a little bit of silliness....click on the picture to create a fly for it to eat....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sunday January 2nd.

Roast lamb with all the trimmings
Self portrait...silly but sometimes you just need to record the moment.
My pal Rosemary and I had quite a busy time of it this past weekend.  On Sunday I decided to have a roast lamb dinner at the Hanoi Cooking Center.  It was expensive but every now and then I  get the urge to eat something familiar.

Afterward Rosemary and I decided to combine a good walk with  trying to find out what kind of fabric we could find at the two big markets.  If you know me you will know that I'm geographically dyslexic...well, apparently so is Rosemary.  So it was with some trepidation that we set out armed with our (not always accurate map) but we managed not only to find our way but to find it quickly and easily!  The first fabric market is near our area of Hanoi, it's called Dong Xuan Market.  In the middle of the market there a huge warehouse type building where they sell dried fruit on the ground floor entry, shoes and crap inside and fabric and clothing on the second floor.  I found a gorgeous tomato red chiffon to make another Donna Karan dress (that I have a pattern for) and I wanted some stretch net to make a sort of cardi but it proved elusive, so we set out for the Hom markets down in the Hai Ba Trung District.

Guarding the temple!
Isn't this little munchkin just adorable? I just love the animal suits!
The way took us through the middle of the Old Quarter then down beside Hoan Kiem lake in the center.  If one follows Hang Bai it turns into Pho Hue.  On that very corner where it crosses Tran Xuan Soan is the entry to the market building.  However we were intrigued by the many fabric stalls along the street outside.  I found what I was looking for, in navy unfortunately but it'll do.

On the way back the sun had set and the wonderful fairy lights that I love so much all came on and turned the drab buildings that you see in the daytime into veritable fairy palaces.  Even the trees are decorated, though Amanda did tell me that now it's not so legal to incorporate trees anymore...because of the fire risk perhaps?

The lights pulsate and create 'droplets' down through the mass of fronds...it just looks spectacular.

Even a plain old draped tree looks something special at night.
 Walking back past the lake at night is a great experience too, the small pagoda in the centre of the water is lit up also.  In fact everything is...the red bridge that links the land to the large Pagoda is positively startling, it flashes different colour script...I captured the yellow phase..... 
The Red Bridge to the Large Pagoda

Many of the trees round the lake shore have brightly coloured lamps in them too, which look like large xmas baubles.  It really transforms what can seem like a bit of a drab and dirty city during the daytime.

This is the small pagoda, you can just see some of the 'tree lights' in the background.  I love the way this pagoda looks day and night...a perfect miniature.
 On our way home we wandered through the street where the shops sell decorations for xmas and more importantly for Tet.  It's like Ali Baba's cave down there.  We were transfixed by the sheer lusciousness of the gold and red.  It's all plastic or paper but fabulous just the same.  I saw some pink and yellow flowers that I'm going to go back and get so I can make mobiles out of them...a permanent and cute reminder of my stay here...but I need a Vietnamese mate to tell me how much to pay!  I don't mind paying 150% but sometimes you get asked for so much over the odds it's ridiculous.

Tet decoration street.

By the end of our day we were both tired and hungry - albeit very proud of ourselves for having negotiated the city and the markets without getting lost.  So we set forth for Rosemary's favorite food place right on the bank of West Lake.  She very kindly treated me to a meal of Pho Cuon, fresh rice paper rolls.  The place was pumping when we got there and we didn't want to sit inside but sadly there were no emptly tables outside.  No problem... the nice man that owns the place just grabbed another plastic table, a couple of those tiny stools and set us up under a tree right next to the lake a bit further down the road...so efficient.
The rolls get dipped in the yummy pickles in sauce...which is enhanced by a bit of chilli sauce.

The rolls were fresh, fat free and plentiful and the grand total of 30,000vd (about $1.50)  for each of us.

We chowed down, said our good nights and went our separate ways and thus ended another great day.


  1. Is this "Phở Cuốn " ? my favourite !There're many type of recipe for Pho Cuon in Ha noi , but I like Tracey's version , it verry fresh and colourful .
    Have you ever try "Banh Cuon" (steamed roll rice cake ) with beatle's oil, verry nice .

  2. I probably spelled it wrong...I thought it was a Q on the sign...oops. I'm not sure if I've had Banh Cuon, maybe you can tell me a good place to find it since you are my culinary guide here in Hanoi? Is the beatle oil from bugs or betel leaves? Sounds interesting!

  3. when you free , call me , I will take you go to try it.It's long story about the beatle's oil with steamed roll rice cake

  4. Sounds like a plan chef...:-)

  5. Yeahhhhhhhhhh ! I got plan to eat manything