

    Thanks for the tag – i’ll post it soon! Are we allowed to use the globe image?

  9. says

    Matt, for some reason I keep getting an error message when I try to subscribe to your blog feed… guess I’ll have to just bookmark you “old school” style.

    Love this list, though I did have to scroll rather quickly past the picture. And yes, I would eagerly drink any and all glasses of happiness you might happen to offer. 😉

  10. says

    Hear, hear on chicken fried steak, barbacoa, and barbeque (barbeque from Texas needs no qualifier, unlike all those other places serving smoked meat with–gasp!–sauce).

  11. says

    I took my first trip to Texas a few years ago. I’m purely a Yankee, having lived most of my life in Pennsylvania. I thought I had eaten decent barbecue, but I was totally wrong. I am now completely aware that you cannot get good barbecue in PA. Texas barbecue, on the other hand, is stellar.

  12. says

    so far so good – I’ve tasted at least one thing on all the lists I’ve checked so far. Of yours I’ve done the dry jack, but I can;t wait to try the Bugey Cerdon. where do I find it?

  13. BudaBoy says

    I live in Buda (just south of Austin – in the Hill Country), and I must say that your list is very tight… The _best_ bar-b-q is right here in this area, and there is much to choose from. Likewise, the best Chicken Fried Steak is here as well, but I’ll admit that may places “try” to make CFS but use some pressed meat substitute and screw it up. And… BARBACOA!!! I hadn’t had this until I moved to Austin 17 years ago. You are right, it is literally a bunch of tiny splinters of heaven.

    So I thought I’d give you all a heads up on where to go to get all this wonder-food:


    1) Iron Works (100 Red River – Austin) – sweet sauce, the best beef ribs (PERIOD!)

    2) Rudy’s – multiple locations (in gas stations!) – spicy sauce, get the “moist” brisket, and the “chopped” meat…

    3) Salt Lick – Driftwood (south of Austin on FM1826) – vinegar style sauce, great baby back ribs, good brisket (get _moist_!)

    Chicken Fried Steak

    1) Hoovers – Austin (2002 Manor Rd) – simply the best in Austin, and therefore the best in the entire world!


    1) Taco Cabana – multiple locations around Texas – only for breakfast, only in a breakfast taco. Get some salsa roja (red hot sauce), a little salt, and wear a bib/towel cause it’s gonna drip all over you!

    I wish I knew where to get the dry jack cheese, I’d like to try that – simply because you were so dead-on with everything else. (I’m not a wine drinker, so I don’t need that one – but the rest is right-on perfect.)

    And for you “northerners” out there, you can still get a pretty good Pizza at “Baris Pizza and Pasta” in Pflugerville (north of Austin). It’s New York style pizza (none of that Chicago-style abomination), and it’s quite good. In fact most of their food is pretty good…

  14. Erik Lihn Johnson says

    1. Hill Country Barbecue: Habanero of Texas from Sabinal had a small chain in Billings and Red Lodge before he screwed himself up. The one that took over the Billings one is still really good. Sabinal was too, and the one that took over there was still good but the last time I drove through planning to stop they were hauling out the furniture. Whenever I have found one I like they always close.

    2. Chicken Fried Steak: This is almost ALWAYS a reliable thing to order in a strange place. Like salmon, it is had to mess us. HOWEVER: the Denney’s in Wichita Falls in June of 1977, which was filthy, it came frozen. I sent it back and it was cold and purple in the middle. I sent it back a third time I heard the cook say: I’ll just cremate it for the dumb bastard”. So then I had hopes it would at least be cooked, and it was and was good after all.

    3. Barbacoa: I had some in George West last year and was mystified about the weird taste and texture and threw the rest away, and resolved to never try it again. I have avoided all the places up and down the highways and byways of Texas since. After seeing your picture and what it is really made of, I am SOOOO happy with my decision.
    Erik Lihn Johnson
    Billings, Montana, etc

    NOTE: I realise that some claim the center of the universe is inside Hills and Dales Ice House. (1604 and Babcock exit. On the edge if San Antonio: Stay on the access road outside the Loop, past Church’s Chicken and Pizza Hut. On the next corner at White Fawn and the Access road. in the middle of the floor infront of the bar next to the garbage can.) But I know better…it’s in Montana.

  15. Terry says

    just writing to set things straight.

    You’ve obviously never eaten real barbecue or for that matter traveled distances that require an overnight stay – everyone knows, at least those of us who have discriminating pallets know, the best barbecue is in NC and the only meat worth barbecuing is pork. Cows make steaks and milk and that’s all.

    can’t say I have found better chicken-fried steak than Millers Steakhouse in Waco (yeah, that Waco) though.

    interesting list even though it’s misleading in the one significant place   😉

    transplanted Tar Heel living for a short while in tx country…

  16. jim says

    Arthur Bryant’s in K.C. is the best bbq in the US I’ve had both, Hill Country and Kansas City. KC hands down.


  17. Debby says

    There’s a fabulous Hill Country barbeque place in Shipshewana, Indiana. It’s owned by two transplanted hill country Texans. If you live in Northern Indiana or southern Michigan, be sure to check it out!

  18. verily says

    Great blog! Found you via several blogs. Gotta love memes. :)

    Hate to pipe in so late, but the beef bbq (I’m not going to bother with the beef vs pork debate, which is like apples & oranges) is found in a little town called Lockhart below Austin.

    You’ve got three heavy hitters in one area: Kreuz, City Market, and Black’s. I’m personally fond of Kreuz just for the sausage and always take home several links to tide me over until I make my way back there again.

    Salt Lick is overrated. Sure, it’s a fun trip out into Buda and they’ve got a couple good sides (love the ‘taters) and excellent sauces but they turn out so-so ‘que. I keep a bottle of Lauren’s Habanero Sauce in my fridge for poring over grilled chicken and wings.

    Hoover’s on a good day turns out a mean CFC. Perfectly crisp, perfectly seasoned. Always served up with a heaping helping of creamed jalapeno spinach and mashed potatoes. Mmm mmm.

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