There is something about a buffet that is both thrilling and dangerous. As someone who loves to try food it can be overwhelming because I want to try every single thing. As a total cheapskate I then want to go back for more. I think a lot of people are this way so buffets usually have pretty low caliber food. My experience at Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant was just the opposite. Everything I sampled was either good, awesome, or omg.
Aster’s is a pretty tiny place directly off I-35 and Dean Keaton on what is probably one of Austin’s least visually stimulating strip of real estate where you can view both the lower deck and the upper deck of 35. The small restaurant has an Ethiopian theme with pictures and even some ingredients for sale. The staff is friendly and are happy to tell you what is in everything.
The Lunch buffet has meat and vegetarian items but everything is clearly labeled and separated so you won’t make any mistakes. There are a lot of vegan items. More than I could try.Ethiopian food is served with Injera which is kind of like a spongy crepe. They are delicious and at Aster’s you can help yourself with as many as you like. Everything I had was good and my Gatti’s pizza loving boss was happy too.
They serve dinner as well but instead of the buffet you can either get one item or a combination plate. I highly recommend Aster’s, especially if you are a fan of food with a lot of seasoning and spices although it isn’t hot. I wish they would start a delivery service.
This weekend it was nice to start cooking non-Thanksgiving food! My house was practically wiped out of vegetables and staples but we managed to come up with enough to keep us happy and well fed.On Sunday I made Fennel Breakfast Risotto, a recipe from Vegan Brunch. I made a lot of little changes to pump up the flavors because it was a little lacking but with more seasoning, nooch, and vegeta it turned out wonderful, especially since I made the smokey mushrooms on top. I think the mushrooms were very important and should always be a part of the recipe not optional!
We also made crepes over the weekend, again from Vegan Brunch. I just adore this crepe recipe, they are the best one I have found since going vegan. We stuffed them for lunch with Kittie’s recipe for Atar Allecha
I was a little disappointed because the recipe said it would serve 6 to 8 but I should have realized that would only be true if you were making a traditional Ethiopian feast of many different dishes because it wouldn’t have served the two of us without the last minute addition of steamed broccoli. I am excited to try the other recipes she has for Ethiopian food now that we have the niter kebbeh made. Later that night I stuffed the crepes with bananas and white chocolate and the were amazing.
And speaking of Ethiopia, I won a cookbook called The New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson. The author was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Sweden and then moved to the US as a young man. He fell in love with all the different styles of food coming together here and became a chef. I love this book, it is really big, with tons of really interesting recipes and has the most beautiful pictures. Even though there is lots of meat and dairy he also has plenty of completely vegan recipes since he focuses on new twists of immigrant food. He even cooked a vegetarian feast for President Obama and the Prime Minister of India at the white house! I wonder what I would cook for Obama. Probably I would have a total panic attack trying to decide and then end up making something really stupid that was inspired by the White Sox. Like crepes that are shaped like socks stuffed with polish sauasges and sauerkraut.
Anyway, I have found the book very inspiring and am excited to try some of the ideas like tea-poached bok choi. Mr. Smurf made the vegetable soup last night and it was amazing, the flavors were kind of Asian but Italian too. I didn’t make it so I don’t remember everything that went in it though! It had amazing depth of flavor. We will make it again I am sure.
One of the reasons that I picked this recipe was because we had almost everything we needed on hand except for the avocado. On the way home from the gym I stopped by the store to pick one up and they gave it to me for free! So I didn’t spend one cent over the four day weekend. I am proud because I have to save up for Miami for New Years, Chicago for Serbian Christmas, and maybe London for a wedding in February! So expect a lot of cabbage, rice and potatoes in the weeks ahead.