I was going to write a list of all the things I should have bought in Salt Lake: pants and duck liver, pork belly and pancetta, pajamas for Max and underwear for Zoe, apricots and tomatoes. I should have eaten at the Korean restaurant and at the noodle house but then we got back and I remembered, if I go to many stores, I will be able to buy most of the things I need. It's not the food, really, that I miss in Salt Lake. What I miss in Salt Lake is the people who take Zoe on picnics and feed Max cereal and bananas. I miss the people who grill non-COFC steak for me or love it when I cook them mushrooms. It takes a little while to adjust to being back and not being surrounded by Zoe players and Max admirers. However, I am catching up on Top Chef, Chopped and Next Food Network Star.
Watching those made me starving since I never really watch food shows in the day. All the things I had regretted not eating or buying in Salt Lake paraded in front of me. But I remembered (I was gone for two whole weeks and had forgotten) that if I apply myself I can get most ingredients, maybe even more cheaply and maybe even more locally grown, than I can get in Salt Lake. I can't get my mom, sisters or mother-in-law here more than a couple times a year, but I can get lemons for a dollar a pound. I went to Randall's the Butcher for chicken, bacon, eggs, ground sirloin and pork. Then, I went to the Farmer's Market store for those cheap lemons, even less expensive broccoli and cauliflower. As opposed to going to evil Safeway where I would have spent $125 on the same things, I got more and better for less. $20 at the Farmers Market Store and $28 at the butcher. Yay.
So Zoe, who came with me on these errands, deserved a treat. And we were still starving. We wanted soup. What's her favorite soup? Maybe Tom Gha Kai, but I had just finished writing a story about how Pho Bo cured her of one of her worst coughs. She doesn't have a cough but Flagstaff does have a restaurant that serves Pho. So I took her there. She was cautious. It had been a long time since she'd had the soup. We went to Pho Dai Loc last over a year ago. I worry about this restaurant. It's in the front of one of the run down motels on Route 66. This might not attract the downtown eating folks. And I'm not sure the people who drive down Route 66 in their restored Corvettes are looking for Pho. But today, it was still open. So we went in. There are two other people there at 12:45. Not entirely promising for its future.
But the ingredients are fresh. When we order the Pho Tai and the fried shrimp in case Zoe's palate has regressed (or progressed or gressed in any direction), it came with perfectly thinly sliced sirloin, fresh, not slimy, bean sprouts, lime and great thai basil. The broth is spicy and star anisey like it should be. I give Z some rice noodles and just a little broth to start. She loves them. She asks for more broth but I've already put sriracha sauce in mine. Oh well. She likes red hot peppers on her pizza. So I give her more broth. She drinks that up, along with her ice water, and then asks for more. She eats most of the soup and none of the fried shrimp. Those were left to me which were extra amazing--crunchy, toothy, and with a sweet and sour sauce. I called Erik to ask if he wanted some Pho to go. He did so we ordered another batch. On our way out the door, someone, perhaps one of those restored Corvette drivers, asks how the food is. I tell him delicious. I hope if 10 people go there a day, it won't go out of business.
An additional bonus, inside, they sell Asian Food products that you might not be able to get a Safeway.
Here's what Safeway's good for: milk, cat litter, beer, wine, cheese. And yogurt. Maybe one day, Flagstaff will have a Winder Dairy like Salt Lake does.
But the good news is, you can get Pho in Flagstaff and it's good. It's also just as good at home. Zoe wanted half of Erik's Pho too. She's full of Pho and sriracha like all good five year olds, downtown diners and Route 66 drivers should be.