F’burg is the Word

3 Jun

The first and last time I was in Fredericksburg was close to a decade ago when I went with some girlfriends.  We did girly things like window shop in antique stores and gushed about how adorably quaint the town seemed.  This trip was definitely on the other end of that spectrum, unless you count as girly repeated snickering and dirty comments about sausages, and a volley of comments about the need to dig crawfish brains from beneath our fingernails. Don’t ever say we aren’t charming.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Two Chicks and their respective menfolk made the hour and a half drive out to the Hill Country for the Fredericksburg Crawfish Festival.  While tempted, we sped past the roadside stands advertising fresh peaches, tomatoes and homemade jams and jellies; we were on a mission for a heaping helping of mudbugs, and our experience left us saying laissez les bon temps rouler!

This festival wasn’t near the size of Louisiana Swamp Thing (which I’ve experienced twice) but that was okay with me.  The crowds were a lot smaller, which I certainly can’t complain about – no waiting hours in line for food or the bathroom. They also get points for holding this thing near a police substation, so not only could we party safely in the reassuring embrace of Father Law, we were able to access the station’s public restrooms. While it wasn’t as fancy as what the Japanese have (if you’ve never layed over in the Tokyo airport, you must book a trip that takes you there, immediately), it was a hell of a lot nicer than a port-o-let.

We were able to make a beeline for the crawfish and take our order to a table in a shaded area to dig in as the zydeco music wafted through the air. We each had a pound of crawfish (though they were running a very nice all-you-can-eat deal for $15 that we definitely considered), with the exception of my husband, who ordered up a fried shrimp basket instead. He did steal a couple of mudbugs from me, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, but we vowed to love, cherish and share our food (how’d he sneak that in there?), so I let it slide. I’ve been craving crawfish since the season started – for those of you who don’t know, crawfish season is February to June (I worked in a Cajun/Creole restaurant off and on while I was in college, so I totally know things) – and these definitely hit the spot.  They were all fairly large and spiced very well — the spice mix didn’t knock you back immediately, but the heat built slowly and peaked with the realization that your lips were numb. Some of us – *cough* Bronwen! – got there quicker than others; she also successfully managed to squirt both herself and her manfolk in the eye with brain juice. Mmmm, tasty.

The hottest, coolest time in Texas; this ain't no Schlitterbahn.

The fried shrimp basket with twisty taters.

Anyway, Two Chicks could have easily eaten another couple of pounds, but decided to save room for other delicious goodies.  We tried some regrettable beignets that looked the part, but did not taste the part.  B and I knew things were a little suspect when the vendor grabbed flat patties of frozen pastry out of a freezer and dropped them in a vat of oil. I saw B do an immediate ‘WTF’ eyebrow lift; the oil wasn’t even hot! Instead of that familiar sizzle that deep frying elicits, we heard a few pathetic pops that were quickly drowned out by musicians on stage going full tilt with a fiddle and a washboard. After several minutes, the pastry finally began to expand, but I secretly knew it was too late; while they looked absolutely gorgeous, they turned out to be a flaky, greasy mess. B and her Mister also tried some boudin, which failed to pass muster; the rice-to-pork ratio was obscenely out of whack, which made the stuffing overly mushy and bland. I could tell she was disappointed, and I was disappointed for her.

As much as I think the crawfish should have been the star of the show… errr, festival, we actually discovered an up and coming superstar — crawlinks!  Holy schnike, these were freaking good.  It’s a sausage made from pork, crawfish tail meat and a mystery combination of spices.  The mix sounds a little odd (and the cheap vinyl signage did it no favors), and we were hesistant to approach at first. We ultimately took a chance, though, and it paid off in spades. And crawfish. Lots and lot of porky crawfish.

Two Chicks are both quite the fan of (a) foods on sticks, and (b) sausage, so this was the best of both worlds. On first bite, the crawlink snapped nicely, and the meat was moist and flavorful with a slight undercurrent of heat. The vendor was selling one sausage stick for $6, and he was nice enough to give us a sample before we ponied up the cash. The following is how we recollect what happened next:

Vendor: Here you go!
A: (bite) Ooooo….. *nom nom nom nom*
B: (bite) Daaaaamn….. *nosh nosh nosh nosh*
A + B: (making eye contact) Oh yeah. That’s good. Oh yeah. Oh damn.

If you’re thinking it sounded like a 70s era porn film, you’re probably right. Our menfolk took several steps back as we were transported to crawlink heaven (‘Jesus, is this the Rapture?’). B was so enamored, she found room in her belly (and the last $6 in her purse) to grab another stick o’ sausage as we were leaving. We saw a couple walking away from the stand with two frozen packs of crawlinks, but were disappointed to learn those were the last two available. Luckily their website allows you to order directly from them so B and I can plan out how to fill our empty freezer space accordingly.

The delicious crawlink

The strawberry lemonade was sufficiently thirst-quenching, too.

We decided a stroll through downtown would do a body good before we headed back to Austin and closed out the day with some homemade fudge from an old school candy shop called Lone Star Candy Bar.  Rich and dense, a little went a long way and made for a happy (and sleepy!) drive home.

– A+B (but mostly A)

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2 Responses to “F’burg is the Word”

  1. vicki June 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Nice review the crawlinks sound yummy!

  2. Injung June 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    It looks delicious! Thanks for the great info!

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