Some of you may know I own the domain www.noodlepie.com which for the time being simply points to the blog at typepad: http://noodlepie.typepad.com/ Somehow some mindless prick, or prick collective, has managed to hijack the domain for email purposes and is spamming people using noodlepie.com addresses. I’ve notified the company I registered the name with and Typepad and I hope to get the spamming stopped asap. Meanwhile, if you’re the recipient of ANY email coming with a noodlepie.com address, I do apologise, but rest assured it’s absolutely not coming from me. If any techies out there have any tips on how to deal with this, please email me or drop a comment.
Archives for December 2004
Just a note for those who have emailed etc. during and after the horrific Tsunami that struck South/SE Asia and Africa on Boxing Day. In the end we decided to visit Phu Quoc Island for Christmas and the Toad’s first birthday. The Thai island of Khao Lak, now devastated, was briefly in the offing but we have guests over from Tokyo who wanted to stay in Vietnam. Very fortunately for us, this end of SE Asia missed the Tsunami completely.
Had no outisde contact with the world apart from SMS for about a week and therefore had no idea of the full extent of the destruction until we turned on the BBC upon our recent return to Saigon. We’re all very stunned and concerned for friends from the British Council who went to Unawattuna, Sri Lanka and others who may be in the Thai islands.
The South-East Asia Earthquake And Tsunami Blog is the place for ongoing updates and info. on how you can help. Pundit Guy has terrifying video coverage from tourists showing the arrival of the wall of water. Earnest’s livejournal gives the human story (both via Buzzmachine). Brandon’s Trip Journal does much the same about his experience on Koh Phi Phi. The Guardian rounds up some other blogger experiences. Noodlepie will be back in 2005.
Jimmy Pham, Project Director for the KOTO streetkids scoffhouse in Hanoi has a special Christmas message for all Noodlepie readers and a tip for that last minute ethical pressie,
"The fantastic Christmas news is that we have now reached $40,000 – the halfway mark in our "Build a New Home for KOTO" appeal. That is a tremendous achievement. Brick sales have played a major part, alongside our recent Ba Vi charity bike ride and a number of other events both in Vietnam and Australia.
"However, while we have reached this halfway mark we are also aware that we are halfway through the time available to find our overall total. We cannot allow ourselves to relax for a second. We need to maintain this momentum and show our desire to build a new KOTO that will be central to the future development of hundreds of young disadvantaged and street youth – just as the existing site has played such a major role in the lives of so many KOTO Graduates.
"We would like to wish all Noodlepiers a very Merry Christmas on behalf of everyone at KOTO. Please, if you’re gripped by festive spirit and would like to contribute to an organisation where your money will make a huge difference then go to Streetvoices and download a form a buy a brick at the brand new KOTO. Thank-you so much for your help. Here’s wishing you (and us) a fantastic 2005."
Three desserts from the previous post. Made of what? ‘n’ what they called, huh? Not the faintest here, if you’re on your hols, have a big one. We will.
This is one of two stalls flogging Che (Sweet desserts) and tipples on the local market. From her front of house scoffstall, with its array of large stainless steel bowls, she does a very brisk takeaway trade. To her right she has a selection of pre-prepared bags. The white ones are sweetened coconut milk, the black chaps are Nuoc dau den (Black bean juice). She also has bags of Che ready to go. What’s handy with stalls like this is you can order what you want and go scoff someplace else (say, the Bun thit nuong stall for example) and she’ll deliver the goods to you.
We’ve ploughed a path though several other Vietnamese streets drinks over the months and I’ve tried many more non-blogged ones, but I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that this is the first time I’ve ever tried the excellent Nuoc dau den. From what I can gather it’s just black bean juice, water and sugar. Earthy, refreshing and a thirst slakin’ must try, I’d say. And at 1000VD for each healthy slug, you’d be a fool not to. I lurvvve my Mia da and Rau ma, but this is a great new addition to the hot weather slurp list. I’ll certainly be back for more of this.
The 2004 Food Blog Awards swing into the final stretch over at The Accidental Hedonist. Noodlepie is still in with a shout, but I’ll be placing my votes elsewhere shortly. Voting will be closed at midnight, Dec 31st, PST. Good luck to all you bloggers out there and if you like reading food blogs, you might take wanna take the time to vote.
UPDATE: I just voted (and no, not for Noodlepie – very uncool) and was very surprised to see that we’re not only in the running for "City blog" (Rock on…), but also for ‘Overall Food Blog’… OK – we’re way cool, but best OVERALL… nah… come on… Vote for someone who knows what they’re talking about, puleazzze…
When is a hotdog not a hotdog? When it’s a croque monsieur shaped sweet coconut cake filled with cream cheese and shoved in a Breville toasted sandwich maker at 130 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in District 3. Hotdog my arse. This couple have been serving their bizarre after dark snack from this mobile stall for the last three years. There are five fillings to choose from, Hotdog banh pho mai is cheese. Laughing Cow have had a monopoly of cream cheese in Vietnam since the year dot and it sounded like the safest bet to me.
‘Hotdogs’ go for for 2000VD a throw. If the idea of sugary, coconut cake stuffed with cream cheese gets you off, be my guest. You’re welcome to it. It’s odd, but crap odd.
This seller struts her sweet tray through the local market, down the many nearby narrow alleys and along the main thoroughfare on a daily basis. We catch up with her mid-market between the bras and the broccoli. She’s trying to squeeze past the usual glut of lazy, lard-arsed, shoppers astride their motorbikes, engines on, smoke puffing at the low level stalls full in the faces of the breakfast crew.
As you can probably tell from the photos, she’s not the cheeriest of
sellers. Her sales banter is non-existent. She prefers to let the
snacks speak for themselves through her mobile glass
cabinet. Decent display of buns, banana cakes and coconut sundries. I’m reliably told that many a street seller hawking these kinda wares gets their supply from a small cake factory outlet at wholesale prices. Wherever she gets them from, or even if she makes them herself, they look and taste way better that the ones you get in some of the larger bakeries in town. Those are tasteless at best, inedible at worst.
Feeling flush, I splash out on a single Banh gui (Rice flour
cake stuffed with coconut) for 1000VD. My experience in Korea taught me
rice cakes were to avoided – bland and crap is being way too polite. But, Vietnam is different and southerners are notorious sugar fiends. These greenies seem to be a popular purchase with shoppers. I see three people getting stuck in and one buyer was straight in after I cough up the sobs for this. I understand the green exterior of a Banh gui is made of nep, a hard short grain rice often used to make rice alcohol, which is worked into a paste and then coloured with… ummm… something green. They look scofftacular.
Under the hood we have sweetened, dessicated coconut. The green mulchy rice cake blob is a yummy gum workout and the sugary, flaky filling crumbles upon scoffing, flooding your gob with mucho coconuto. It’s really rather good, not heavy at all.
I’ll definitely keep a look out for this lady whenever she’s playing a gig down the local market. Her cakes certainly rock, next time I’ll check out her buns.
Continuing our mini-series from the local market, today finds us masticating at the meat stall. This seller flogs Bun thit nuong (Grilled meat and cold noodles) from an L-shaped table top stall dumped outside her front door and next to the Hot toc (hairdresser). A curtain of carcass smoke choking a trail across the upper section of the market is what first drew my attention to this stall. Of all the sellers down the local market she’s the friendliest. Although I’ll admit, she’s the one who does the nattering, I just frown confusion.
The nursery school seating helps make it a popular hang with the
street’s old lady mafia. A six foot tall honky isn’t exactly a snug fit
in these surroundings, but I try to blend in… As with probably every local stall at every local market in Vietnam, it’s not just the food that’s the draw, everyone’s here for a gas and a gossip. The mobile Xoi seller who plies her morning trade up and down this alley is a regular squatter here. I digress… on to the food. In the two-tiered glass case above, we have ‘the goods’. Top left is banana flower, next door some ready-wrapped rolls (more of which in a minute), then comes cooked, skewered pork meat kebabs and some very dainty cha gio. Sauces, condiments and debris and stored down below. Her ‘kitchen’ is a low level barbie she prods on her left hand side.
Above we have some fresh meat beginning their journey deep into the heart of char-town.
And these fine looking specimens are fresh outta the fire. I don’t know about you, but meat has rarely looked more tempting than that flagrant display above. Now, there are a couple of options ahead of you. You can make a rice paper roll filled with meat, lettuce, cucumber, basil, bun (cold vermicelli noodles) and banana flower. Or you can go for the full Bun thit nuong-monty i.e. same as a rice paper wrap, but more of it and whacked on a plate rather than rolled up, i.e. something like this. You can also skirt the meat (Why the hell you’d wanna do that, I don’t know…) and shove a cha gio in the rice paper instead and then add all the usual trimmings, wrap, dip and scoff.
On this visit I’m in snack mode and plump for a couple of meat-filled rolls and a paltry one cha gio. The dip is a nuoc mam (fish sauce) firey chili fiend. If you’re no vindaloo afficiando, approach this bowl with a degree of caution. This seller seems to fob off the ready-wrapped numbers in her glass cabinet to the mang di ve (takeaway) crowd. However, pull up a pew and she’ll make sure you get a pipin’ fresh slab of meat in your roll which she’ll also wrap up for you if, like me, your rolling technique is less than good. Her rolls are a herby, carnivorous hit, her cha gio a bit of a limp, cold miss. 8-10,000VD depending on what, and how much, you scoff.