Here’s a quick dish about one of my favorite quick dishes. In Michigan the year is at that sweet spot when the weather and the heirloom tomato season makes every shopping day a mandatory caprese salad for lunch day. With fresh, tasty and local tomatoes and mozzarella purchased less than an hour before, the dish requires minimal embellishment and so mere minutes after arriving home with the grocery I could be sitting down to reward myself with a leisurely, cool Mediterranean meal – sometimes followed by a Mediterranean siesta especially if I had some wine with my lunch. This past week, Oanh interrupted me as I went to harvest some basil for my salad. She had a hunch that rau om would work well in caprese salad and suggested I try that instead. She was right.
Oof, it’s been a crazy hectic couple of weeks leading up to the San Francisco Street Food Fest. Thanks again to everyone for voting Rau Om and our Nem Chua into the craziest crowdedliest food fest we’ve ever seen. Thanks also to everyone who stopped by during the Food Fest. We’ve heard from many Vietnamese that nem chua was too much of a delicacy for non-Southeast Asian taste, so we were glad to get such positive response from people who tasted nem chua for the first time at the food fest. We can’t tell you how many times we were asked where our restaurant was, and had to reply that for now Nem Chua and other items were available by mail-order only, but that we’ll be coming soon to Sunnyvale Farmers’ market. After a day to recover from our crazy adventure, time to get back to work to prepare for this next phase, with hopefully more of this:
Ah, Canh Rau Răm / Vietnamese Coriander Soup. Such a perfectly simple soup, needing only 4 ingredients – rau răm, beef, garlic, and tomato – to achieve a balanced, flavorful broth that is light and refreshing, even when served hot. That the broth itself contained the highlights and the majority of the experience of the dish made this soup an ideal candidate to test out the modernist/stunt cuisine techniques of clarification. The goal was to produce a clear broth that delivered all the flavors of canh rau răm, We’ve decided to call the clarified soup Trà Canh Rau Răm (lit. Vietnamese Coriander Soup Tea) to avoid confusion .
Thank you all for your overwhelming support in the SF Street Food Fest Vote for Your Vendor Contest. We still can’t believe we received 510 votes to be placed in the top 4 and therefore eligible to show off our nem chua at the Fest. We are humbled and touched that so many of you invested your own time, effort, and enthusiasm to spread the word about us far and wide. We got votes from all over the US, from Vietnam, France, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and many more places. Another happy side effect was the chance to catch up and renew so many friendships and make new ones besides.
As promised we are going to send a pack of nem chua to a randomly selected commenter on our previous post – Kristine, there’s a true random number generator out there that likes you.
And now the work begins. Our prototype for the one dish we will share at the Festival includes nem chua as the featured ingredient, supported by fresh herbs and veggies (always with the fresh greens, of course, we’re Vietnamese!), bánh hỏi (fine vermicelli mesh), all served on eco-friendly serving boats made from bamboo leaves.
The scale of this festival is like nothing we’ve ever seen. The organizers suggested we be prepared to turn out a plate every 15 seconds for 8 hours straight. So, eeep! Still, we’re more excited than overwhelmed. Bird gets to put her operations optimizing skills to work, and this time she is finally accountable for her own recommendations. Unfortunately, this means the blog will be lurching along with less frequent and irregular postings. Please bear with us. We look forward to cooking and posting our ideas and experiments again soon after the SF Street Food Fest is over.
Hope to see many of you on August 20th!