Friday, February 3, 2012

The Roadtrip: From Los Angeles to Austin, TX

The crab claw curry and pineapple fried rice from Jitlada.
It has been a while since we've posted here.  This is in part because 1) it is difficult to find the energy to write after spending 8 hours on the road, and 2) classes have started again.  Thus we have a bit of a backlog of things to talk about.  (After this post, we have to talk about our recent trips to Orzo and Fossett's.)

We decided to do the roadtrip for reasons that are unclear to us in retrospect.  Even so, we had a fantastic time over our seven days of traveling.  We also got to try some interesting food (though we won't bore you with tales of the footlong Spicy Italian sub from Subway).

The Crying Tiger from Jitlada.
We started in Los Angeles, and for dinner we went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants, Jitlada, with some friends from the area.  We first went to Jitlada in January 2011, when searching for a random place to eat after coming from the Griffith Observatory.  We ended up going back about a week later (our trip to LA was about 10 days long).  This is definitely the best Thai restaurant we've ever been to.  In addition to being especially delicious, many of the dishes here are SPICY.

We started with the tom kha soup, which was so delicious that the table decided to order seconds.  For our entrees, we had the crab claw curry, crying tiger, and pineapple fried rice.  Though all thought the crab claw curry was delicious, Ben probably ended up eating most of it given its insane level of heat.  (Elizabeth may have blacked out momentarily from the spiciness - we didn't know that was possible.)  The crying tiger, which apparently was featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, was also delicious.  The pineapple fried rice served as a nice contrast to the heat of curry and crying tiger, and the presentation in a carved out pineapple was lovely.  We're definitely looking forward to coming back here next time we're in LA.

Ben just had a steak, but he tried some elk too.  Delish.

After LA, we drove eastward, making stops in Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, and Texas.  Sadly, we did not get the full picture of Southwest cuisine during the rest of the trip, but there were definitely some highlights.  Staying at the Grand Canyon, for example, Elizabeth tried elk for the first time, and it was pretty good.  Neither of us had ever seen elk on a menu before, though we did see plenty of signs along the road telling us to watch out for them.

The elk, with delicious mashed potatoes and veggies.
Mmm... brisket and ribs.

When we got to Texas, though, we did go to two standout places.  The first was Smitty's, in Lockhart, Texas.  Lockhart, which bills itself as the "BBQ Capital of Texas," has several great barbecue places to choose from.  Ben has previously been to Smitty's, and we decided to go back.  We ordered the brisket, some ribs, and sausage.  Served with some bread, an avocado, and a couple of Shiner Bocks, the meat was phenomenal: juicy, flavorful, tender, delicious, juicy... all the things that make great barbecue great.  And, of course, no sauce was necessary.  (It's apparently a crime to ask for sauce for your barbecue in Texas.)
Ribs, with a side of lovely avocado.

When we got to Austin, we went to a "trendy" Mexican restaurant called Takoba.  Elizabeth had a mango-habanero margarita, and Ben had a house Mexican martini.  Both were quite yummy - the mango-habanero margarita had a lovely kick to it too.  We started with the queso fundido, and for our entrees, Ben had the tacos al pastor and Elizabeth had the tortas de carnitas.  It was a fantastic meal - though inexplicably Ben couldn't finish his food, and Elizabeth rightly made fun of him.

Adding spice to fruity beverages?  Jitlada, meet Takoba.

The queso fundido.  So yummy - this may have been the
dish that put Ben away.

The tortas de carnitas.  Fabulous.

The tacos al pastor.  Ben could only wave wistfully at these.
And also taste them.  Yummy.

All in all, it was a great trip, and we ate pretty well.  Next time, Orzo and Fossett's, two of our favorite places to eat in Charlottesville.

A tomato from a friend's garden in Riverside, CA
A Louis Vuitton Store in Vegas - not actually edible
Everything's more syrupy in Texas
C & D

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