Monday, November 1, 2010

A year of plenty.

Shredded pork and pork chop with rice and egg. © Ryan Schierling
Exactly one year ago, Julie and I were on the road from Seattle, pointed south. We arrived in Austin on November 1 – exhausted, relieved and, in my case, with a touch of the collywobbles. I blame the latter on my penchant for strawberry milk and beef jerky when traveling, but that's entirely another story. 

A month prior to the move date, we flew to Austin to find our place to live – our place to land. We spent three frustrating days scouring the city and surrounding areas north, south, east and west. Nothing was clicking for us. During an excursion north, we stopped at a little Vietnamese restaurant in a beat-down strip mall. Hungry, a little irritable, and unsure we were making the right decision in moving halfway across the country, Thanh Nhi was a welcome oasis. The owners were bend-over-backwards gracious and effusively friendly. 

We had bánh mi sandwiches that were easily as authentic and satisfying as any we'd had in Seattle, and decided then that we should also be hunting for the things that we wanted most in a new town – the important resources that were nearest and dearest to us. We found Fiesta, we found MT Supermarket, we found Indian and Pakistani grocers, we found Phoenicia. We researched farmer's markets and began sourcing local gardening centers. We began to see the validations of diversity we were looking for, and that's when the sea change began to occur. 

And then, suddenly, it happened. At the end of the third day, we came upon what would become our wee "suburban cabin" in south Austin. There were angels singing, amazing light shone down from the heavens,  and the previous owners had left a barrel smoker in the backyard... it was meant to be.  

Sage advice. © Ryan Schierling
Today, we decided to go back to Thanh Nhi for our one year anniversary of arriving in Austin. We've been there a number of times in the last 12 months and always had the same thing, that comforting bánh mi sandwich that calmed our nerves and filled our bellies (and so pleasantly burned our tongues with generous jalapeño goodness). 

The table this morning was loaded with steaming bún, the ubiquitous but always satisfying bánh mi, delicious phở and a beautiful pork chop on shredded pork and rice with a sunny-side-up egg. We were a little sleepy and a touch hungover from the previous night's Halloween gathering, and Thanh Nhi fit the bill perfectly for a non-traditional Sunday brunch of sorts. It is safe to say we have found one of our favorites, and though we will continue to search out those cheap and delicious Vietnamese sandwiches in Austin every chance we get, we will always come back to Thanh Nhi. 

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