I am a relative late-comerm to Pho Yum — the restaurant I wish the My Linh folks had opened years ago. When I left Brooklyn five years ago (!) there was a Banh Mi craze taking over – wasn’t new to those of us who had any familiarity with Chinatown, but became a hipster go-to lunch all over town. For the uninitiated, the Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that combines meats (usually pate and ham – yes, post-colonial) with marinated vegetables on a baguette. The scrumptious combination of rich and tangy, smooth and crusty, is unparalleled. So divine, in fact, that I forgot to take out the camera until said sandwich was already partially consumed – this is the picture of food being enjoyed, people, not food being fawned over! Chow down on Banh Mi at Pho Yum, at 1558 Central Avenue. AND they do take out. I also personally could eat the Bun (vermicelli noodles) every day without tiring of them. And of course the restaurant namesake Pho (noodle soup) will be a perfect dish as the weather turns cooler. If my blog allowed for audio inserts, you’d be hearing my stomach growling right about now. . .
We have rented a summer home with another family – a terrific vacation option in my view. You can save on food costs by cooking in your home; have built in playmates for adults and kids; and find a nice balance between doing things and doing nothing. Only question is the one of compatability. We have travelled with this family, before; their son is friends with our son; we all care about quality food and relaxation – ingredients for a good time. Would they share what I findn an intriguing holiday house game: can you make meals that are good, healthy, don’t cut too much into your vacationing time, and are strategically planned to use up the food you bought and yet require a minimum number of drives to the grocery store? Perhaps not the stuff of a Mattel best-seller, but now you know the way mind works.
I packed the essentials: alcohol and wine (always hugely marked up in vacation locations); soy sauce (we have a standard grilled salmon recipe that calls for it, and why have a second bottle to lug back); cinnamon; white balsamic vinagre; and a few pieces of fruit that wouldn’t make it through the week at home. Should mention we were driving to our Shangri-la, in Maine.
Friends arrived arms full of lobstah – I knew I liked them – and snacks from a Trader Joe’s stop. So dinner number one easy peasy; lobster, cucumber and feta salad, and fresh corn. Our first grocery store run was designed to get us through one more day till we’d had time to plan the week. So far, so good.
Interesting article in the NYT about marketing Jenny Craig in France. Having lived in Paris for three years, of particular interest to me. Journalist couldn’t avoid commenting on the thin marketing lady’s lustful drag on a cig after her barely touched lunch, but otherwise pretty accurately summed up a few fundamental differences Americans and French have regarding food and eating. I think. however, that American eating habits have devolved – we too used to eat around a table and limit snacking. Change was motored by corporate marketing, two parents working and attendant challenges around food preparation and child care, and a constantly sped up society that does not encourage taking time for a leisurely lunch. Made me happy our little family still eats together, at a table, and talks while we do. Think I’ll keep doing that.
new definition: the affection felt for seasons that no longer exist.
I just discovered the alternative universe of the Beekman boys. To visit their website is to be transported to a time when food was locally produced and unfancy but delicious and objects were valued for their beauty and durability. These guys make cheese and soap at their farm, and sell that and more at their shop in Sharon Springs, NY. But you can be a part of their world online too. Start with the fruit spoons highlighted in House Beautiful this month, and go from there.
Apparently, this lovely dish has a complex cultural history, and multiple local variations. All I can say is I followed the Cook’s Illustrated recipe (you need to be a subscriber to read it, but you can get a free trial), and ended up with a scrumptious guest-worthy meal. And yes, those are whole garlic cloves, cooked to creamy spreadable perfection.