Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Moggysmekongmadness

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The sky is on fire

Sometimes when you have hectic day it's nice to take some time to just take it all in and remember how lucky we are just to be here.  Tonight, the sky was on fire......

An Oldie (the photo not me!)

Have you ever gotten to the stage where you think you have seen just about every photo of you there is?  I definitely feel that way about my childhood.  It was funny a few years ago when some old pictures turned up of our family in a old "garage party" and a fishing trip.  It was really weird seeing them.  Kind of surreal as you know it is you but it does not quite compute as you don't remember it and you have never seen it before.  My beautiful friend Tan sent me a picture yesterday that made me laugh so I thought I would share it.  I have no idea where or when it was taken but my God, look how young we look!  Nick looks 12! (And yes Nicole, he does look a bit like Eric Bana in this one!)  Thanks for sharing Tan!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This just in!

Hot off the press....this just of wayward husband playing "Survivor Thailand"on motorbikes.  Apparently he is having a great time. He's due home soon so will post some proper pictures and tell you a bit about his adventure.  Meanwhile.....Oh My hot does it (he) look?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Hour

As I am sure you are aware, Earth Hour was celebrated throughout the world yesterday.  I was very pleased with Saigon's efforts.  In a lot of ways she can be behind the times but she tries really hard.  They tried a re-cycling system once but unfortunately the infrastructure was just not there and it was a complete and utter failure.  She still gives you 14 plastic bags for 17 items of food but I am glad to hear that many supermarkets including Co-Op Mart are now using more biodegradable plastic bags.  Last night she did herself proud for a city that tends to struggle when it comes to the environment.  Well done!



I hope you all managed to do your bit as well and hopefully not stand on as many leggo pieces as I did stumbling around in the dark!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I wish I had a hang over.

Now there is a statement you don't see every day! I was shopping at my local street market in Ton That Dam, D1 when I came across the most amazing looking dish.  Unfortunately I had just stuffed my face full of mushroom hotpot whilst having lunch with a fellow school mum or I would have given it a taste.  When I wake up feeling a bit dusty it is hard to beat good old chips and gravy.  I reckon this might give it a run for its money!
From what I can gather there are cubes of potato and then she throws in an egg.  Loving the old kettle boiling away too!

Throw in some chopped chives

fry it all up and....

Ta Da!!!  There you have it!  Not that I know what "it" is!  Looks like it costs 9,000VND which is about 50 cents.  I have no idea if it is some sort of traditional dish or just an enterprising lady bringing sweet relief to those who have consumed too much Hanoi Vodka.  (or Dalat wine, they are both pretty rancid!)  Either way, I know where I am heading next time I wake up with a furry mouth.  Lets just hope she has a cold coke out the back!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lang Nuong Nam Bo Restaurant.

Ventured into the murky depths of District 10 (well not really, its about 10 minutes from home but it sounded dramatic didn't it!) to visit a BBQ restaurant.  It is called Lang Nuong Nam Bo, 285/C145 Cach Mang Thang 8. There was a large group of us and it turned out the be the perfect place to really enjoy some great local food with a local atmosphere to boot.  The place is HUGE!  Not just big, HUGE!  As we pulled up in the cab the wafting aroma of BBQ had me salivating.  Lets just say I was not let down.  The menu was extensive and I would quite like to go back and try some other dishes like the individual BBQ's at your table.  We ate, drank and got merry for the grand sum of less than $15 each.

This little piggy went belly!

This really was a delicious as it looks.  Very juicy on the inside but that skin was amazing!  It takes a bit of getting used to eating around the bones as they just pretty much take a cleaver to it and chop it to bits.

Balut.  If you are squeamish don't read on.  A balut (Trứng vịt lộn or Hột vịt lộn in Vietnamese), is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. They are considered delicacies of Asia and especially the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. They are often served with beer.  Personally, I think they should be served with a therapist.  Lets just say I am not a fan.

Now I know i mentioned I would like to go back and try a few dishes but I might just give the goats prick a miss.

Ok, this is more like it.  It just ain't Vietnam unless there are a plate of spring rolls on the table.

This is the vegetable that I mentioned finding at the market in a previous post.  It is called Thien Ly.  I still don't know how to spell it and when I google it it comes up with a Vietnam Idol contestant!!  However you spell it, it is one of my favourites fired up here in oil and garlic.  I think it would be great with a little oyster sauce or taramind too.

The roast chook was beautiful.

These are the pumpkin flowers that I have also mentioned in a previous post.  Cooked really simply so the flavour of the flower comes through.

OK, who ordered chips?  The funny thing about this is, over here forget the salt and vinegar...bring on the sugar and the butter.  Now there is a heart attack on a plate.  No tomato sauce to be seen.  The thought of eating that makes me feel almost as sick as the Balut!

Ah, the pig.  Can you just see how juicy and crispy that skin is?

These were little fluffy buns of happiness!  The white ones are steamed and the darker ones are fried. I only had the white one but they were incredibly sweet.  They were almost like a sweet bread roll made with coconut milk.  When the plate full of pig was empty we broke these up and mopped up all of the juices. was goooooood.

We had a few non meat eaters and this artichoke dish seemed to fit the bill.

This system has a lot going for it.  Much easier to count the empties than to try and keep track on the bill. (No I did not throw any of ours into next doors basket....but I thought about it!)

Where would you be without a big chunk of ice in your beer?

To wash it down.

Our waiter was amazing, anticipating everything we may need (read: he kept bringing us lots of beers)

Smoky, noisy and fun.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ducking out to the shops

Ah, I remember the good old days.  "Honey I'm just popping out to the shops to pick up some bread and milk".  An easy task.  Here, however, is quite a different story.  Not necessarily bad, just different.  The first big difference is that there is no one stop shop.  Each week I visit a minimum of 4 places to buy all the food for the week ahead.  Even then, I quite often find myself short of some vital ingredient that was there last week and now nowhere to be found in the whole city.  Usually it is best to go out without a recipe in mind and just see what is available and work from there.  The next big difference is that it is usually an adventure.  Here is an example of me ducking out to get a few things yesterday afternoon.
My first stop is usually this little local market off Ham Nhi.  This is a great place to get fresh fruit and vegetables at ridiculously cheap prices.  They are always fresh and appealing to the eye.  The staples are usually always there, apples, oranges, watermelon etc but quite often you can come across beautiful seasonal produce.  Yesterday the place was full of gorgeous pumpkin flowers.  I was not sure how to cook them so did not buy any.  Funny thing was we went out last night and they were on the menu.  They were fantastic (garlic and oil!)
This is my banana lady.  Truth be known I have 2 banana ladies, one here and one at Ben Thanh Market.  Shhhh, I don't want to make one feel jealous.  She thought it was hysterical when I took her photo yesterday.  She was giggling like a school girl when I showed her the picture, bringing all of her friends over for a look.  It is interesting to note that when they pose for a photo, quite often there are no smiles, it's serious business being immortalised!

You can always be guaranteed to find things like watermelon, lychees and the stunningly beautiful dragon fruit.

I don't actually buy my red meat here.  There is a butcher who imports Aussie beef and lamb so I use them.  I find the local meat just too tough.  It is always interesting to wander past though and see what innards are on display today.

Amazing fresh shucked peas.  Yum!  The vegetable at the bottom that looks a little like broccoli is Thien Ly (excuse my spelling, I have no idea how it is spelt).  I LOVE this stuff.  Stir fry it up with some garlic and oil.  Delish!

Not quite Woolworths.

This is the tofu lady.  She has a ridiculous assortment of tofu for sale.  None of the vendors in this market speak English so I am not really sure what the different varieties are.  Tofu is pretty big here and although I am usually not a fan, I have had some really tasty dishes.

When I get a bit peckish shopping I go and see this lady.  I have no idea what it is called (if anyone knows let me know!).  From the taste of it, it is tapioca with chunks of banana it it.

She scoops it up and puts it in the bag then sprinkles some crushed nuts on top (you can see them rear left).  The yellow mush is corn.  The Vietnamese have a bit of a love affair with corn and you can even buy corn ice cream.  I do hold off putting with my tapioca though.
All served with a big smile and a bit of banter in my terrible Vietnamese.  6,000 Dong a bag which is about 30 cents Australian.  This lady has the most disastrous teeth but would never show them in a photo!

This lady sells all of the basics.!!!!

Now THIS lady has a great set of choppers!  Of course, again, you wont get them immortalised on film.  She is my watermelon go to lady!
Ok, so, I leave the market and head around the corner where there are 2 import shops.  These 2 places apparently have been here since the war, importing all of those amazing things that expats crave that you cannot find anywhere else.  If you are after Cadburys, Keens mustard, Kraft salad dressing and REALLY cheap Vodka, Thai Hoa is you place.  Here I got some tinned tomatoes, Vodka (go figure) and some New Zealand butter

Right.  I found some lovely looking cauliflower at the market and wanted to make some soup.  Do you think I could find a leek at the local place.  Nary a leek to be found so I had to go to Ben Thanh. 5,000VND for a leek, check.
This lady is one of my favourites that I visit each time I go to Ben Thanh.  She sell the freshest and tastiest nuts!  They pull up a little stool for me and I sit down for a good 10 minutes tasting all sorts of stuff that they shove at me.  They speak no English but we have a rip roaring time talking about our kids and how our husbands drive us nuts! (pun intended, luv ya babe!)

So yesterday I bought some almonds, some spicy cashews and some dried mango which Scarlett loves.  So that was it for the day.  Luckily I did not have to go to Kim Hai, the butcher as I already had some in the fridge.  That is usually the next stop though.  There is another place called Vedgys that is an import shop but they have a big walk in fridge where you can quite often get things like sour cream and a huge selection of herbs.  They are massively overpriced but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for it.

So it is not quite Coles online but you know what, I love it.  Yes it can be tiresome but I know one day I will look back on it fondly and remember the smiles and the relationships I have made while doing it.  I love the fact that as I was wandering around Ben Thanh yesterday amongst the throngs of tourists I get a smack on the ass.  I turn around and it is my 80 year old banana lady running away giggling.  Maybe she had heard I was cheating on her!!!!