Part III // About eating Pho and getting to know Ho Chi Minh

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Vietnam: where to start.A country with a rocky past, one could call it history but after all this happened not that long ago. Whether it were the French, the Americans or other, they sure didn’t go down easy… Arriving in Hanoi, we were stunned with the beauty of it, the french architecture still lingers but they seem to have made it into their own Northern Capital. The City is bursting with life, streetfood and motorcycles. A very odd thing about Vietnam is… they eat on tiny chairs?! Not just one, every single chair in Hanoi is midget size.
Travelling to Hoi An a couple of days later, things kept on getting better. Danang isn’t pretty, unless you like a coastline with freshly built luxury hotels? Hoi An on the other hand was gorgeous, the old fisherman’s town has been kept more or less authentic. Markets full of fresh fish and delicious fruit & vegetables.
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City… Hanoi is “supposed” to be the capital of Vietnam. This is where you see (my humble opinion) the traces History left, communism was very much alive in Hanoi- the North, a little truck filled with 6 police officers came to close Bars at 24H, communist songs on speakers at 6. Ho Chi Minh, the former democratic South. on the other hand again a beautiful city but without comparison to Hanoi. Skyscrapers,Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels and other Western influences.

What to do in Vietnam:

North:

  • Visit Halong Bay, absolutely stunning.
  • Follow a Cooking Class at Orchid Restaurant in Hanoi (recipes follow when I’m back in the kitchen)
  • The old Bridge
  • Visit the markets, more authentic than their southern fellows.

Danang & Hoi An

  • Ride the Hai Van Mountain Pass by Scooter (ok, Mathias was right… )
  • On the road to Hai Van there is the statue of The Godess of Mercy, very impressive.
  • Take a walk in the old centre of Hoi An
  • Visit the Marble Coves, just outside Danang.
  • Try to escape the resorts and eat local food at a deserted Beach.
  • Best Pho is in Danang, don’t go looking for it on main roads.

Ho Chi Minh City

  • Visit the Independence Palace, better than the war rememnants museum
  • Have a drink in Apocalypse Now, watch and see how East & West meet 😉
  • Visit the old Journalist spot at the Rex Hotel

If I can give you 1 good advice,visit Vietnam NOW. Don’t waste any time, the authenticity still lingers but is slowly taken over by Western influences, again…

 

 

 

  Next Post: Singapore!

Marie & Mathias

 

Bangkok// Part I of a Culinary Journey

floating market

Here we are, Bangkok. The city that took our hearts away from the first Green Tea Latte we had upon arrival.
Sure, it’s busy (which is an understatement) but if there is one thing striking about this City… the smell.
You can smell food from the moment you step one foot on Thai soil. And that’s what Bangkok is all about: food.
To give you one example: “Plastic Bag Housewife”. A term that describes housewives in Bangkok. They simply never cook, why would you? Every step you take there’s a food cart, food stall ready to take you away with flavours you’ve never experienced.

I must say, at first I was a bit sceptic. Food carts,street dogs, the odd rat, hot temperatures and raw chicken. The nightmare of any HACCP inspector but it works, and how! 4 days later, ate Delicious food and not a single rumble in the stomach!
Flavours are extraodinary! There is one mystery: how do they get their meat so juicy and tender?

What to do when visiting Bangkok:

  • Bangrak Food Tour
  • Floating Market
  • Eat the real Peking duck in Chinatown
  • Visit Maeklong Train station
  • Feast away on the food carts/stalls!

Check whenspoonmeetspot on Instagram for the best experience of a market one could wish for..( sorry couldn’t upload the video)

Next stop Cambodia!

x

Legendary Lamb Stew // ChickPea Salad//

Lamb Stew

If you could serve me one dish every day, my grandma’s Lamb Stew would be it. Full delicious flavours, yum!
Although I’ve never been able to make it taste just like she does even with the exact recipe…
Isn’t that the most fascinating thing about cooking?
As I never managed to get the exact same taste, some adjustments were made into a more “oriental” version.
When making a stew, you will need parts of meat that melt in your mouth, meat close to the bone.
In this case cut up the parts of lamb shoulder.
Again, stews are very hard to screw up. You have plenty of time to add some wine// tomato puree etc. and you can make it the day upfront, the day after it tastes even better!

1 lamb shoulder, diced//  2 onions// 2 cloves of garlic// real butter//+ 500 gr Passata// 2 cups of dry white wine//
Coriander// 2 tsp of Curry Powder// Pepper+Salt// 2 tbsp of Tomato Puree// A pinch of Sugar//

Brown the meat in plenty of butter, add garlic and onions. Add white wine and all other ingredients. Leave for at least 1h on Medium heat. You will see when the sauce starts to thicken.

For the Chickpea salad:

Chickpeas// cucumber // Chopped Chili// Mint // Olive Oil// Pepper+ Salt// Crumbled Feta Cheese//

+
Tortillas on the grill

I can’t take compare this to my Gran’s legendary Lamb Stew, it’s different. But it has the same base 🙂

Enjoy with a glass of :

Chateau La Négly

Château La Négly- La Côte- €8.99 @Crombé

Enjoy!!

xxx
Marie

Think twice before buying a Watermelon

Watermelon Cocktail

Ecstatic I was to find a Watermelon the size of a football at € 1.67 in our local Supermarket last Sunday. I seemed to be the only one who discovered this bargain treasure. Not much longer at the Cash register truth came out, the lady weighed the melon ( no need to say that value for money was my motto so I spent some time making sure I had the biggest one available…) this resulted in +10€ worth of Melon and I got tired of it after 2 slices. Do you have that too? Some foods you literally cannot eat much of? So the melon has been sitting in our fridge for a couple of days now and I need to do something before the – don’t waste food- lecture comes up again.

So, Cocktails mes amies!

vodka// watermelon // apple // orange blossom water//

You need a juice extractor for this, throw in sliced watermelon together with 1 apple and finish off with a TINY splash of Orange Blossom Water & Vodka.

And the worst thing is… I still have half a watermelon left!

A Recovery Salad & The Greatest Bachelorette Weekend…

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Nothing better than a Healthy Colorful Salad after a pretty (understatement of the Year) heavy weekend, it was Sophie’s Bachelorette Party weekend. 10 girls, the cosiest Chalet in the mountains & drinks was all we needed!

In this salad don’t bother taking measuring cups or other, just chop some Swiss Chard, thank you Grandma! and mix this together with Radishes, Blueberries, crumbled Feta Cheese and a big splash of Olive Oil. Add some rock salt and coarse Black Pepper!

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No matching wine this time 😉 but I’m working on the next Recipe!!

x

Marie

“Hutsepot” new style.

 

Hutsepot

Hutsepot

Obama visited our tiny country, I got to meet up with my best friend finally, Buddy now sleeps upstairs, Mathias cooked and we had our first Bbq. Just a few things that went on lately. No misunderstanding, the monster which is our huge dog does not sleep on the bed (Good Lord, the hair is one thing let alone choking under his 50kg-110lbs weight).
And then there is Hutsepot, a classic dish in our climate disturbed country. My grandma makes the Best Hutsepot but let’s admit it … it looks like Baby’s vomit ( Not only my Gran’s, it just generally does…) as I’m starting to be Neurotic about presentationso I had to do something with it. Some friends asked me if I mind presentation while not-blogging, I don’t. I tend to apply the technique : when spoon meets plate in an effective manner :-).
This dish is made with the same ingredients as a true Hutsepot would be.  The Vitelotte potatoes are a delicacy and so is the price…don’t overdo them 😉

Here we go:

Steam a Savoy cabbage for 3 minutes and season.

Heat up your grill and add a thick slice of non-smoked Bacon.

Cook Celery root, mash, season, add cream and a pinch of Nutmeg.

Cook carrots, mash, add olive oil, season and some five spice.

Cook Vitelotte potatoes, mash, season.

Finish off with some steamed Brussels sprouts leaves and chopped ramps.
Do feel free to add a good spoon of Mustard and roll up like a Fajita, I can tell you… the flavours, Yum!!

 

A promise is a promise, the matching wine will follow 🙂

 

See you at the next Culinary adventure!

 

x Marie

 

 

Vitello Tonnato, a visit to Yellow and becoming a small town celebrity…

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Nowadays Yellow isn’t only a color but a Pop-up Bistro in Bruges run by *** Michelin Chefs Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens. Again a great opportunity to eat delicious food without having to sell one of my beloved organs…
We got all our friends excited and had a chance to book a table Sunday at 18.30.
Whether it were my very high expectations or temporary insanity but the experience wasn’t what I thought it would be.
Don’t worry my dear readers I am not becoming the culinary Anna Wintour.
The food was good, meat was cooked to perfection, delicious produce and the Menu was a mix of classical dishes with a twist.
My deception was maybe the concept of “Bistro” : food was served at an impressing speed, one could perceive this as incredible preparation skills and fantastic Teamwork and surely part of the Bistro idea but prices weren’t according to this concept.
Overall worth the experience especially the food which was delicious but by 20h we were done and preparation was made for their second shift.

Which leads us to our second item: Vitello Tonnato, the highlight of my evening! Thin slices of Sweetbread (I think) with a delcious caper & tuna sauce served with potato slices.
Today I serve you: Vitello Tonnato my way 🙂 Slices of crispy calf’s tongue, caper and tuna sauce and some Black Radish.
Recipe will appear later on.

Third item of the day: a small town celebrity! ( trust me being a celebrity would be as horrible as eating tinned food for the rest of my life)
Crombé wines has recently moved into a wine’s lover paradise and they were so kind to put When Spoon Meets Pot as a link on their new website! From now I present you matching wines with my dishes.
So with this cold starter we serve you:

***Centine 2013 (white wine) from Tuscany by Banti, a delicious blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes.
Full, sharp, round taste which I absolutely loved!

The recipe:

For the calf’s tongue:

Soak a calf’s tongue into cold salty water for 24h, rinse well and cook slowly for 90 minutes with
2 Stalks of Celery, 1 leek, 2 shallots, 1 bay leaf, 3 carrots and 3 cloves of garlic all coarsly chopped.
Add beef stock and season the water. After the meat is cooked leave to cool down.
Cut into very thin slices and bake in a very hot pan with olive oil, season.

For the Sauce:

Make a classic Mayo and add the juice of half a lemon ( I added a bit more) together with a can of tuna, 2 anchovies and 1/4 cup of capers. I sieved the sauces because the tuna gives it a “grainy” texture which I don’t appreciate.

Voilà! In my opinion the ideal starter again without the stress and the calf’s tongue is much juicier than calf’s meat.

Follow culinary & other adventures on Instagram!! When Spoon meets pot ofcourse 😉

x Marie

Facing the Storm.

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Let’s have a break from Studying and do what we like best…Cooking.
Winter isn’t what it used to be( I start to sound like my grandma) , instead of snow we have mild temperatures and a LOT of wind and rain.
I had to work at the Seaside and during my lunch break I was literally the only fool who went out. In Oostend you can get fresh fish from  where the ships come in. Almost on hands and feet I arrived ( because I couldn’t see through my glasses) only to discover that …everyone was gone. So I went to the fishmongers and received odd looks, it might have been my hair which started to look like a bird’s nest or the fact that I was walking around in the eye of the storm (I only discovered that later on 🙂 ).
Happy as a child with my fresh Crab legs, shells and fresh fish I continued work. Finished off and rushed home to start my new recipe and ofcourse I forgot my treasured fish at work.
I finally got to it and here it is:

Tiny clams with Thai flavoured Quinoa and Lime/Avocado cream:

Rinse the clams numerous times and cook them in a high pot with olive oil, chopped shallots and a splash of white wine.
Cover your pot, shake a few times and the clams are done when all are open.

Cook Quinoa according to package instructions and add chopped mint+cinlantro/coriander. Season well and add a good splash of olive oil. Good quality Bien sûr 🙂

For the Avocado cream, blend 2 avocado’s with the juice of 1 lime.

 

Voilà, very simple if you’re not facing a storm or have the memory of fish…

Bon Appetit!

 

 

Introducing the chapter: Cheese, wine and Napoleon

On days like today studying is fun. I’m starting to wonder when I started to loose my Brain Cells (No comment please, I did have them at some point in my life).
Do you remember in High School and University where you could learn stacks of study material and recollect that info easily the next day?
Those days are gone my dearest friends, I seem to remember only what I like and seem to have become very impatient.

So here is a new way of studying: Eat & Drink the Study Material!

Pomerol with Pont L'Eveque

Pomerol with Pont L’Eveque

* Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte was responsible for the downfall of Belgian wines?
Le Petit Coporal banned all vineyards out of pure frustration. The belgian wine plants were much higher than the french & italian types and due to his short stature he got lost in those vines on multiple/important occasions…

My apologies for this -not so creative post – I warn you: many more will follow.

See you at the next Chapter!

** The Napoleon Story is only half truth 😉 he simply banned our vineyards but who knows… maybe it was frustration!