Before concentrating again on the food tour, I want to tell you that a few days ago I received a surprise gift from one of my friends from Argentina. It’s not the first time that Eleonora has surprised me, and I think that doing it again will “leave me dry,” a rather old phrase that means giving someone a heart attack 🙂 . I love the Italian exaggerations that course through my veins.
Giving a bit of the back story (and it is not an “ass story,” a concept that I will explain sometime), she and Juan appeared by surprise in Portland for our wedding (only surprising me because everything had been arranged). That day I almost had a heart attack. This time finding this beautiful package delivered to my house, taking into account that we do not know when we are going to see each other again because of the virus situation, it filled me with joy but also moved my cuore. Thanks, Ele!! And for the moment I prefer not to have any more surprises 😉
OK, now we get back to the trip. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and as we had made a change of plans, it turned out that we had a few more days to visit it than originally planned.
Because we were feeling brave we hired a food tour by Vespa…. yes I know, the traffic and everything else … but I would have missed something truly authentic if we had not encouraged ourselves to travel the crazy streets on a motorcycle. And today I can say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. We were picked up at the hotel and before going to eat we posed in a few places and started the adventure.
Continuing on our way to food, our first stop was at a place where the specialty was Bahn Cuon, which is like an empanada (turnover) of very fine steamed rice dough, which can be stuffed with vegetables or meat or both. To eat it, in addition to using chopsticks, you dip it in a broth, and it really tasted delicious. It should be noted that we did not choose either the menu or the places, they took us to restaurants known for each specialty, checking with us beforehand if we had any dietary restrictions.
Our second stop was at Bun Cha Huong Lien, a mythical place because it was visited by Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama, and from that moment, the place has become hyper-touristy. It may not be the best bun cha on the planet but it is impossible to be in Hanoi and not go there.
Here I show you a bit of the tour from one place to another. As I mentioned earlier: an unforgettable experience.
From there we continued on to try pho cuon, again the main event was rice dough but cut and assembled in a different way. Simply impeccable.
From here we went on to a place where we were served fish and snails and although it seems unbelievable, I tried one … full of sauce … luckily I have no picture of this event 🙂
But I do have a picture of the guys who drove the Vespas and guided us on the tour, who did everything wonderfully. They drove the Vespas with great skill, not going very fast and making us feel very safe despite the chaos of the traffic. I tend to think it was an organized chaos.
The end of the night was with my favorite dessert, egg coffee, where I also tried coconut coffee, which is served cold and I didn’t like it that much. We were already full but something sweet always feels good.
On the next day we chose an excursion, a little less risky, that consisted of shopping at a market in Hanoi and then cooking those delicious dishes that we had been trying throughout the trip. It was an unforgettable experience for two reasons. The first is that the markets are very different: the noises, the products, the disorder, while we were looking at the fruits or waiting for us to be attended by motorcycles with people who were also shopping. And obviously the smells that are special in any market that you visit. I am particularly sensitive to what I smell.
And the other thing we learned is that preparing Vietnamese food takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. It was a lot of fun having a cooking experience with other couples from different parts of the world: Australia, Germany and Indonesia. And the geniuses who were the true cooks who made all the preparations. A real pleasure.
Thank you very much for having accompanied me to eat in Hanoi, I hope you liked it and I’ll see you soon. And special thanks to Barnaby who helped me with my English and supports my crazy ideas 🙂