I’m a Pho-natic

…in case you didn’t know.

And speaking of that hot, yummy deliciousness, check out my post on Houstonist today about two of the newest pho restaurants in town:

One Pho the Money, Two Pho the Show

Quick recap:  Pho 24 in Chinatown is awesome.  Pho Huy in Spring Branch is — surprisingly — awesomer.

P.S.  If anyone is looking to get me a Christmas present (besides this oven…gah), I’ll take one of these:

That is all.

Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth

One of my favorite bloggers and food photographers, Evil Chef Mom, posted a sumptuous picture of three ripe persimmons yesterday on Flickr:

persimmons
Photo courtesy of Flickr user evil chef mom.

And I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite food poems, just in time for Food Poetry Wednesday.

Today’s poem comes to us courtesy of Li-Young Lee, a Chinese poet who was born in Indonesia but raised in the United States.  If you’re unfamiliar with Lee, he’s led a fascinating life (as did his parents and grandparents) which has strongly contributed to his bold, broadly-appealing, and deep yet accessible style of poetry.

The poem — which is quite long — is after the jump…  Happy reading!

Continue reading Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth

The Smell of Good For You

I’m feeling a bit under the weather today.

My officemate, who is perfect in all ways — even down to her three perfect triplet boys and her perfectly matched outfits and her perfectly packed healthy lunches and her perfect balance of work, life, church, husband, children, friends, health and shopping — is determined to not have my sickness interrupt her perfect life.  And to that end, she’s forcing me to drink a — well, a JUG — of carrot juice this morning.

2774371636_d9ff6be091_o
Image courtesy of Flickr user Joan Thewlis.

It’s awful.

And I’m not just saying that out of petulance. I love my officemate, despite her unimperfections. The stuff is horrendous.  It’s thick, slimy and unappetizingly vegetal, with a smell like a rancid, untended community garden. My officemate disagrees.

“Cindy, this smells like the bottom of a produce bin…ugh.  It smells like dirt and old vegetables,” I whine.

“That’s what ‘good for you’ smells like,” she snaps back.
 
“The smell of ‘good for me’ smells like potato rot.  What’s in this, anyway?”
 
“CARROTS.”
 
“Just carrots?  It tastes like it has dirt in it.  And lima beans.”
 
A long, annoyed pause.  “JUST CARROTS.”
 
“I don’t believe you.”
 
She gets up from her desk and brings the glass container over to me, its interior coated with the coarse, orange flesh of the carrots like a landmine took out an entire carrot party, the carnage splattered disgustingly on the walls.

“Damn, look at the bottle, girl…  Ingredients: ‘carrots.’  See?  But for you, I’m gonna make it extra easy to understand…”

She then takes a Sharpie and writes in big black letters on the bottle, “CARROTS, FOOL.  Now drink your damn juice.”  And huffs off back to her desk, as I reluctantly begin gulping the sludge down again.

Tough love.  Works every time.

Lights

What does it say about me that this is my favorite picture from Thanksgiving?

Oven

So deliciously retro.

While we’re on the topic, what ever happened to double wall ovens?  Best appliance in the world, and you hardly ever see them in kitchens anymore.  I’d much rather have a wall oven than a stove, which necessitates bending over and hefting stuff up and down.  And I’d obviously rather have two ovens than just one.

Someone?  Anyone?

A Bitter Brew

There’s something foul afoot in coffeehouses along the Washington Avenue corridor lately.

Catalina Coffee
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jeremey

First came the sad tale of Catalina Coffee and their owner’s bizarre snit immediately after Hurricane Ike, in which he bolted metal plates over all the wall sockets and turned off the wi-fi so that his customers wouldn’t be able to charge their electronics or access the internet despite the majority of the city being without electricity.  When asked about these “alterations” and their effect on his customers, his response was “Customers? I don’t care what customers want. What matters is what I want. I opened my own shop because of that.”

He eventually apologized, stating that ” We provided free wi-fi and electricty for anyone and everyone (after making the decision to cap the plugs, we set up charging stations in front of the cafe where the wi-fi signal is still strong, oh and by the way, some jerk stole one of our power strips). For anyone that did not have money, we gave them coffee any way.”  But the apology came too late for a community of customers that was utterly repelled by the initial actions the coffee house, and many people have stayed away from Catalina ever since (and at last report, those metal plates are still on the wall sockets).

And out of this Thanksgiving weekend comes an even stranger story: the owner of The Daily Grind, down the street from Catalina, appears to have totally and completely lost her mind.

no thanx to the taggers
Photo courtesy of Flickr user chuckwheat.

It began simply enough:

This past Sunday my wife and our friend decided to meet for a late breakfast. At my suggestion we tried the Daily Grind on Washington. I hadn’t been there in a while and had been meaning to as their breakfast sandwiches are fantastic.

My wife and I arrive and our friend was at the counter ordering her food. Excited as we’re up next we both order the breakfast sandwich with coffee. The woman(#1) behind the counter notifies us that they may be out of  croissants. Checking she confirms that they are out. The key ingredient in their breakfast sandwich is the croissant so we cancelled our order and I ordered the Migas, my wife ordered an omelet with potatoes. Two simple orders.

”That will be $26.35 please.” Woman #1 said

“Are you freaking kidding me? For a half order of migas, one omelet and two coffees?” I screamed in my head.

I paid without mentioning my displeasure, it was a nice day and I wasn’t going to ruin it by complaining about being overcharged for eggs, potatoes and tortillas. Flag #1

The story is best appreciated in its entirety, suffice it to say that an otherwise benign — if expensive and extremely late — meal ended with the owner kicking out Jason and his wife while screaming expletives at them in front of the entire restaurant:

“Get the fuck out of here you pieces of shit and never come back!” She screams again.

“Go to fucking IHOP.” She says while flicking her hand as if to shoo us away.

Now say what you will about IHOP and their menu but at least they have a code ethics and the big rule in that code of ethics that all businesses in the service industry adhere to is; The customer is always right, even when they aren’t.

Well, we were and now this woman is going insane. My wife and I have never backed down from a fight before so this woman has obviously gotten our blood boiling.

“Are you serious.” I say to her still trying to figure out if I am still asleep or not.

“Get the fuck out of here! Get the fuck out of here!” She screams again.

If you’re anything like me, you’re completely nonplussed at this point.  The Daily Grind has been dead to me for a while, ever since their prices increased and their service and food quality conversely decreased.  The last time I went there, I also waited nearly an hour for my food (but at least there was a good coffee selection).  There are too many wonderful places to eat breakfast or brunch in Houston to put up with that kind of service.

But this story is definitely a new nadir.  I — along with Jason, I’m sure — would love to hear an apology or even an explanation, a la Max from Catalina Coffee, who at least had the balls to face his critics.  I can’t imagine what scenario would have pushed the owner — the owner, fer chrissakes! — of The Daily Grind to act this way towards paying customers who did nothing other than request the food they’d paid for, but I’d love to hear her excuse nevertheless.

The story has made its way quickly out of the blogosphere and onto Twitter, where news — good and bad — about local customer service spreads like a wildfire set with gasoline.  I think it goes without saying that The Daily Grind is going to be dead to a lot more people after this.