Back from Vietnam.

I’d been wanting to visit Vietnam ever since going on a food tour of Victoria Street, Melbourne 20 years ago where I discovered restaurants with rice paper rolls (goi cuon), fish sauce (nuoc mam) and the delicious noodle soup pho. I was not disappointed with our trip to northern Vietnam last week!

My mother-in-law joined us in Hanoi and we went north-east to Cat Ba  from where we took a boat for 3 glorious days around Halong Bay with kayaking, sightseeing, swimming, and for me mostly lounging on the boat deck reading while the kids were being entertained by their Mamie…(more about the book I read to come…)

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We then headed to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Here there were far more scooters than in Shanghai and it was more difficult to cross the street as there were no traffic lights!(except for on the main roads)

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In Hanoi all of the buildings were very narrow as property tax is based on the width of the building.

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Then we headed south-west to a little village near Mai Chau in amongst rice paddies and sugar cane plantations.

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There was a monsoon that hit the rice fields a few days before our arrival and the farmers were busy tying the flattened stems to stakes.

The people we met were so friendly, courteous and smiling 🙂

We stopped en-route to take in the views and to try some sticky rice in bamboo that was roasted on a fire and then served with ground sesame seeds, peanuts and salt.

This post would not be complete without a virtual taste of some delectable dishes:

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Bo Bun – cold noodles with beef and herbs served with nuoc cham (water, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, palm sugar, lemon grass, chilli and garlic).

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Banh Cuon – steamed rice ‘pancake’/noodles filled with meat and mushroom filling, sprinkled with fried shallots and peanuts and served with nuoc cham.

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Cooking the banh cuon.

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Hanoi’s famous and absolutely delicious Bun Cha – cold rice noodles with grilled pork, herbs and …… nuoc cham! This is usually eaten at lunchtime but on our very last evening I was able to source some of it and it turned out to be the best dish of the trip

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Not sure what these are called but it’s some kind of meat wrapped in bettel leaves then grilled. (check out those dirty finger nails!)

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Ahhhhh pho served with banana flowers, herbs and a squeeze of lime.

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THE common element in all of these dishes is the use of DELICOUS fresh herbs – without which you’d simply be eating rice, meat and…..nuoc cham!

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