Posts Tagged ‘Vietnamese food’

Our Fourth of July weekend kicked off with an epic feast celebrating the fully American value of diversity. Before I spin off into secular liberal propaganda, Greg has already vetoed my plan of celebrating a different new culture each Fourth of July with a different new traditional ethnic cuisine, country chosen by current events. His gentle argument is that Junior and Juniorette will have plenty of introductions to diverse cultures and foods that we don’t need to dedicate just one day a year for this form of subversive celebration.

Moving along, our Vietnamese summer roll party might just turn out to be our version of the KimJohnsons’ sushi party. Apparently this make-it-yourself sushi party theme has been so successful in the KimJohnson home that Brian now only invites guests over conditional on their not wanting a sushi party. (At least, the one time I tried to invite myself over for a sushi party, Brian quickly turned me down due to self proclaimed fish fatigue or something.)

The summer roll party starts off pretty simple with a number of items that can be prepped beforehand. Feel free to use any or all of the following:

julienned cucumbers, marinated in sesame oil, salt, sugar
julienned carrots
Pan-Asian spicy slaw
bean sprouts, raw or cooked (cooked if you fear e.coli)
shredded chicken or pork
piles of mint and basil

Now what really differentiates Vietnamese summer rolls from Chinese spring rolls is that Vietnamese summer rolls are made with a dried rice paper and not fried, and Chinese spring rolls are made with a flour based wrap and are fried. This rice paper, once dipped in hot water, becomes pliable and sticky and can easily be used to wrap the filling ingredients. It can get quite sticky, though, and if too much time elapses between your dipping in water and wrapping the summer roll, it can stick to your plate!

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Day One in Ottawa has been a fabulous adventure! I made a new friend Lee who is a self-proclaimed purveyor of perennials at Byward Market and was keeping an eye on me when I was approached by Mr. Homeless and Harmless. Lee and I discussed briefly afterwards, and I learned all about the homeless shelter down the street. Not bad for a morning of wandering…

Also, I had not one, but two (!) croissants for breakfast this morning. They were so flaky, so buttery, so delicious, and the second one way more so than the first! The first, Le Moulin de Provence, is newsworthy for its Obama cookies (shortbread cookie iced garishly with the Canadian flag) and financial naivete. (They took my USD at 1 to 1 with CAD!) The second bakery, Benny’s Bistro / The French Baker was adorable, with loaves and loaves of freshly baked bread and people walking in and out of a sort of hidden seating area in the back. I didn’t sit there because: 1) it was hidden, sort of, and 2) I wanted to maximize my people-watching potential by sitting up by the door.

Thirdly, I made another friend — a fortuitously Lebanese man — who was extremely helpful in my quest for the best shawarmain town. Shawarma Palace is a bit of a hike both from the University of Ottawa (where Greg was) and the hotel (where I was), but thankfully the Canadian Economic Association believes in long lunch breaks, and who were we to deny ourselves good Lebanese food recommended by a real Lebanese?!

Finally, our evening was spent making our own summer rolls at Sweet Art, a local Vietnamese restaurant specializing in European desserts. The waiter brought out a platter of summer roll ingredients (julienned carrots/cucumbers, sprigs of fresh mint and basil, sesame chicken and shrimp, and bean sprouts), a stack of dried rice paper, and a massive bowl of warm water to soak the rice paper in before wrapping. We’re definitely planning to have our own summer roll party sometime this summer, so stay tuned, and let us know if you’d like to be invited!

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