Heaven, Hell or Houston
Yes, it's me again.
I have just returned from the island of Chandelier.
What am I doing in town?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
I'm just passing through in search of the ever elusive Thunderbird.
I got a job as a public relations man passing out handbills on Austin Street.
Merely an effort to improve my financial situation,
and ward off a case of the D.T.s
So farewell, my darling.
Perhaps we'll meet again on some sin-infested street corner in Houston, Texas.
-ZZ Top, "Heaven, Hell or Houston"
Man, was Houston hot. The trip was full of heat, humidity, early-morning awakenings, and a few decent meals. Not much I can tell you about the training there. It was nice, and made me feel good about working for my current employer.
Downtown Houston has a system of tunnels underneath it, that are air-conditioned, for good reason. I got to Houston and took a walk to find the buildings where my meetings were held. It was maybe a 15-minute walk. But by the time I got back to the hotel, I needed a shower, because I was soaking.
But I didn't check in to bitch about the obvious heat of Texas. I wanted to let you know about a couple of the places I went to while in Houston.
On the flight down, all I could think about was having some good Mexican food. I went to Don Patron Bar & Grill, behind the Hyatt Regency, and got some flautas, since it was almost 2:00 p.m. and I was scheduled to have dinner at 5:30. With the normal chips and salsa you normally get at Mexican restaurants, they also brought a dish of this greenish-white stuff that I thought looked like a cross between queso and guacamole. It turns out it was a dip made with avocadoes, jalapeno, tomatillos, cilantro and sour cream. It was real smooth, not hot at all; just something a little different. I think I'm going to try making this at home.
I had a good-sized filet at dinner (what did you expect? We were in Texas, afterall) and a spectacular view from the 50th floor of one of the buildings downtown Houston.
The next morning we had a bunch of little Danishes and what I recognized as kolaches. I had not heard of kolaches outside of Texas, but did note that my local donut store in Arkadelphia, Arkansas carried them. The photo makes them look like hot dogs, or pigs in a blanket. They are basically a spiced sausage with a baked bread around them. Given several breakfast choices, this probably would not be in my top five, but I do enjoy unique "local" cuisine, and when I think of kolaches, I think of Texas, even though it's Czech cuisine. You don't put mustard or any other sauce on them; you just eat them plain, meat and bread.
On my final evening, one of the locals in the class told me about a place called the Flying Saucer, and that it had an amazing number of beers on tap. I totally recommend this place. If you look at their website, you will see that they have a few locations, mostly in Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina. So if you’ve got business in any of these states, make a note.
I got to the airport at 4:10 a.m. the next morning. I waited 30 minutes for the self-check in monitors to start up, and then I went to my terminal. The McDonald’s appeared to be the only place open. I walked up to someone in line and asked, “Are these guys even open?” The person said, “I don’t know, I’m just in line.” Ah yes, more proof that people are conditioned in this country to wander to the local nourishment stand and wait until someone lets them get food. How long, I wonder, before you don’t even ask for something, they just read a bar code on your head and give you the most popular item you buy?
I walked down a couple of stands to Panchito’s Mexican Grill. I noticed they had a sign that said they opened at 5:30 a.m. I set my bags down at a table across from the counter to this establishment and plugged into my iPod. 15 minutes later, two Latino ladies in hairnets came out front and turned the lights on. I got a breakfast burrito with Chorizo and a Coke. Better than anything I could have gotten at the Golden Arches.