Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Evening in Southeast Asia

Liam is on a quest to recreate the quintessential pho. We visited Vietnam two years ago, and indulged in a steaming bowl of pho on nearly every street corner. Pho is a Vietnamese soup with a beef and spice broth base, rice noodles, and different cuts of meat. It is served very hot, and with a garden of fresh veggies and herbs on the side so that each person may garnish their soup as they please. Making Pho requires an array of asian ingredients, and thus a trip to Chinatown for grocery shopping. When faced with so many tantalizing and under-explored ingredients, Liam and I have no willpower. We always buy a lot. So we usually try to make a night of it, and invite a bunch of friends around to test drive the newest pho rendition as well as to sample some other southeast asian treats.
I put all the fresh additions (basil, thai basil, mung beans, cilantro, limes) into glass vases. They took up a little less room on our narrow table than they would have on a platter, plus they made a handy edible tablescape.
Liam ventured into drying his own beef with this salad. Really, it should be dried in the bright, hot sun. But seeing as we live in an apartment, on the fourth floor, facing north, and aside from the fact that it is still winter here, our oven had to step up to the job. The beef was delicious, but it also took about six hours in the oven on the lowest temperature. I'll be expecting a big gas bill for that one!
The linen napkins are from Thai silk company, Jim Thompson. I got tuned in to the company on a trip to Bangkok where I visited the Jim Thompson House and Museum. The house was assembled by Jim Thompson, the founder of the company, in the 1950's from traditional homes that he purchased from different regions of Thailand. The house in itself is a treasure. It is a showcase of traditional Thai architecture, but also of Thompson's charismatic mixture of Eastern and Western design. Although Mr. Thompson mysteriously disappeared in 1967, the company lives on, providing a source for some of the most incredible textiles, both traditional and modern.

P.S. Will someone please remind me to get new chopsticks? The ones I have may be pretty, but they are way too slick to grab onto brothy rice noodles. I need some with better grip. And if there's one thing I hate it is sacrificing functionality for design. There's no point in having something beautifully designed if it doesn't do the job. And these chopsticks don't. Maybe I'll just save the take-out ones, and dip the top ends in some food safe paint....

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