fresh spring rolls @ Ben Than Market

She makes it in front of my eyes within seconds. It looks so easy. Rice paper, noodles, shrimp, and a tiny slice of chicken. Roll, tuck et voila. Some herb that I have never seen sticks out of one end. You need the sauce; otherwise the roll is a little dry. The sauce is thick….

Big Ben Than Market Saigon

It’s a mistake to walk into Ben Than Market through the front. You’d never think there was anything BUT aisles and aisles of t-shirts and counterfeit bags of all big brand names you can imagine. Engulfed in sea of textile and trinket stalls, hands reaching out, grabbing my arms and back to draw me in…

that little market in Saigon

Its time for breakfast. And we are in the streets of Saigon with a mission: find the little street market we’d liked so much the last time we visited Saigon a couple of years ago.  Even with a good sense of direction, in a constantly changing and developing country like Vietnam, finding the past is…

truck stop lunch in Phan Thiet

Just booking the car is an adventure. How long does it take to drive from Saigon to Nha Trang? Everyone we speak to has a different answer. “The roads are good, you can drive fast. 4hrs.” “The roads are only good part way. 8hrs”…. The little lady we finally book with seems to know her…

Vinh’s nem

One night in Nha Trang, Vinh took us home to his flat for some dinner. He’d made chicken and rice soup, but on the way home he stopped off to pick up an appetizer, as non-eventfully as we might stop off to pick up some bread. Once home, he sat us down in his living…

Laksa for breakfast

Empty street of Chinatown in Singapore Our flight out of Singapore is early on Sunday and Chinatown is virtually empty when we wander through looking for some breakfast. We stand at a cross roads thinking about our options: eat at that corner place that looked average? go back to the hotel? …. And then The…

Singapore Noodles

Just throw it all in there. Thin noodles. Bits of pork. A little bit of shrimp. Some egg. A few greens. And a little bit of spice, but nothing aggressive, just aromatic. This is snack in Chinatown after finally arriving in Singapore. A journey that should have taken about 15 hours ended up taking 45…

Unexpected Beaujolais Nouveau 2009

When he handed me the bread, and I realized that it was warm, I thought, “this is too good to be true”. How can you have a Beaujolais nouveau day without a glass (or three) of Beaujolais? Someone with some power at SNCF (French national railroad) must have been thinking about this, or else it…

2009 vintage: what ripe Chardonnay looks like: gold

We didn’t have to go far with Alexandre Moreau to see some of his ripe Chardonnay in Cote de Beaune (Burgundy), we just crossed the street from his cellar and into Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie vineyard. Here, too, the leaves were beautifully green. Chardonnay grapes getting golden like this is rarely to be seen….

A revelation: Foie gras with raspberries and red bell pepper jelly

How do you make foie gras go with Beaujolais Villages? Start by giving the chef a glass or two. Just so that he can get the creative juices flowing… The young chef at Auberge de Chantemerle came up with an incredibly creative and unique idea that worked beautifully: Foie gras with a jelly of red…

Maria, Oh! Maria @ Regalade in Beaune

There was only one line in the email: “Does anyone know how to spell La REGALADE and frogs legs or what???” With that we knew that we would have to make a trip to see Maria. Not only to keep our client happy, but also to get some food into our bellies after a long…

way before the crack of dawn…morning market Sanur

I wish I’d caught her name. Our little waitress of the night before. The one who had served our Balinese tasting menu at the Wantilan Café  She could see that we were curious, so she spent a lot of time speaking to us. It was she who told us about the morning market at Sanur….

Ibu Oka Babi Guling

Ubud. Across the street from the Royal Palace. Ibu Oka (i.e. mama oka’s place) This place is hopping. Locals and tourists rub shoulders to get a piece of this famous roast suckling pig. Open around 11AM and they close when they run out of pigs. That can be anywhere between two and five PM. Better…

Sqala: the ultimate Moroccan breakfast

I asked the waiter to explain what some of the choices were. A lot of the words and names of dishes were things I had never heard of. I was trying to make sense of it all… “Or you can have the breakfast assortment.” My eyes widened as he told me all the things that…

Psychedelic risotto @ Castel de Tres Girard

It was what we call bonus sunshine. Sun when everyone said it would rain. The kind of day where you feel strange putting on a big coat. But after an hour’s tasting in a cool cellar, you’re really glad you kept the extra lining in your coat. It’s actually a tough season for tasting in…

the best razor clams: a cinnamon tinged country

 razor clams It’s pretty rare to see razor clams at a fishmonger. Even in France. So when I saw them in the central Market in Casablanca, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Look she has couteaux (razor clams)! Lets get some.” They hadn’t had any the day before. “We’ll take 12 couteaux.” Zoubida counted out loud…