Vietnam: Cat Ba Harbour

We ended up on Cat Ba Island in the middle of winter. What is apparently a bustling picture of rock climbing, hiking, water sports and partying in summer is nothing but a sleepy fishing village in February. Even the ever-present touts had disappeared for the season. Not that any of this is a bad thing, the town has a beautiful outlook over a bay, a working harbour and a busy market. I’m not even sure if I’d like to go back in the high season there was an odd juxtaposition of construction and decay that didn’t quite sit right. Not that the fishermen appeared to notice, they were just going about their business.

 

My Picks of Pinot Palooza

The weekend before last marked the first Pinot Palooza. One of the best ways to spend an afternoon that I could think of: tasting a great cross section of Pinot from across Australia and New Zealand. The guys at The Wine Guide did a brilliant job of bringing it all together, complete with ridiculously loud playing of Gangnam Style and #realperoni in the hands of all of the producers.

We took a bit of a scatter gun approach to the tasting, tasting a few producers whom I’ve not previously tasted (had been looking forward to tasting Bannockburn’s wine for a while), a few randoms and a few old favourites.

Overall I would say that the standing of Australasian Pinot is top notch. Young Pinot vines can sometimes produce a thin, slightly insipid wine which struggles for depth and balance. This is often the kind of Pinot that’s cheaper, but not worth the price of the glass.  I can safely say, I didn’t taste a single wine like this. In fact, some of the cheaper wines really held their own.

The following are the photos I snapped of my standout wines. I seemed to have missed taking a photo of what was my favourite wine of the day, the Valli Gibbston Valley 2010.

ProvenanceOakdene 20102012-10-21 17.34.17Martinborough Vineyard 2010Devil's Corner 2011DalrympleJosef Chromy 2010Maude 2010GaragistePort Phillip Estate

 

Vietnam: Hà Nội

We spent quite a bit of time in Hà Nội, it’s a great place. It has equal parts, cosmopolitan, hustle, bustle, backpackers, in-your-face-asia, beauty and grace. (Yes I did just use grace to describe a city.) The food on the streets is great, and the people while not super friendly aren’t too pushy or agressive. The old-quarter Hoàn Kiếm, is a rabbit-warren of windy, claustrophobic streets, extensive shops and street merchants by the dozen. It’s easy to spend a huge amount of time lost in it all, and it’s time well spent. Here’s the first batch of photos from this amazing city.

 

Vietnam Photos: Huế

One of my favourite places in Vietnam was the ancient capital of Huế. The city itself is dominated by a vast ancient citadel complete with watch houses, walls and a moat. Within the walls of the citadel is the old palace which although it was damaged in the war a great deal of the buildings still stand.

One of my most enjoyable meals in Vietnam was in Huế when a few lotto ticket selling ladies and street vendors took me under their wing. Without speaking any shared language, snails and tea were forced upon me.

 

Vietnam Photos: Sa Pa

I haven’t written in a long time. So, in the interest of getting some mojo back I’m going to get into my Vietnam photos and share some. Today it’s photos from the the mountain region of Sa Pa.

It’s an amazing place with a very laid back alpine vibe, with endless stairs of rice terraces in the surrounding valleys. The region is also home to a great deal of marginalised hill tribes who are wily traders and merchants who speak brilliant English and use some of the most subtle sales techniques to get you to purchase their textiles and jewelry.

We took the overnight train there and through poor planning were only able to stay one night. It was a brilliant night with great hospitality from the staff at Sapa Rooms who made some of the best coffee western style coffee we had in Vietnam.

Sapa Rice TerraceSapa Rice Terrace VillageSapa Cherry Blossom

 

Hanoi Pho

I want to talk a little bit about Pho and what it actually is. My impression before coming to Vietnam was that it was the soup dish involving rice noodles, a dark stock and sliced beef. It isn’t. Pho is actually just fresh rice noodles. The dish itself comes in a variety of different forms. Pho Bo, the aforementioned beef noodle soup; Pho Ca, similar to the beef soup but made with fish; Pho Tiu which is similar to a pad thai, with roast pork, peanuts and bean shoots.

Pho Tiu

It’s mainly eaten for breakfast or lunch and is ridiculously inexpensive 1-2USD. It’s also available in abundance, a store on every footpath on every street and boy have I eaten a lot of it.

#mEatDrinkBlog – Valentines Day Edition

It’s been a long time between drinks, but we are finally there. The next #mEatDrinkBlog will be a PotLuck dinner held at the lovely co-working space of Inspire 9 on, the 14th February.

What to bring?

It’s a potluck, so bring your favourite potluck dish, whether that’s a curry, a salad or a heart-shaped pavlova and we’ll all feast on a bit of this and a bit of that. Also, feel free to bring a bottle of wine, a six pack of beer or a Big Lebowski style White Russian kit.

As far as cooking implements go, there are a couple of gas cookers and a microwave but no oven and not too many pots and pans. Best bet is to bring your food in a stove-top casserole dish or something of the sort. If you are unsure, just drop me a line and I’ll be able to give some guidance.


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Who’s invited?

Anyone and everyone who’s interested in food and food blogging/writing. We are a friendly bunch so feel free to bring a friend.

When?

7:00pm, 14th February.

Where?

Inspire 9. Level 1, 43 Stewart St. Richmond. It’s right next to the Richmond Train station. So take a tram down Swan St, or a train to Richmond station.

Talks.

We haven’t really had a definite yay, or nay about having talks. i9 is a great spot for something or other, so if you are interested in giving us a talk about something, please let me know.

RSVP.

RSVP in the comments here or email me at michael+meatdrinkblog@wakeless.net just so we have some idea of numbers.