Deep In The Heart of Texas, A Delicious Sanctuary: Lake Austin Spa Resort

Sunday, March 15, 2015

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Last year, Lake Austin Spa was named the #4 Destination Spa in the World by Conde Nast Traveler.  We were happy to be invited to pay our first visit this week and to be a part of its Culinary Experience, which showcases guest cooking instructors from across the country.  It was a pleasure to lead sessions for spa guests from Maryland to Alabama to Nevada and beyond.  In honor of THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, we showcased six plant-based recipes and discussed how healthfulness and deliciousness need not be mutually exclusive.

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Top left: Angela Anselmi with Andrew in the demo kitchen; Top right: THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE on display in the gift shop; Bottom left: Andrew demonstrates our favorite granola; Bottom right: Lake Austin Spa’s vegetable garden featured everything from fresh bay leaves (used in our demos!) to kale; Center: With Lake Austin Spa’s Robbie Hudson

Robbie welcomed us warmly, and ensured that we were ably assisted in the kitchen by Angela and Lynda — and the Spa’s gift shop even showcased copies of THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE all week long, which guests had us inscribe for them and for keepsake gifts to take home to friends and family.

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The food at Lake Austin Spa was excellent overall, and we found we were kindred spirits in our desire to balance healthfulness and deliciousness.  We’d give Lake Austin Spa an “A” for its accommodation of vegetarians and vegans, as there were multiple appealing options available at every time of day — including vegetable Flatbread Pizzas (above) at lunch.

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The Spa’s signature breakfast item — Migas, which is typically made with beaten eggs and baked tortilla strips — was made available in a scrambled tofu version (above, left) made with veggies and served with corn tortillas and Rudy’s Salsa Picante, a signature item served with many of the Southwest-inspired dishes (recipe below).  As we lucked out being at the Spa on “National Meatball Day” (March 9th), we were able to celebrate with broccoli-based Veg Meatballs (above, right) in tomato sauce that were so delicious we were not surprised to hear that they sold out of them regularly to veg and non-veg guests alike.

Rudy’s Salsa Picante

Yield:  3 quarts

20 Roma tomatoes
5-6 tomatillos
2 (regular) tomatoes
2 white onions
handful of peeled garlic in small aluminum foil sheet
handful of pequin peppers (added to garlic in foil sheet)
2 poblano peppers
6 serrano peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
5 ounces Spanish virgin olive oil
1 bunch cilantro
4 limes, juiced
salt and pepper

Preparation:

Cut tomato ends, pepper stems, and onions in quarters.  Place tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, and peppers on sheet pan next to the foil-wrapped garlic and pequin peppers.  Drizzle olive oil over the ingredients on sheet pan and inside the foil with the garlic and pequin peppers.  Bake about 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven.  Remove from oven, and blend in food processor.  Add cilantro and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

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Upper left: Veggie farfalle; Upper right: Veggie fajitas served in a casserole with warm corn tortillas; Lower left: Rudy of Rudy’s Salsa Picante fame; Lower right: Forbidden salad featuring black rice, edamame, chickpeas, and cherry tomatoes; Center: Huevoless rancheros served with Rudy’s Salsa Picante

The property’s main dining room offers a full wine list (featuring an impressive number of bargains), as does the more casual Cafe at the Lakehouse Spa, which offered more casual fare such as the guacamole with baked chips we snacked on during more than one afternoon break there.

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The property is gorgeous — even during the mostly-rainy week we visited — so we can only imagine its beauty when it’s actually sunny in Austin.  Fountains and greenery abound.

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The area near the Lakehouse Spa is beautifully landscaped and offers tranquility and a sense of adventure around every corner.

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Love the water?  Take your pick of three pools — two outdoor pools (which we passed on in favor of the steamy outdoor jacuzzi, given the weather), and an indoor lap pool.

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The action on the lake provided occasional spectacles — from water-skiing to speedboating — during daylight hours.

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Lake Austin Spa is a very special place where you can enjoy being as active or as chilled out as you choose.  Activities range from kayaking to hydro-cycling (or bicycling on the water, which we tried for the first time — and yes, it’s as fun as it looks) to yoga offered on an outdoor dock.  We availed ourselves of both the running track and a his-and-hers hammock at various times during our stay.

There is a wide range of fitness classes on offer, as well as one of the more extensive offerings of spa services we’ve ever seen.  We picked two of the most unusual-sounding massages to try — one incorporating three vibrating chakra bowls, and another seven different essential oils corresponding to the seven different chakras.  You be the judge:  Have our chakras ever looked clearer or more balanced?!

Lake Austin Spa Resort is at 1705 S. Quinlan Park Road in Austin, Texas.  800.847.5637.  www.lakeaustin.com

Lake Austin Culinary Experience‘s upcoming guests include Joanne Weir (May), Corinne Trang and Eric Asimov (June), Sara Moulton (July), and Gail Simmons (August):  www.lakeaustin.com

During National Nutrition Month (March), THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE’s Virtual Book Tour of Registered Dietitian Sites Continues

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Not content to merely celebrate Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day (which we did on March 11th), we’re celebrating registered dietitians all month long as we visit their sites — which are featuring THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE — during National Nutrition Month.

Catch up on previous stops on the tour, and join along every day as each shares her/his take on the book’s approach to plant-centric cooking and eating.

THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE
Registered Dietitians and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
Virtual Book Tour

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Calendar

Saturday, February 21st (Denver, CO):  Elizabeth Jarrard, RD‘s DontWhiteSugarCoatIt.com (whose initial longer review of the book appears here)

Thursday, February 26th (Kansas City, MO):  Dianna Sinni, RD‘s ChardInCharge.com

Friday, February 27th (Philadelphia, PA):  Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD‘s TeaspoonComm.com

Saturday, February 28th (Buffalo, NY):  Kim Klee, RD‘s JumpJiveAndKale.com

Monday, March 2nd (Santa Rosa, CA):  Jill Nussinow, RD‘s TheVeggieQueen.com

Thursday, March 5th (Portland, OR):  Jessie Erwin, RD‘s TheHappinessInHealth.com

Friday, March 6th (New York, NY):  Lourdes Castro, RD‘s SliceThin.com

Monday, March 9th (Del Mar, CA):  EA Stewart, RD‘s EAStewart.com

Wednesday, March 11th (New York, NY):  Maribeth Evezich, RD‘s WholeFoodsExplorer.com

Thursday, March 12th (Los Angeles, CA):  Marie Feldman, RD‘s NourishYouDelicious.com

Monday, March 16th (New York, NY):  Jackie Topol, RD‘s JackieTopol.com

Wednesday, March 18th (Scottsdale, AZ):  Michelle Dudash, RDN‘s MichelleDudash.com

Friday, March 20th (Succasunna, NJ):  Julie Harrington, RD‘s RDeliciousKitchen.com

Monday, March 23rd (Shorewood, WI):  Christina Bauer, RD‘s Xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Tuesday, March 24th (Chicago, IL):  Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD‘s DawnJacksonBlatner.com; (Mahwah, NJ) Dr. Jackie Ehlert, RD; and (Toronto, Canada) Adam Hudson, RD’s Opha.on.ca

Wednesday, March 25th (Alexandria, VA):  Hope Warshaw, RD‘s HopeWarshaw.com and (Los Angeles, CA) Sharon Palmer, RD‘s SharonPalmer.com

Thursday, March 26th (Atlanta, GA):  Marisa Moore, RD‘s MarisaMoore.com and (Birmingham, AL) Holley Grainger, RD‘s HolleyGrainger.com

Friday, March 27th (Dallas, TX):  Robin Plotkin, RD‘s RobinPlotkin.com

Tuesday, March 31st (Washington, DC):  Danielle Omar, RDN‘s FoodConfidence.com

Categorized: USA