Eating and drinking abroad and at home. Sometimes I get sick too.

Bars & pubs, Vietnam, Wine

Drink within your means

How much should you pay for wine? Or let’s put it this way: How much more than the cost of food should wine be? In Melbourne the cost of a main course in a restaurant is fast catching up with the cost of wine. If I’m feeling poor I may spend $40 to $50 on a bottle in a restaurant. Feeling rich and I may double the figure. To put this into context in the kinds of restaurants where I’m […]

Ingredients & produce, Restaurants, Travel, Vietnam

What are little boy bloggers made of? Frogs and snails (no puppy dog’s tails – yet)

France is best known for its frogs and snails. But the industrialisation and development of mass agriculture means you’d be lucky to find a French frog or snail in the shops nowadays. You’ll be eating the common or garden eastern European varieties. Or you could visit Vietnam. Pretty much everywhere has live frogs in the market either tied together or in a net. And snails roam fairly free too. I’m waiting for the night train to Hanoi in Lao Cai, […]


Baguette & Chocolat

We’re a short drive from the Chinese border. Chris, from Sydney, reckons Sa Pa reminds him of a French ski resort. And the more I think about it, he’s right. The hotels have that French chalet feel. Sa Pa is at 1650m, the base high of ski resorts like, um, Courchevel 1650. And then I woner up the road, up the steps with the water buffalo (see previous post) and enter Baquette & Chocolat ̣(đ Thac Bac). It is just […]


Slow train to rapacious Sa Pa

It’s 380km from Hanoi to Sa Pa near the Chinese border. The trains are as slow as trams making it an overnight trip in a sleeper to possibly the cloudiest place in Vietnam. We arrive in driving rain and hail. One travel guide tells us that the sun shines fro 60 days a year here. That’s right, for the remaining 300 odd days it’s cloudy. Somehow in six years this town has grown from only eight hotels to 233. There’s […]


Michelin and Vietnam

Well why wouldn’t there be a connection between Michelin and Vietnam? After all it was the French who colonised Indochina from 1883 to the 1950s. Ho Chi Minh – at the time just plain old Nguyễn Sinh Cun – trained as a pastry chef with Escoffier in the Carlton Hotel in London. Later he moved to Paris and founded the French Communist Party. And it was the French who trained the Vietnamese to make wonderful baguettes, paté and coffee (believe […]

Restaurants, Travel

Eating on fried fish street

Stay in the old quarter in Hanoi. Learn to love the congestion, the buzz and honking of motor scooters. Ah, and the smells. Two stroke, food and incense. This is the place where the action is. Life is lived and transacted on the street or at least without leaving the motorcycle saddle. It is a place where street names have a meaning. Hang Gad is chicken, Hang Hahn is onion. Hang Ruoi is clam worms. And the stretch between Hang […]

Food blogs, Restaurants, Travel

My first Pho: Hanoi

Well, not strictly my first but my first in Vietnam and for breakfast. It’s hot and humid and we’re about to be killed by several hundred motocycles bearing down on us at a crossroads. Somehow we make it over and land at the Little Hanoi 1 (25 Pho Ta Hien 926 0168) restaurant, recomended by Lonely Planet. And this is why we are to dump Lonely Planet because it was stuffed full of people – all Wasps – who had […]


Three hours in Singapore

Always do your research. I spent three hours exploring every dark corner of the airport. Head for Terminal One with your swimmers. There’s an open air swimming pool and bar, the perfect antidote to eight hours in a plane. Sadly I ddn’t have my swimmers so also discoverd the cactus garden (the outdoor smoking area) and cinema.

Travel, Wine

Should I buy wine at the airport (at double the price)?

Hmmmm…should I even contemplate buying wine in Singapore airport. A couple of Batard Montrachets at about S$230…plenty of Petrus…the usual posh but sadly overpriced stuff. Take the excellent grapefruity Shaw & Smith M3 2004 Chardonnay which in Australia costs about A$38 (about S$48). In the airport it costs S$69. What the hell is happening? I was under the misconception that stuff was meant to be cheaper in duty free. And by the way, why such a clichéd selection of wines […]