Pho Sure, Why Not?

My packed day kicked off with yoga this morning. I am in the throes of a 30 day challenge and in order to ensure a marginally more manageable experience, I am mixing things up a bit. In addition to attending the classes of my favorite three teachers, I am branching out. New instructors, new music, new flows and fresh messages. I practiced yoga in Romare Bearden Park on Saturday morning with a friend. A pair of curious onlookers aside, it was marvelous. This morning's class was dynamite. The gal walked around the room demonstrating almost every pose lending tips and tricks for a few select moves. She was wearing a two piece, which served as outstanding motivation to stick with my "clean regime" this week. The past weekend invited Indian grub at Food Truck Friday and an obscenely delicious meal Saturday meal at the Mad Greek on South Boulevard. This establishment sources from a massive garden in the back. Lest I neglect to mention not one but two trips to OMB, which included cold meads beneath an umbrella as the sky opened up on Sunday afternoon. 

At the close of my yoga class, the instructor revealed that life begins when discomfort sets in. How we manage this uncomfortable "stuff" is what defines us as individuals. Solid fodder for thought. I raced home to water my herbs and chat with my folks who are en route to the Grand Canyon. I think they are kicking off week five of their epic road warrior adventure. They just spent three spectacular days in Los Angeles with my brother. I believe the highlight of their trip was not brunching next to Reese Witherspoon and her family at a Santa Barbara haunt but rather a "roaring time" at an "unbelievable nightclub" on Saturday night. The definition of #howtobreyer for sure. Afterwards, I headed to Reid's for lunch with a very dear and old friend of my sister's to talk shop. She and her partner are embarking upon a two week road trip across Ireland. I am truly green with envy. They have rented a stick shift car to boot; kudos to their grand sense of adventure. She said it is significantly more economical than renting an automatic so keep that in mind should you find yourself planning a trip to the Emerald Isle. 

My first car, a 1981 Diesel Mercedes that we affectionately coined the Creme Cruiser, was a stick shift. I secretly hoped a new car would be in the cards around the time of my 16th birthday but not so. They saved that for my sister. Please don't hear Mercedes and get excited. While I was thrilled to have a set of wheels to call my own, it was clearly a "vintage" ride. My siblings and I gave the stalwart jalopy it's name a cause of the fact that the car just cruised. I made it from first to third gear in around two minutes. The fourth gear was strictly a joke. The perfect car for a teenager as speeding was near impossible. Highway navigation was always greeted with baited breath, embarrassment and flashing lights from the rear. The car needed generous time to gain momentum but once at full throttle, the engine emitted a roar and we successfully lurched ahead. My mother first took me out in the car when I was 15. A great teacher, her efforts fell on deaf ears and slippery feet the first go around. I made it out of the neighborhood but we hit a hill and that was it. As the car slowly began to creep backwards, I freaked out and found the closest point of egress. 

My Mom made a grab for the hand brake and told me to get my you-know-what back in the car. She also reminded me that this was to be my car so to get on board. The second go around, my mother's Goddaughter Barbie was in town visiting from Cape Town and she offered to take me for my second spin. Touch wood, this exercise was a great success. I remember her sitting in the car and muttering a long and low word beginning with F. In South Africa, folks drive on the other side of the road and as such, the stick felt downright unnatural in her right hand. Sojourn on we shall she said with confidence. After a pair of measured stalls, she listed the perks of being able to drive a stick shift. She then asked what my objective was in learning to drive the car. The obvious aside, I said I endeavored to one day eat a slice of pizza whilst navigating the Diesel beast. The simple wishes that satisfy teenagers. Fast forward a pair of weeks later and I was multitasking, eating and driving with the very best of them. A year and a bit later, I somehow managed to seize the engine. We carefully blamed the body shop who emptied the oil tank when I simply needed new windshield wipers. Mother of the year managed to track down a new engine, with far less miles. For the second time, my hopes of a new car crumbled. C'est la vie. On another occasion, the stereo was stolen. No matter, I cruised around with a jam box in the back. It was a wonderful first car indeed. As children, we could hear my father coming down the driveway thanks to the purr of the engine. The same rang true for me. 

Upon arrival home today, I brewed a cup of Joe and took to the computer to peruse the usual suspects in the world of online news. I came across an article focused on a most terrific story indeed that I remembered reading a pair of years ago. The BuzzFeed news reporter was convinced that she had "scooped the biggest viral story of the year". As details unfolded, it became clear that she'd "fallen for an elaborate joke". A year and a bit later, she sat down with Elan Gale. (TV producer who you might know from his series, The Bachelor. Note, I do not watch this show. Sorry Elan.) Do yourself a favor and read this most entertaining article. When you are finished (and perhaps like me wishing and warning it to be true), follow him on Twitter. On August 22, he tweeted, "If you don't have anything nice to say you're probably my father." Classic. What else? Matthew's taste in music must be rubbing off on me. I just purchased NWA's Straight Outta Compton album and it's been playing on rotation this afternoon. I gather seeing the film is up next. Suits me fine, j'adore popcorn. This week I prepared my vegan shepherd's pie for a Meatless Monday number. Packed full of vegetables, I promise you will not miss the meat. For ye carnivores, I have something for you too.

Matthew is an unarmed fan of Vietnamese food. At least once a week, I receive a text message, quick phone call or email speaking to a Pho craving. Such a statement is usually followed by a gang of exclamation points. My elbow is easily twisted you see. If you are in the QC and thirsting for selection, have a gander at the Charlotte Agenda's comprehensive list. We are besotted with Ben Thanh. I wrote about it some time ago and you can check out the article here. On the topic of Pho, I pulled the below together for lunch a pair of Sundays ago when Matthew suggested a trek to Central Avenue for grub. This recipe was especially enticing as I was at the height of spiralizing vegetables. I must admit, this activity is seeing a lull in my kitchen activity. Zucchini aside, this soup was the business. Full of flavor, light yet hearty and splendiferous in the flavor department and a pinch to pull together to boot. Say what you want about Gwyneth but I am a big fan. Her cookbooks and recipes are continuously on point. With this soup for lunch, I didn't feel like a total animal enjoying ribeye with a bright green chimichurri sauce, grilled spring onions with a pinch of salt and roasted purple potatoes for dinner. If memory recalls, I'm pretty sure we finished the meal with an apple crisp. (Note you can substitute peaches or any other fruit for the apples). Oh well, diets are intended to start on a Monday. Bon appetit.

Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Pho
Adapted from the lovely Gwyneth's GOOP


1 quart of organic, low sodium chicken broth
2 cups of water
2 organic boneless chicken breasts
8 cilantro stems
1 knob of ginger - peeled and sliced
1/2 small white onion - thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves - smashed
Pinch of kosher salt (more more contingent upon your preference)
Juice of 1 lime
1 TBS maple syrup
1 TBS soy sauce or tamari

For Garnish

1 small Serrano chili - sliced (be careful, this is hot)
8 cilantro leaves
4 basil leaves
1 lime quartered


1. Combine chicken stock, water, chicken, cilantro stems, ginger, garlic and a generous pinch of salt in a medium sauce pan. Please ensure that your two breasts are covered. (That's what he said.) Bring the liquid to a quick boil and lower to simmer. You want to poach your chicken for fifteen minutes or until completely cooked through.

2. Remove the breast and shred the meat. Continue to let your broth simmer for an additional ten minutes. After this time, add your maple syrup, soy sauce, sliced onion and lime juice. 

3. Divide the spiralized zucchini and shredded chicken between two bowls. Gently pour the hot liquid on top. Garnish with fresh herbs, chili and lime wedges.

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