Category: Travel

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


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 […]


Destination Vietnam. Tips wanted.

On the spur of the moment I’ve booked 17 days in Vietnam. I’ve got the Lonely Planet guidebook but seeing as the writers don’t actually get to stay or eat in 90 per cent of the places they write about I’d love some inside tips on places to stay and eat and even cooking classes. We are travelling by train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. We might get up to the Chinese border. Perhaps we’ll even bump into […]

Restaurants, Travel, Wine

Stone-faced blogger turns to buttery rolls

Click on thumbnail for full-sized image I have never really felt the need to sport Medusa on clothing, although she once featured on my fly buttons. Saying that I don’t need to turn women to stone to keep away from my fly. It just sorta happens without trying. I’m really a low key Paul Smith sort of a guy. But he doesn’t have a luxury hotel on Australia’s Gold Coast. Donatella Versace does; the world’s first Palazzo Versace resort opened […]

Cooking, Ingredients & produce, Travel

Christmas in Paradise

Sometimes I pine for a white Christmas. We snuggled in front of my mother’s 900 year old fireplace (big enough to park a cart horse) while roasting chestnuts. Or if the parents were at church toasting crumpets between the buttocks of a younger child. Now, however, I’m in Australia. To be precise bang smack in the middle of Surfers Paradise. It’s going to be 35 degrees and reminds me why I don’t want to have to dress up as Santa […]