Despite being born and raised in the Great State of California, I was never a big fan of wine, one of our most popular exports. I always prefer a pint of beer. Barbaric, I know.
So, for this reason, I don’t have a very large collection of wine. In fact, I own only one bottle, as pictured below:
This is a bottle of Baku-Ceyhan wine produced by Tovuz-Baltiya Ltd, an Azeri wine company. I had some leftover manat burning a hole in my pocket and decided to waste a few minutes in the Baku airport duty free store while waiting for my flight back to Tbilisi. The store products consist mainly of caviar, vodka, and more caviar. I was hoping for a few oil-related souvenirs (I mean, seriously, this is Azerbaijan. What’s a girl gotta do to get a mini barrel of authentic Azeri crude with Aliyev’s face plastered on it?) but was thoroughly disappointed until I came across this bottle of Baku-Ceyhan wine. It’s named after (and the label has a map of) the 1,099 mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which begins at the Sangachal Terminal near Baku, runs through Georgia, and terminates at the Turkish port of Ceyhan, where Azeri crude is loaded onto tankers and transported to market. Having completed my master’s degree by writing a dissertation on the BTC pipeline, you could say it’s rather close to my heart. Not a bad souvenir for a few manat.
I am flying out to San Antonio tomorrow for work. Again, just doing my part to ensure America’s energy needs are met. My parents are meeting me in San Antonio over the weekend, as they’ve never been there and I think they will enjoy the city. I told my mom I would be done with the meetings around noon on Friday, just in time for lunch. Her response?
Are you nuts! If you move to Texas, I hope you don’t eat like that all the time. You will be huge, not to mention your arteries clogged.
Mom, as a warning, you might want to stop reading this post now.
When I go to Houston, our meetings are occasionally held at the IAH airport Marriott. It’s convenient; your plane lands, you grab your luggage, hop on the mini subway that runs between the terminals, and shortly thereafter find yourself at the hotel. You have breakfast at the hotel, meetings at the hotel, lunch at the hotel, and, since there are no restaurants within walking distance of IAH, dinner at the hotel. The end result is that for a day and a half you exist in this airport/hotel bubble and never actually once step outside (although with Houston’s poor air quality, that’s probably a good thing).
This most recent trip to Houston, however, involved a roadtrip to Snook, Texas, a small town (population 568) located 100 miles northwest of Houston. I went to Snook with two highly entertaining engineers/bacon aficionados: my boss, and Dave, one of our Houston-based member company guys who heard about a restaurant in Snook and its holy grail of bacon several months prior to our trip. The drive didn’t take very long at all, and the countryside was actually quite beautiful. Trees, farms, cows, bluebonnets, that sort of stuff.
Still, I know what you’re thinking. Lindsay, dude, WTF? Why would you drive 200 miles roundtrip, to the middle of nowhere, for dinner? Simple: chicken fried bacon. Let me just emphasize this one more time: CHICKEN. FRIED. BACON.
The restaurant that serves this delicious, artery-clogging appetizer is Sodolak’s Original Country Inn, a small establishment where the walls are lined with firefighter gear and the borders of the menus feature ads for funeral homes and gun stores. The staff is friendly (it is Texas, after all), some of the locals are dressed in cowboy boots and hats (again, Texas), and stacks of official Sodolak’s Original Country Inn t-shirts and camouflage hats are piled next to the cash register.
We ordered three servings of Sodolak’s infamous appetizer. Chicken fried bacon, as you’ve likely already gathered, consists of long strips of bacon coated in chicken fried steak batter, deep fried, and served with a generous side of cream gravy. It was amazingly delicious, and the fried consistency was perfect (i.e., not too overbearingly thick.)
In addition to the chicken fried bacon, we each had a filet mignon, served with a baked potato, Texas toast, and a side salad that was drowning in ranch dressing (as it should be). For a brief five seconds, I had considered ordering chicken fried steak, but figured that would be pretty intense, especially after the chicken fried bacon. You may not believe this, but even I have limits.
So was Sodolak’s worth the 200 mile trip? Yeah, most definitely. I have already found myself craving chicken fried bacon and will be visiting Sodolak’s again after I move to Houston (and no, Mom, I won’t be eating chicken fried bacon everyday, alright?).
For more on Sodolak’s and chicken fried bacon, check out this YouTube video from Texas Country Reporter:
I always thought boxing would be a fun sport to try out, but as much as I’d like to put on some gloves and hit people, I have an incessant fear of getting my teeth knocked out. Really, I would never hear the end of it from my parents.
So what am I to do? Enter Wii boxing.
Coming soon to HBO Boxing
I don’t own a Wii myself, so have to rely on Olga for my dose of Wii. And while I suck at tennis, I’m pretty good at boxing. So good that last night I KO’d anyone willing to step up and challenge my mad boxing skillz, including one incident in which my nunchuck disconnected from my remote and I was forced to beat down my opponent with just one hand.
So if you want to challenge me, I say bring it on. My opponents claim I throw a lot of below the belt bunches, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I might have to step up my game a bit and buy a pair of Wii boxing gloves. Either that, or just duct tape the remote and nunchuck to my hands.
After having done my small part to ensure that America’s growing energy needs are being met, I arrived home from Houston late last night and discovered that the house I am currently living in now closely resembles my dorm in Moscow, without the benefits of actually being in Moscow (i.e, babushkas selling Baltika for 20 rubles). You see, both our internet and shower were broken (the internet, obviously, is now fixed, but apparently we can’t use the shower for a bit longer in order to let the caulk dry. Whatev). My roommates blamed the broken internet and shower on yours truly and told me that I had to move to Texas. Well, I am (eventually) and I’ll be stealing their dog, too. (He does want to go, BTW. Whenever I ask him if he wants to move to Texas, he gets really excited, although that’s probably due to the voice I use. Thinks he’s getting a treat or something).
I have a bit more to write about the past couple of days, including part two of “eating like a Texan” (am thinking of making this a regular series), but for now I must prepare for tonight’s Wii tournament at Olga’s house.
I am in Houston for work, but met up with some Cindy and Ann for dinner tonight. We ate at Goode Company BBQ on Kirby Drive. It’s a really chill place where you grab a beer from a huge cooler, order your food cafeteria style, and then take your tray outside to the long wooden tables. I had a delicious BBQ beef brisket po’boy, jambalaya texana, Shiner Bock, and a Saint Arnold’s root beer. The best part about this place, though, is that there is a gigantic armadillo statue, complete with glowing eyes and longhorns, directly across the parking lot. You really cannot explain such things, as it’s to be expected in Texas.
Following dinner, we hit up House of Pies, where I had a slice of “Texas” pecan pie a la mode (of course).
And that’s one of the good things about Houston – it’s easy to find good and cheap food throughout this city.
I’m in Denver for a few days for a work meeting. I’ve been to Colorado a very long time ago, but don’t recall ever coming to Denver. My first impression of the city is that the airport seems very far away and everyone drives a gigantic truck or SUV. Very observant, I know.
While I was waiting to board my flight out of DCA, I noticed this guy waving in my general direction. At first I did not recognize him from afar, but then realized it was Paul, a longtime family friend. I think my parents have known him for around 30+ years. He was in Washington on business and stopping in Denver for another business trip before heading home to California. As it turns out, he was also in the seat directly behind me. Small world, eh?
In addition to new fields, we’ve also changed our team name to the Crazed Mud Puppies. I had no idea what a mud puppy was until I googled the phrase. I imagined a deranged puppy (dachshund, most likely) rolling around in a puddle of mud. In reality, a mud puppy is some sort of salamander and looks like this:
So far we are 1-1 this season. Granted, our win was due to the other team forfeiting, but whatev.