This is not to say that I don't have days of low sustenance. However, such situations can easily mitigated by the retrieval of a Cape Seed slice and mozzarella chunks, both preserved in the freezer for days demanding instant solutions.
Mango Chicken was creamy and sweet - a distant relative of Cantonese sweet and sour pork, but tossed in a richer, coconut milk-based formula instead of a high-viscosity, tangy red sauce.
First was a weeknight dinner with the owner of the now-shuttered Waterloocakeshop. Over five years had passed since our last meetup, but, in reality, it didn't feel quite as long. Conversations had been held periodically on virtual platforms over the years, condensing life happenings into milestone updates rather than menial daily tidbits.
We excitedly dove into conversation, as if there hadn't been any gaps at all.
Between us, we shared the Rocket and a Lobster Ravioli. The combo would satisfy my dining partner's preference for cream sauce items, while the arugula and prosciutto-topped pizza my needs for fresh greens and iron. A deliberate drizzle of balsamic compensated for the cured ham's excessive saltiness, while the cherry tomatoes provided bursts of sweetness. Ravioli wrappers were thick, serving to easily curb hunger alongside its buttery, garlicy base.
Retracing our path east, we heard fireworks from the park, yet saw only colourful glimmers shrouded by shrubbery.
Shocking it had been to find the streets of Port Credit persistently occupied by people on a weeknight evening. Most were young adults; some seemed unemployed. Irrefutable was the heavy presence of cigarettes and marijuana.
Our conversations continued into the late evening, away from the skunky stenches, eventually leading to a midnight return.
"Shouldn't we try since it's our birthday?" It was a fair point, and try we did.
We popped our heads inside the compact space, peering about to spot a variety of packaged desserts. From Salted Egg Sponge Cake to Ube Ice Cream to soft serve in charcoal waffle cones, there was bound to be one item of interest. I personally found the small containers of Coffee Jelly quite interesting, and even contemplated acquiring one for the sleepy polar bear before the external conditions dawned on me. Given the humidity levels and duration before our return, making a second visit strictly for sweets sampling was deduced as the better alternative.
By the fish pond, we engaged in snapping a few quick shots of our outfits. Thank goodness we did, for my meticulously drawn eyeliner was ruthlessly purged from its place just ten minutes after.
Communicating with the staff was a horrific mission. The cashier was first managed by a middle-aged man in a baseball cap. He spoke with mixed English and Vietnamese, though still at a comprehensible degree. He swapped spots with an older lady as we neared the counter. She spoke not a lick of English, but continued to speak to us under the assumption that we could make out her words. I couldn't; neither of us could. The swap made the ordering process incredibly confusing. My birthday buddy was originally charged four dollars and was handed bottled water along with her banh mi. She returned the water, explaining that it had not been requesting, earning one dollar back from the cashier. My duplicate order was handed to me several minutes later, after further exchanges of confusion.
"It's spicy!" I exclaimed in dismay.
"Really? Mine is fine, I think" came the response.
I took a proper bite of the sandwich. Again, the spice was present, though not uniformly distributed along its length. In consideration of time, I hadn't been keen to try a different shop, thus continued nibbling along while complaining of heat. Roughly one-third in, I was met with misfortune. It was neither the pâté nor the sauce, but likely a jalapeno disguised amongst the cilantro-looking strands. Fire spread throughout the insides of my mouth, first merely in the form of heat, then transforming into an unbearable bitterness that extended beyond the mouth cavity and towards the throat. Quickened breaths and silent screams could be heard.
I opened my mouth to reply, only to be hit with a differnt form of pain: numbing in the lips and tongue. Saliva would burn the mouth cavity, to the point where speaking was unthinkable.
Pounding on my surroundings while gasping for air, I reached for the Plum Kumquat drink in an attempt to alleviate the torture. Minimal extinguishing was done; the drink was neither milky nor creamy, with only ice cubes serving as the temporary source of relief.
"Don't die!" came a worried chuckle from the passenger seat.
I lurched over in my seat, tears oozing uncontrollably. They turned black upon hitting eye cosmetics, trickling down in a most dramatic fashion.
I had neither requested the inclusion of spice, nor been asked of its acceptability. The banh mi had wrecked havoc on my tastebuds, making for an experience more agonizing than any other spice encounter. In the moment that tears came rolling down, it felt as if someone had stunned me, that the torment had been summoned from deep within the soul to be unleased into the world. I could think of no other moment where food had hurt me so tremendously.
Pulling into the same plaza as The Fry, the prevalence of banh mi stops finally occurred to me. They were slightly pricier than Nguyet Minh, but I wasn't about to go back.
My $4.50 Assorted Bahn Mi (No. 1) was splendid. There was no pâté, but I could finally enjoy my late lunch in peace.
From Banh Mi Ba Le, the birthday buddy obtained a tri-colour dessert by the name of Chè Ba Màu. I've never been too familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, and am even unlikelier to have a ranking. Pho was my first foray. I suppose banh mi will constitute the second.
New LINE t-shirts were discovered at UNIQLO while on a mission for AIRism tanks. Two of the designs were reminiscent of those released in Q1 for the Year of the Tiger - one earning significantly more favouritism than the other.
I took to a $15.99 Bulgogi Donburi, which came to a reasonable $12.65 after their 30% end-of-day discount. Atop a seasoned layer of short-grain rice were japchae, thin, rubbery egg strips, a sad floret of broccoli, and a generous portion of stewed beef strips. With the exception of the veggies and egg, the bowl was, in fact, quite a tasty find.