Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Main Squeeze

As I was walking back from work to the train today, I found that I wanted a little pick-me-up. I toyed with the thought of getting something at the train (like a latte or a hot cup of tea) but decided against both of those boring choices, I was in the mood for something atypical from my usuals, a change of pace. Taking a different route back to Suburban station, I passed by "Animo: Juice and Burrito Bar" on the corner of 17th and Arch Street in Center City, Philadelphia. The fluorescent yellow tables outside and the buzz of people inside pulled me in. This place was hip and happening, a restaurant where your choices of food or drink are made to order. I began perusing the menu, which was a difficult task because everything sounded sooooooooo good. I narrowed it down to 3 juices, Glow (carrot, cantaloupe and orange), Spa Treatment (cucumber, apple, lemon & lime), or Ginger Snap (apple, ginger and lime). Ultimately, I decided on the Ginger Snap and anxiously awaited for my drink to be prepared. As I stood waiting on the side of the juice bar, my drink was brought out to me in a clear cup with a shimmering lime green color radiating through the plastic. I was blown away after my first sip, the freshness of the fruit was addicting. The tart acid of the lime juice blended with the tanginess of the green apple, both flavors freshly squeezed by hand into a juicer. As I continued to sip, the spice of the ginger appeared, mixing with the sugars from the fruit, providing a natural sweetness to my juice.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vietnamese, Please!

As I was getting ready for work Tuesday morning, I asked my dad, "are we going to Vietnam tonight?" He laughed, clearly amused by my question and told me that we had a layover in China. So when I returned home later that day, I started to pack my bags...well, one bag, a purse actually that held just a phone and chapstick. Because if you didn't catch on already, we weren't actually going to Vietnam, just Vietnam Cafe on 47th and Baltimore in University City, Philadelphia. The restaurant was large with tables both inside and out, we were seated at a table partially inside with the other half outside, the weather was a perfect temperature of warm with a hint of a chilled breeze. We were starving when we got there and wasted no time on ordering. For my appetizer, I decided on "Goi Du Du Ga" aka the Papaya Salad. The bed of salad was made of strips of white Papaya fruit, thinly sliced shreds of bright orange carrots, pieces of white meat chicken, Vietnamese rau ram (like mint herbs) and crushed peanuts; dressed in a tangy vinaigrette of salt, sugar, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and flakes of crushed red pepper. The salad was bright with color and flavor, the freshness of the summer Papaya fruit with the spicy chili vinaigrette on top. The peanuts crunchy with each bite, the zest of the dressing adding just a touch of spice to the soft delicate flavors of the salad.
Next for my entree I chose the Ga Sate aka Chicken Sate. As I was still contemplating my fullness from my salad, my entree appeared on a large white plate, the aura of spice wafted through the air and tickled the smell buds in my nose. The Sate sauce was a deep mahogany brown and it covered the bottom of the plate. On top of the sauce were the goods - chicken, flower-cut carrots, sliced white onions and red and green peppers. The minced chunks of garlic were tasty explosions throughout the plate. Whoever says they don't like garlic because it makes their breath smell is cah-razy...just brush your teeth afterwards! Garlic is one of the most common and I must say, most delicious ingredients used in cooking. The sauce was also made of spiced ginger root providing a sweet, peppery taste. The chicken was tender and juicy, and the vegetables melted in my mouth. Although I ate a decent amount of my dish, I still had left-overs...which lasted about a half hour in the car until I came home and finished them off. This Vietnamese meal was light and fresh, an ideal dinner for the hot sticky summer.