Let’s roast a goat

I’d like to say that I’m an adventurous eater.

My boyfriend may disagree with that, but I’d say that I am open to trying anything once. So when my friend (and local chef) Brian invited me to a goat roast that he was having, I knew I had to go, despite never having tried goat (or cabrito, as he called it) in my 25 years. Now, I’ll be honest – part of me was hesitant. I love me a good burger or venison chili, but other red meats are typically not high on my list (I didn’t grow up with a meat adventurous family unlike aforementioned boyfriend). But like I said, I will try anything once, and knowing that Brian has worked as a chef at some of Austin’s culinary hot spots – like this one – helped cement the fact that if I was going to try cabrito, it might as well have been with him because it was DEFINITELY going to be done right.

The BBQ started around 4, though it’s important to note that the goat had been roasting over an open-fire spit for hours previous to that. I should mention, I have another weird thing about meat – I understand where meat comes from, but I kind of prefer to see it when it no longer resembles the animal that it previously was. So, you can imagine how I reacted to a goat roasting over a spit (not great). To help myself temporarily forget about that small piece of information, I kept busy chatting it up with friends (both new and old), challenging people to games of cornhole, or stuffing my mouth with Sour Patch Kids, my new favorite bad habit.

Even without food, this would have been an awesome BBQ; but then we got to eat. Remember when I said that Brian is a chef? Well apparently he is also a grillmaster. I haven’t the slightest idea of what a roasted goat, or any goat for that matter, should taste like, but my expectations are now set fairly high. Looking back, I’m not sure I could even describe the flavor of the meat, but I do remember how delicious the char and smokiness tasted, and how perfectly it all paired with the taco fixings that Brian had at the ready.

But it wasn’t all about the goat. If you come from the South, you know that no BBQ is complete without some slow-smoked brisket – this one was no exception. And y’all, I’ve had my fair share of brisket from some of the top-rated smokehouses in Texas, and Brian’s version was up there with the best of ’em. The meat had enough fat around the edges to hold in the moisture and flavor, but was lean enough to appeal to freaks like me who cut off every bit of fat on their meat before eating it. And again, the smokiness – spot on. Oh, and it basically melted in your mouth, which is EXACTLY how I like it. To be honest, I ate my brisket plain; that’s right, no sauce. But y’all, us Texas folks will tell you that that’s the way brisket should be eaten, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just plan wrong.

It was a great day overall – good friends, good games, and good food, which is really all I can ask for. Now, I just need to convince Brian to invite me to every single home-style culinary creation festival he ever has in the future…

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Finger Lickin’ Good.

Anyone who has ever been to Texas, or even followed the Texas food scene, knows that in Texas, we have no shortage of one thing: Barbecue. Barbecue is something of a source of pride for us Texans, and the only thing we love more than talking about barbecue is eating it.

This weekend, I went to one of Austin’s most famous barbecue joints, The Saltlick, to celebrate a dear friend’s 24th birthday. You may recognize the name from The Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, where Bobby Flay named Saltlick his favorite beef BBQ ribs. Or maybe from The New York Times’ “31 Places to Go This Summer”.  Created in 1967, The Saltlick is a small family establishment that makes some of the most delicious barbecue in the city. Today was no different – just take one bite of the pork ribs, and you can instantly tell that they have been slow cooking on the BBQ pit for hours and hours. And while the barbecue is mouth watering and delicious (just see below), it’s even better when when it’s being eaten with great friends.

Saltlick barbecue

Saltlick is great (and the scenery can’t be beat), but its not the only must-eat barbecue place in Austin.  If you’re in the area, be sure to check out a few of these other Austin staples:

Franklin Barbecue – Opened in 2009 as a food trailer, Franklin Barbecue became an instant BBQ sensation in Austin, forcing owner Aaron Franklin to open a brick and mortar location in March of 2011. It’s quickly earning a reputation both within the city limits and the nation – in 2010, Bon Appetit named Franklin the best BBQ in America. If you want to try some of their tantalizing grub, you better plan to get there early. Franklin’s only makes a certain amount of food each day, and you’ll typically find a line around the block.

Lockhart – While Lockhart is actually a town rather than a BBQ restaurant, it’s well known for being a BBQ lover’s haven. Only 45 minutes outside of Austin, Lockhart is home to four rivaling BBQ joints – Blacks, Chisolm Trail, Kreuz, and Smittys, each one a Lockhart legend, and each one known for something unique. My personal favorite? Kreuz BBQ because of its simplicity. Your meat comes on a piece of butcher paper – no silverware, no condiments – so it really gives you the opportunity to appreciate the meat. If you’ve never been to Lockhart before, it’s definitely worth an afternoon trip – you can even make a detour to Shiner, Texas for a tour of the Shiner Brewery.

My list of must-try BBQ places could go on and one, but I’d rather know: what are some of your favorite barbecue haunts? I’m always looking for a new place to try, so let me know in the comments section.