multi-culti dining, etc

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the must culturally and ethnically diverse places on earth. Taken as a whole, in the Bay Area no single ethnic group forms a majority. That's a good thing. One of the things that I love about living in such a diverse community is the opportunity to keep "discovering" new kinds of cuisine. While I may not be adventurous when it comes to the kinds of meat I will put in my mouth (hell, I don't even eat lamb), I definitely enjoy trying out cooking from different parts of the world. Places where Italian food is considered ethnic cuisine (or where "Italian" automatically means The Olive Garden and "Chinese" means the Panda Express at the mall food court) are sad, sad cultural backwaters.

Some years ago I had a roommate who was ethnic Chinese but from Malaysia. He introduced me to Malaysian cooking. As you may or may not know, Malaysian food is a kind of fusion between Malay, Chinese, and Indian food. It is very similar to Singaporean food. The differences are subtle, and I'd venture to say that Singaporean cooking has an ever-s0-slightly more Indian feel to it than Malaysian food.

Anyway, Wei (my former roommate) recently brought me back some rendang mix from Penang, where he's from. Rendang beef has become one of my absolute favorite foods. I don't really know how to describe it besides saying that it's a kind of beef stew that swims in a sauce that's kind of curry, kind of oily, kind of coconut-y, and kind of spicy. It looks positively unappetizing because it's all just brown goop, but it IS very delicious. Last night I cooked some, and I even tried to take a picture a-la MarketMan, but unfortunately I just managed to make it look like revolting mystery meat. Please disregard my food-photo-composition skills (or lack thereof) and give rendang beef a try if and when you get a chance. You won't be disappointed!

If you're ever in the SF Bay Area, specifically Silicon Valley, I recommend going to Banana Leaf Restaurant at the McCarthy Ranch in Milpitas. It is a very good place to get introduced to Malaysian food. Besides the rendang beef, try out the roti prata and the belachan kangkung. Belachan kangkung is an absolutely delicious dish that is basically kang kong (ong choy) saute├ęd in shrimp paste. Malaysian shrimp paste is very similar to Filipino bagoong, but when compared to bagoong it is more pungent, less salty, and more complex.

In other news... Snorty McDoggelsson aka Sheddy von Stinkelstein aka Devon has a new cousin! My brother and his gf adopted Sammie the girl dog from the Sacramento Humane Society recently. The dog dogs get along famously. Both of them are quiet and both are obedient. Devon, of course, is the better-trained of the two. A couple of pics: