Friday, February 27, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 4 - Lamb Chop City

Think where mans glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends. – William Butler Yeats

Sunday was another beautiful day and we spent a leisurely morning recovering from the previous evening’s debauchery. Sunday is also the designated day of our local homegame, therefore, it was foreordained that we would be attending the game as a group. However, given that we would be drinking most of the day, a solid breakfast was in order so we went out and bought some barbacoa (a.k.a. Mexican bbq – which is made from the cheek of the cow). Barbacoa is a tradition on Sunday mornings and is also rich and filling – a perfect start for a day of beer drinking. At poker, Anthony and I had some modest success but not a great deal. I won a big pot early and then went card dead. I lost two big pots where I was all in with another player and lost on the river to a 2 outer and then a 3 outer, respectively. However, Lew, the novice of the group, racked up a big win after successfully picking off some bluffs and generously offered to sport for dinner. Upon leaving, we discussed our options and decided it would be a feast of lamb chops chased with more ice cold beer. So, we went out and obtained three different types of succulent lamb chops (rib chops, loin chops, and blade chops). We prepared all of them the same way with lemon, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then, we grilled them to perfection. They were all really tasty but the rib chops were definitely the best. What was a surprise was that the blade chops were the 2nd best, edging out the loin chops. This is good to know since the blade chops are less than half the price of the loin or rib chops. Since everyone was leaving early Monday morning, we spent the rest of the evening in the backyard drinking beer and laughing about all the fun we had during this Mardi Gras trip and discussing how we were going to top this one next year.
I can’t wait.

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 3 - The Big Parade

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday is the big day for Mardi Gras in Galveston and the peak of the local revelry. It was also the only day of the weekend that was predicted to bring inclement weather so we prepared for the worst by acquiring some disposable rain ponchos in case we got caught in the rain. We relaxed throughout the morning knowing we would be partying late into the night. In the afternoon, we met up with the gang of friends we would watch the big parade with and made contingency plans in case we got separated in the chaos that is the Mardi Gras. Upon arriving on the historic Strand, I sought out one of my favorite street festival fares, the smoked turkey leg. It is perfect since one can hold one’s beer in one hand while holding and eating the turkey leg with the other. The Strand was packed with revelers and it was good to see so many people having a good time in Galveston again. The weather cooperated and never got too bad. The parade, however, was somewhat disappointing to me. I have ridden on floats in the parade before so I know a thing or two about how to do it right. One pays handsomely for the privilege of riding a float in the big parade and one should make the most of it. The whole idea is to throw beads to the folks watching the parade on the ground. If you aren’t there to throw beads, I don’t know why one would bother paying to ride on a float at all. The folks on the floats this year were downright miserly. Those on the ground come to see the parade in the hopes of catching some premium beads and to see the young ladies trying to entice the float riders by baring some flesh. None of that can happen if the float riders aren’t generously throwing beads. Maybe I should create a brief instructional video or something to help educate potential float riders of what is expected.
Anyway, although the parade was disappointing this year, we waded into the masses to see if we could do better at providing ourselves and other revelers with a show. I’ll not go into great detail but suffice to say, we kicked Mardi Gras ass, saw lots of exposed flesh, and had a great time!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 2 – The Feast(s)

No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy today, mix good cheer with friends today enjoy it and bless God for it. – Henry Ward Beecher

Friday was laid back with the main plan of the day being to feast on two of the quintessential Mardi Gras delicacies. The weather was beautiful, sunny and comfortable. The first item on the agenda was the children’s Mardi Gras parade at my oldest son’s preschool. So, we donned our beads and headed out. The kids never disappoint and we laughed about the funny things they said and did for the rest of the morning. Following that, we obtained a cooler full of beer and ice and went to find some lunch. The first of two authentic Mardi Gras entrĂ©es to be savored was gumbo so we headed to Leo’s on Broadway, of course. Following the superb gumbo, we ventured back into Houston to pick up my Bro-in-law from the airport since he wasn’t able to join us until Friday afternoon. Finally, 4:30 pm, the designated start time of the crawfish boil arrived and we went to another local legend’s place, the backyard garden paradise at Big John’s.
This formerly nondescript backyard has been completely transformed over several years of landscaping into a virtual tropical paradise complete with a massive macau parrot named Sarge and a koi fish filled pond with a functioning waterfall. There we took shots of grappa and feasted on the second absolute must have Mardi Gras entree, boiled crawfish with potatoes, corn, sausage, etc. and proceeded to party the night away in excellent company.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardi Gras Galveston 2009, Part 1 - Arrival

Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious. – Saint Thomas Aquinas

I invited several friends to come down to the Mardi Gras this year. Johnny, my bro-in-law from Dallas, my poker buddy Anthony from Ohio, and an old beer drinking and camping buddy currently residing in Michigan, Canoe Lew. When I picked up Anthony and Lew from the airport on Thursday morning wearing Mardi Gras beads and sporting a cooler full of beer, they knew without a doubt that I was ready to get the party started. The weather was exceptionally favorable with clear skies, sunshine, and a temperature of approx. 63 degrees F. We left the airport with sunroof open and at Anthony’s suggestion, headed straight for a high quality gentlemen’s club for a free lunch and some entertainment. Unfortunately, the bad economy is affecting even these sorts of places and we were promptly informed that the lunch buffet was only spread on Wednesdays + Fridays and today was Thursday. So, we decided on BBQ instead. Not surprisingly, neither of these former Texas residents had eaten any good BBQ since leaving the Lone Star State. So, we headed for the well known Goode Co. BBQ joint on Kirby. Although they were pleased, I was disappointed. I have been a judge at quite a few BBQ cook offs/contests and I know the good stuff when I taste it. I ordered a combo plate with beef brisket and pork ribs. The brisket was pretty good but not great. The ribs had some sort of cinnamon or clove taste in the spice rub that did not suit my palate at all. After leaving there, we headed to one of my local buddies place at Gotham, a swanky condo he recently leased. Doug, my buddy residing at Gotham, works from home doing computer consulting and always forks over big bucks for a premium place. This was no exception. The loft itself was really cool but what makes it awesome is that one entire wall is glass with an unobstructed view of the downtown Houston skyline and the surrounding area. If I had that place, I would never get anything done because I would be too busy being distracted by the view. After knocking out the beer I brought, we proceeded to work on Doug’s supply. Before long, it was time to go meet some more friends at Taco Milagro, also on Kirby. Taco Milagro was unimpressive with respect to the food and drinks. However, they did not disappoint on the crowd they attract for an after work happy hour. We were surrounded by visually appealing women that were also apparently affluent. We partied there for a few hours before heading home for the evening.