Sunday, May 31, 2015

cambodia in oslo in paris

oslo num kiem pav

at the end of our journey deep into the 13th arrondissement, we met bitter disappointment in the guise of a half-shuttered storefront from which emanated the sounds of post-lunch cleanup. after a disconsolate walk with an increasingly restless infant (not mine) around the oslo commercial centre—a laotian/thai shopping mall in a paris suburb—we succumbed to the easy option and went next door to chheng sim. this cambodian/lao/vietnamese lunch counter is run by cambodians of chinese origin and decorated with a large painting of angkor wat and many gleaming christmas ornaments.

with no cambodian food prior, i can't say if we ate ideal types or an idiosyncratic riff on traditional forms. the num krouk were small bites, in the manner of aebleskiver or takoyaki, made with a batter of rice flour and coconut milk and filled with a more liquid batter of rice flour, coconut milk, and fish sauce, then topped with fried ground pork. the six that came out each had a lacy, crisp frill around a custard-textured interior and were a nearly perfect snack: light but rich and intensely savoury. the banana flower salad was a paragon of balance and reminded me of the virtues of judiciously applied rau ram. the num kiem pav kampot (shown above; these are the words printed on the receipt—i can't find this anywhere on the internet) were loosely filled with precisely julienned bamboo shoots and pork, showered with dark and crisply fried shallots, and had a remarkable skin which was clearly not all rice flour: glossy, flexible, and both yielding and snappy.

a generous and unexpectedly beautiful lunch.

chheng sim (清心)
olympiades no. 33
44 avenue d'ivry, 75013 paris

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

the lowly legume


the interior of las cuatro milpas in san diego's barrio logan appears mostly unscathed by the passage of eight decades and is bigger than it appears from the outside, the better to accommodate a fully functioning tortilleria. did you know that a milpa is a field most often used for a class of traditional mesoamerican multicrop agriculture that only infrequently includes wheat as a crop? nonetheless, the handmade wheat tortillas, correctly scorched, are superb—as good as, or even better than, the lightly fried corn tortillas used for tacos. but the real winner is achiote rice with thin-skinned, delicate-textured beans. you will not regret asking for an adult-sized bowl, especially if you cover it with a drift of chopped cilantro while the cash register operator is distracted.

las cuatro milpas
1857 logan avenue, san diego, CA.