Dinner was brilliant - black and blue Texas waygu sirloin perfectly cooked, Argentinean medoc and al dente asparagus resulted in me enjoying every bite. I almost didn’t want to find such a stunning meal in an international chain hotel, but really can’t find fault with the main course. The pudding came to the rescue of my preconceptions….inside-out strawberries. What do you think they are? No? Haven’t got a clue? Don’t worry, explanation follows.... Strawberries stuffed with cheesecake filling, coated with a rice crispy batter and then deep fried to perfection. They had the taste of three things I like - strawberries, cheesecake and doughnuts. But no, really, trust me on this one, no! But with an exceptional steak like that I can excuse the chef anything....almost.
Heading for Dallas the next day I was happy travelling along the roads, listening to the radio as loud as it could go. There was a bit of a side wind which kept things interesting, but hey, that’s all part of biking.
Seeing the countryside change from scrub land with ranches dotted around through to lush trees was interesting, but most striking, driving through a hot country you really do get to smell water before you see it. Such a metallic smell that you recognise before you have even got within sight of it, its a smell that's saved many a smart biker who learns to slow down at the smell before hitting a wet patch on the road, but on this day it was so marked that it couldn't be missed, the route was long and I spent most of the day on the road, but did stop off at a smoke house in the middle of Marlborough country.
What an amazing little place this was. The owners are a married couple who have been working together cooking and smoking their meat since year dot. Mrs Smoke House rules at the stove, shoving and slicing huge slabs of meat around the place, and Mr Smoke House busies himself around her, helping his wife with whatever he can get for her, as well as serving the 6 odd tables in the place. The smells are amazing, oh, and I met the local policewoman coming out of the place, so again, a definite good sign.
Their meat was the most amazing melt in the mouth, flavoursome sumptuousness you could think of. Ribs in homemade BBQ sauce (so much more complicated in its spicing than we tend to get at home) and beef that fell apart as soon as my taste buds got to it. Seriously good. Am drooling still thinking back on it. There are some things that no chef should mess with. And this is one of them….if only I could get the recipe off them …. I can see a lot of time will be spent coming up with my own version … a few hours later, full and chilled out from my drive I arrive in Dallas dusty and dirty.
The Motel 6 I arrived at was just fab. A great pool and stunning room with individual balconies. They arn’t all as great as this one, it is near their head office, but if there was ever a flagship motel to stay in this was it. Sipping a beer, looking over the pool I was pleased with my trip so far. The ribs at the BBQ place recommended to me that night were great, as was the pulled pork sandwich. It seems Dallas has got a load of fab restaurants, but one serving a good homemade BBQ sauce is celebrated above all others. Justified too.
The next day saw me doing a monster ride. Over 300 miles with strong side winds so hot I thought I was in a hairdryer. Stopping every half hour or so for refuelling on the water that I’d lost, Alexandria seemed a long way away. Travelling over such a long distance in one day the changes in landscape were striking from rocky brush, to fulsome pine trees and then back to more bare grassland with the odd copice spattered around. Arriving in Alexandria I had crossed over back into Louisiana and alligator country. The change is almost immediate with different foods, road rules and architecture immediately apparent, the language changes too to the creole sing song accent and words and the Texan hats disappear. So long Cowboy country, hello Cajun.