Friday, March 26, 2010

Vietnam Redux

Wonderful places deserve to be visited again and again. And so, with that in mind Tony returns to his favorite place in the world: Vietnam. We all have a spot on this earth that we feel is our own. A place that we feel welcome and comfortable as well as intrigued by. Mine is both Paris and the Loire Valley, but Tony has always held Vietnam as "A place of peaks and valleys and mist and spirits." - very poetic coming from Mr. Bourdain.

This time around Tony finds himself in the always moving city of Hanoi as well as the Central Highlands. Once again with his friend and former sidekick Linh in Da Lat, the two take on one of Tony's favorites and the regional specialty. Duck. Opening onto the street (with a single light bulb) they visit a restaurant with a  menu that looks AMAZING - a crispy rice cake topped with a spicy cole-slaw type salad and boiled duck and rice porridge made with duck liver and blood.

Next the two visit Vietnam's Last Emperor: Bao Dai's hunting lodge in the mountains and we get themselves a little Vietnamese history lesson along the way.

You and I both know that Tony and vegetarians is not an equation that has a sum. So when Tony visits the Linh Phong Monastery Pagoda where over 30 women live and worship together, you can be assured that he throws around a few one-liners about his love for meat. I'm guessing that it doesn't go over all that well since. they don't eat meat because they do not believe in killing anything, including animals. To Tony's surprise, he actually finds that the dishes are quite tasty (and spicy too).

There's nothing like hanging out with the locals, and what can be MORE local in Vietnam than a favorite dining spot for motorbike taxi drivers?  Tony and Linh get there nice and early in order to have some off the house specialties, like wild boar and Java-Mouse deer..(rodents - what can I say). Tony's not biting, but fortunately for we viewers,  Linh figures out a way to trick him into it.
Hanoi is next on the itinerary. This is a fast paced city, filled with motorbikes and young people. First stop -a No Name Restaurant. Wait until you see what the specialty of the house is (hint - I use sprays and traps to keep these out of the mansion). Just take a look at that video clip and that'll be ENOUGH for you (it was for me).

Of course, nothing says a good time when Tony's involved that some heavy drinking. Yes indeed, some rice wine and cock fighting - maybe I'll give up the Charity Ball and join Tony and his friends. By the way, this isn't your ORDINARY wine -  it's alcohol content is 48%. (can you say HEADACHE??).

Hey, you know where I'll be on  Monday, March 29th, at 10 E/P. 
Except I think I'll be drinking something a little tamer and other than LOBSTER (that looks like a big bug), there will be NO bugs allowed on my plate.


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