Sunday, July 31, 2011

Steamed Prawns In Coconut Juice

Steamed Prawns in Coconut juice

I think seafood a pretty popular choice for the most of the world's population. And for me prawns are the most special as we can cook it in so many ways. I usually cook seafood according to my best friend's recommendations; her family owns a well-known seafood restaurant in Nha Trang called Gio ("Wind") at 86 Tran Phu Street.

Steamed Prawns in Coconut juice

Yesterday, after a morning street food tour with my clients, I stopped by my regular seafood shop at the Nghi Tam market to buy some prawns for dinner. I decided to cook steamed prawns with coconut juice for dinner. This is one of my favorite dish and not very difficult to make, only needing a few minutes to cook. I got the recipe from my friend in Nha Trang. Let me know what you think.
Ingredients: Coconut juice, prawns, garlic
Boil the coconut juice, add the garlic (lightly mashed) and prawns for about 7 minutes.
Serve it with mixed salt, pepper, chili and lemon.
Don't forget to have a glass of white wine or beer when you enjoy this delicious and healthy prawn dish.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nha Trang - Wedding

Huyen's wedding

I went back to Nha Trang to attend my cousin Huyen's wedding. that was the main purpose and the other reason was to take my mother, sister and my niece on a short trip to visit Siem Riep. I'm always happy to be at home with my family and also to visit old friends.

Phong - Thao - Huyen - Van

I have been to so many weddings before, mostly in the north and they are celebrated differently compared to the south. Anyhow, I like to see the ceremony of gift giving between the parents to their children and their relatives as well. Everyone loves posing for photos and sometimes I had to be patient as it takes a little while just putting the earings or necklace on the bride.

Huyen's wedding

In the evening, everyone went to the hotel reception centre for dinner and the main wedding celebration including opening champagne and cuting the 5 storey cake. There was entertainment on the stage while people were eating and the MC also asked if anyone would like to come up to the stage and sing a song to congratulate the young couple. My nephews from Lam Dong and Hanoi came up and sang 3 songs, even Huyen's father - Mr Hop came up and sang 2 songs. It was so funny !!!!


The wedding was very well organized by the reception centre though the entertainment was a bit over the top at times. They served very delicious food and the staff were really helpful. Everyone had a great time at the wedding and we finished at 9pm. While the other guests went home, my mother, my sister, my niece and I went to the railway station to catch a late night train to Saigon before the morning flight to Siem Riep. More on that later.
Congratulations to Huyen and Tuan, all the best for your future happiness.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Ayuthaya - Bangkok

On the trip to Bangkok last year with Mum, we stayed at the Vista Residence Bangkok. This is kind of a boutique hotel, small, great food and extremely friendly. The receptionist is the hotel owner's daughter who had been studied hospitality in Switzerland so she's fluent in English and basically she knows how to manage a hotel very well. After the political problems last year, the hotel gave a great promotion for accommodation such as stay 1 night get 1 night free and Internet and breakfast which was great for us as we were staying in Bangkok for 4 nights. The hotel is located about 200 meters away from the National Stadium and the sky train station is nearby which was pretty convenient. We used the skytrain everyday to go to the shopping centres and different places around Bangkok. One of the other highlight of the hotel was the food as the chef served delicious food with nice presentation.

Pork laap

Following the recommendation of the hotel staff, we took the skytrain to Chit Lom, one of the biggest shopping centers in Bangkok which seemed to be having lots of sales. We wandered around the center for about 2 hours and I bought a tennis bag, tennis shoes and my family bought too much stuff to mention. There were so many sales but unfortunately they are still more expensive compared to Hanoi especially sport stuff.

Minh - Ly - Mum - WAT SAKET

The next day, we hired a taxi to the floating market and on the way back we visited the King's Palace. My family had a great day and a funny thing happened involving my sister trying to pay for a postcard. She wanted to pay for 1 more postcard but her English is limited and they had a very funny argument which we were laughing out loud about on the way back to the hotel. My sister said "More One" instead of "One More" and the seller didn't understand.

Ayuthaya - Bangkok

During our stay, we also visited some pagodas, markets and night life in Bangkok. We all loved the foot massages and we had one almost every night after the long days discovering Bangkok.

Pancake - Floating market - Bangkok

My family enjoyed Bangkok very much especially my mum. She particularly loved the pagodas around Bangkok and the hotel staff. Thanks heaps to the hotel staff and the taxi driver who all treated us so well. Hopefully I'll see Bangkok again in the near future.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Photo Shoot

Arno and Anne

My friends Anne and Arno are leaving Vietnam for good after nearly 10 years here. They are moving to Bangladesh. I think it must have been truly hard for them to leave though. But life goes on and they are both still quite young and full of energy. I'm kind of sad and happy with their choice as I know it will be good for their careers.

Anne and Arno

Just before they left Hanoi, Anne mentioned something about doing a photo shoot around Hanoi, like the Vietnamese wedding studios do. For fun. So I offered to help them to make it happen as a gift.


On the Monday before they left, we mapped out a few locations around Hanoi and set off. Being summer, the lotus flowers were out so we thought that could be the theme of the photo shoot. They would look brilliant in the photos. We took shots around the West Lake lotus ponds and on the bamboo boat and in amongst the lotus petals being harvested to flavour tea. I coached Anne a bit to act it up and in the end she was so great. I was really impressed.


After that, we went to the road where many of Hanoi's flower sellers set up shop and we made sure to get the crazy traffic in the background. Because she's been living here so long, Anne wasn't scared at all standing in the middle of the road. She momentarily became a professional super model. We were having such fun!


Before moving on to Hoan Kiem Lake, we stopped at Anne's favorite pagoda in town. Unfortunately it was closed but we spent some time outside the pagoda and the pictures worked out very well. Anyway, we stopped at Hoan Kiem Lake for about 30 minutes to take some shots of the old gate then moved up to the Huc Bridge where most young Vietnamese take their pre- wedding photos.

Anne and ArnoWe had such a great, fun day and the photos turned out very well. We wish you luck in Bangladesh. I very much appreciated your compan over the past years and keep in touch.

Thursday, July 21, 2011



For the 3 weeks in October last year discovering Italy by car, ferry, bus and train, I had just an amazing time. I didn't need to force myself to love anything. My love for the great food, the wine and the people was automatic and unconditional.


You would think it would be a very easy question to answer if someone asked me about my favorite place in Italy but it's very hard to answer indeed. Venice, Milan, Rome, Florence, Bari, Salerno or Naples are all incredible places as they are all really beautiful and each of them offers a different perspective.


To be honest, I'm not a big fan of coffee and in Vietnam, I usually drink coffee with lots of condensed milk. One day during our time in Rome, I refused to use the public toilet at the railway station because they were charging 1.5 euro. I walked across the road to use the toilet in a cafe and had the best espresso (and a pee) for only 0.80 euro. From that day, I started to drink espresso every day and sometimes I had quite a few.


A funny story I can recall related to the squid pasta I ordered in Venice. During the meal, my friends were laughing at me and I wondered why. I went to the bathroom and I was shocked to see I had a very black mouth. I decided I would never eat squid pasta anymore even though I actually loved it very much.


In Venice, I couldn't believe the restaurants served prosecco as the house wine. Along with the Spritz, a cocktail popular in the north of Italy, the prosecco was a special experience. I've never really been a sparkling wine drinker but now I'm converted. When we got back from Italy, I vistited the local wine shop and have had at least one in the fridge ever since.


I know it has taken me a long time to start blogging again. I hope I can write a few more posts about Italy while the memories are still fresh.