the mekong lodge, mekong delta

I just realised – after looking through a remarkable backlog – that I’ve been going about this the wrong way. I really ought to tell you more about the lodge that we stayed at, before I went on about the stuff we did around the lodge.

isn’t it remarkable that all those images were taken within the lodge’s compound? I’m constantly amazed, looking back at the holiday photos, that there is such a space of tranquility not too far away from the bustling, crowded city of ho chi minh. I don’t have photos of the villas themselves (yes, a little numbskulled) but I’m going to try and recreate that for you in prose.

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chinatown market, ho chi minh

just to follow up with ben thanh, here’s the other market that people bandy about in ho chi minh: binh tay. they sound phonetically very similar, so be careful what you tell the taxi driver – my dad tripped up on his instructions a few times.

despite our years of coming to ho chi minh, this was our first visit at this market and probably our last.

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ben thanh market, ho chi minh

I think it’s time I told you about my trip to ho chi minh and the mekong delta – the start of the year is always a great time to daydream about holidays and places, and ho chi minh is a great place to be. I visited in late december – yes, I know, a little out-dated but still relevant, nonetheless – and took quite a few photos to share!

I’ll start with something familiar and known to people who have ever been to, or considered traveling to ho chi minh: the central ben thanh market. right in the middle of town, this market operates in a day largely within a huge covered compound, with a smattering of countless shops (most of them are just store fronts with goods piled high and the storeholders sitting on a tiny chair beside) selling anything from clothes, to houseware, to dried goods and fresh fruit. this is, of course, highly tourist-centric, but it doesn’t detract from the charm of the place.

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toasty coconutty granola

just to preface this post: cereal is a guilty pleasure of mine. I get weak at the knees when restaurants offer granola or any toasted-grain-with-nuts-and-fruit equivalent, I can get through a box of cereal in an entire day (I miss those days of cheap and abounding cereal in london) and there is nothing I like better than a bowl of thick oatmeal with peanut butter and some dried fruit – despite all my eating, that’s the dish for me.

but cereal is incredibly expensive in singapore, and I don’t mean those frosted-honeyed-coloured-coated-flakes-for-kids that come with a toy in a box – I’m talking about proper cereal: good granola with fruit, swiss-style muesli and hot cereal mixes. I’ve found that the most economical way to still get my fill is to load up on oatmeal (see above), but sometimes I just want to do something special, which brings me to this recipe. I chanced upon this one while looking for something that was easy on the oil – you’d be surprised at the sheer amount included in many recipes out there – and that would be easily adaptable to what I had at home.

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lime plant

thought I’d share with you some photos of our incredible lime plant. it’s a tiny bush in a small pot, but it’s been giving us great harvests – we get large bowl-fuls of lime every couple weeks, and fat juicy ones at that. I don’t know what species it falls into, but it is a common enough variant in singapore – you get halves of these at hawker centres if you order barbecued seafood or lime juice.

spanish melon sorbet

say hello to our newest purchase – an ice cream maker. my partner got it in his head that he’d like to make gelato and so off we went to the appliance store, only to find out that there exists a single model of ice cream maker on the island: a kenwood (im280) which required the bowl to be frozen at least overnight. this meant no instant gratification, and the fact that we were actually paying more than a hundred for what was a mere insulated bowl. but we still got it.

human folly must be excused. and now, let me tell you about our virgin batch of iced goodness: a melon sherbet.

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borough market, london

a first of two posts on borough market – I love this place. there is something incredible about markets – the produce, the produce-producers, the products from the produce – my catalogue of posts about markets is rather testament to my fascination with them.

london doesn’t have nearly as many pedestrian markets as in france, and I’ve always found somehow that london markets have a higher ratio of cooked food and packaged food stores than actual grown produce. that’s just my impression though – and not necessarily a bad one as it means I can nibble from store to store (the remainder of that usually goes to my long-suffering partner and family).

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marché d’aligre, paris

located at Place d’Aligre, 75011 Paris. (bad and rather rudimentary) website here.

so yes, I know, I have shared a few markets with you before, and mostly from france. but really, I haven’t seen any markets elsewhere in the world that have produce better, or even comparable to that in france. ripe fruit, vibrantly-coloured vegetables, the tastiest food you’ve ever seen all piled up in a large compound – not always the prettiest, the shiniest, or any of those incredibly mundane and utterly meaningless attributes supermarkets all over the world have decided are desirable in our fruit.

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corn muffins, à la kenny rogers

I’m on a quest to recreate the beautiful sweet corn muffins that they serve at kenny rogers outlets. I used to eat them by the quadruples as a kid and it never occurred to me till recently that I might be able to churn them out at home.

just as background, kenny roger’s is an american restaurant that markets itself on its wood-fired rotisserie chicken. if you’re american though, it’s likely that you haven’t seen one around you, or even recognise the name since they ceased operations in the US a long time ago. kenny rogers now operates predominantly in asia, as in singapore, and is pretty well known for both its chicken and square (as opposed to typically round) corn muffins.

I think it might be blasphemy to call it cornbread in many parts of the USA, and many people feel an incredible passion for what constitutes proper cornbread. in an effort to not incite any hate, I am calling these corn muffins. essentially a honey-sweetened yellow cornmeal batter with nuggets of sweet corn, it bakes up with a great dark crust and a moist fluffy inside.

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honeymoon dessert, town

decent asian dessert at the paragon shopping centre by the huge thoroughfare that is orchard road. there isn’t a whole lot to say about this place – just that it is an example of the hongkong-style dessert stores that have popped up in singapore in the last few years. they have a good range of very-asian desserts, which means things like pastes/creams made from beans and nuts such as almond cream, sesame paste, as well as fruit-based desserts like mango pudding and jellies.

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