10901 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78753
Now that I'm a respected member of the Austin food media (I know, I can't say it with a straight face either), I get invited to a lot of food events around town. Some of them are awesome, some of them I'm kind of left scratching my head over. Like wedding expos. I get invited to alot of wedding expos now. I can kind of see the connection, weddings have food, food is provided by caterers and there are caterers at wedding expos.. but its a stretch.
Recently I was invited to one such expo at Fortune restaurant waaaay up north in the hinterlands at the Chinatown market on Lamar. I met Teddy of Fun with your Food who had also been invited. We thought we were going to get to sample all sorts of delicious food from Fortune, which I haven't had the opportunity to try yet. When we got there, though, we found an odd mish-mash of wedding vendors. A couple of photographers, a couple of cake vendors, a photo booth, a whisky distillor, and oddly enough, an asian costume vendor. Odd right?
Well, we made the best of the odd event and sampled some high end whisky, looked at cake samples, commented on the asian costumes, and tried some of Fortune's delicious chinese food. But when it was all said and done, we were still hungry so we decided to walk over with Michael of Cooking for Enigneers and his wife, to the Baguette House for a bánh mì . Teddy swore up and down Baguette House has the best sandwiches in Austin, so I though 'why not'.
Now, I'm sure by now, most of you foodies have heard of the delicious Vietnamese sandwich known as the bánh mì. It's become quite popular in the last few years, and for a good reason, it's delicious. It also has a long and interesting food history. The bánh mì started out in the French countryside as a simple meat and veggie sandwich on a baguette. And being French they would also add pate and mayonaise. When the French colonized Vietnam, they brought their yummy French sandwich with them. The Vietnamese said "Hey, thats a delicious sandwich, but lets add pickled carrots and cucumbers, cilantro, and chili sauce." And that, my friends, is how the bánh mì was born. Since then, it's migrated all over the world with Vietnamese immigrants and now its a much loved sandwich everywhere.
Bánh mì's come in all sorts of varieties, but they all generally are on a baguette, have pickled veggies, pate, and mayo on them. The main difference between bánh mì's comes in the selection of meat. Common types of bánh mì's that you might encounter are the bánh mì gà, with chicken, the bánh mì xíu mại, with meatballs, the bánh mì thịt nướng, with ham, and the famous bánh mì đặc biệt with sliced deli meat and headcheese! Please don't ask me to pronounce any of these.
When I went to Baguette House, I thought, if I'm going to go, go big, so I ordered the #1, the bánh mì đặc biệt or the House Special Combination. Headcheese be damned! What I got was a delicious sandwich on a perfectly crisp baguette. The bread had a soft golden crust on the outside but was moist and chewy on the inside. There were several types of chilled cold cuts, pate and, yes, headcheese. The veggies were crisp and freshly pickled. The bread to meat ratio was a little uneven, but since the bread was so delicious, I didn't mind that it was a little on the bready side. All in all it WAS a delicious sandwich, bánh mì or otherwise.
We also decided to try this alien looking drink they offered. The owner said it was a mint jelly drink with basil seeds. I like mint and a like basil, so i thought why not try it out. Apparently, basil seeds, when soaked in water take on a gelatinous quality thats popular in asian desserts and drinks. The texture was very odd between the gelatinous mint jelly and the equally gelatinous basil seeds. And the whole drink had a rather herbatious, medicinal quality to it. Which I guess is great, because Teddy, the Macrobiotic Chef, told me they are good for constipation and help.. um.. manly problems. Boys take note. But I didn't really care for it, and will skip it next time.
I have a hard time getting to Bagette House normally, since they're way up north and are only open till 7. You have to be around the area at lunch or want an early dinner to have the pleasure of eating one of their delicious sandwiches. But if you can, please go, the sandwiches are delicious. And did I mention cheap? A wonderful $3 sandwich is a bargain in my book!