My husband and I recently spent 9 days in Austin, TX for the South By Southwest Film Festival (SXSW). We have been going every other year, and I was crazy excited to go back to Austin. Our last trip was full of great food and drinks, so we were both looking forward to a similar experience.
Unfortunately, sometimes things in life are not as good as I remember them to be. We did eat some good food and had a few good drinks, but nothing like the trip of two years ago. I will not give any bad reviews here, because everyone has their own tastes and experiences, but we were a little bit disappointed.
One new place my husband found on our pre-trip food research was a place called The Launderette. Thank goodness, this was one place that did not disappoint! Especially because it was about a 2 mile walk from our hotel and a fairly muggy day. I had stripped down to my tank top by the time we arrived. (Mark and I rarely take a taxi or other transportation on vacation. We like to walk and see the places we are visiting on foot. PLUS, we can usually eat and drink all we like and burn it all off on the walk there and back).
The atmosphere and decorations were fun and not too busy. We sat at the counter and got a couple of drinks. I ordered the beluga lentils with labneh, grilled squash, avocado and a soft cooked egg. I LOVED it! It sounds fairly basic and I have to admit, I really only ordered it because it was vegetarian and had labneh in the ingredient list, which is like a thick yogurt/cheese. I find I often order an entire dish from a menu because of one ingredient that I love. Which does not always pan out in my favor. But this one did! The avocado and labneh seemed to have fresh lemon juice squeezed over it and that made everything taste very light and fresh. It was one of those rare meals where every bite is mind blowing. I think I talked about that meal for days!
So, I decided to try and recreate it at home. We finally cut open a huge hubbard squash that we grew in our garden last fall and needed to use it in multiple dishes (it really was enormous). I very simply roasted small cubes of the squash, sprayed with PAM, in a 400 degree oven until tender. I used Fage Greek yogurt in place of the labneh (I really need to find a source or learn to make it myself). I cooked the lentils as directed on the bag, but cooked them in vegetable broth in place of water, to give them some extra flavor. The Launderette's dish had sprouts, which I do not love (I feel like they taste like my front lawn would), so I just left those out.
Here is my version of the beluga lentil dish. I added quick pickled cucumber slices, using Ume plum vinegar, which is salty and tangy. I squeezed lemon over the top, but it wasn't quite the same zing. Next time, I will try adding lemon zest to the yogurt too.
Dining out can end up being high calorie and sometimes poor quality food (carby, fatty, fried). I love when I find an item on a menu that is nutrient packed and that is also full of flavor. It's great to have recreations of these dishes in your back pocket when you want something a little more fancy but don't feel like going out. Eating in can be healthy AND feel like a treat!
As you can probably see, I had a very hard time peeling my soft boiled egg. I have tried many "tricks" on how to peel an egg, with little success. If you have a no-fail technique, please send it my way!