Hoi An(other bánh mì please)

Not One Crumb Left Takes Asia

 

Taxi driver: “Where are you from?”

Us: “Australia!”

Taxi driver: “Ahhh Kangaroo!

Us: “Haha yep that’s us”

Taxi driver: “Sydney, Melbourne?”

Us: “Oh, um… no, Brisbane…”

Taxi driver: “Oh… I don’t know.”

Us: “Yeah, that’s okay, man.”

I couldn’t tell you how many times we had this conversation after jumping into the back of a taxi. The same one, every time. Poor old Brisbane. It was a conversation we managed to avoid in the lovely city of Hoi An however, where just about all the food, culture and sights you could see were in walking or biking distance of our hotel.

Hoi An’s uber pretty, lantern filled, cobblestoned old town was a tourist’s delight and left me wondering why I did need to eat those extra two doughnuts .image

Yep, on every corner  there was a food cart selling doughnuts, banana pancakes and coconut buns freshly fried up for you on the spot.

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Living it up with $2 pho for breakfast almost made us too full to down these treats for morning tea but it was so worth it.

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And then there was lunch.

‘What?’ you’re thinking, ‘Surely she couldn’t fit in lunch as well after all of this?’

No, no, there was bánh mì to be had, of course we kept eating!

Super simple, so satisfying and just all round delicious bánh mì.

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Kudos to the person who looked at the Vietnamese salad their mum just whipped up for them at lunch and thought ‘You know what, I’m going to put this into one of those baguette things that  the French brought over.’ (Real historical account, obviously).

The incorporation of Vietnamese flavours into the sweet and chewy setting of the humble baguette is a winner and leaves you wanting more every time. Seriously.

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The choices of ingredients are endless and give a new flavour to the sandwich with every addition. Add some cream cheese and extra chilli sauce to your spit roasted pork with the salad and you will not regret it. Alternatively, buy a baguette from your local French bakery and/or the lady with her bicycle basket filled with them and load that up with whatever you can find.

So, as you can probably tell, the four days in Hoi An were mostly spent eating but in between we managed to squeeze in a bike ride through the country side, believe it or not. I may sound irrational when I say this, but after years of not touching a bike, I think it’s possible I forgot how to ride one. I fell off twice going at the grand speed of 10km an hour. But anyway, moving on.

We made it unscathed to have a brush with fame at the house of the oldest and probably happiest couple in Hoi An. 12744465_10153877768519383_3003539746545344796_n

He was 94 and she was 88 and neither of them ever stopped smiling. This, I assume, was because their garden was so damn nice. Everyday, they  and their family work on the rows and rows of vegetables, herbs and flowers that could make even the hungriest of meat-eaters impressed.

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With the infectious happiness of Le Van So and Nguyen Thi Loi, we rode on our bicycles all the way to Nha Trang, 510km away.

Just kidding. We rode back to the hotel to our warm pho, chewy doughnuts, bánh mì and good company. Happy, happy, happy.

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Halong Bay: If you can’t beat the likelihood of food poisoning, then you should really just enjoy it while you can.

Not One Crumb Left Takes Asia

If you like combining five different types of raw meats together on one plate, then Vietnamese hot pot is for you! Yep, you’ve got your chicken, beef, squid, clams and 2 different types of prawns all in one big melting pot of a meal. Our one night in Halong City, we lay in wait to see if it really is such a good idea to cook all of that in one pot of hopefully boiling hot miscellaneous broth. Luckily for us, it was so worth it.

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The ginger and tomato in the broth made the meat, cabbage and tofu so flavourful and warmed our stomachs in the cold better than any heater (especially since there wasn’t one). The chicken and beef were good but nothing beat the prawns, clams and squid. I am a sucker for fresh seafood so travelling around Halong Bay and seeing the fisherman and the seafood farms and then getting to eat stars of the pot made me a very happy gal. Who knows if we cooked it right but damn it was good.

With the obscure directions of our guide, the cooking skills of 5 teenage travellers and many Hanoi Beers, it is a miracle we made it out alive.

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First up, Hanoi: Capital of Vietnam, Land of the Pho

Not One Crumb Left Takes Asia

After a long, hot stop-over in Bangkok and a surprise present of the fecal kind in Jack’s luggage from his cat, we arrived in Hanoi to temperatures well below what we were prepared for (a sign of two very well organised teenage travellers, obviously).

That being said, there is nothing quite like being cold and hungry in a new place and finding yourself being  given the nod to sit down on two tiny plastic stools by someone on the street with a cart of food in front of them and boiling pot behind them. Within minutes you have the warmth and impending satisfaction of eating the steaming bowl of noodles, beef, herbs, spring onions and broth that is being placed in front of you for breakfast.

Thank buddha for pho*.

Add as much chilli, lime, fish sauce, mint, basil and garlic as you like to your pho. It’s all yours to tweak. I recommend all of it.

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If noodle soup for breakfast is not your thing, then have no fear, cause Vietnam in all its glory has learnt a few things from the French over the years that they hung around(?) in the 19th and 20th century. That being, pastries… and bread.

Some got their own twists with coconut and banana like the coconut scroll down below, and some stayed as simple as the flaky, buttery goodness that is a croissant.

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Baguettes were everywhere as well so when lunch time comes around, find yourself a happy cow cream cheese wheel or a big hunk of meat from the lady whose roasted pork belly and duck is bringing a small crowd of locals and stuff that bread up full. Trust me.

Leaving our hotel after 10am meant that I missed the warm street pho I had been dreaming about all night as all the stalls vanish and others take their place. Others bringing bún chả.

Bún chả has the lot, with fried rice paper spring rolls, grilled pork, fried egg, lettuce, herbs and enough noodles to feed a small army. Sweet, fresh and filling, this meal we usually meant didn’t have to eat anything – minus the tube of Pringles, of course –  until dinner time.

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All these elements, especially the pork, were cooked fresh, fireside and roadside.

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Pho-filled** and cat poo free we headed onwards to Halong Bay and its beautiful city.


*Pronounced FUH (almost like f#@k as my mother so gracefully pointed out).

**I had no intention of that being a pun but still have no shame in saying that I laughed very hard when I realised what I’d done.

Not One Crumb Left Takes Asia

Let’s be real here. When I thought about why I wanted to go to Vietnam, I could say it was to see the culture, the history or to meet all the lovely people; but no, no, it was the food (I mean, of course). The fresh, simple, flavourful cuisine that is Vietnamese.

Of course, I came for the food and ended up loving everything else Vietnamese almost just as much! The food was delicious and the country was amazing. Everyday.

This is me, with a mouth full of bánh mì.

Charming, I know, but it is the first and probably last example you need to see of how happy I was to be there.

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I’m going to show you more reasons anyway. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am in this photo.

 

 

 

 

 

And the winner is…

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Me. Definitely me.

The winner of what you ask? The laziest food blogger you’ve ever seen. Go me! Many a meal has been eaten and none has so much seen the inside of a draft blog post, all because I didn’t think to myself in all the hours I’ve spent bored on holidays to write about all the fabulous food I’ve eaten in the last four months. Oops.

It’s a new year now though so it’s time to get back on track (Let’s see how long this lasts).

Wish me luck y’all!

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Same.

Let’s Talk About Charlie’s

Out and About

My favourite place to go at the moment is without a doubt Charlie’s Fruit Market in Everton Park. Charlie’s is not just any old fruit market, it is home to not only a whole bunch of fresh and organic fruit and vegetables, it also houses Charlie’s Superfood Vegan Bar, hallelujah! Why do I love Charlie’s so much you ask? Just take a look at this baby… and my dog Tedi he’s good looking too.

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This was the Superfood Acai Bowl jam packed and stacked with all kinds of fruit, coconut and seedy clusters. This was my first taste of the Charlie’s goodness and I was converted.

Since I went there about 2 weeks ago I have not been able to stop thinking about going back and trying something else. Whenever I go anywhere I think to myself oh I should go to Charlie’s on the way, even if it’s 5 minute drive to a friend’s house.

At this point whenever I begin to become this obsessed with a food, I think to myself ‘perhaps I should stop, this can’t be healthy’ but that’s the thing about Charlie’s, it is healthy. All of their ingredients are organic, vegan and dairy free with enormous amounts of nutrients and way more than your two and five serves of fruit or veg a day giving you lots of energy and general happiness at how good it tastes.

After many days of heavy superfood craving, I finally made it back and got a Green Machine smoothie and good lord it was superb. With kale, mango, coconut milk, coconut, mint and an extra banana added by me, this smoothie was fabulous and made me feel healthy and satisfied. My dear friend, Grace had the Choc Bananarama and said it was 10 out 10 for sure.

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All the ingredients are good quality so the prices are reasonable if you ask me but could be considered a bit heavy. They also have a range of raw sweets and treats with vegan, dairy free, gluten free and paleo options available as well.

Charlie’s Fruit Market is like my little pocket of health heaven in Everton Park. Acai bowls, smoothies, raw treats and juices. Hallellujah!

Next up for me from Charlie’s is the Mango Bowl. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m pretty sure these guys can’t really get it wrong though.

Chilli Cheese Fries of the Underground

Out and About

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When my friend told me the address of The Walrus Club, I said to myself ‘oh that’s the same address as the Regatta Hotel. How strange.’ Silly, old, untrendy me. The Walrus Club is an underground bar.

It was hip and crafty and windowless, just like an underground bar should be (not that I had ever been to one before so how would I know?).

It was also an alcohol connoisseur’s heaven. There was at least 30 different types of every spirit and all of their beers and ciders were on tap and simply satisfying (their on tap Peroni was my favourite for the night for sure). My friend and I were lucky enough to be mistaken as engaged and were treated to some Venezuelan rum from a random and a little bit strange but generous man and his sister (obviously we let them know that we were only 19 and definitely not getting married but they didn’t mind apparently. Venezuelan rum all around!)  The bar men were super friendly as well and gave you taste testers of their special stuff if you asked them nicely 🙂

Next it was on to the food. Always the first thing on my mind whenever I go anywhere of course but when life gives on tap beer and Venezuelan rum one can forget about the important stuff. That’s where the Walrus Bar’s newly beloved thick cut chips and chilli con carne with cheese, sour cream and chives came in. You’d think it was the lighting underground that would make it difficult to get a good food shot while you’re out with your friends but no, it’s your friends themselves! Many a hand had to be swiped away in order to be able to get a photo of the glorious chilli con carne soaked chips.

I mean, look at this one closing in on that sour cream. Despicable. But understandable.

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With talented live musicians, delightful nooks and crannies to keep you entertained all night and super cool, old-fashioned decor, The Walrus Club was a winner for my friends and I. So much so, that we soaked up the atmosphere until it was time to start singing ‘Closing Time’ by Semisonic like the classic, young, university students we are. Just kidding. But we were definitely told that it was closing time… one last call for alcohol…so finish your Venezuelan rum or beer. Okay I’ll stop.

The Walrus Club. Check it out.