A recent lunch with a caravan of hungry friends reminded me of the insurmountable difference between eating in America and eating in Vietnam. Even when the food is excellent, even with folks I love, even when the weather is as freaky hot as it’s been this week.
Expansive menus, with dishes numbering into the three digits, and the a la carte approach to dining in the West culminated again in an experience that’s difficult for me to reconcile with Vietnamese food: every single person at the table was eating something completely different.
My bowl of noodles was wedged between a dish of curry on the left and grilled beef with rice paper on the right. Across from me were fried frog legs, and at the end of the table was a pile of pork chops. When such radically different dishes are slung onto a table, the spirit of the food itself is lost.
Continue reading “A Full Table at Vung Tau II: Random Vietnamese Food”
Two weeks of camping has a way of simplifying one’s needs. Or, at least, it should. I must admit that I was rather taken with a supply run at REI’s flagship store in Seattle. Amazing what we can schlep along with us as essential gear, but gone are the days — thank goodness! — of wet wool, freeze-dried food and heavy tents. And remember the taste of water after sloshing around in one of those metal canteens?
I was more than happy to wander back into civilization as we made our way home. If you’re planning a trip yourself to the Pacific Northwest, here are two places worth visiting. I’ll post more once I get back to San Francisco, but for now, a taste of my travels….
Continue reading “Voodoo and the Top Pot: Doughnuts Galore”
Far from the golden hills of California, with endless lush stretches of forest and field, the Green Mountain State lives up to its name. My road trip continues, and this week I find myself heading toward the Northeast Kingdom. Along the way, near the shores of Lake Champlain, I’ve been enjoying two local treats.
Continue reading “Vermont: Maple Creemees and Common Crackers”
My friend was planning to start his 37th year with a proper feast at his favorite restaurant, Old Krakow. Before the call, I was trying to decide what to do with a few random ingredients that were taking up space in my small kitchen: some spotted bananas, some milk chocolate, a bag of toasted hazelnuts, a block of cream cheese. After the call, I pulled out my cake pans and began baking.
Bob’s Chocolate Banana Birthday Cake included layers of moist banana cake, chocolate ganache filling, sliced fresh bananas, cream cheese frosting and toasted hazelnuts.
Continue reading “Old Krakow: Going Out for Home Cooking”
My parents travel light, so when they told me they were waiting at the baggage carousel, I knew some food had made its way from Missouri to California. I’ve been treated before to freshly dug potatoes, bags of dewy herbs, a catfish with its whiskers still intact, gooseberry jam, homemade beef jerky, and a selection of Kansas City’s finest BBQ sauces. As we approached the airport, I wondered what treats we’d be unpacking this time.
Continue reading “Asparagus on a Bun”