Needless to say, my dad is pretty excited that we are moving to San Francisco. We flew in for the long weekend to settle in to the new apartment and for me to spend a few days in the office. Our welcome home meal was a greatest hits menu of Vietnamese comfort food from my childhood:
- bo luc lac (shaken beef) – cubes of beef sauteed with onions over lettuce & garden fresh tomatoes (the beginning of my California produce swoonfest)
- ca kho (salted fish)- basically braised catfish in a caramel/fish sauce
- ca chien – fried fish
- tom kho – salty shrimp (same preparation as the braised catfish)
- canh rau day – soup made from the leaves of some sort of okra/spinach-like plant. This is my absolute favorite comfort food and I could eat this every single day. This is always what I request when I come home for dinner and I am pretty sure my parents get tired of me asking for the same thing every time I come home. It is simple and its peasant food but you can’t get it in a restaurant. Its slimy so if you don’t grow up eating it, I don’t blame you for not liking it. I love it over rice with some salty fish or pickled eggplants. My mom used to throw in muop (no idea what this vegetable is called in English) or sliced okra. Sometimes she threw in dried shrimp & egg drops and other times she threw in pieces of fresh shrimp. In any case, it is my ultimate comfort food.
We made two trips to Ikea within two days. Normally a maddening experience but since it was a long weekend, bridge traffic wasn’t horrible. I also got to visit some of my favorite East Bay eateries: Picante and Genova Deli.
When I lived and worked in the East Bay, I had lunch at Picante at least once a week and it is still one of my favorites. Not as greasy as your average taqueria but just as tasty and with quality, fresh, local ingredients.
Genova Deli is an authentic Italian deli that I also frequented quite a bit when I lived in the East Bay. They make great specialty sandwiches but also make amazing regular deli sandwiches. Its been at least 5 years since I was last there but all of the old Italian guys are still behind the counter!
Finally, we stopped in at Berkeley Bowl West, the newer and bigger version of where I shopped when I was in college. Coming from two years in the land of meat and cheese, the array of produce was mindblowing. Joel was blown away by all of the beers available. Though I won’t be shopping here very often, it just highlights that we are returning to the land of amazingly fresh produce. I’m looking forward to shopping at our farmer’s markets and getting my first CSA box.