Last night I had dinner with one of Sydney’s top food bloggers. Helen from Grab Your Fork has been called food blogger royalty, and you know what? If every queen throughout history had been as generous, friendly, fun, and warm as Helen, I’m fairly certain that Henry VIII wouldn’t have gone through six of them, Helen Mirren wouldn’t have earned an Oscar by playing one, and Marie Antoinette really would have let them all eat cake*.
I’ve been following Grab Your Fork for years (meaning: years before I started my own blog). I’ve always found myself torn between envy, excitement, and swooning as she’s opened my eyes to magical foods from not only Sydney, but the world over. At the moment, I’m enamoured with her Malaysia travel posts: so much cendol, ais kacang, and kaya toast, all of which I’ve never come across in Dear Old Canberra (or in any of the admittedly-rarely-Asian countries I’ve visited).
If you’d told me, a few years ago, that I’d be meeting this inspiring and intrepid lady in my own city, that I’d get to spend several hours chatting with her as if we’d known each other for eons (which, through our blogs, might be almost true…), and that she would present me with a bag of goodies The Likes Of Which I’d Never Have Imagined And Which Made Me Chirp And Be Giddy With Glee (more on that in another post, for such bag of wonderment deserves a post of its own), I would’ve told you you’re dreamin’.
Luckily for me, this was no dream.
And now, for no other reason than to keep you on your toes, I’m going to switch up the captions/text style of the post. This is not a good demonstration of the “consistency” I’ve told my students I expect from them in regards to their essays’ referencing.
To be honest, I was having too much fun talking with Helen to pay much mind to this dish. Sadly, that simply corroborates the theme of the evening’s food: nothing was really lively or vibrant enough to warrant much attention. I’ve been to My’s Vietnamese several times and have been impressed with their fresh, zippy, and zingy flavours, and yet it seems that in moving (note to Canberrans – the address on the Internet is wrong) to a main-street location, they’ve tamed their menu and flavours to suit unadventurous (mainstream?) tastes.
The tofu was nicely soft and soaked in sauce yet, for a dish named for its lemongrass and chilli, there simply weren’t enough of either of these ingredients. (The leftovers were kinda tempting at breakfast this morning, though.)
I’ve mentioned before that I’m on the hunt for my Platonic ideal of green pawpaw/mango salad. Thanks to Helen, I’ve realised that what I’m after is Som Tam, the Thai version made with fish sauce, lime, chilli, dried shrimp, and peanuts… all those intense flavours I love. Sadly, this salad was not intense, albeit serviceable. It was simply too mild for my and Helen’s tastes. (But not for My’s tastes, clearly. Oh, chortle.)
I do hope Helen posts a bit of a Canberra round-up once her visit’s over… both because I think she’s got some niftier eating experiences lined up, and because I know her photos from our night together are buckets better than mine!
Thank you for the wonderful evening, Helen. I can’t wait to do it again on your home turf.
* Yes, I know there’s doubt as to whether she actually said that. But you know what? It’s also not “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well” or “Play it again, Sam”#, contrary to popular belief, so I think we can let sleeping quotes lie.
# I can’t help myself^: the correct lines are “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio” and “Play it, Sam”.
^ I’m sorry! I’m nit-picky! I also can’t abide by incorrect apostrophe usage. I’m sorry!