ceF in vietnam – part 1

October 15th, 2010 · 32 Comments


see this? i like this… i like this so much that i had 3 of them. in a row. on a cathay pacific first class flight to hong kong. on my way to vietnam.

oh. wait. have i not told you? 

i just got to saigon this morning. i made a decision about a month ago that i needed to do this – and that i needed to go as soon as i could. ever since hearing bourdain go on and on about this country, i’ve felt drawn here. i’ve never had much of a desire to go to asia in the past. i’ve always been the europe girl. give me italy, spain, france (in that order)… over and over, and i am pretty damn content. but suddenly it was vietnam. i had to go and now i am here. and if you’re even the least bit surprised, well you’ve just no idea… 

part display, part mise en place at the outdoor restaurant where i dined streetside.

so i’ve not been in touch for awhile (again) even after saying that i would be more diligent about posting. i mean, trust me when i tell you that there is no shortage of very fine restaurant dinners in my life and then there’s michael and me in the kitchen which is not too shabby in the least. i’ve had more than enough material to perhaps even wow you on occasion. just the night before i took off, i started dinner and then michael came home and we bounced a few ideas off each other and came up with the most remarkable dish. seared lamb over fregola with roasted and crisped kale, garlic and zest, deglazed with fresh chopped tomatoes, that was so nuanced we were giddy. cooking with that man is so much damn fun… among other things.

but listen, honestly, all those empty declarations of how i vowed to post regularly were nothing more than good intentions gone awry. and you must know that i really want to share this experience with you. because i’m here for at least 5 weeks and i’m on my own and well, you can be my traveling companion – in a way, except that you won’t be picking up any checks… which is too bad because if you were to ever take me to a fabulous dinner, saigon would be the place to do it. the food is so damn fine and it’s all on the cheap. 

dinner was to be light. after being plowed with (good not great) dim sum, lobster, duck and congee and whatever else my heart seemingly desired on all the flights, i hadn’t much of an appetitie. but i wanted to go to the night markets and so off i went, into the frenetic energy that is saigon. i took it to the streets dodging the scooters and cabs with the aplomb of a local and made my way past the 5 star hotels and the likes of louis vuitton, until it got just a bit earthier. in vietnam, you don’t have to go too far for everything to get really real.

this plate of clams in a lemon grass broth cost me $1.50. and it was stunningly good…

coconut water and beer on ice. 

i bought some durian and ate it sitting in a park, knowing i couldn’t bring it back to the hotel. it was incredibly good and nothing like the frozen ones i’ve tried in the states. if i may say, the follow up burps were a bit funky – but worth it.

ok, i’ve hit the wall and am literally falling asleep at my computer. it’s after 1am and tomorrow i’m shopping and then cooking lunch… i don’t think i’m jet lagged, it’s more like i’m really disoriented AND i’m a 49 year old woman. for example, i was so sure that tonight was thursday but i was informed under no uncertain terms that it is in fact friday night. which means i’ve been in the same clothes for 48 hours. no lie.

clean clothes or not, i’m here and it’s exactly where i need to be. 

Tags: asian · travel

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