Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vietnam, Hoi An

Hoi An is a city with about 120'000 inhabitants and is a UNESCO world heritage site, yes another one I visit! It is a well preserved city and was a major trading port in Southeast Asia from the 15th to the 19th century.
There are many well preserved building of all styles and architectures and it is amazing to just walk through the roads and see all these fine examples there. The city became rich through the spice trade which started between the 7th and 10 century, so the city is really old. The boats are still the same shape then they looked like 1000 years ago

We took a short bus ride from Da Nang which took about 40 minutes, we don't have that much time on hand so decided that we will be in Hoi An for about 2 hours before heading back to the ship and I have to admit, I am happy that we will come back here as the town is really beautiful.

Here is the well known Japanese Bridge that was built to get from the Chinese part to the Japanese part of town

But of course it is not just the town that brings us back, but Hoi An is well known for the tailors and of course we had to have something tailored too. The choice is vast and it is worth to shop around a bit. My shirts are nearly 10 $ cheaper each with the shop I finally bought them from than some of the previous ones, so I have 3 stunning shirts, just what I was looking for and Poala got a lovely dress and a coat. They are usually very fast with the tailoring, but as we had time we got them made up for the next week when we will be back

Above is part of our lunch, local homemade noodles with pork and below are a couple of ladies having lunch.

Then of course there are plenty of restaurants. Make no mistake, Hoi An is a tourist place and you will have plenty of them, but still it is so good to be here. We had a nice lunch, a bit plain but still very nice, here are some photos of the food, again, it is all about freshness here in Vietnam and that I love so much

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flavours of Asia

I was shopping in a mall in Vietnam and saw some really nice flavours of Pringle Chips. I usually always eat the same flavours, mainly the sourcream and onion, but now I found some really interesting new flavours, Seaweed, Indonesian Satay and Bangkok Grilled Chickenwing!

They are really cool, even so with the seaweed one needs to get used to it, it is a littl overpowering for the normal European taste, lol, but just to see them and try them is so much fun!

Anyway, just wanted to share that, I am off again in search of bananas, yes bananas. They are so beautifully ripe here in Asia that I can't keep them for more than 2 days and then I have to get fresh ones.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vietnam, Phan Thiet

Now what has Phan Thiet to offer? I think not too much, there is a very nice golf course, at least this is what I have heard from our guests. It is the ocean Dunes Golf Club, known as an outstanding natural site with sea and wind swept sand dunes, tropical coastal breezes and fantastic ocean views. The course is designed by Nick Faldo, a Masters and British Open champion. The course is considered one of the top 5 courses in Vietnam and one of the top 10 resorts in Asia..... but otherwise?????
OK, I am desperate for some food for the ship, so for me it has a lot to offer, these offerings will make my guests happy and that is why I write a little blog about Phan Thiet.
We had to take the zodiacts to get to town as there is no harbour for expedition ships. The ride was about 1 minutes and a lot of fun. It was a bit rough, but the driver is so experienced, he could read every wave.
Then we took a taxi to the next mall, easier than the market as we needed a lot of normal stuff like Mars Bars and Yogurts, so we popped in and got everything we needed. The main thing was the bananas, as they go off so fast here in Asia. It is because they are sold when they are really ripe, so they taste so wonderfully sweet and juicy, I love them. But yes, I have to buy every second day new bananas.
Then on the way back, full of bags with goods, we expected the zodiac at the landing site.....just there was nothing. We decided to wait a bit, of course I didn't take my radio, the provision master forgot his cell phone, so we had no way to contact the ship......except Cris has remote access to his email, so he went to an Internet cafe and sent a mail to the reception of the ship and they sent a zodiac out immediately, so after being stuck for nearly an hour we go a ride back, very windy, water spraying over us, it was a really cool drive back to the ship and we all got a good time.....and I got a bit of a sun burn, lol!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vietnam, Pho and Market in Da Nang

I am doing one of my favorite things again, going on the market and buying local products. The time of the year is not great to buy fish in Vietnam as it is towards the en of Monsoon and all the rivers are having high water, meaning that they are brown and muddy, so fishing is not so good and the variety of fish is not great.
But we went anyway, driving the 20 minutes from the port into Dan Nang. The Market is not huge, but there is a very nice variety of foods, vegetables, meats and fish. I have to admit, the meat did not look very inviting, nothing is chilled and it was hot and humid on the market, so I stayed away from that.
The fish was really fresh and we found some lovely varieties, ended up buying som Squid and Spanish Mackerel which we put on for the guest on our Seafood BBQ, great hit as they love local ingredients.
Of course I got a whole lot of vegetables as well as it was really great and fresh, the Water Spinach, the Morning Glory (great just stir fried with loads of garlic) the fresh and sweet Mangoes, just wonderful!
I have as well a recipe for the "national" soup here in Vietnam, the Pho (say Fo!). I love that soup and culd have it any time of the day. Usually the meat gets cooked in the stock in a big pot, then when the soup is served, the water gets refilled in the pot and simmered again, so one makes endless soups.
Here is some of the meat, it is pork........yummy!

This recipe is enough for 10 friends

4 kg beef knuckle, with meat
1.5 kg beef oxtail
500 g white (daikon) radish, sliced
3 onions, chopped
20 g whole star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
black peppercorns
30 g slices fresh ginger root
20 g white sugar
30 g salt
25 ml fish sauce

1.1 kg dried flat rice noodles
500 g beef sirloin

sriracha hot pepper sauce
hoisin sauce
thinly sliced onion
chopped fresh cilantro
bean sprouts (mung beans)
sweet Thai basil
thinly sliced green onion
limes, quartered

1.Place the beef knuckle in a very large (9 quart or more) pot. Season with salt, and fill pot with 2 gallons of water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 hours.

2.Skim fat from the surface of the soup, and add the oxtail, radish and onions. Tie the anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns and ginger in a cheesecloth or place in a spice bag; add to the soup. Stir in sugar, salt and fish sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for at least 4 more hours (the longer, the better). At the end of cooking, taste, and add salt as needed. Strain broth, and return to the pot to keep at a simmer. Discard spices and bones. Reserve meat from the beef knuckle for other uses if desired.

3.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Soak the rice noodles in water for about 20 minutes, then cook in boiling water until soft, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Slice the frozen beef paper thin. The meat must be thin enough to cook instantly.

4.Place some noodles into each bowl, and top with a few raw beef slices. Ladle boiling broth over the beef and noodles in the bowl. Serve with hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce on the side. Set onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, basil, green onions, and lime out at the table for individuals to add toppings to their liking.
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