What does Kentucky taste like?
Is it a mess of fried chicken, washed down with bourbon-laced mint juleps, while toes tap to the tune of a bluegrass soundtrack?
Those, at least, are the things that I think of when I hear the name Kentucky. That and the fact that it is home to the famous Kentucky Derby.
I mention it because Chef E is organising a twitter-based Taste of Kentucky Derby Party and I thought that I should bring something along.
There I was, waiting patiently throughout the
spring extended winter for my rhubarb plants to make their entrance proper and bring forth stalks enough for me to cook with.
I had very particular plans for the first rhubarb of the season, in the shape of a recipe that may possibly explain why Martijn Kajuiter of the fabulous Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, has a Michelin star and I do not.
My somewhat over-enthusiastic rhubarb
I was a little perturbed however, when, with a dry spell and a little bit of heat, my rhubarb plants got ahead of themselves and started producing seed heads – a thing I have not seen rhubarb do before. Pretty though the seed heads may have been, they weren’t going to do rhubarb production any favours. They consequently met a swift end and the plants were left to get on with their normal stalk-producing business. Thankfully, there was enough of that happening to meet my stewy dessert purposes.
There’s this guy. Let’s call him Greg (for that, indeed, is his actual name). He is, however, also known to at least some of you as Sup from the rather excellent Sippity Sup.
A few weeks ago, the alignment of the planets was such that myself and Greg were in San Francisco at the same time. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I discovered, via Twitter, that, for a few days, we would be within a few blocks of each other. A few messages were exchanged and a lunch date set. There was some discussion of Vietnamese food and specifically bánh mì – Vietnamese-style baguette sandwiches containing, among other things, a goodly dose of sweet pickled veg, chili, coriander, mayonnaise and your protein of choice (classically pork). Greg even went as far as to wonder whether I knew that such fare would not involve much in the way of potatoes. Clearly he feared that I might suffer from a deficiency of spuds whilst on my foreign travels. The concern was touching, though he really had nothing to worry about on that front.
In the end, you could say that we met, not for lunch, but for lunches, because we followed a trip to the lovely Zuni Café with a visit to Saigon Sandwich, a little hole-in-the-wall joint, to sample some first class bánh mì. You can read what Greg had to say on the subject here but, suffice to say that, while it may have been my first bánh mì, it was most certainly not my last.