Saturday, August 30, 2008

Then again, you can't get this in Georgetown...

While I dearly miss my beloved hometown, some things just aren't available without an hour or so drive to Portland. Unless the culinary landscape has changed since my last visit, Vietnamese still isn't very common in Mid-Coast Maine. Sure, they are a dime a dozen in Boston, Worcester and thereabouts, but not so much in Sagadahoc County.

I never really got into Vietnamese until I finished college. Despite having a ton of Vietnamese friends in college, the one time we went for it I nearly gagged. I was the only white guy among a group of two Vietnamese girls, an Indonesian guy, and our Atlanta native white girl friend. My meal came out a full half-hour after they got their food and every piece of "chicken" was apparently joint-meat. It put me off for years.

Then came one of my visits to Montreal for the F1 race. I went with one of my Vietnamese college friends, T, and a coworker of hers. We ate lunch at a little Vietnamese place somewhere in Montreal and I loved it. Perfectly cooked, subtle flavors. Yum.

When I moved to Dallas in '95, I met said friend's family, who lived in a Dallas suburb. By that point, I'd known her and her sister, L, who went to BU, for six years. Memorial Day of '96, L was visiting her family and they invited me to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. This was my first exposure to pho. They showed me how to use the various sauces and fresh herbs to season it. I was more or less addicted to pho from that point. There was a great pho place near my longtime home in Carrollton, TX, that I went to so often they recognized my voice on the phone before I'd even order. :) Dallas has a huge Vietnamese population among it's sprawlburbs, and I tried so many places I lost count.

Jump ahead to my move to Phoenix. While there are some great restaurants here, there just isn't the volume that I was spoiled with in Dallas. One place I've been to many times is Pho Avina. Tara went into work today, so I had the day to myself. Since I was going to be on that side of town anyways, I stopped in for lunch. They don't serve their banh mi on weekends, so I got the grilled pork with egg roll bun I snapped a picture of above. The grilled pork was nice and sweet. I love their egg rolls. The barely visible plate in the upper right is what's left of my appetizer order of them. All in all, the meal hit the spot. Speaking of spots, my poor white shirt took a beating, as my somewhat rusty chopstick skills tended to splatter the nuac mum just a bit. Well worth it, though.

Not that I wouldn't kill for fresh lobsters right now. You have to pick your battles. :)

1 comment:

Andy said...

I just went to Avina's on Thursday!