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  • Nicola Richman

Vietnam and Cambodia Part Two...

As many of you know, I have been back for a little while now. Unfortunately though in the whirlwind of Glastonbury, Goodwood and generally catching up on life after six weeks away, this post ended up being just a little bit belated. Despite this, I still wanted to give you one last insight into our wonderful food adventures, so now, as I am still recovering from possibly the craziest, most sparkling weekend of my life at Glastonbury, I thought there was no better time.

Our last three weeks of travelling were spent in Vietnam, which as far as I am now concerned, has some of the most delicious and diverse food out there. We pretty much travelled the entire country, South to North and this gave us the most amazing insight into everything culinary the Vietnamese have to offer.

Hoi An was arguably my favourite place that we visited. It is a beautiful old port, centred around a river, which every evening is adorned with colourful lanterns. The food in Hoi An was equally some of the best we had. Suppers rarely cost more than £1 but it was some of the best food I have ever eaten. Keen to learn the secrets of the vietnamese food ourselves, we took part in another day long cookery course, a little like the one in Cambodia. Trip Advisor quickly becomes your go-to for any advice and in Hoi An, Van's Green Bamboo cookery school comes the most highly recommended with hundreds of rave reviews. We started our day perusing the market at Hoi An. Synonymous to any other market in Vietnam, I fell in love with the one in Hoi An. These markets are crazy, hot dens of activity but in all cases, the food is the star or the show. Beautiful greens with names I had never heard of, live seafood, meat slaughtered only that morning and bowls upon bowls of every type of noodle you could think of - I could have quite easily spent hours wondering their streets.

After the market, we got to cooking. We were a group of 9 and each person had pre-chosen a specific dish that they wanted to learn. Although I unfortunately did not cook it myself, my favourite was without a doubt, Cau Lau. This is a regional dish specific to Hoi An which you will find on almost every street corner. The star of the Cau Lau is the noodle, which folklore says is made from water from a specific well, to which the ash of the La Gai Leaf is added. This ash and water mix gives these noodles their unique brown hue. These bowls of steaming noodles, pork and local greens is utterly delicious and something I will definitely be recreating on here soon...

The next stop on my culinary tour was Hanoi, the northern capital of Vietnam. Here I excitedly took part in another Street Food Tour. Street food is one of the things I miss the most about my travels, Vietnam know how to do their street food, and boy do they do it well. Here we had five different dishes, all around the streets of Hanoi.

Bun Cha - a grilled pork belly, noodle dish from Hanoi, served with herbs and a sour dipping sauce.

Bahn Cuon Thit - steamed rice rolls filled with ground pork, black mushrooms and onion.

Rice Paper Mixture or Bahn Trang Tron - rice paper, quail's eggs, green mango, beef jerky and died crab...all for $1.

Pillow cakes filled with black mushroom, pork and onion, crab spring rolls, sweet doughnuts with green bean paste and sour pork rolls.

One final person I want to mention was back in Hanoi and the Bahn Mi Queen. Madam Kahn seems to know everything there is to know about Bahn Mi. These delicious sandwiches filled with pate, pork, herbs and pickled vegetables cost about 60p but are utterly wonderful. Of our four days in Hoi An, Leah and I went there three times. I found myself fantasising, even singing about them, something I still do now. They were the first thing I tried to recreate when I got back and although it was delicious, I am afraid I will never get anywhere near what the Bahn Mi Queen serves up. If you are ever in Hoi An, please please go there. I warn you though, she sells out quickly and if she is tired, the shop shuts...this revolves around her.

Our time in Vietnam and Cambodia was truly magical, eye-opening and wonderful, I would go back in a heartbeat. Throughout our six weeks we met some amazing people, saw beautiful things, ate food I will never forget and I got to share it all with one of my closest, most wonderful friends - it was completely and utterly unforgettable.

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