Okay, maybe it’s not really an obsession, but there is not much else that will make me drive 10 miles of crosstown Atlanta traffic for lunch. Bánh mì is the Vietnamese equivalent of a sub sandwich. Owing to the French Colonial influence in Indochina, the Vietnamese quickly adapted the baguette to deliver some very local flavors – grilled pork or chicken, pork pate, pickled daikon radish and carrots, mayo, fresh basil, fresh mint, cilantro and chili peppers. If you’ve had one, you know that a bánh mì is like an amazing salad sitting on top of a grilled meat-filled sub roll. The taste is so fresh and delicious … and they’re only a couple of bucks each!
My friends know that I love these sandwiches and will seek them out in strip malls all up and down Buford Highway, the center of our culinary and cultural melting pot here in Atlanta. I often get texts in the middle of the day from friends asking “Where was that Vietnamese sandwich place you were talking about again?” There are a lot of little places where you can get great bánh mì, but my two favorites are Lee’s Bakery and Quoc Huong Banh Mi. You can do a sit-down lunch at either of these places, with more selections of traditional Vietnamese food such as pho noodle bowls, but they are great for take-out. I just wish that they were a little closer to my house.
Maybe because most weeks I’m too lazy to drive over to Buford Highway, I’ve started making bánh mi at home. Once you gather the ingredients, they’re actually quite easy to make. The key is getting the fresh veg and a good crusty baguette as your sandwich base. A quick trip to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market works for both.
The Casino Cocktail is a pre-Prohibition-era gin cocktail. The recipe can be found in the classic The Savoy Cocktail Book, originally published in 1930. It is a light, dry, gin-forward cocktail served with a lovely cherry garnish. One note about the garnish… I have used fresh, pitted Bing cherries when they are in season, but you can also use any preserved cherries. I don’t particularly care for the neon-red Maraschino cherries that you use to top an ice cream sundae, but you can also opt for the high-end Maraschino cherries from Luxardo. At $20 a jar, I’m not sure they are worth it. But, maybe you think it’s worth a splurge. I know people who soak their own cherries in brandy. You can do this with dried cherries if fresh aren’t in season. That seems like a a great alternative to me. Homemade is always best!
The Casino Cocktail
2 oz gin (Plymouth)
2 dashes orange bitters (Fee Brothers)
1/8 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
1/8 oz fresh lemon juice
a fresh cherry, pitted
Stir all the ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a skewered cherry and serve.
Happy Friday! Cheers!
Here is one of our Pizza Night variations – Mushroom Brie pizza with white truffle oil.
I love the combined taste of mushrooms and truffle oil. It has an unbeatable earthy, savory flavor. For this pizza, I use a combination of fresh baby portabello and dried porcini mushrooms to pair with the white truffle oil.
Here is one of our Pizza Night variations – fig and goat cheese pizza. My friend Carolyn offered up the idea and the toppings for this pizza. She started by making a Fig/Onion Jam, adapted from a recipe she found on The Food Network website. She modified the jam by leaving out the goat cheese and adding it at the end, directly on the pizza. Continue reading
Making your own pizza dough at home is really not that complicated. It just takes a little ahead-of-time planning. If you are planning pizzas for dinner, you will need start your pizza dough in the afternoon. For my Pizza Night entertaining, I started my dough 2 1/2 hours before my guests arrived. I used Deborah Madison’s dough recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Here is her recipe, which I doubled to make 4 large pizzas.