Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Notre Dame San Antonio

The Irish Defend the Alamo

I’ll begin this post by stating that I do not agree with, nor support the idea of the Notre Dame “barnstorming” concept, or the scheduling of neutral site games.The background for this concept dates back to the 1920’s when Knute Rockne used Notre Dame’s independence to schedule “barnstorming” games, where ND would play opponents anywhere, anytime.This brash, pioneering concept was among the reasons that Notre Dame was able to rise to national prominence and become the national powerhouse that it is today.
Recently, the Notre Dame administration felt the unprompted need to resurrect this concept, not with the idea of scheduling premier opponents, but rather to simply maximize revenues.The “barnstorming” game effectively becomes another home game for Notre Dame (and thusly the associated TV contract), and because it does not offer a return game for the opponent (one and done), the only opposition that would agree to such lopsided terms are the bottom feeders of the NCAA.Simply put, there is no nexus between Notre Dame, San Antonioand WashingtonStatethat make this a compelling draw. Nor does it propagate the mystique and reputation of a football team predicated upon consistently playing one of the toughest schedules in the country.We would be well served to reconsider this botched idea, and schedule a simple home and home with a premier Big 12 or SEC opponent the likes of Texasor Alabama.

Despite my political opposition to the game, given the chance to spend a weekend in sunnySan Antoniowith a handful of friends and see my beloved Irish play, I put my political differences aside and we made the journey.
The atmosphere around the game and in stadium more closely resembled a bowl game than a typical home or away game.Predictably, Notre Dame fans vastly outnumberedWashingtonStatefans by about 48,000 to 5,000.It was also my first experience at an Irish game with empty seats.The Alamodome has a stated capacity of over 60,000 seats, and the “recorded” attendance was a mere 53,000 (and judging by the expanse of vacant seats in the upper tier, presumably even lower than that).I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the noise level in the dome.The Irish fans on hand were quite spirited despite the neutral site, and the crowd noise was further augmented by the dome acoustics to create an unexpectedly loud in stadium atmosphere.

On the field, the game was a mismatch from the start.While ordinarilyWashingtonStatemight be a mildly competitive opponent, this has been an off year for them, and they are ranked among the lowest teams in the country.Watching the explosive Irish offense carving apart the Cougars on the Alamodome carpet was a sight to behold.I believe we averaged nearly 8 yards per play in the first half, which was capped off by one of the most spectacular touchdown catches that I have ever witnessed (by standout ND receiver Golden Tate).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QwwMqeEX5M

With the second half already a foregone conclusion, we saw the Notre Dame offense work in their second and third stringers during the third and fourth quarters, giving us a glimpse into the Irish future.In all the day was a solid win for the Irish, and hopefully a benefit to ourTexasrecruiting credibility.

Final Score: Notre Dame 40WashingtonState14
Go Irish!!!

It was great hanging out with Julia and Andrew for the second weekend in a row, they are starting to become regulars! Special thanks to Bryce, Kate, Alan and the animated Grace for touring us around San Antonio and joining us on all our barbecue adventures.

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Smitty’s Market

No trip to the Austin or San Antonio areas is ever complete for me without a trip inside the storied walls of Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas.It’s become a staple of my travels, and I simply refuse to return to Dallas without a trip to Smitty’s. If you are beginning to notice a pattern with a town called Lockhart, it’s quite intentional, as Lockhart is considered the BBQ capital of Texas, and home to two of the top three BBQ joints in the state.

View from the back entrance.

On any given day, Smitty’s is probably my favorite BBQ that I have been to.Interior walls of Smitty’s could be considered works of art by themselves, as decades of smoke have seasoned them with a layer of blackened char that leaves little doubt about the heritage and tradition contained within this storied meat market.Hallowed brick pits at Smitty’s command reverence, and stand as ancient monuments to the fading art of slow and simple cooking.The carving room itself carries a church like atmosphere where the only sounds penetrating the silence are the crackling embers of burning oak and the brusquely whispered orders of eager patrons.

I ordered up my usual pile of protein at Smitty’s with the three wiseman equally represented: brisket, sausage and ribs.As always the brisket was well penetrated with smoke throughout, and every morsel was melt in your mouth tender.The sausage was done perfectly and snapped with each flavorful bite.Now if only they would offer a Jalapeno sausage like Kreuz’s….The ribs are what truly shine at Smitty’s, however, as they are smoked perfectly throughout with a telltale pinkish hue and finished ever so subtly with a sweet glaze.In fact, the food on this day was so tasty we even sidled back into the smoke room for a second round…

Simply put, if you’re looking for a one of a kind combination of vintage atmosphere and truly world class barbecue in Texas, Smitty’s should be at the top of a very short list.

One final note: If you’re looking for one dead giveaway of a genuine barbecue joint, have a look out the back door.If you see a giant pile of hardwood like Smitty’s, you know you’re in the right place…

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Kreuz Control

Kreuz Market was our second stop on Saturday morning within a two hour span.After a quick sixty mile jaunt down to Lockhart from Taylor, we darkened their doorstep with the remnants of our Louis Mueller fare barely settled in our stomachs.It takes a pretty remarkable BBQ joint stir up my appetite for another spread within such a short time, but Kreuz Market is always up to the task.One quick whiff of the smoky aroma wafting through the cavernous interior and I was primed for my second full meal of the morning. There is a reason that this place is considered the #2 barbecue sling in Texas, and their food never disappoints.

This time we opted for the traditional three meats: brisket, pork ribs, and jalapeno sausage.On any given day the brisket and pork ribs at Kreuz are widely considered among the best that Texas has to offer, and this day was no different as the peppery rub was brought to life in every tenderly smoked morsel.The runaway winner at Kreuz, however, is their home made Jalapeno Sausage.This is simply the best sausage that you will find anywhere in Texas, and is the perfect combination of homemade snap, smoke and enough jalapeno kick to tickle the tongue.

Kreuz Market is cavernous inside, and though the building is relatively new, the Kreuz family has been in the BBQ game since 1900 and they have enough brick pits in here to feed an army.One of my favorite details about Kreuz Market are their rules posted on the wall before you enter the “meat room”.

For those of you unfamiliar with the nuances of traditional Texas cue’, to place your order at a place like Kreuz or Smitty’s, you first enter the smoke room where the pits are crackling away with open fires right before your eyes. Here you order your meat only, and it is pulled directly from the smoke pit, sliced in front of you according to your wishes, and placed on your plate (and by plate I mean rolled up in butcher paper which will function as your plate).You are also given all your silverware at this time (and by silverware I mean none, because you will be eating with your hands).All of your other decorations, aka side dishes, are then ordered at a separate counter inside the dining area.

Kreuz Market is considered among the best Texas has to offer for a reason, and it’s worth any detour to get yourself there.If you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.

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Mueller Time

Louis Mueller Barbecue had eluded my appetite for some time now.Considered the #5 barbecue establishment in the state, it was the only one of those top five that I had yet to conquer thus far.I assured myself that on our next trip down South, things would be different and a detour in Taylor, Texas would be arranged.


After a grumbly 7am start, we arrived at Louis shortly after ten in the morning just as they were cracking open the front doors for business.Though like any smokehouse worth their salt, at that time of morning the pit masters have already been at it for about ten hours, and are well into their second shift.We even heard an early anecdote of a local connoisseur coming in to pick up five whole briskets for their Notre Dame tailgate down in San Antonio (about 2 hours away).I must say this fellow must have had impeccable taste in both BBQ and collegiate football affiliation.
We promised ourselves that this would be a modest meal, given that we were meeting Bryce & crew at Kreuz Market in an hour or so, and wanted to save adequate stomach space for both rounds of barbecue.After a quick glance at the enticing menu, however, we proceeded to quickly bite off way more than we could chew.In addition to the usual suspects of brisket, pork ribs and sausage we added in a beef rib and half a chicken to boot.

The brisket and ribs were both cooked to perfection, and complemented by a peppery rub that accented the smoky flavor of the meat quite well.The jalapeno sausage was a bit disappointing, despite receiving rave compliments from the discerning taste buds of Bryce the night before.I’m not sure if the sausage just needed more time to bathe in the smoker, but it just didn’t seem thoroughly finished on this morning. The beef rib, which could aptly be described as a Flinstone sized slab of meat on bone, came with mixed reviews, but given its size is worth ordering as a spectacle alone.Finally, the enormous half chicken was smoked to perfection.I don’t normally get too excited about poultry offerings, but we knew we were in for a treat when, after a gentle tug on the leg bone, it effortlessly slid out cleanly, leaving a neat pile of tender meat behind.

The interior of Louis Muellers is a sight to behold, as the creaky wood floors and smoke charred walls reveal a rich history dating back to 1949.They certainly aren’t newcomers to the BBQ game.The staff at Louis Mueller is equally as friendly as the warm interior.We were warmly greeted at the counter by Mitchell, one of the proprietors of the place, where he arranged for a personal tour of the smokers by the pitmaster.We gleefully took up this offer to get a peek under the tent at what goes into smoking first class BBQ.

Next time you are driving down to Austin, detour your way through Taylor, Texas and pop into Louis Mueller’s for a bite.Your taste buds will thank you.

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