Pho sure: some food suggestions

Vietnamese noodle soup with Rare lean beef, well done flank and tripe

I’ll take the number three

Lonely Planet is doing a contest right now, and awards include a trip with G Adventures, the company we recently hired to handle our first week in the Philippines.

To enter, you must first decide which type of trip you like best. Choices include Wildlife & Nature, World Food, Adventure, Island Hopping, and Big Trips. They all sound great to me! I haven’t entered yet, mostly as I can’t decide.

In the meantime: Steve and I have gotten back into our rhythm of cooking food a few nights a week, while still going out a few other nights/lunches per week, as well. Now seems as good of a time as any to share some recommendations, in the form of a few “bests.”

Best Hellacious Winter Comfort Food

Last week, while we were just coming out of the 50-days-and-counting period of below-zero days this year, Steve and I joined several friends for lunch at Pho 79.

I ordered #3 on the menu: rare lean beef, well done flank and tripe. I filled the mid-sized bowl up even more with bean sprouts, hot peppers and basil. Steve and I agreed this was the best pho we’d ever had – the broth’s flavor, which had a little more of a star anise note than anything else specific, was astoundingly good, especially if fortified at least a little with the industrial-strength chili sauce.

Best Adult Shake

We took a visiting-from-out-of-town beer hound here a few weeks ago, and were not disappointed with the beers, poutine, burgers and rabbit pot pie: Ward 6, on Saint Paul’s East Side. And then, dessert happened: my somewhat newfound taste for whiskey (and our persuasive server) drove me to order the “Col. Sanders”, and it was fantastic: a shake (vanilla? Maybe.) with rye and white creme de cacão with finger-lickin’ good panko crumbs on top.

Best Valentine’s Day Dinner

This goes to New Bohemia and Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop. Trying to plan a fancy dinner on that date just doesn’t appeal to us the way it used to. So, we pick someplace not requiring a reservation. This year it was a sausage place, then a stroll across the street to pick up a few rare beers, a bottle of Punt e Mes to replenish our stash, as well as a dessert to-go. Bonus: New Bohemia has a few TVs that were tuned in to the Sochi Olympics coverage.

Best Lunch After Visiting the Walker Art Center on a Sunday

The Wedge Co-op Deli. They make a mean hot grilled portobello sandwich to go. Choose pumpernickel, for your bread.

Best Sunday Night Tacos

Fix up a batch of this porchetta (it will take all afternoon, after spending a night with a great spice rub, in your fridge. The roasting makes your kitchen smell fantastic). Heat up some corn tortillas in a skillet, smear them with a teaspoon or so of adobo sauce (perhaps you have some leftover canned-chipotles-in-adobo-sauce in your fridge? We always do), fork up about a 1/4 cup of the porchetta onto the tortilla, then top with some shredded red cabbage and arugula leaves. Eat!

Part of the credit for this dish goes to Rebecca for serving up this roast pork recipe at her holiday party. Most of the credit goes to Steve, for his taco stack invention. There’s plenty of the pork left over, so we may be having these tacos a few more times, this week. I won’t mind at all.

Best Post-Run Sweets

apple brown-butter bread

Apple bread plus Cherry Garcia = gold.

I made up a loaf of this Browned Butter Apple Bread earlier this week. It was best fresh out of the oven (the quantity of butter in it made for a delightfully satisfying crunchy top). However, it was more than good as a reward for a tough run on wet, thick spring snow out at Afton State Park yesterday. Be sure to have some aged cheddar (Cougar Gold worked well… or try any dairy, such as ice cream) on hand, as well. It won’t smear onto the bread, but is a good complement.

That’s it. Eat up! And send any baked-good recipes my way.