"I won't set my alarm or anything, but I really hope I don't sleep way in tomorrow because it's supposed to be another nice, cool morning and I want to enjoy it...." the words are practically hanging over my head in cartoon bubbles as I say good night to my friends, hugs all around, after a fun get together at one of our favorite haunts, on Friday night.
Saturday morning dawns and with it, the promised, much-cooler temps and my body clock did me a favor for once. I woke up at 7:00am!
After practically racing around the house, opening windows and patio doors, I settled down to enjoy the nice morning breeze, mentally going over ideas of things I wanted to do today. My favorite kind of Saturday is the unplanned one. This is difficult to achieve if the to-do list is long, but I was pro-active this week, getting things checked off that list. It suddenly dawned on me that I haven't been to Farmers Market in a while....hmmmm. To seal the idea, my Dad texted me with, "I bet Tiffy goes to Farmers Market and spends most of her morning outside, am I close?"
Ha! He's a smart man. "Right you are Dad, I was just thinking of doing that very thing".
Penny gazed out beyond the patio screen, I watched her decide that since it was so nice, she wasn't going to taunt the squirrel that harasses her. Not today. She was just going to let him be, and watch from inside the door. I told her I was proud of her, and that I would be home soon.
After the obligatory Starbucks run, off I go. What a beautiful morning! Windows down, driving east, I didn't feel the usual hurry up feeling as traffic got heavy the closer I got to Dallas. Usually by the time I'm close to the Commerce St exit I'm ready to drive right off a bridge the traffic is so bad. What is with people and the no signaling before changing lanes?! No matter, it's not that day, not today.
As I pulled in to find parking at the Dallas Farmers Market, I could smell the smoker(s) going at what I knew was probably Pecan Lodge.
You're familiar with Pecan Lodge, yes?
If you're not, please sit down and listen to everything I have to say. Okay, read everything I have to write. I mean I could call you, and you could listen, but what if you get distracted and stop listening and I start that babbling that I'm prone to do and the next thing you know, today becomes tomorrow and we've accomplished very little.
When you google Pecan Lodge you will find things like, "Pecan Lodge serves award-winning BBQ and southern cuisine", "I love Pecan Lodge so much I would marry it and have little half brisket babies with it if I could".....yes, it really says that. "They do brisket to perfection, must be the wood that delivers such a unique flavor compared to the traditional mesquite"
And the winner for todays discussion? "Word of caution, go on Saturday or Sunday and arrive by 10am or you will have a good chance of waiting for day and them running out of food"
Okay, now that I've met one of the owners, ahem, let's adjust the above advice. Be there no later than 9:30a to get in line. Yes, I know. They open at 11am. Let me repeat, be there no later than 9:30a to get in line.
I got in line at 10:35am. People were talking animatedly about the brisket, what they did the night before, who was getting married the next day, what the hipsters are wearing these days.....you name it. When you stand quietly in line, you can learn a lot about people, you know? I'm very patient.
It was a nice cool morning inside shed 2 at the Market. I've also known this place to be nothing short of a microwave oven and WE are the popcorn. Not so today. I said to myself, I know this is going to take some time. I'll be here for a while. I wasn't even going to do this today, I was just going to grab some tomatoes and cucumbers and locally made honey, amongst other things, and be on my way. I can be in and out of Farmers Market in less than thirty minutes.
But when I smelled that smoke drifting in and out of the sheds, I had no other choice. If you see a snaking line of upwards of 70 people or more, what does that say about the establishment they are waiting in line for? It's probably damn good BBQ.
It's 11:15 and I've moved two feet. Barely. The couple behind me asked me if I knew when they opened, I told them that unless something changed, they open at 11am. She said "man we're not moving at all, this could take a while". Hi understatement, it's nice to meet you. I smiled at her and said, "you're right, I hear it's worth it but this will test your patience before it's over I'm afraid".
Notice that many chairs are missing from the table. People were grabbing them to sit in while in line.
As I s l o w l y move forward I'm trying not to look at my watch. I scroll through Twitter, read the news, check my email.....you know, the time-killing things we do when we're sort of stuck but refuse to give up the good fight.
At 11:57am (I've been in line for an hour and twenty minutes), I glance up and see:
"I am not drinking beer this morning!" I think to myself. No!
Man that sounds good, a nice cold beer. (I didn't do it).
At 12:37p (yes, 40 minutes later) I see this guy walking towards me purposefully. I didn't know what to make of it, but pulling off nonchalance is difficult after you've been standing in line this long. He smiled at me and said, "well let me begin with, your lunch is free today".....what! "so if you wouldn't mind to hold this sign while you wait, and I'll explain what it means. You give this to the cashier when you finally make it to the counter and he'll take care of you"
Folks this never happens to me. The biggest streak of luck I've ever had was when I won like 6 cakes in a cake walk during Fun Night when I was in the 5th grade.
It turns out that this was none other than Justin Fourtin, the owner of Pecan Lodge, a very personable guy I might add. Justin explained that the sign says "Slim Pickens" because I mark the portion of the line that means, if you're standing behind me, you will more than likely have slim pickens for your choice of meat when you order. He said that it was possible that would change a little, depending upon what people in front of me ordered, but that he would check back in with me and let me, and others close to me, know how it was going.
I'm pretty sure I heard someone behind me start to sob.
But then......All I really heard was, free lunch and you may not get that brisket your craving today. Well good grief! I've been standing in line for two hours Justin! haha I say this kindly, it's not his fault that he makes great brisket. To be fair, they advertise accordingly. "When we run out, we run out!". Okay then. Well. I can't give up now, after all of this? No way. I'm not a quitter. I knew it was more than likely going to reach the point where all he had was "a hot mess" , some sides, and their famous southern-fried chicken.
Besides what I call my hair, the Hot Mess is this:
Jumbo sea salt-crusted sweet potato, South Texas barbacoa (shredded brisket with southwestern seasoning), chipotle cream, cheese, butter, green onions.
Whew! Is that legal?
The fried chicken had rave reviews when I finally reached the corner and was able to turn and see the signs on the wall. Which is a good thing, since.....yes you guessed it. Justin came toward me again and said, "well, we're all out of Brisket, Pulled Pork, and Sausage. We have all of our featured sides, and fried chicken. Thank you for waiting in line so patiently".
You know what? Not one single person moved out of that line. I could tell by conversation that most of these people had tried Pecan Lodge before. Although they really wanted some Brisket, they would settle for a "Hot Mess" or some Southern Fried Chicken. Now that, is dedication. I overheard one guy say "This is the best BBQ I'ver ever had. I sampled the 2 meat combo. Ribs and brisket. Whatever they put in that rub.... it's amazing".
I wanted to GET that Brisket thank you. But it's okay, I'll give it a go again sometime, and obviously get in line way earlier than I did today.
My review on what I did get today:
The banana pudding....dear God. I swear I heard harps playing and angels singing when I took the first bite, and I am not a big dessert person at all.
The collard greens.....hands down the best greens I've ever tasted and I'm a huge fan of greens.
The Hot Mess.....I almost can't put it into words, the bursting flavors of this concoction. I almost fainted.
The macaroni and cheese.....so delicious it melts in your mouth. The flavors are not overdone, its just perfection.
The southern fried chicken......well blended spices make it very flavorful, and the rolls that come with it are ligher than goose-down.
Is it because I was starving when I took the first bite? I don't think so, I had a light breakfast, I wasn't dying or famished by any means. Was it because I was so relieved to finally be at the register, where the check-out guy had me laughing when he called me slim-shady? (Slim Pickens sign, stay with me), no.... but I loved his sense of humor, very infectious.
In summary: I waited in line for over two hours, on a whim, to receive chicken instead of Brisket that was craving, learned more about strangers than I ever have in my life, ending up with the meal on the house and tired legs.
Will I go again? Will I give Pecan Lodge a 5 star out of 5 rating?
You bet I will.
See you soon friend,
PS Breakfast At Tiffany's....while waiting in line for an hour and thirty minutes for lunch? Sure, we could do it! Just bring coffee, your e-readers, or your fully charged phones. We could always talk about the meaning of life. Or play cards. Or....something. Let's plan it!