So, as I type, Saint James is down in the basement playing a game of FIFA 11 Wii soccer with Doctor Dash. I saw this coming over a year back, but they really are two peas in a pod. Depending on which of them has been working, sleeping, or at school they will spring sports scores, news of injuries and awesome header goals on each other. I can see each of them savoring the piece of news, waiting to tell the other. They speak in code, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not that I couldn’t understand, it’s just that I don’t have room in my brain for the ups and downs of the fortunes of the Patriots, Barcelona and the Celtics. Every morning, Saint James sits at the laptop groggily walking in Doctor Dash’s internet footsteps from a couple hours earlier. Does that much happen in the sports world during the night, I wonder? Why is the ESPN NFL power rankings the last page opened every morning when I sit down at the laptop after the kids have gone to school?
On Tuesday, I ended up with a few hours alone with Saint James, and I wasn’t about to fritter it away on errands. Months ago, I had heard tantalizing rumors of some mythical Hmong barbequed pork belly somewhere or other – essentially, bacon to the nth degree – and my salivary curiosity was peaked to say the least. I knew I had to track it down and there was no better sidekick than my newly ravenous, bacon-obsessed boy. A swift google search yielded the name of one of the only Hmong restaurants in the Twin Cities and it sounded intriguing, so we set off. I may not be able to talk who’s getting traded by which team, but an intrepid drive deep into St. Paul in search of a hole in the wall Hmong restaurant to sample their pork belly for lunch? I’m your man.
We forded giant snow banks to get in the front door of a nondescript strip mall on University Ave and felt like we had stomped our boots out of snowy Minnesota into Southeast Asia. The tinny sound of a radio, a little boy running around with a stick and a mouth stained blue from a candy filched from his parents’ store, a cluster of older Asian folks drinking tea in what appeared to be a video store, and more kids chasing each other all greeted us as we shuffled through the hallways in search of Destiny Cafe. The restaurant is bright, airy, full of plants and packed with Hmong families at lunch time. Saint James surveyed the scene, took one look at the glass case of glistening meats at the front and whispered this is awesome!
We spent the next hour feasting, and I mean FEASTING, on a savory meal of vibrant purple sticky rice, a seafood stir fry with the most amazing greens and salty delicious sauce, and the mother of all pork dishes, the barbequed pork belly. I’ve had pork belly before and I thought it was just really thick bacon, but this had more actual pork on it, a layer of crispy fat and then a crackly caramel colored crust. Seriously, you guys, Saint James and I were in hog heaven and in between happy mouthfuls we managed to agree that snow days are good, that Asian kids are super cute and that we have to take the rest of our family to Destiny Cafe, like, PRONTO! I must go back and try the steaming bowls of pho that everyone seemed to be favoring on that cold day. And more of the pork belly of course. And those greens. Sweet mother, those greens! But most delicious of all was my stolen time with Saint James and the knowledge that as long as I’m willing to take him somewhere tasty and he’s willing to follow, all will be well in our world.
Destiny Cafe is located at 995 University Avenue, Saint Paul, MN (651) 649-0394