Provoking the Palate is pretty much what it sounds. It is about food that is so stunning and absolute it forces your senses into action. Before the food has even hit your tongue—it has visually and aromatically awakened your every appetite. Thus enticed, the fork presses down on some juicy, sumptuous morsel. Realization slams home that the crackling has continued inside your mouth and has now melded with the velvety feel of the tender layer underneath. The entirety perfectly sinful, perfectly seasoned. From intense and robust flavors to the teasing lilt of something wholly other…Provoking the Palate aims to appreciate all the nuances of each ingredient and its preparation—provided it has all been executed well in the style it is served in…

Labor Day Weekend = Staycation: Food Edition!

So it's been awhile that I wrote something of substance!  I can only say--I have been CRAZY BUSY at work/with work/traveling for name it--just add the word "work" in there somewhere! 

That said...this weekend, to celebrate the Labor Day holiday I will make sure that I have plenty of time to devote to my food blogs!  

History of Labor Day: 

Labor Day is when Americans NOT doing any.  It's an actual federal holiday--something we don't get enough of, if you ask me!  Thank you President Grover Cleveland--I don't remember much else that you may have accomplished, but I remember this.  Is that telling?  Oh, well!  It also traditionally marks the very sad end of summer.  Kids go back to school, homemakers go back to bonbons after scurrying around trying to ensure their kids stay busy throughout the summer, football (American football, that is) season starts so that all the working out that guys may have partaken in can be undone with beer on Mondays…and working people?  Well...working people everywhere except those poor folks in the service industry (much love to you, I remember!) get 1 day off to commemorate their countless hours of work for the year.  

And, of course, the big one--if you're a traditional fashionista--it will no longer be OK for you to wear white...bridezillas notwithstanding.

Possible Labor Day Weekend Festivities:

Come back next week for the first of many updates!  Thanks for your support!

Back Soon!!!

Just an FYI--a VERY busy few weeks getting ready for some large/important meetings at work.  But I promise when things calm down in September I'll be back for more!  Hang tight, folks!  I appreciate all your support.  Thanks!

Evoking the Essence...Raspberry Cava Kick

My second installation for the Bromography site is up!  If you love raspberries and/or alcohol--go take a look!  Heck--it's great to just go gaze at some pictures of some gorgeous raspberries too!  The best part is--the cava I used--was the top pick for "Wine and Spirit" Magazine...all for such a great value too at only $9.99.

You've seen my review here and...if you happen to try out my recipe--let me know what you think.  Thanks!

Evoking the up at Bromography!

As promised--my post is up at the Bromography site!  You've seen my review here--now go and check out the dish I believe inspired Spice Market's dish, that in turn, inspired me to write the recipe for you!

This is my own recipe for one of my favorite Lao dishes--and I think B's favorite overall. He's had a lot of Lao food now, too, so he can be counted on to at least know something about our cuisine! Funny--but, now when I think of this dish, I remember his first encounter with it. It was at my girlfriend's wedding last Labor Day weekend--and he just stood there at the buffet table chowing down on this dish with one of my friend's.

If you happen to try out my recipe--let me know what you think.  Thanks!

Coming Soon--On Bromography!

My first post for Bromography looms--as in hitting the ground tomorrow!  Below is a description of what the postings on that site will be about.  Check it out! 

Evoking the Essence…is about the flavors that inspire me after visiting a restaurant.  Usually, there is at least one dish that is smashingly successful…and on the flip side, another that is a foul flop.  Here you will find a collaboration of recipes I’ve put together inspired by the best and/or worst dish from restaurants I’ve visited.  After visiting a restaurant I write a review here (on this site) and then choose 1-2 dishes that inspired me to cook.  It pays to go check out my other page since you will see what dish I came up with!  More importantly--you get a new recipe for your arsenal to wow friends and family with (at least that is the hope)!  The most important thing to remember is—ETE’s recipes are NOT meant to be recreations and/or replications.  They are just another vision of the main ingredients used in the dish represented for the respective restaurant.

The Garden and the Farmers' Market

During my growing years my parents owned a family run restaurant called “XoakXai Restaurant” (translated means Good Luck)—a Lao-Thai Restaurant.  My mom was the chef, my dad brought the greens from our backyard garden, and at one time or another—most of us kids worked there as servers, preppers, errand runners, or managers (there was no such thing as idle hands in my household--child labor is normal and expected!).  Starting around my junior year…I did all of those things and actually kept the books (an Asian that is good with numbers, fairly difficult to imagine, right).  

All our herbs and vegetables came from our organic garden and whatever produce we didn’t grow ourselves we purchased at the Farmers' Market.  Back then, I didn’t understand the important role such decisions made in my life and in my health—but I know that given the opportunity to go back and change things, my father would not have changed how he made things grow--his methods were the same methods he and his forebears have used for centuries back in the homeland.  Lao soil or American soil--it doesn't matter too much when you need to grow food to feed 8 kids, the various people we welcomed our humble home to, and for a business!  There are so many studies out there that have shown the link between fertilizers and health defects.  Sure—some might just be theoretical…but it’s important to be educated about as many aspects as possible.  In the end, the choices we make are limited to the amount of knowledge we have at our disposal—some require more digging and some are spitting in our faces.  For some straight comparison purposes...take a regular, fertilized fruit--apple or kiwi and then take an organic one of the same variety--if you have any taste buds at all--you won't fail to notice the difference in flavor and potency.  It just tastes better.  Period.  Regardless of any of that…some of my best memories come from being in that garden with my dad.  

One such memory was when I asked my father how I was created.  Being the daddy’s little girl that I was—I never questioned the validity of his explanation—just nodded in my very serious way (I was always a pretty practical child, though full of dreams of dancing with dinosaurs) and was happy at his very matter-of-fact answer.  To his credit, my father never got anxious, nervous or flustered.  He didn’t even wave me off.  My father—ever the cool man gardening in a 3 piece suit and a beaver hat.  In fact, I believed it for years…until sometime in college when I took the time to think about his words and realized that it was all just a euphemism.  You see, my father told me that whenever he wanted to have children, he’d come out and he’d plant a seed in his garden, just like he did when he wanted to grow spearmint or cucumbers.  He’d weed around it and he’d water it just like "right now"—and before long, after some time had passed and we were ready, he’d come and dig us out.  On a side note:  I also remember asking him if he had perhaps lost focus a few times and forgot to weed around one of my older brothers and forgot to water my oldest sister and he laughed and bopped me on the head.

My memories of family and home and childhood are all wrapped around one single concept—yes…we didn’t have much…but no matter how hard-working and how busy my parents were…somehow…they always found a way to create these little memories for me.  I had 7 older bullies, oops, I mean siblings…but I can honestly say I had the best childhood ever, because all of them, each in their own way, enriched my life and created very specific memories for me as well.

In truth, this post is inspired by my sister’s incredibly poignant post and vibrantly vivid photos from her most recent trip to an old childhood haunt—the Pasco Farmers' Market.  Plus, she wrote the nicest things about me--a far cry from our once contentious relationship (we were always at odds growing up--we were just so different).  Oh, how times have changed--and I'm glad they have.  While she may have lamented about missing some genes...the photos below are all her--I can't take a decent picture to save my life.  Besides, she has a much better ability than all that.  I remember I used to joke with her daughter, my niece, about making "something out of nothing" (referring to cooking)...but her mother is the epitome of this sentiment, because I have never met anyone else with the eerie ability to will her dreams into reality.  In my estimation--it's much more valuable when something is worked for rather than given.  One of these days instead of traipsing around to different countries for vacation—I will make a nice swing through my old life and see the different changes time has wrought.  For more on this—please check out her blog here.