I’m always a visitor in Austin. I say visitor because I don’t think tourist is the right word. Visitor implies the dedication of frequent visits.
Whenever I visit Austin, I try to take in something new: a drink at The Driskill, a late night at Easy Tiger, and leave it to me to consider Whole Foods a place to wander for hours.
On my last visit to Austin, I ate at Contigo. It was one of those warm summer nights when darkness is welcome relief to the bright, sweltering day, and cause enough for celebration. I sat with new friends under the strung lights.
While Contigo has a distinct Austin flavor, its ease reminded me of California living.
We shared pickles and sliders and drank cocktails until our conversation settled into a place of comfort. The night felt entirely fresh and new… yet completely familiar. While Contigo has a distinct Austin flavor, its ease reminded me of California living. It’s welcoming, casual, and respects the power of food in inspiring human gatherings. The flavors are all at once bold and humble.
In the spirit of Contigo, I’ve created a simple dish made for sharing. It’s a play on Mexican Street Corn. Since we’re still waiting for corn to reach its peak, charred zucchini is a wonderful substitute. Sharp crumbled Mexican cheese, smoky chili powder, and lots of lime are bold essentials to this dish. One pan is enough for many. I suggest cold beer and a few friends to complete the experience.
Mexican Street Zucchini
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 cup queso (crumbled Mexican cheese)
4 green zucchini squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes
ancho chili powder, to taste
1 lime, sliced into eight wedges
1. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and queso Stir until combined. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to its broiler setting. A gas oven is best for this recipe as it best chars the zucchini.
3. Slice the heads off of each zucchini. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop the center seeded area out of the zucchini. Discard the seeds.
4. Arrange the zucchini on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes.
5. Place in the oven directly under the broiler flames. Allow to cook until the zucchini is sizzling and browned. Rotate the pan once during baking if necessary. Remove from the oven and top each charred zucchini with queso topping. Sprinkle generously with chili powder and a squeeze of lime.
This article originally published in The Inaugural Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine [June/July 2013].
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Joy Wilson is the voice behind the popular blog, JoytheBaker.com.
She is a baker, food photographer, writer, and curator of all things sweet.
Joy lives in Venice, California with her monstrous cat Jules, an admirable collection of nail polish, and a refrigerator full of butter.
Photography: Joy Wilson