New lunar year, new me

tet-2013

Yesterday was Flavor Boulevard’s 3rd birthday. Today is my nth birthday. Back in 2010, a good friend of mine used to give me a ride to San Jose at least once every other month, sometimes more, when I got cravings for Vietnamese food, and especially when the Lunar New Year approached. When Flavor Boulevard was about one year old, things got complicated. Long story short, I hadn’t been back to San Jose for two years. – Why? You couldn’t rent a car? – Well… you know the stereotype that Asian girls can’t drive? It’s true for this one. It’s embarrassing. People, even those who don’t like driving, feel much more relaxed when they drive me than when I drive them. I’m also used to driving in Houston, where signs are helpful and people are friendly. Driving in California scares me. I’ve been here for 4 years, driven here twice, and both times reaffirmed my scare. So Vietnamese food cravings are satiated with the places in Oakland, where I can reach by bus. I don’t remember what I did for the 2012 Tet (Vietnamese lunar new year), and there seems to be no record of it on Flavor [...]

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One shot: Goma ice outside Ippuku

ippuku-goma-ice

The latest addition to my dream house: a wooden platform to put in the garden where we can sit cross-legged, eat, drink tea, lie down while listening to the birds and wind chime. That platform, we call it phảng |fang|, but I don’t know the Japanese or English word for it :-/ It came about when Kristen and I sat on that wooden thing outside Ippuku tonight. It was outside outside, not a patio sitting, no chairs, no tables, just a platform like a wide bench. We came for their goma ice cream, and the wait for a table was super long so ordering at the bar was the best idea. You’d think it’d be cold, but there was the heater lamp hanging off the roof to warm us. My face was so warm I thought I was gonna get sunburn at 9 pm. It was so relaxing. Sit cross-legged, savor sesame ice cream, sesame cracker and a mochi, watch the street and the boys goofing off on it, and be watched by people waiting for a table. Come to think of it, we weren’t any less goofy than those boys. [...]

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Following the trend: Super Sweet Blogger Award

Heloise from Eating Modern voted me for the Super Sweet Blogger Award. Thank you, Heloise. I did some quick Google search and this game seems at the very least a nice way to know who (besides myself) reads my blog and whose blog I read. So, I’ll treat it the same way I treat food: if someone tells me to try something, I’ll try it (except balut, dog meat, bear paws, and so on). Here goes the meme (it’d be nice to know who started it maybe…): There are three rules to follow: -The nominees have to thank the person that nominated them. -Answer the 5 Super Sweet Questions — See below -Nominate a bakers dozen of other Super Sweet Bloggers and let them know. [...]

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Vegan out at Cha-Ya

Summer Green Roll – avocado, cucumber, kaiware sprout, wakame and hijiki. Alissa scooped wasabi like it was green tea ice cream, but I like this one just as it is: plain, fresh and light. It’s been a long time since I last either wrote about food or ate anything that I could write about. The occasional rainfalls during the drought of takeout Chinese are so-so hu tieu and com suon somewhere in the Ranch 99 complex, and homemade soups, lovely but no hot news. Vegetable intake has been limited to shibazuke from Berkeley Bowl, homemade kimchi, and toasted seaweed (seaweed counts, doesn’t it?). Before leaving for her trip, Cheryl fed me her black chicken soup, brown rice, tau yew bak (similar to thit kho but with soy sauce instead of fish sauce) and, like a loving sister, concerned looks and advice on how I should feed myself healthy meals. I agree with her one hundred percent, but all planned menus for the next day fluttered their wings away as I run from class to class and get home only wishing to relax. [...]

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Seven flavors of mochi ice cream

One very cold Saturday afternoon in Oakland. Darren: Normally I don’t like fruit flavored stuff, like watermelon candies you know? Mai: Yeah, like cherry candies… Darren: But this mango ice cream is really good! Mai: It is! I like the green tea the most though, it’s so refreshing. What about you, Kristen? Kristen: I usually don’t like strawberry flavors, but this strawberry one is so good… Good thing we each had a different favorite. [...]

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Recipe for bánh dầy đậu – Vietnamese mung bean mochi

When I’m home, Little Mom pampers me with her food and sweeps me out of her kitchen, except when I open the fridge to snack, because her mind fixes on the idea that if she lets me touch the stove, I only make a mess. She’s right. Not to toot my own horn but when I’m home, I’m a lazy mess. So when I said Mom, let’s make bánh dầy đậu, she threw her hands up, said oh my sky there’s no more room in the fridge, made the bean paste herself, and only let me play with the dough. The mung bean paste filling is really the most important part of the Vietnamese mochi (similar to the Japanese mochi, but it’s 100% Vietnamese): you want it slightly savory, slightly sweet, and mashed. Little Mom is the queen of seasoning, so that part was flawless. My job was to knead the dough and roll up them balls. At least I didn’t have to pound steamed sticky rice into oblivion. I was kneading while watching TV with Mom. I was kneading when she sectioned her bánh bao dough into balls. I was still kneading [...]

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Party like spring harvest time

And eat an amazing cream puff. (Cream puffs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Cupcakes) Click to see my post on the Spring Harvest Tea Party at Teance tonight. We drank some eye-opening teas, literally and figuratively.

Ice cream and potato chips

– 2 scoops Dreyer’s Double Fudge Brownie ice cream – 1 scoop Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia froyo – A handful of potato chips Use the potato chips to scoop the ice cream. They may break, in which case lick your finger and get a spoon.

Chewy dried banana

They aren’t banana chips. Those are crunchy, not very sweet, and make you thirsty. These are chewy and packed with honey sweetness. They’re as addicting as soft-baked chocolate chip cookies and as healthy as dried blueberries. At least I like to think so when I nibble twenty of them in one go. Chewy dried bananas come in many shapes and sizes. Some were pressed into flat sheets (3-5 bananas to make a sheet), laid on bamboo panels and dried under the sun. Cà Mau is known for this kind of chuối khô, the main ingredient of the other 101 banana snack things in the South, e.g., banana candies. Other bananas are dried whole, and they turn into finger-long wrinkly banana fingers. Eurasia Delight sells two kinds: the normal chuối khô – more caramel looking, shinier, sweeter, shorter and chewier, the “organic” chuối khô – whiter, dryer, longer, not as good. [...]

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Pre-rain Dragon Well from the Lion Peak

The best (known) green tea of China. The cream of the cream of the crop. I feel sophisticated just drinking it. Paired with a tangerine bee pollen truffle and I almost hear little cherubim playing the lyre. You can read the whole story in my journal Tea & Mai. I’m off to dance in my head.

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