January 24, 2009

Lunch at Huynh

Hello all! I know it's been awhile since I have posted … I can thank some very busy times at work and also Houston's gorgeous weather of late, which has led to many picnics and afternoon walks. I find it extremely hard to go back to work when it is 65 degrees, breezy, and sunshine-y, don't you?

One day the lunch I had packed didn't seem appealing --lentil soup is one of my favorites, but somehow it seemed inappropriate for a beautiful day -- and so we decided to get lunch at Huynh, a Viet restaurant outside of downtown. We chose the worst possible day to go, however, as a favorable review had just been published in the Houston Chronicle. There were major hiccups with the service, but I can't fault them for being slammed after a very positive review. Besides, my frustration at the wait melted away once I had one bite of my food, which was delicious.

I ordered one of my favorite dishes, banh cuon: thin rice noodle crepes enveloping savory pork and garnished with basil, cucumber, lettuce and fried shallot. Judging by the delicate texture, I believe Huynh's rice noodle crepes were freshly made, which astounded me, because I have never had freshly made banh cuon except in Vietnam. The Chronicle review confirmed that they make their rice crepes and some of their noodles in-house, to-order, which makes this place a real find.

912 St. Emanuel St.
Houston, Texas

January 11, 2009

Sick habits

I am sick. Luckily, Mark and I have a system that has never failed: 1. Mark gets sick. Kim takes care of Mark. 2. After Mark recovers, Kim gets sick. Mark takes care of Kim.

This works really, really well. If you have to be sick, it is a great luxury to have a healthy person to run to the store for juice, to make soup, and to bring you a box of tissues when you don't feel like moving from the couch. The only scary thing is what would happen if we were to both get sick at once. In almost 6 years together, this has never happened. And I hope it never does.

I always do the same thing when I get a cold. Sick apparel: leggings, hooded sweatshirt. Sick viewing: Anything I can fall asleep to, but the best is the entire Pride and Prejudice BBC series. Sick reading: Reading?

My main interest is in sick eats/drinks. I have found that everyone has something they swear by, whether it was something a loving parent always gave them or something miraculous they discovered on accident. My friend Nicole used to swear by the BRAT diet - bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. As a kid, Mark had chicken soup, cream of wheat blended with a banana, 7-up, saltines, and lime sherbet. Here are my usual suspects:

1. Homemade soup. When I'm sick, I must have something hot that slips down the throat. One of my favorites is chao, also known as congee or jook, which is a thin, porridge-like rice soup. Simple and immensely comforting, it must have shredded chicken, lots of ginger, and pepper. I also like chicken noodle soup. If I'm lucky, Mark will roast a chicken and then use the carcass to make stock and shred the meat into my soup.

2. When we don't have homemade soup on hand, I cry and wish my mom was there. Then I send Mark out for take-out pho ga (chicken pho) or tom yum (spicy Thai soup). Whenever I feel under the weather, I really crave flavorful, spicy broth. Pho is especially great after a long flight.

3. Sparkling water with fruit juice. Orange juice, grapefruit juice, or passionfruit juice are all excellent.

4. Hot water with thinly sliced ginger and lemon wedges, mixed with a lot of honey. If I have a sore throat or am congested, this works wonders.

5. Crackers. My mom always had saltines and ginger ale on hand when our stomachs were upset. I don't care for ginger ale these days, but crackers are essential sick food.

6. Fruit sorbet. Raspberry Haagen-Dazs, please! Actually, cold fruit in general, especially oranges and berries.

7. When my taste buds start to return, I invariably crave crusty bread, spread with goat cheese and drizzled with honey.

What are your sick foods? Are they the same as when you were a kid, or have they changed as you got older?

January 5, 2009

New York

When my sister suggested lunch at Jean Georges during our trip to NYC, my heart leaped with happy excitement. What can I say? I had always wanted to try his food and oh, I was so excited. All in all, there were some hits and misses, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially sharing it with two of my favorite people. And, despite there being a recession going on (as my sister's boyfriend helpfully pointed out) I think it was truly an excellent value for a Michelin 3 star restaurant.

We spent New Years Eve at a crowded warehouse watching Blonde Redhead and the rest of the weekend exploring the city. It was cold so we punctuated our walks with stops here and there. All for sustenance of differing kinds: the Frick for our minds, Jacques Torres for our sweet teeth, and Ippudo for our bellies that needed something warming and filling. Ramen, insanely good chicken wings, cucumber salad, that place is good. It was a great trip.