Texas®

 

There are precious few things that Texans hold more dear than a beautiful, perfectly smoked, juicy brisket. It’s safe to say, however, that helping fellow Texans in dire need is certainly one of the things that easily charts higher on that list.

For Hill Country dwellers, both lending a helping hand and carrying away some free BBQ can be done at the same time on Thursday at Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q in New Braunfels.

The Cans for Q Benefit looks to obtain donations of clothing, blankets, canned goods, bottled water and other vital items that will go a long way in assisting the victims of the recent wildfires in Bastrop County. In return for your generosity, you’ll walk away with a free quarter-pound of Rudy’s Brisket. A better deal for some great BBQ will be impossible to find.

Helping make it all happen for those who’s lives were devastated, and possibly destroyed, by the recent wildfires in Bastrop County is none other than the host of the excellent meat-and-Tex-centric PBS show Daytripper; Chet Garner.

The whole process couldn’t be easier, and the benefits of free food and being a galvanizing force in a community that’s hurting are certainly too much to pass up, right?

********************

What: Cans for Q Benefit

When: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 6:00pm – 9:00 pm

Where:Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q (936 Loop 337 New Braunfels, TX)

How:Bring any of the following items and receive a free quarter-pound of brisket, courtesy of Rudy’s Bar-B-Q ~ Non-perishible canned goods, toiletries, shampoo, soap, bottled water by-the-case, blankets, towels, diapers, clothing and shoes for either gender.

********************

 

Don’t look now, but yet another annual Texas-based music festival has become quite the dependable attraction. Now in it’s fourth year, the Dia De Los Toadies shin-dig has become perhaps the greatest showcase for Texas rock.

While the line-ups in years past have always focused on Texas talent, the genre lines were crossed with regularity. Previous bills have seen the indie-rock of Ben Kweller mix with the Honky Tonk country of 1100 Springs before the ferocious post-grunge fervor of The Toadies took to the stage. Yeah, a big ol’ mixing bowl of tunes.

That’s great and all, but this year’s line-up is likely it’s strongest and surely the most cohesive of the young festival’s history. Who’s ready to rock out with their Lone Star out?

Joining the Toadies this year are a couple of Austin-based rock kings that we’ve raved about in recent months: Doom metal purveyors The Sword and Psychedelic revivalists The Black Angels. You could stop there wit those three bands and be happy in knowing that you’ve likely been at the best triple Texas rock bill of 2011, but it doesn’t stop there. Joining those three titans are other balls-out bands like Ume, and Ft. Worth’s Whiskey Folk Ramblers.

It all goes down this weekend, Aug 26-27 at the gorgeous White Water Ampitheater in New Braunfels along the Guadalupe. For tickets and further information, just hit the festival’s offical website for the goods.

4th Annual Dia De Los Toadies from Kirtland Records on Vimeo.

Austin rock outfit Boy + Kite has come quite a ways from the hot tub they claim to have been formed in back in 2009.

Last week not only did the four-piece – which consists of Guiseppe Ponti, Darvin Jones, Beth Puorro and Chris Mietus – release their excellent, debut album Go Fly, but they were also chosen personally by the Toadies as the winner to a contest that grants them a coveted spot performing along side The Toadies at the band’s annual Dia De Los Toadies festival next weekend in New Braunfels.

Not that the concert slot wouldn’t be prize enough, especially since The Black Angels and The Sword are sharing the same bill. Obviously, this will be perhaps the best showcase of big-league Texas-based rock of the entire year.  Added to the festival appearance, the band will also get to cut three new songs in-studio on The Toadies dime, which is pretty cool. According to the statement that the band released, Toadies lead man, Vaden Lewis has expressed interest in even producing the new tracks himself, which would be even cooler.

After a few listens to Boy + Kite’s Go Fly, it’s clear to see that they like their 1990′s Alt-Rock (the good Pixies kind, not the bad Lit kind), so it would be really cool to hear what kind of edge or grit the Toadies front man would possibly add to it, as he’s a master at making horrible subjects sound so darn great.

Below, give a listen to “Think In Stereo” from the album. This tune give you a great idea as to what to expect from the rest of the record. For those of you that have (like me) enjoyed the surge of young bands mining the fields of 1990′s Alt-Rock (see: the Joy Formidable or Yuck, both from England), this will be right up your alley. I swear, you’ll hit “repeat” on this a few times before you get up from your computer. Promise.

Boy + Kite – Think In Stereo by fanaticpro

Last weekend we decided to drive from Dallas to New Braunfels to have a relaxing weekend of floating down the river and Schiltterbahn fun. Little did we know at that time, what was in store for us over the next few days. We could never have imagined how much fun we were going to have in New Braunfels.

We left Dallas on Thursday around noon and headed south. The drive wasn’t bad at all and only took us about 4 hours to get to New Braunfels. On the way, we stopped at the Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas for some lunch. This place was packed, even at 2pm in the afternoon, and I can see why. They have an amazing selection of delicious kolaches to choose from in both sweet and savory flavors.

After hours of researching places to stay in New Braunfels on the web, I found a really great website called Guadalupe River Houses. They have a really cute house right on the Guadalupe River, called the Kuehler Cottage (pronounced “Cooler”). I was very lucky that it was available for Thursday and Friday night, since this trip was last minute, so we booked it right away. The Kuehler Cottage is located right on the Guadalupe River/Lake Dunlap and close to everything in town.

When we arrived, there was a nice handwritten note on the door from the owners. They also had some fruit and cold bottles of water waiting for us in the fridge. To me it’s the little details like this that make you feel really welcome. I dropped my bag at the door and ran around to check out our new waterfront home for the next two nights.

The living areas were really nicely decorated in that warm, cottage kind of way. The hardwood floors and cold AC blowing out of the air vents on the floor felt very nostalgic to me, and reminded me of my grandmothers old lake house from when I was very young. The kitchen was rooster-themed and had everything we needed for our stay, they had also left coupons and other New Braunfels attraction materials on the dining room table for us. The Kuehler Cottage can sleep up to six people. There is one bedroom and one bathroom, but a large living and dining area with two sofas that fold out into beds. Along the back all of the cottage, which faces the Guadalupe river is an entire wall of windows, so it’s very open and you get excellent views. If you’re going to New Braunfels for the weekend, you probably aren’t going to be spending much time indoors, so the set up is perfect.

The most exciting part of the Kuehler Cottage for me was the outdoor back patio! You can tell that this was a patio built for entertaining and BBQ gatherings. There are several chairs, a nice table, a few BBQ grills, and even a HOT TUB! Although we didn’t partake in the hot tub action, since it was about 104 degrees outside, the Kuehler Cottage would also be a great place to come stay in the winter months, too. Walk down a few steps and there is another sitting area that is right on the river. Immediately upon seeing this, I ran back upstairs, grabbed a bottle of white wine that we’d brought with us, put on my swimsuit and headed back down to jump in the river. A quick dip in the nice cold river water cooled me off immediately, and I was ready to watch the sunset and have some vino.

Tom, the owner of the Kuehler lives right next door with his lovely wife and their daughters. He called me to check on us and inform me about some of the river tube rental places for our adventure the next day, so I told him to just come down and have some wine with us. Five minutes later, Tom and his wife were headed down the steps with grapes, cheese and wine in hand.

I must say, Tom and his family are some of the friendliest, most interesting people I have ever met. Check out some of his guest’s comments. We all hung out down by the river for a couple hours, and then all decided to go to dinner together. On the way to dinner, Tom was a fabulous “tour-guide” and showed us a few other of his New Braunfels properties, and pointed out other points of interest as we drove through the town. Tom has lived in New Braunfels his entire life, and it’s always best to hook up with the locals when you’re traveling anywhere! We all had a fabulous dinner at The Gristmill, which is located in historic Gruene and on the river. It was one of those amazing nights that you don’t plan and you end up having the most wonderful time and meeting the best people.

Bright and early the next morning, we loaded up the car and headed over to Felger’s Tube Rental. We decided to float on the Comal River, instead of the Guadalupe, since the Comal River isn’t quite as rough or crowded as the Guadalupe River and the water is so clear and blue that you can see all the way to the bottom! The Comal River tour starts off with a fun ride down the Tube Chute and you can lazily float through the river for about an hour and a half, checking out the beautiful homes on the sides of the river wall and you even pass by Schlitterbahn. Of course, you can also get an extra tube with a bottom on it for your beer cooler or buy one of these awesome floating coolers. I even saw a guy that had his dog in one of the tubes!

After our relaxing float down the river, we had a few beers back at Felger’s with the owner, J and his bartender Russ. J is a big, loud, friendly character and I liked him immediately. He’s a proud father, and his daughters are beautiful girls. He also has one of the coolest “Crown Royal” Harley’s in his bar. All of the staff and everyone at Felger’s was really nice. I also had my first taste here of my new favorite drink, called the Cordina Mar-GO-Rita. I liked it so much that we decided to write a story on the Best of Texas Blog about them as well, and this is the PERFECT drink to take with you down the river.

Could this weekend get any better? Um, yes. My friends from Austin had just arrived to New Braunfels and were at the Kuehler Cottage waiting for me and ready to BBQ. We hung out the rest of the afternoon, swimming, eating, drinking and catching up. That night, we met up with some more friends and went to Gruene Hall to catch some live music. Gruene Hall is the oldest Dance Hall in Texas. There was a $10 cover charge and the place was packed on a Friday night. You can check out the Gruene Hall Music Calendar, and famous favorites that have played here over the years. They should really have a list of Who’s NOT played here.

The next morning we all went to Schlitterbahn. How can you go to New Braunfels and not check out Schlitterbahn? It was a Saturday morning and the place was packed, of course with it being the last weekend before school started, you can understand why. Most of the rides had long lines, but my two favorite rides there are the Boogie Bahn Surfing Ride and a ride called the Back Flop, which is a simple, but fun water slide,which drops you right off into the lazy river. Schlitterbahn has over 3 miles of tubing adventure, 17 water slides, and 3 uphill water coasters spread over 65 acres. You’re also allowed to bring your own cooler and food, but no alcohol. Does Deep Eddy Sweet Tea count? Deep Eddy Sweet Tea was also a new drink that my Austin friends introduced me to this weekend, but that’s a whole other story in itself….I could swear there was no alcohol in that stuff. Wrong.

So, to wrap this amazing weekend up, we decided to take the long way home back to Dallas, and check out some other great towns, including Fredericksburg, which will have its own weekend adventure story soon. New Braunfels is definitely one of my favorite getaway in Texas. It was a weekend of new friends, old friends, adventure, music, history, and natural beauty everywhere. I can’t wait to get back there, and the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce is full of great information and has a calendar of events for everything coming up in New Braunfels, so pick your flavor and go have fun!

Here’s a true example of the Best of Texas – Schlitterbahn Water Park in New Braunfels. Schlitterbahn is the most popular summertime waterpark in the United States, and attracts more visitors than any other seasonal waterpark during its season. Schlitterbahn means “slippery road” in German. But this 30 year old slippery road has led to riches for the town of New Braunfels – just 30 minutes north of San Antonio on I-35 and an hour south of Austin.

Try the new Congo River Expedition Family Thrill Adventure. It’s something like a cross between the rides I thought were scary at Six Flags when I was a kid and the best water ride you’ve ever been on. The park’s six-story Master Blaster uphill water coaster has been named the World’s Best Waterpark Ride for 10 consecutive years by Amusement Today, the industry newspaper. The 65-acre waterpark features these and 40 other rides and family activities in six areas, including: three uphill water coasters, nine tube chutes, 17 water slides, the Boogie Bahn bodyboarding ride, a family wave pool, five swimming pools, five hot tubs, seven children’s water playgrounds, water and sand volleyball courts, five gift shops, a pizza arcade and 20 refreshment centers. Lots of family fun wrapped in a waterfall or two. The $40 price isn’t cheap, but there are lots of deals on the web to bring the price down.

The best restaurant in New Braunfels and the best restaurant in the Hill Country, in my opinion, is the Huisache Grille. This hidden gem is absolutely beautiful inside. And, I almost didn’t go because I couldn’t find it. When I finally found the place – it’s tucked away behind some other shops along a commercial street in the downtown area – I asked a couple who were leaving if it was good – the husband replied, “It’s not good – it’s great!” I knew I was in for a treat.

The wine list was extensive – I ordered a Pinot.

I wasn’t disappointed – I had the 303 Salad – their version of a nicoise salad with new potatoes, grilled artichoke leaves, tomato, sliced egg, green beans and a perfectly grilled – rare please – salmon filet.

The eight appetizers include the Ice House Sausage Plate – locally made brautwurst and jalapeno sausage with cheese and saltines. Eleven salads include mine and a three salad sampler with their version of Waldorf salad, Shrimp Louis salad and sliced avocado with spinach. Seven sandswich choices include a yummy sounding Grilled Portobello. And, sixteen entrees include a mixed grill with blackened quail, shrimp, bacon wrapped sirloin and a taste of grilled duck breast. Desserts include flan topped with almonds and key lime pie.

I’ll definitely return. I’m already thinking about that mixed grill and who I’ll share it with.

Schlitterban
381 East Austin Street
New Braunfels
830.625.2351

Huisache
303 West San Antonio Street
New Braunfels