Located in a rundown strip mall at 1044 South Federal Boulevard, Ba Le Sandwich looks no different than any of the other countless ethnic eateries littering Federal Boulevard. Yet, it stands out for its banh mi, a sandwich on a baguette made of wheat and rice flour, of Vietnamese origin.
The baguettes are baked in-house, hence the french bakery mentioned in the sign, and are perfect. A crunchy exterior and a light and chewy crumb awaiting. They are loaded with cucumber,onion, cilantro and a shaved meat of your choice. Beef, chicken and pork are all represented in multiple fashions. The BBQ pork has a tangy flavor that slowly morphed into heat, leaving me to wipe my lips repeatedly as the long slow burn set in.
A majority of the sandwiches cost ~$3.00, which given the flavor and being on a fresh baked baguette is mind boggling.
In addition to sandwiches, sweet sticky rice, in a startling array of colors, and other sweets are available. As are meats. Note that MSG is the 4th ingredient of the headcheese roll. It was a tempting purchase as it would be a like an umami express in terms of savory flavor, but heart health triumphed over pig snout laid across crackers.
With sandwich in hand, and a day off from work, it was off to Mt Morrison to meet Alan for a midday climb. The weather here has been near 60* all week, so it was a little surprising to find a bit of rain and a few snowflakes falling. This passed quickly, leaving us with cloud cover for a 33 minute ascent of 1,300 vertical feet.
I have climbed Mt Morrison numerous times, but never tire of it. The rhythmic movement combined with the steep grade pushes out all but the immediate concerns. Where is my next step? Will this rock shift? Can I pick up the pace? Should I slow down? For someone whose mind hops about like a well rested rabbit this is a welcome respite. I have tried meditation and will likely do so again, but this sort of effort, although punishing at times, puts me into the moment more consistently.