Chowhounders met again today at the Wat Lao Saysettha, the Laotian Buddhist temple in Santa Rosa. This time for the food sale fundraiser for Boun Prawad - celebrating the lives and form of Buddha. (See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/e844169 for the chowdown report for the Lao New Year festival)
We started with marinated grilled chicken wings (crunchy and very tasty), followed by beef Pho with a great depth of flavor and my new found favorite Lao dish nam khao. Nam khao is called rice salad, but it's so much more. I know it contained crisp rice, sliced pork skin, peanuts, herbs and chiles. It was served with fresh herbs (including a beautiful purple shiso) and lettuce to use for a wrap. With it we had a pennywort drink which was very vegetal with a slight bitter aftertaste. It was like adding another herb to what we were eating.
After that my memory gets kind of blurry - I wonder if pennywort is psychotropic :). I bought some sausages and they kindly grilled one so we could try it, full of lemongrass and garlic and other goodness. I also bought a bag of perfectly cooked pork rinds. Others in our party had larb, vietnamese tea, and a wonderful desert that was the texture of bubble tea with lots of additions. I'm sure Melanie will chime in with a fuller description. To end the meal we had a rice cake stuffed with coconut and wrapped in an intricate triangular package of bamboo leaves.
The area was decorated beautifully with scenes from Buddha's life and places to leave offerings for loved ones who are no longer with us. With the music and the chanting I felt far away from my everyday life.
I urge North Bay hounders to come to the next event. Wonderful food and wonderful atmosphere.