Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Picnik

"Hello, Sunshine."

That's the phrase that graces the top of Picnik's menu and website. It captures a mood that we felt in full force during our first visit there, particularly in our interactions with the owner, Naomi, who is radiantly gorgeous, humbly sweet, and very clearly passionate about the food they are serving at her brand new brick and mortar on Burnet Road. They are committed to using locally-sourced, high quality ingredients, and everything on the menu is gluten-free, soy-free, and corn-free. And they make it clear on their menu that they are happy to assist with modifications for special dietary needs or restrictions - a promise that grew out of Naomi's own personal history of combatting food allergies since childhood.

Picnik is famous for its butter coffee, and while I really wanted to try this, drinking caffeine at night makes me sad. Instead, I opted for their caffeine-free marshmallow chai. I loved the very clean sweetness of it. My husband ordered a cup of butter broth, which is chicken bone broth with grass-fed butter, MCT oil, and himalayan sea salt (he also added tumeric to his).  Having drank a lot of obviously inferior broth in my life, I was skeptical of the idea of just sipping a cup of broth - but after having tried this, I am a believer. It was luscious and amazing and pretty much made every broth I've ever had taste like bath water by comparison. If you take nothing at all away from this review, it should be that you should try the butter broth at Picnik.


Cuppa marshmallow chai (left) and butter broth (right)

As an appetizer, we tried the loaded guacamole ($7.95), which is unique because it contains apple and kale as well as avocado, and is served with almond flour tortilla chips. It was tasty and satisfying and, like so many of the things we tried, it tasted clean, like it wasn't going to drag us down and make us feel heavy later.

Picnik Guacamole

For my entrée, I tried the breakfast risotto ($14.95) - a bed of comforting green power rice topped with crispy pastured pork belly, wonderful oven-roasted tomatoes that offered a satisfying pop of flavor when bitten into, feta, spinach and kale pesto, and a gorgeous poached egg that was obviously not from the grocery store (I originally took photos of this dish before breaching the yolk, but when I saw the telltale bright orange yolk, I had to retake them again.)

Picnik Risotto

My husband ordered the orange chicken & broccoli ($16.95); I only tried a bite of this before he made it magically disappear.

Picnik Orange Chicken & Broccoli

Both of us are enthusiastic brussels sprout lovers, so of course we had to try those, as well. These were wonderful specimens, fried to crispy perfection.

Picnik Brussels Sprouts

We were stuffed at this point, but our server described Picnik's blondie gelato sandwich as the "pièce de résistance," so who were we to resist? We weren't sorry; the chocolate chunk-filled blondies were just perfect with the vanilla bean gelato (sourced from Dolce Neve).

Picnik Blondie Ice Cream sandwich

Full disclosure: the folks at Picnik very generously treated us to our meal. However, I will also say that at the end of this meal, my husband declared, "I will do all the house chores you need in order for you to have time to blog about this place. I love it and I want everyone to know about it!" If you know my husband, you'll know that this is pretty unusually enthusiastic for him. Fortunately for him, I was just as excited as he was, so he hasn't picked up any additional chores...yet.

We left Picnik feeling happy and satisfied and are already plotting a return visit soon. See you there!

Picnik Interior

4801 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78756

(also still a trailer down south with a much more limited menu):
1700 South Lamar, 400-B
Austin, TX 78704

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Melted Food Truck

Recently, the management of our office complex has been arranging for various food trucks to visit us at lunch time. Our office has very few food options nearby, so this development is quite exciting. I love trying new food trucks but I hate eating outside when the temperature is in the 90s, so being able to take the food back to my delightfully climate-controlled office is pretty happy-making.

One of my favorites of the parade of trucks that has come by is the Melted Grilled Cheese Truck. Their menu piqued my interest immediately - almost every single one of their offerings sounded like something I wanted to eat. After much internal debate, I settled on a Farmer's Market BLT ($10). There were a bunch of us ordering from our office, so we also got a couple sides of tater tots ($2) and a side of Asian crunch salad ($3).

The Asian salad was pretty well portioned for $3, but it could have used a little more oomph, maybe a bit of salt or acid to zing it up a bit. This would be an easy fix, though, and it was nice to have something relatively healthy to help justify the tater tots.

Melted Truck Asian Slaw

While I'd be hard pressed to recall a tater tot I didn't like, these tots were excellent specimens - nice potato flavor with a satisfyingly crunchy exterior.

Melted Truck Tots

The Farmer's Market BLT was excellent. The flavors and textures played perfectly off one another. Tangy goat cheese, juicy fried green tomatoes, crispy bacon, spicy arugula, garlic aioli - the ingredients are a virtual greatest hits of "things I like on sandwiches." And the locally-made sourdough bread was just the right texture - awesomely buttery-toasty, but soft enough to avoid feeling like I was scratching up the roof of my mouth. Full disclosure: approximately ten napkins were harmed during the "research" for this blog post.

Melted Truck BLT

Best of all, 100% (yes, you read that correctly) of the truck's profits are donated to the International Justice Mission, an organization that works to protect people in developing countries from violence.

Melted Truck

In a saturated food truck market, it can be overwhelming to figure out which to try. My vote is that you put Melted at the top of your list. Delicious food and a charitable cause make this truck a standout from my perspective.

Melted Food Truck
Mobile locations - check here to find out where they'll be
(512) 710-MELT

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