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eG Foodblog: johnder, slkinsey, weinoo (2011) - A tale of two boroughs
OK.... here we go again!!! While this post is a bit premature (we don't take off until around 1:30AM tonight), I am extremely excited so I figured I'd just set up the topic now. As in previous foodblogs, I may post a bit from time to time while we're there, depending on how good my internet connection is, and how much free time I have... but the bulk of posting will really get started around July 9th - the day after we get home (hopefully without too much jetlag!!!)
Happy New Year! I'm sitting at the gate waiting for my flight from Saigon to NYC connecting through Taipei so I figured this would be a good opportunity to get started... But this is just the intro- the rest will gave to wait until I land about 22 hours from now, sleep for about 12 hours, then get my photos in order! We had a great week enjoying beautiful weather, taking in the frenetic yet relaxed street life and eating some amazing local food...
Our flight here was on EVA Airline and was very pleasant and uneventful. Our flight from Nyc to Taipei left around 12:20 AM on the 24th. I love those night flights since it makes it very easy to get a decent amount of sleep, even in coach. EVAs food is quite good eith both Chinese and western choices for dinner and breakfast, and they came through several times with snacks such as a fried chicken sandwich with some kind of mustard. I think I had 4 of them!
Once I get home, I'll continue posting with pics from our feast in the Taipei airport.... Spoiler: those who have read my Singapore foodblog from July may see a slight trend...
OK - so I think it's very fitting for my 1000th post that I start this food blog... I love eGullet, and have been a member for several years, but I don't post that often, and have never done anything like this, so please bear with me!!!
My wife and I left NYC for Singapore on July 1st, at 1:25AM on an EVA flight connecting through Taipei, Taiwan. There used to be a direct NY to Singapore flight on Singapore Airlines, but SA discontinued it a few years ago. I like the long overnight flight to Asia because, on a 14 hour flight, it gives you plenty of time to eat (they feed you very well on those flights), medicate yourself and sleep for 6-8 hours, then wake up and watch a few movies before landing at about 6AM. Plus, since the flight leaves so late, it makes it much easier to sleep on the flight (especially after working a full day beforehand).
The EVA flight is quite comfortable, even in coach. When I say they feed you well, I mean it - dinner was a stir fried chicken with steamed bok choy and rice, with many sides. Throughout the flight they came through the cabin with mustard coated fried chicken sandwiches as snacks, then breakfast of pork congee with many sides (including a package of fish floss). Sorry, I didn't take photos of the above - I was exhausted!
We had about a 2 hour layover in the airport in Taiwan, so what does that mean? Time for dim sum and beef noodle soup!!!
This was our breakfast destination
Left to right, Xie Long Bao (Shanghainese pork soup dumplings), char siu bao (fluffy buns filled with BBQ pork - although this Taiwanese version was not nearly as sweet as the typical Hong Kong version), Taiwanese beef noodle soup, and a loose leaf oolong tea. With the waters, cost about US$20!!! It was quite the feast, especially after the constant EVA flight 'buffet', and the fact that they were going to feed us again on our next flight to Singapore!
It's that time of year again, after just getting back from our summer vacation. This year, we went to Yogyakarta which is a city in central Java, Indonesia. The title of the topic comes from the fact that most people there call the city Jogjakarta (pronounced jōg-ja-karta), although some people (depending on background) do call it yōg-ya-karta. This is a special place in Indonesia - Indonesia is a mostly Muslim country, however, the region around Jogjakarta was declared a special region as it is also a Sultanate. It was the original home to the ruler of the island of Java, and once democracy came along, the Sultan still lives there and has some kind of power in the region, as well as with the government as a whole... It's confusing - and I would say that I'm still a bit confused, but that's ok. Anyway, all this leads this region to be called the cultural and culinary capital of the island of Java, the most populous island in the archipelago, some of the reason it is extremely popular with domestic tourists - I'd say the vast majority of the tourists there are from other parts of Indonesia, with the balance being mostly Australians, and some Europeans and very few North Americans.
Food-wise, we found Jogja interesting because it is the first Muslim area we have seen in SE Asia, which means (with very few exceptions) no pork. There are tons of chicken dishes - many using what is called kampung chickens, or extremely free range chickens which tend to be relatively scrawny, a little tough but with a lot of flavor. There is also some beef, some mutton/goat and fish. Like a lot of Indonesian food, the use of sambal(s) is key - many times you will have a selection of sambal that you would use to accent or add spiciness to a dish. Some of these sambal are crazy hot...
Another thing interesting thing about being a mostly Muslim area is the seemingly ever-present call to prayer. In the city, typically 5 times a day, the Mosques will have their best singer sing the call to prayer (which lasts about 20 minutes) over the loudspeaker systems. If you are in an area with a few mosques, you will hear 3 different versions all going at the same time. Some of these calls are at inopportune times - like 1:30AM - so most hotels provide ear plugs so you won't be woken up in the middle of the night. Like we do on all our trips, we take Benadryl as a sleep aid to help get us over the jetlag... so we never needed the earplugs as we were sleeping very soundly to say the least!
I think I'll sum this up by talking about how relatively inexpensive this city is. It is probably the cheapest area that we have seen on our travels so far - you can get a luxury hotel room for about $50 per night, and a 40 minute taxi ride across the city doesn't cost more than $3-4, at the current rate of exchange. Local food is really cheap too. I took some photos of menus to show pricing - keep in mind that the current rate of exchange is about IDR14,100 to US$1. What can be much more expensive is some touristy things - foreign tourists are charged a different rate from domestic tourists, and in some cases will have a separate entrance (and usually a much shorter, or non-existent, line).
... I headed to the airport and flew Nanning, China to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. The meal on board the plane is here.
We landed two hours later and after the usual immigration nonsense I was met by an old friend and her husband. They had helped me book me a hotel and took me there. The couple are Chinese but live and work in HCMC. They dropped me off at the hotel, made sure I was settled in and took off to attend to some business (they work in the jewellery business, importing and exporting between China and Vietnam), but returned in the evening to take me to dinner.
We went here.
The place, Làng Nướng Nam Bộ, is huge and, on a Friday evening was packed. My friends ordered - they both speak fluent Vietnamese whereas mine is limited to the basics. I just looked around.
Each table was supplied with
Tissues and two dips. One was fish sauce and the other seemed to be shrimp paste with sesame.
A bag of crackers, some pickled gherkins or similar and a dip of salt and chilli
Steamed Chicken with Banana Hearts
Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls - accompanied by a mixed selection of raw greens, which are served with almost everything.
Grilled Venison with Grilled Okra
Hotpot protein - squid, shrimp, clams, beef
Hotpot Vegetables - including both banana hearts and shoots.
Everything was good. Especially the venison. I hadn't expected okra, but it seems to be popular. Every market I visited had some, but I'm getting ahead of myself. More to come.
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