Hello Hanoi! 

This post could equally well be titled Hello Halong!, or Hello Hoi An! or Hello Hue! – the point being that we have now left Indonesia behind us and moved onto the wonderful country that is Vietnam, which also seems to have a strange propensity for cities beginning with the letter H. The change of country came just at the right time – although I would have liked a little more time in Bali to discover the interior of the island and an extra week to visit Flores and the Komodo dragons, I was certainly ready for a change from the ubiquitous cuisine of nasi goreng and mie goreng (fried rice/noodle), the expensiveness of all alcoholic beverages and the frustrating lack of transport options for much of the archipelago.


Korean food in China

Another excellent interactive form of food we have now tried in China is the Korean barbeque. Similar to the hot pot we first had in Beijing (and have had repeatedly since!) in that you order a number of plates of raw food and then cook them in the middle of the table, but different in that you cook them on a sort of mini barbecue inset into the table rather than in boiling soup. We tried duck, beef and pork, the latter of which was especially tasty – before coming to China I didn’t think much of pork as I associate it with rather bland pork chops in England, but China has made me completely change my mind about this – pork can be delicious! Once the meat is cooked you eat it by wrapping it in a lettuce leaf parcel along with a number of sauces and additions, including onion, sweet potato, quail egg and many things I don’t know the name of.  (more…)

Chinese Food No. 2: Mung Bean Ice Cream

From Beijing’s finest food to its worst – we kept seeing a lolly that looked like it was pea flavoured in the ice cream freezers. Intrigued, we decided to try it – I can just about imagine a pea and mint ice cream being refreshing, if a little odd. Alas, it turned out not to be pea flavoured but mung bean flavoured. I don’t actually know what a mung bean is but I can assure you it tastes pretty gross. I also managed to drop it down my legs so then had to walk around with green-streaked legs for the second part of the day…

Chinese food: Yang Fang Lamb Hotpot

On Wednesday evening I ate possibly one of the most delicious meals of my life. We had had a glorious afternoon, wandering the hutongs of central Beijing and then reading kindles leisurely in the square between the Drum and Bell tower, watching cute little Chinese kids play on scooters and roller skates as evening fell. Just round the corner from here was the Yang Fang restaurant, which specialised in a sort of Mongolian hot pot popular in Beijing. You order a broth which arrives in a conical shaped heater and boils in front of you. Then you order the raw ingredients you want in the hot pot – we went for spinach, tofu, sweet potato, sliced lamb, and sliced lotus roots – and add them to the hot pot as you wish, and then fish them out when cooked, and dip in a delicious sesame/peanut sauce. The sweet potato was especially good, but nothing could compare to the lamb – the slices of raw meat were so thin that you only have to dip them in the boiling broth for a few seconds so that the outside changes colour but the inside stays tender and tasty. Food is always more fun when there’s an element of play to it, but this dish combined a fun way of cooking your food with a taste that cannot be described as anything other than exquisite! 


Five days in France

I’m a big fan of the European short break – getting away from the UK for even a short amount of time can be very refreshing, and it is possible to pack a surprising amount into a few days. I’ve just got back from spending five days in France, split between Paris and Lyon (visiting friends in both places), and here are a few of my highlights – mainly food-related, what a surprise…

1) Brunch in Paris. My god do the French know how to do brunch: multiple courses, freshly squeezed orange juice, a mixture of normal brunch-y foods (i.e. a soft-boiled egg, excellent bread) with other more unusual things (i.e. chocolate tart, artichoke and chestnut soup) that I now feel SHOULD be standard breakfast fare. Was particularly surprised at the soup, as I’m not a big fan of artichoke normally but this was delish, also had the French chestnut sauce thing with yoghurt and liked it for the first time. Perhaps the English do make brunch like this, but I’ve certainly never seen anything like it – it took us about 3 hours to get through. (more…)