Pork Meatball Banh Mi sandwich from Bon Appétit. As you can see from the photograph, I was barely able to stop eating it long enough to get my camera. Words fail me when I try to describe it: a little spicy, a little sweet, a perfect blend of comfort food and exotic flair. Three weeks later, Isaac is still talking about the meatballs (I simply left the hot sauce out of his portion). Plus, this recipe is dairy-free and soy-free with no modification!
If you had asked me after my first experience with Vietnamese food, I would have said, "Never again!" My husband got hooked on the cuisine while working in the financial district in San Francisco, and knowing how much I like to try new things, he was eager to share it with me. Unfortunately, I was eight weeks pregnant and completely nauseated when he took me to a restaurant that shall remain nameless in a Concord strip mall. Lesson number one: don't try a new Vietnamese restaurant without a recommendation. Lesson number two: don't take your queasy wife anywhere that smells like fish sauce. Needless to say I couldn't keep down the pho with mystery meat that was brought to the flourescent-lit table.
Five months and a lot of convincing later, I found myself walking into Pho 84, a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant near my doctor's office in downtown Oakland. Soon I was enchanted by the aroma of grilled meats, pickled vegetables, and warm curry. In many ways it is similar to Thai food, but because of the French colonial influence, it is richer and a bit more sophisticated. I fell in love, and we made a tradition of celebrating each healthy checkup with a meal at Pho 84. Now I can scarcely walk into a doctor's office without drooling at the thought of it. So drop whatever dinner plans you have for tonight and make some banh mi. I promise you'll be glad you did!