There have been a couple of interesting firsts for me during this visit with our kids and grandkids in Houston. One was my stint as a judge in a barbeque cookoff in Conroe, and the other was a visit to Suire's, a fabled country store near Abbeville, Louisiana. And while I'm at it, I'll go ahead and mention Parrain's in Baton Rouge as well.
First the cookoff: SIL Tyler, who apparently has risen to semi-muckety muck status in the annual Conroe event, invited me to do some judging, and I happily accepted. I thought it was high time these folks were given the opportunity for a true BBQ connoisseur to opine on the fruits of their labor!
When we arrived, I was quite surprised at the scope of the cookoff; 128 teams were cooking, and the variety of pits and barrels and other smoking devices was astounding. All the participants seemed happy for passersby to sample their food and admire the handiwork and decor of their spaces and cooking garb. Boy, did it ever smell good in Conroe!
|Mason and Tyler in his BBQ apron|
|Yours truly, preparing to judge a pulled pork submission among other judges. Note my official judge's badge!|
|This bread pudding at Parrain's should be illegal. For everyone but me.|
On our return trip to Houston, we decided to take a detour down to Kaplan, Louisiana for lunch at Suire's, an old-fashioned country store and restaurant in the middle of nowhere, but not far from the legendary Betty's RV Park near Abbeville. If you haven't heard of Betty's, you probably haven't read many RV blogs. Betty's has a large cult-like following among RVers, and staying there is almost a rite of passage. We haven't had the experience yet, but we definitely have plans to do so. Anyway, Suire's (pronounced Sweers) is a joint where the food is home cooked and cheap, and the people are down-home friendly--a place certainly among Betty's top recommendations for her guests. Since I wasn't quite sure of the name of the store and its location, I gave Ed (of Ed and Marilyn fame) a call for help. He responded instantly with all the information needed, and we headed out. In about a half hour south of I-10, we came upon the place, a ramshackle white frame building at the intersection of two country roads. For a foodie, this was like striking gold; I just knew the food would be good.
Back in Phannie I couldn't resist this photo of Sandy and the grandsons. Gosh, they change every day!