Last weekend, I went up North for a wine tasting/50k bike ride. I love biking and I love wine, so why not do them together? That doesn't sound dangerous at all. Since this was a family event, I stayed with my parents and whenever I go home for a visit, I give pops a night off from the kitchen and plan a meal (Yes, it's the dad in my family that does the cooking). This time I decided on a braised oxtail and tendon stew. Don't make faces now. I'd rather eat tendon than chicken breast any day. When you grow up in a family like mine, your culinary repertoire gets quite expanded. Needless to say, I'm a huge supporter of snout to tail eating. Waste not. Back on subject… during the bike ride I was concentrating on what I wanted to eat after the ride, rather than the road. Oops. A 50k bike ride sure works up the hunger. I was remembering the tender, falling off the bone oxtail meat frm the night before and had one of those ah-ha moments. Pulled oxtail meat inside a banh mi would be delicious. I bookmarked the idea in my head and my thoughts returned to "look at the legs on this one"… don't be perverted, I'm talking about the wine. With B out of town at a "Future of Web Design" conference, I took this as the perfect opportunity to cook some meat. With two pounds of beef oxtails from Wild Oats, I was ready for some fun. I blanched the oxtails in simmering water for about 10 minutes and drained them to remove some excess fat/scum. My asian-inspired braising liquid included star anise, five spice, ginger, garlic, onions, jalapeños, shishito peppers, dark soy sauce and Chinese black bean sauce. I added just enough water to cover the oxtails. I braised them for about 12 hours for maximum flavor and tenderness. I pulled the meat off the bones with two forks. Traditionally, banh mi is served with pickled daikons and carrots. The daikons sure are stinky, but I assure you, they are an integral part of the taste composition. I thinly julienned carrot and daikon and soaked them in a mixture of sugar, water and rice vinegar (separately or else your carrots will stain your daikon orange). All I needed was a good French baguette to bring everything together. It would be a waste to spend so much time on the meat and condiments and serve it with crappy bread. I was determined to find a baguette that would do my meat justice. I tried 3 Square Bakery on Abbott Kinney, but all they had were pretzel baguettes. Eww. They're good on their own, but would be wrong in so many ways for a banh mi. Next, I tried Pioneer Bakery on Montana and left with a baton of bread that was destined to become croutons/bread crumbs/duck food. What does a girl have to do to get a great French baguette in this city??? Just when all hope was lost, my friend Jamie suggested a brunch at Campanile (conveniently right next to La Brea Bakery). Great brunch in the tummy and great baguette in hand, I was ready to assemble my banh mi. Back in the kitchen now… I sliced the baguette in half and spread mayo on both halves. Then I put on a layer of warmed oxtail meat, pickled daikon, pickled carrots, cucumber, jalapeños and cilantro. The meat was warm, spicy and tender. The vegetables chilled, crunchy and refreshing. What an amazing contrast.