Tag Archives: food

Ho Chi Minh or Saigon?


It doesn’t matter what name you choose  to call it, Ho Chi Minh is a BIG city!

Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City

It covers an area of over 2,000sq. kms, and is made up of about 24 districts, with District 1 and District 3 being the most popular for tourists. These two areas have the most sights, museums, eateries, bars, etc.

I loved Saigon (I choose to call it by its former name, don’t ask why, I just do)!  It somehow felt like an “Asian London”  if that makes any sense!  The size, the new with the old, the way it welcomes visitors and makes you feel at home.  Although it is an extremely busy metropolis I felt totally comfortable wandering the streets from one tourist site to another. Of course, crossing the road was a feat in itself!  Luckily there are no drunken westerners on motorbikes to contend with like in Bali, just locals who have the dodging and weaving down to a fine art!

Saigon has many beautiful buildings, one being the Reunification Palace which is open to the public and well worth a couple of hours of your time.  For those of us old enough to remember, it is where the tank broke through the gates and thus signalled the end of the war in 1976.  The Palace has been kept really well and down in the basement you can see the  “war rooms” as it was back during the war. It’s a must for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War.

Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace

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We found Saigon very easy to navigate and really enjoyed wandering around each day. The people are far less “reserved” than those in the northern city of Hanoi.  Our favourite place of course had to be where the street food was in District 1,  Ben Thanh Market.

food5_hrii
BBQ Grill stall

food marketWe ate there every day, no matter what the time, it was a place to sit and chill with great food and cold beer. Can’t wait to go back in November and take my friend!

There are so many stalls serving different types of food, not all Vietnamese but Indian, Korean, French and I wish I could stay there long enough to try them all!

Food Saigon
Typical dish cost about $2 !

The markets are all undercover and next to the food is the retail market.  If you can’t find what you’re looking to buy here,  it doesn’t exist! market There are clothes, shoes, bags, luggage, kitchen ware, watches, jewellery, gadgets just about anything you can think of. Haggling with the sellers is huge fun, they expect it and if you do it well there are bargains to be had! Just have a figure in mind and stick to it.  Be prepared to walk away if they won’t agree – they’ll eventually give in!

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Hoi An – City of Lanterns


You’re staying HOW LONG?

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That’s the response we got when telling people we were staying 10 days in Hoi An!  Apparently no-one stays that long!  A few days, maybe 5, but usually no more.  I guess that’s because there isn’t really a great deal to do in Hoi An, but unlike most visitors, we rented a motorbike and went off exploring nearby villages, beaches and other places like  Da Nang and My Son.

My Son
Old Temple at My Son

 

My Son
Bridge leading to ruins of My Son sacred site

Hoi An itself is a beautiful city and rightly named the City of Lanterns.  Sitting on the riverside, the old town is closed to vehicles at night making walking the streets very comfortable and safe.  Numerous restaurants, bars and little shops everywhere all plying for your attention.  We met so many wonderful people there,  the Vietnamese are so welcoming and friendly.  We shared a lot of laughs and jokes with them all and the girls in the markets loved to rub Rick’s tummy exclaiming  “Happy Buddha!”

Bridge Hoi An
Bridge over river that separates the Ancient City from the newer city

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The markets are a sight to see, the fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood is all so fresh, and unlike a lot of markets, it doesn’t smell!

If we had been staying in self-catering accommodation we would definitely been shopping there every day!  The fish were still flapping about in the bowls, they were straight off the fishing boats!

At night the city transforms into this wonderland of lights and for a few cents you can buy a candle and set it afloat along the river with hundreds of others. Hoi An is one of the cheapest places we stayed as far as food and drink went. A bottle of beer could be had for less than a dollar and cocktails for about $3. A meal for the two of us cost about $20 including drinks!  And during happy hour all cocktails are 2 for 1 “until you are drunk!” (quote)

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However, our favourite food was the street food, and the night markets provided that in abundance!  For a dollar or two a meal and a laugh could be had from any of the carts and we sampled just about all of them!

And again, like everywhere in Vietnam, it is the people that make it so good, the feeling that you belong there and are so very welcome.

Street Seller in Hoi An
Street Seller in Hoi An

My Top 2 Places to Eat in Mandurah


Mandurah has a bevy of great cafes, restaurants and the like, in fact so many that sometimes we sit and debate for hours where to go to eat!  Luckily for us, all are within walking distance so a few wines or beers with dinner is never a problem.  There are western A’ La Carte places,  Chinese,  Malaysian,  Thai,  Indonesian,  Vietnamese,  Mexican,  Rib & Steak houses,  Italian,  and probably more that I can’t think of right this moment!

So to pick my 2 favourite places was really, really hard! But, here they are:

Murphy’s Irish Pub

Oh where do I start, the food, the service, the entertainment?  Because all of that is good, I mean REALLY good!  Owned and operated by Edward Janiec,  AKA “The Man Who Can’t Say NO”  the staff are  friendly and extremely helpful, with wait-time at the bar and tables pretty much non-existent.

murphysfront
Murphy’s Irish Pub, Mandurah Terrace

We have been dining here fairly regularly  since it opened in 2007 and it has become our “go-to” place if we decide to eat out at the last minute because we know we will NEVER be turned away.  Which is why I nicknamed Edward “The Man Who Can’t Say NO”.Edward

“Sorry we are full”  is a phrase that just isn’t in Edwards’ vocabulary, and if you were to ask any of his staff if they are fully booked, they just look at you like you’re mad!  There is always another table and some chairs to be found somewhere!

Murphy’s has some kind of entertainment on every night of the week, be it a quiz, karaoke or music, there is never a dull evening, and on weekends, the afternoons are also filled with music and sport on the many tv screens.

Murphys
Entertainment on a Sunday night

Murphy’s isn’t a place I’d recommend for a romantic dinner, but I say save the romance for when you get home and enjoy a meal at Murphy’s first!

Oh, and the food, of course I haven’t said anything about the food yet!  Well guess what,  I’m not going to, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, and honestly, would I be raving about a place if the food was no good? You just have to go and try it for yourself.

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Thai on the Terrace

If you like authentic Thai food in equally authentic setting, then Thai on the Terrace is the place to go.  menu

You can choose to have your dishes any stage of spiciness from none at all (woosy) or,  like my husband,  over the top Thai hot (masochist).  The menu is extensive and the staff are lovely Thai girls,  as is the owner/chef.  Thai on the Terrace is a no-fuss kind of place, where the importance is put into the food.

Thai on terrace
Small and intimate dining room

We have never been disappointed here, whether we have dined in or had take-away.  I like small owner/operator type places, and Thai on the Terrace is the sort of restaurant you’d expect to find in a back street in Thailand, run by a family. I you find yourself visiting Mandurah  and like Thai food, do yourself a favour and give this place a try.

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Nice is Nice…


The recent happenings in Manchester and London reminded me of the horrible night in Nice,  when so many people were killed or injured on the Promenade Des Anglais.  Such a sad night for the whole world, something we will never forget,  and it would be remiss of me to do this post without a mention or a thought to all those that suffered that night.

Hearts

Exactly one week before that night, we had been in Nice, and on our last night had been celebrating with thousands of people on the soccer win over Germany.  The streets were alive with locals, tourists, soccer fans, adults and children everywhere.  There were car horns blaring,  fire-crackers,  singing and dancing in the streets.  It was amazing!   We had such a wonderful time because NICE is NICE!

The Promenade Des Anglais is awesome,  running along the beach it’s the perfect place to wander along or sit and people watch,  and as it is covered, there is plenty of shade from the hot south of France sunshine.   We spent every evening doing just that and of course, chatting with the street vendors and performers.

castle hill view nice

Nice has much, much more to offer than just the Promenade, and in our few days there we managed to explore a some of these places.

We were lucky enough to stay at the Mercure Hotel, which is on a corner off the Promenade and so we were able to walk everywhere.  And walk we did!  Right after a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, we would set off each morning in a different direction to see what we could find.            Search Flights to Nice

Our first day was spent wandering around the old town of Nice, with narrow streets, loads of shops,  cafes,  bars and restaurants.  There isn’t much you can’t get in the old town!  It is a really pretty part of Nice and most of the  shops are decorated with hanging baskets outside.  There are numerous artisan bakers, and little places selling all sorts of delicacies like olives, cheeses, pickles, cured meats and local sauces and wines.  It made us a little sorry we weren’t in a self-catering apartment!  Nice Old Town covers quite a large area,  and it’s easy to spend a whole day wandering around, stopping now and then for “une verre de vin” (or two) and of course some lunch!

Flowers Old Town Nice
Flowers for sale, Old Town Nice

My favourite part of the old town was Cours Saleya , known as Marche aux Fleurs  which is a flower and fruit and vegetable market, held every morning.  I have never seen so many flower displays in one place before.

cours saleya
Vegetable stalls Cours Saleya

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 2 sent us past the Old Town and around to the port where the ferries come in from Corsica,  this walk along the waterfront offers some great views back into Nice.  From there we found ourselves looking up to the cliffs and seeing people walking around, we wondered how to get up there without a car.  (It was a long way up and I certainly wasn’t keen on climbing the hill!).  While standing at the bottom looking at the steps debating shall we/shan’t we? I noticed a little sign and barely visible arrow pointing to “Elevator” Yes! There is a God!  I was going to get to the top and still be able to breath!  And so glad I was,  it would have been such a shame to miss what awaited us at the top.

View over Port in Nice
View over Port in Nice
waterfall castle hill nice
Waterfall at Castle Hill, Nice France

The Castle Park (Parc du Chateau) is apparently one of Nice’s top tourist attractions and I can see why, it is beautiful and gives amazing  360 views of Nice. I’m a bit ashamed to say I had never heard of it before we went there!  It isn’t just the views though, it is the gardens, statues, remains of the original chateau and the history that is really interesting. Having been there it is a place I would advise all visitors to Nice to make sure they don’t miss.

Day 3 – Just wandering.  As our second day was so full-on we decided to just wander the nearby streets and so glad we did!  Only a block away in the opposite direction to the Old Town we found a shopping mecca!  All the brand names you could think of,  but with a price tag to match I might add!  There were clothes, shoes, electronics, everything and anything,  and all the genuine article!              Find Hotels in Nice

Of course, once again we managed to find some great little drinking and eating venues, and a place to go back to that evening for dinner.

Seafood Chowder Nice
Seafood Chowder Nice, France

On a narrow side street, a bit away from the crowds, we found a small family run Italian restaurant where Rick had a seafood chowder served in a crusty cob!

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I’ll leave you with this delightful video of the water park….

 

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Pea and Ham Soup


Winter’s arrived,  so here’s a nice hearty “belly-filling” soup to keep you warm!

Pea and Ham Soup
Pea and Ham Soup

 Pea and Ham Soup.

Ingredients: 

1 Smoked ham hock.

1 medium onion, diced.

2 garlic cloves, sliced or diced.

2 sticks celery, with leaves, diced small.

2 small carrots, diced.

2 cups yellow split peas.

2  Chicken stock cubes.

1 tablespoon olive oil.

Method:

Soak the split peas in a bowl of warm water.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the diced onion, celery and garlic until soft,  then remove,  let cool and puree until smooth.

Meanwhile, put the ham hock into a saucepan and cover with with water,  bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour.  It is ready when the meat starts to fall off the bone.  Remove from saucepan and while it cools,  strain the cooking water into the large saucepan.  Add the pureed mixture of onion, garlic and celery,  chicken stock cubes and diced carrots.

Drain and rinse the split peas and add to the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for a couple of hours until the peas are soft and the soup has thickened.  (If too thick, just add extra water or chicken stock).

Remove all the meat from the ham hock bone and chop into bite size pieces.  (Not always possible, it usually just falls apart!),  add to the soup.  Season with pepper to taste.

Serve with a crusty loaf or roll.

This soup will keep for a few days  (although not in our house –  it’s always gone by the next day!) it just might need diluting a bit when reheating as it tends to thicken quite a lot.

Enjoy!

 

 

Have a Recipe you’d like to Share?


Everyone loves a new but tried and tested recipe, so I’m going to post a new one each week.

Baby Octopus Salad

If you have an all time favourite that you’d like to share with others, please send it to me by email and I will feature it on my site.  Feel free to add a link to your own site too, as I’m sure others would love to read more of your offerings.

I’m looking forward to trying out many new recipes from you, and also interested in getting feedback from any of mine you have tried.

Chilli Mussels


A lazy weekend brunch or lunch to share with friends………..

Local Mussels in spicy chilli sauce

Chilli Mussels

Ingredients: 

2kg small black mussels, washed and beards removed.

1 medium onion, diced.

2 or 3 garlic cloves, sliced or diced.

2 sticks celery, with leaves, diced small.

2 small carrots, diced.

1 red capsicum, rough chopped.

1 Spring onion, sliced.

2 large very ripe tomatoes, chopped.

Fresh hot red chilli, sliced – use any amount depending on your tolerance!

2  Chicken stock cubes.

1 cup dry vermouth.

1 can diced tomatoes (400ml size)

Handful fresh basil, sage and parsley leaves chopped small.

1 tablespoon hot chilli sauce  (I use home-made as we make our own!)

1 tablespoon olive oil.

Some extra fresh parsley for garnish.

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or wok .

Saute onion, celery, carrot, chilli and capsicum until soft.

Add garlic and fresh herbs and fry for about 2 minutes.

Add chicken stock cubes & water and simmer until stock cubes have melted.

Next add chopped tomatoes and canned tomatoes (including juice), vermouth & chilli sauce.

At this stage, taste and adjust seasoning/heat/acidity. (Hint -A little sugar reduces the acidic taste).

Add in the cleaned mussels and stir through.

Leave to cook until the mussels are all opened, then add the sliced spring onion and serve with crusty bread (to soak up the soup!)  and a glass of your favourite tipple!

Looking forward to hearing your comments after trying this recipe!!

Food for Thought


Being a lover of travel and food, along with home comforts of course, I’ve managed to pick up a few decent recipes over the years.  So, time to share!

Crayfish & Chorizo Fettuccine in Pernod Cream Sauce

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Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 cray tails, raw and chopped into bite size pieces.

Small piece Spanish Chorizo sliced thin. (Important to get Spanish as it has an aniseed flavour).

1 medium onion, diced..

2 teaspoons crushed or minced garlic

4 teaspoons Pernod.

2  Chicken stock cubes.

1 cup dry vermouth.

1 cup water.

300ml cream.

2 cups frozen sweet baby peas.

Handful fresh basil, sage and fennel leaves chopped small.

Medium size dob of butter.

Some fresh parsley for garnish.

500gms home-made or dried fettuccine.

Method:

Heat a deep-sided frying pan and melt butter gently.

Fry onion and chorizo until onion is translucent.

Add garlic and fresh herbs (except parsley) and fry for about 2 minutes.

Add chicken stock cubes & water and simmer until stock cubes have melted.

Next add chopped crayfish, Pernod, Vermouth and frozen peas and simmer with lid on until peas are soft and crayfish is cooked through (about 5-6 minutes).

Stir through cream to thicken and garnish with fresh parsley leaves.

Serve over fresh cooked fettuccine, with a mediterranean side salad and a large glass of red wine!

 

Looking forward to hearing your comments after trying this recipe!!