To make up for not being able to do anything much for the past week Doan and I arranged to meet at the restaurant at 1pm today to go shopping for the ingredients to have a go at making our own RTR icing. I caught the 41 bus and even got a seat...but immersed in my book I missed my stop! The next thing I was completely lost...eventually I found where I was on the map...miles away from my goal! But the wonderful thing about Hanoi buses is that the fare is the same no matter how far you go and eventually it will stop and return the way it came. So I did the only thing I could, dug in - paid another fare and made my way back to where I needed to be. Slightly late, but with a better appreciation of Hanoi's geography, I eventually arrived to meet Doan after his shift at the Koto restaurant.
I usually buy RTR icing in the supermarket in Oz so had never had to make it from scratch before. The recipe I've been given calls for liquid glucose, glycerin, gelatine, icing sugar and cornflour. I was having real problems finding liquid glucose till Tracy Lister at the Hanoi Cooking Center advised me to chat with her chef; Mr Hung. What a gem, he not only gave me the recipe for the icing but told me on which of the myriad of streets in the old quarter I could find the ingredients.
To cut a long story short we went on a liquid glucose hunt today and came back triumphant! Once we found our bits and pieces we repaired back to the training center and had a go at making the icing...sadly I had forgotten my recipe book so had to try to remember the quantities. It was a bit moist so I think I misjudged a bit...but I'm sure I can fix it tomorrow. While we were there the center's repairman came rushing in to us to tell us that he had fixed the oven - the unfixable oven that it - he asked me to try setting the thermostat. I did but sadly something went wrong and it wouldn't work. We returned sadly to our icing and worked to the sound of the repeated beeping that indicated that he was continuing to work on it. By the time we had finished he was once again confident that he'd managed to fix it. We set the temperature and pressed 'start'...and it worked!!! We were all exultant, well, I was and the others were pretty pleased. I asked Doan to ask him how he'd done it and he explained that he'd used a bit scavenged from a DVD player! Talk about resourceful! So my fingers, toes and eyes are firmly crossed that it will still be working tomorrow morning when I have to bake two New York cheesecakes for the lovely Ms Tsumi the ikebana teacher.
After we finished our work and stored our smooth, white but slightly soft RTR away I got a text from Tracy. 'Gluwein at the Cooking Center'. That sounded like a plan. It's a short walk from my hometel to the Center and I was there before long. Unfortunately Tracy had finished for the day but her lovely staff invited me into the kitchen to chat while I sipped my warm, spicy brew. Her chef; Mr Hung is a great character, he's worked on cruise liners before starting with Tracy and is very passionate about improving his craft. The atmosphere in the kitchen was fantastic with lots of good natured ribbing going on amongst the staff...it quite took me back to my days at the Ellerslie Racecourse where my old mate Paul used to give me hell - in the nicest possible way! Mr Hung has invited me to go to his home during Tet to meet his wife and baby and have a session playing with the RTR. I'll take my colors and cutters and we will make all sorts of fun things...I do love to play with my food!
On the way home I stopped off at my favorite Bi Tet place to have another pepper steak sandwich. The two waitresses were lovely and chatty tonight, asking me my name, my age, whether I was married and where I was from. These sorts of quite personal questions are commonly asked here and no-one takes offense. Hung and Lyn were just delightful and so was my meal. I've photographed it for you...not the most exotic but very, very tasty.
|All this for just $4...not bad eh?|