Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eccentric Ethnic Eats Eaten Everywhere!

The first time I ever tried pho was in Charlotte, NC.  It was 2004, and I had just moved there from Tampa.  Fresh out of college, I had already blown through my huge $600 savings account, buying things like a washer/dryer.  Thankfully, furniture in Charlotte was hella-cheap, being the bible/furniture belt.  You know, given the amount of furniture and bibles, it's a shock that they had as many trees as they did in the city.  I wish Denver could import some of those trees.  Maybe it would cut down on some of the crazy wind we get here.  Anyways, I've digressed.

The pho was from a fusion restaurant called Viet Thai Noodle House, which I just looked up and still has an impressive 4.8 stars according to google maps.  Never having ordered pho before, I relied on the clearly not Asian, born and raised in Nascar country waiter to guide me through my first phoxperience.  (That word didn't quite jive the way I want.  Suggestions?)  I don't recall our first conversation, but I just remember he guided me towards the Seafood pho....a decision I would stick with for probably 4 years before I became a beef convert.

The second time I went in there though, I distinctly remember our conversation, which centered around my order of Vietnamese coffee.  Being my 2nd visit, I decided I was an expert and could just order things randomly from the menu without caution.  Here's how this went:

Waiter:  *Aw Hyuck, well y'all want anything else?

Ok i'm just kidding he wasn't that much of a yokel.

Waiter:  Anything else?
Me:  Uh...yeah can I get a Vietnamese coffee?

Side note:  The only other non-american coffee I had at that point in my life was Turkish coffee.  Which is basically like drinking rocks.  So I should have known better than to go guns blazing into this coffee purchase.

Waiter:  Oh WOW!  You really know your stuff!

HUGE RED FLAG.

Me:  "uhhhhhhhhhhh yeah."

Waiter brings this contraption over:






I stare at this for about 5 minutes, wondering how the hell to drink it.  The way it works is the hot coffee drips down in the glass filled with condensed milk and ice.  Then you stir it up and drink the overly sweetened no longer really coffee diabetic inducing beverage.  That is not what I did.  I, not understanding what was happening with this drip system decided to pick up the scorching hot coffee steel cup with giant holes in the bottom and try to drink it like an espresso.  This was the result:


Since then, I have practiced in almost montage like ferocity and have become a pho eating champion.  One day i will enter one of those pho eating challenges where you get a racy shirt that says something like "Pho King Champion" which seriously I want more than anything.  Then I will really truly know my worth.  But like any good documentary will tell you (see Beer Fest or that really bad ping pong movie with the guy who either is Jack Black or sort of looks like him...Pongs of war?), to really appreciate the subject you're studying, you must go to its country of origin and learn all its secrets.

That, and ONLY that is the reason that I've booked a ticket out to Vietnam in May!  Slash, I'm also going to meet up with a friend who is traveling around Asia for 6 months and will happen to be in Ho Chi Minh City at that most fortuitous time that I am available to go.  So, with a hotel booked on points, and a relatively cheap flight out, I'm head out to the city formally known as Saigon to sample the wares of the most mysterious Socialist country.  If anything, it will confuse the TSA people that assume I'm a terrorist who will now think I'm a communist too.

I'm very excited to eat my weight in food, and then lose my weight in diarrhea after eating a bad scallop.  I think that's what they refer to as a zero sum game.  I'm also excited to learn if Vietnam has any historical or cultural significant outside of the rice noodle.  The answer is probably not likely, but maybe I'll be surprised.  Like who are these people.  I understand that they are referred to as the Viet Kong, and that they had a gorilla for a king once.  I guess that means we've gone to two wars with them now?  They also wear giant hats while working in the rice paddies, and use boats on a river that are likely to sink at any moment.  That might also be Japan I'm thinking of.  And that's the totality of my known Vietnamese food related knowledge.  I'm also excited to continue my quest to find an "American" restaurant in foreign countries, so I can find out what American food is.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it is Dennys.  And that's really sad.  It's the grand slam of sadness.  It's the pick any two of blues.  It's the....it's the.....pho king worst.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy New Year!

Once, for a fleeting moment, I thought that this blog could generate enough traffic that I could make some extra, let's call it coffee money just from advertisements and clicks or however that bullshit works.  But then instead I just stopped blogging for months at a time.  Well here it is, still in the midst of the New Year, in the year of our lord two thousand and fifteen, where I find myself with a little spare time, and potentially some interesting things to say.

First to catch you up, I spent a good half of December in Florida, where the climate, both weather related and family related was mild and breezy almost the entire time.  While I have no control of the former, the latter was a direct result of my niece, the 2 year old glue that has brought my family together.  Once more there is joy in the house.  Personally, I tried to keep things on a pretty even, and professional level with my niece.  Instead of the more familiar family names that some others were affected with, I tried to teach my niece the proper way to address me:


Cute as she was, she couldn't fill all the hours of my days there, but thankfully I actually had the opportunity to visit with all my Florida friends on this trip, and the two weeks I was gone flew by!  Yet nothing was quite the stark reality of coming back to Denver as the 70 degree change in weather from when I left Tampa to when I landed in Denver.  Blinded by cold blight that laid upon the winterlands of Northern Colorado, I miserably accepted the fact that I had to yet again go back to my boring job.  At least I can now pass the time at work doing such important things as:

  • Reading books i've already read.
  • Watching the first season of Orphan Black
  • Buying stuff on Amazon.  Seriously amazon, you are my godsend.

Of course, not all days in Denver are bad by any means.  This winter has been about as mild as it can be, just coming off a 50 degree and sunny weekend.  And then, I get to wake up to this:



And of course, what's a blog post without me bragging about something I made and/or ate recently?  Here are things!

Seafood Bouillabaisse.  Who the eff knows how to spell that by the way?

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart.  And by Tart i mean flour dusted butter sticks.

Pressure cooker pot roast with whiskey glazed parsnips and carrots.  Because only I would ask for a pressure cooker for Christmas.

Lastly, I ate dinner at my favorite Vietnamese restaurants the other night.  The fish chau and softshell crab spring rolls were expectedly amazing.  But what else makes this nondescript restaurant with an encyclopedia like menu amazing?  They tell you about their secret menu in the worst possible way.


What else to report?  I am working on a small patio project which I'm waiting till it's finished to post about.  Slash, 6 months from now when i do my next post you'll see the failed attempt at a patio project that fizzled too early.  Think I'm exaggerating?  You should see the 11 blades of grass that came up in my yard after I seeded it.

Thus ends my 1st quarter blog post.  I hope it was worth your time.  As a distraction to it's poor writing, I leave you with with THIS: