Thursday, March 12, 2009
What do you call cheese that isn't yours?
Sorry, I couldn't resist. Well, my friends, Lent is upon us and I have given up cheese. Thus, right now, all cheese is not my cheese. Do you realize how many foods have cheese in them? I'm learning, and trust me, the curve of said learning has proven steep. My cheese-free eating troubles have been compounded by the fact that my darling boyfriend has given up meat.
Together we are, dare I say, vegan. At least in all the important ways, like not eating bacon or cheeseburgers. Or steak. Fresh mozzarella. Chunks of gruyere. Oh dear, I have to stop.
Needless to say, dinner time has presented a challenge of late. But a challenge I believe we have risen to! Thankfully, I am more than happy to spend all day pondering my dinner. To be honest, I have little choice in the matter as it seems to be what my brain does whether I ask it to or not. But I digress.
Last Monday, all this pondering led us to one of the happiest evenings we have spent in a while. Maybe we really will go vegan!* We ended up having an absolute dream of a dinner at Pok Pok, a sort of Thai street food restaurant here in Portland. It is very well loved around town, in addition to getting boat-loads of national mentions. I've been dying to go there for ages, but have only grabbed a bite of take out from their little to-go hut (really, it's a hut) in passing. We are a little slow on the uptake.
Warm and buzzing, the cozy bobble of a space put me at ease instantly. We ordered with relative abandon, considering the aforementioned limitations. Our table was soon gloriously overrun with plates, mounds of this, steaming bowls of that. Even sweet little baskets of the stickiest rice that just begs to be eaten with your fingers. One for me, one for him.
A mellow yellow curry noodle soup with fresh coconut milk stole David's heart, while a deeply pungent wild mushroom salad swept me away. Three days later, eating anything else remains perfunctory. Limey brightness, Thai chili heat, and meaty beautiful mushrooms swirled together to make my mouth in those moments the most dazzled in the world.
What most tied the meal together for me was the fact that I was sipping vinegar all through it. As a child, I used to drink white vinegar by the capfull, and don't even get me started on pickle juice, so the thought of being able to drink vinegar in the grown-up world was quite exciting.
You see, at Pok Pok, they make these very special fruit-infused vinegars for drinking. They come in glass, 2oz of vinegar, and the rest spritzy water! Or, better still, make it boozy and add a shot of vodka. The waitress promised that was a popular way to go and who am I to argue? Kumquat vinegar & vodka? Yes please!
I am wholly enamored of this beverage, and I want to share it with you. However, I've come to the realization that I could never use words alone to begin to do it justice. Therefore, here in the Morellobello laboratories, we are working hard to bring you a recipe for making it yourself! I will be experimenting this week, and ask your patience as I attempt to bring you tangy perfection. Think tart, think fresh, bright, Spring! I'll have it for you before Spring is here, I promise!
Though I must ask you to wait on the beverage, I'll hop off topic for a moment and give you a little movie recommendation to tide you over. The perfect ending of a night whose theme seems to have been slowness on the uptake, we rented Vicky Christina Barcelona and lounged in our spice-soaked stupor. I highly recommend both! Happy almost Spring my lovelies!!