Monday, October 12, 2009

Improves the Taste

I went back to the cheap theater this weekend to see "Hangover" which was funny and entertaining, if not very smart. Yes, it starred all guys with some female cameo type roles, but oh well. Not every movie must have good female roles. One could argue that this didn't have good male or female roles... except the guy who leaped naked out of the trunk and started wailing away with a tire iron.

The theater is up in the next valley and rather close to the only local vietnamese restaurant I know of. It has been 3 years and I'm still stunned by 2 things: how little decent ethnic food is available outside The Valley, and how EVERY ethnic restaurant in CA sprinkles their food with cilantro. One of these days I'll remember before a steaming bowl of soup comes out with the devil soap in it. Fortunately, it hadn't steeped long and I was able to pull it out along with the raw onion garnish (wtf?). Unfortunately, the raw onion did its damage and made my belly blow up uncomfortably, but I didn't notice until after I ate the otherwise yummy beef soup with bean sprouts, basil, lime, and jalapeno add ins.

Saturday, I walked my new boots to the neighborhood cobbler to get heel strike plates put on to prevent my heels from rocking outward, then walked over to get my hair done. My previous stylist moved to a new salon that is not only more expensive and farther away, but uses product that I'm allergic to. The new stylist didn't get a funky enough color in my hair, but it is a decent looking normal color and the hair cut seems fine so I'll use her again. We also bonded over love of vietnamese food. She told me about her favorite place in The Valley, so I decided on more while I remembered to ask for no cilantro.

Pho 999 is your standard cheap diner set up, and was very busy. The rice vermicelli bowl with chopped spring rolls and roast pork was excellent. Plus, it was near an Asian market. I've been looking for one to get some lychees at a decent price for my Halloween side dish of demon eyeballs. (Lychees stuffed with cherries from pie filling.) I hit the jackpot at the Bangluck Market. I was cracking up over the name the whole time.

At the market, they had 5 or 6 types of palm sugar which I found irresistible, having never noticed it before. So now I have a moderate sized vat of palm sugar. I managed to find a tiny bottle of fish sauce for 89 cents, since I want some but don't want a giant amount. (That plus lime juice makes a tasty dipping sauce for fried stuff.) They had a half dozen brands of lychees, along with similar fruits at very affordable prices. They had mint for a third the price of the farmer's market. I impulse shopped like crazy and got out with 4 heavy bags for $22. I came back with enough time to grab some things at Trader Joes and Ralphs. And out of the three, I think Ralphs is the funniest name for a food store. But funnier, were some of the Bangluck labels many of which were translated so generically as to be useless. One heavily promoted item was bottled Maggi brand "Seasoning". The label says "improves the taste". Um, ok. It looks like soy sauce. I have no idea beyond that what it is. I didn't impulse buy that one.

Today was kind of short. I read too late into the night; slept too late in the day. While awake, I made soup from an actual recipe! I do not like the trader joe's low salt veggie broth - too carroty. But aside from that the bean soup was tasty. The soup was thickened by pureeing one can of white beans, which worked fine. Then I fell asleep on the couch. Nuts. Since then, I've reawakened, cleaned the kitchen fiendishly, packed away the newly dried farmer's market basil so I could lay out the Bangluck mint, and watched the Discovery show on Ardilopithecus. And this, of course. Aside from being a little worried about how much I slept and the cilantro sneak attacks, pretty much everything goes in the happy column for the weekend.

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