Friday, December 11, 2009

Butternut Squash

We had cause to celebrate recently, so what better to do than eat vegetarian! There are quite a few vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the Durham/Chapel Hill/Raleigh area, so the idea is nothing new. But pulling off vegetarian well is another matter altogether. We decided to try Butternut Squash in Chapel Hill.

Flash-Fried Goat Cheese

We started with a couple appetizers in order to savor the full array of food that this restaurant had to offer. I'm still relatively new to vegetarian eating, so I relish all of the various meat-free alternatives that have been made. Our first dish was definitely one that stands on its own, no matter what your diet (well, maybe not for those who are lactose intolerant...or vegan...or low fat...). Anyways, we ordered the flash-fried goat cheese because it sounded too good to pass up. Soft, robust (and even slightly gamey, but in a good way) goat cheese was formed into balls, covered in a thin batter containing hints of cinnamon, was quickly fried to make the shell crispy and just warm the cheese. It was served with a sweet berry jam, creating a wonderful interplay between sweet and savory. I would definitely recommend this appetizer if you go to the restaurant because it is nearly transcendent.

Tempeh Hot Wings

People who do not or cannot eat particular foods are forced to become creative. If not for tofu and tempeh, vegetarians would be stuck with carbs and vegetables all the time. Butternut Squash has taken tempeh and boldly used it in place of chicken wings. These tempeh hot wings were very good, though not for the faint of tongue. They were very spicy, but also wonderfully flavorful in their Buffalo sauce. You did not miss the chicken at all.

Linguine with Facon Cream Sauce

For dinner, I ordered a special with linguine and a tempeh bacon-cream sauce. While good, not every meat substitute works as well as others. Bacon is a wonderful meat that can be eaten alone or used as the base of an entire cooking repertoire (i.e. Southern cooking). Tempeh bacon has not quite achieved the same effect, part of which may have to do with the ability of bacon to exude its smokey, salty flavor through rendered fat. With the other good dishes on the menu, I would not order this main course again.

Butternut Squash Risotto

To end on a positive note, our other main dish was butternut squash risotto. This was a fine, creamy risotto with a cheesy background flavor. I almost stole this dish for myself it was so good. All in all, Butternut Squash is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant that I think everyone should try just to expand your mind and your taste buds.

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