You might know that I got married in New Orleans this summer, so I made several trips there this year. Besides ordering cakes and flowers, I also squeezed in a story. Did you know there are several Vietnamese-American communities along the Gulf Coast? My story on the Modern Farmer website profiles VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative, a group of urban farmers in New Orleans East community og Village de L’Est who are finding strength in numbers to make growing food more viable. Check it out!
Entries Tagged as 'Vietnamese'
So I’m back– after a hiatus. But I haven’t really been gone. You can catch up on what I’ve been working on here. There’s only so much someone can say about food. Even a food obsessed person like me, and I feel wrung dry of ideas (should I say that out loud?). I’ll be easing back into this blogging thing slowly– it’s so much easier to write about other people than about myself!
But hopefully my big trip will be changing that. We officially booked our trip to Southeast Asia! Traveling to that area of the world has been a dream of mine for many years. We’ll be flying into Vietnam, meandering through Cambodia, and then returning via Bangkok. We’re not going until December, but I’m pumped! Anticipation combined with watching endless episodes of Luke Nguyen, an awesome Vietnamese-Australian dude who cooks throughout the Mekong region, has me feeling inspired again.
During one of my sojourns to MT Supermarket, the biggest Asian supermarket here in Austin, I found a banana flower! Actually, it was a huge pile of banana flowers! Believe me, I recognized them immediately from the roach infested banana trees throughout New Orleans. But its not normal to eat the flowers or leaves there.
Banana flowers are more annoying than I anticipated. You chop it up and all the little tendrils get in there. Then you have to fish them out with a slotted spoon. Also, I didn’t know what I was doing and picked the smallest flower out of the pile, and only half of the yield was edible. The banana flower was also more bitter and not as sweet as I thought it would be, but it still had that weird banana aftertaste, that sort of puckery mouth feel like when some of the inside of the banana peel gets in your mouth.
Don’t let my experiences deter you. Pick up a new vegetable and experiment! Here’s the recipe I tried.
Got back from New Orleans a few weeks ago. Ate lots of delicious food at Jazz Fest– the highlight was the sweet potato turnover as always. I went to my old ‘hood, Magazine Street, and was Chef John Besh at La Divina Gelateria. Then I ate some hand made chocolates from their rival, Sucre. Also popped into a banh mi shop in New Orleans East. I’ll be back in less than a month to get married!
This post is part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s 2013 City Guide.
“I’m English. I have habits. I drink tea…” explains Michael Caine’s character while sitting outside the Continental in 1950′s Saigon. It’s the opening scene of The Quiet American, the mediocre movie version of the awesome Graham Greene novel. Like the main character, I also have habits. I go to the same Vietnamese restaurants over and over again even though Austin has a surprisingly decent selection of Vietnamese spots. Although most of them offer all the classic dishes, it seems like each one has its specialty. Here are a few of my favorites for now!
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Tam Deli is my go-to spot for a casual dinner of bánh mì, the classic sandwich of cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, and meat stuffed into a tender baguette. Although not especially traditional, the chargrilled pork and lemongrass beef are popular fillings. Their crispy yam and shrimp fritters are another unique dish, and their cream puffs have an enthusiastic following. Lulu B’s trailer and Lily’s Sandwich are also good bánh mì spots– I love my friend Maggie’s post about a visit to Lily’s!
Pho Saigon is my favorite place for a trusty bowl of the noodle soup served with fresh herb garnishes. Pho is one of the best hangover cures, especially when accompanied by Vietnamese drip coffee with sweetened condensed milk. Order the tender brisket if you’re feeling a bit “off” from the night before, and save the gelatinous tendon for later. Many fellow food bloggers also recommend Pho-Natic and Pho Dan.
Have you ever walked into a Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall restaurant and spotted the weird colorful desserts in plastic cups? Grab the white one if you see it– it’s the life-changing Vietnamese yogurt. I used to eat this at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the whole world, Pho Tau Bay in Gretna, Louisiana. This yogurt is often made from scratch using whole milk and sweetened condensed milk, resulting in a perfectly tangy yogurt with a haunting sweetness. I was thrilled to see it at Lily’s Sandwich. Get on it!
Banh Xeo and Bun
In Austin, I have yet to find a decent vermicelli noodle salad or banh xeo, a crispy crepe filled with shrimp and pork. I have hope, however, after reading Michelle’s post from last year (you should take a look– she has great recommendations) I can’t wait to try the banh xeo at Sunflower and YaYa’s for vermicelli.
Trendy Vietnamese Food
Elizabeth Street Cafe has repackaged Vietnamese food for a trendy Austin crowd. The pitch perfect interior design is almost straight out of a Graham Greene novel– an updated French café feel with a touch of Southeast Asian influence. There are plenty of unique fusion dishes like the Kaffir Lime Chicken Banh Mi that I covered for Serious Eats. The food is impeccably cooked, but I always feel like something is… lacking, like the food has been watered down for yuppies willing to pay double the usual price for Vietnamese food. Other food bloggers swear by it, however, so it’s worth a try!