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“There is no sauce in the world like hunger.”

Miguel de Cervantes

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Monday
Apr172017

People's Palace Thai, Manila

It did not really come as a surprise, having travelled around the Philippines for 2 weeks, that the best meal I had there was (a) in the cosmopolitan capital of Manila and (b) not Filipino. I am willing to be proven wrong – I did end up in some rather provincial places – but overall I found Filipino food to be too sweet, greasy, bland or all of the above.

In some ways it is a shame that we didn’t do Manila first, when we were excited to try the local food, as I have read about some places that do modern Filipino food and get rave reviews, but after 2 weeks of eating greasy meat, sweet bread, margarine coated everything and a lot of junk food at bus stations, we just weren’t keen to give them a go.

This is how we ended up at a modern Thai restaurant for our final meal in the Philippines. People’s Palace Thai is similar in style to a David Thompson restaurant, except with less emphasis on the cultural style of eating and more on traditional recipes cooked and presented in a modern style with a focus on high quality ingredients.

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Friday
Apr142017

Spectacular Sunsets and disappointing food in the Philippines

I knew next to zero about Filipino food before I went there. The Philippines wasn’t on my itinerary until my friend Libby came to meet me in Vietnam and we discovered that all the places we were planning to go for our beach holiday were going to be grey and wet. Libs is a sunworshipper and I had promised her a summer holiday, so we flew to the Philippines on a whim.

We didn’t really do much research, even on the weather front, as it turned out that all the top beach destinations there were also going to be rainy and stormy. We'd only looked at the forecast for Manila, so we ended up having a rather bizarre holiday travelling around Luzon, the island Manila is on. I don’t think many tourists get beyond the capital.

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Saturday
Apr012017

A flying trip through Cambodia

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try as many Khmer dishes as I would have liked in Cambodia, as I had an upset stomach most of the time that I was there.

I did try the famous fish amok once at Coconut Lyly in Battambang, which is often said to be Cambodia’s national dish. The fish was baked in a yellow curry sauce with vegetables and served in banana leaf. The curry sauce was coconut-based and flavoured with turmeric and lime leaves. My friend thought it was too hot, but I found it light and gentle – perfectly complementing the soft and silky fish.

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Monday
Mar272017

Vy's Market Tour and Cooking Class, Hoi An

I was that girl at the cooking class in Hoi An. No, not the know it all who answers all the questions and shows everyone how it’s done. I do my best to keep that under wraps, though fair play for jumping to that conclusion.

I mean the one with two cameras (iPhone and DSLR) and several lenses taking photos of anything and everything – the market stalls, the vendors, the teacher, the demos, the ingredients, each stage of preparation and the finished dishes. The girl sitting next to me looked like someone who might have bothered to talk to me in another environment, but I could see what she was thinking: ‘you crazy tourist, why don’t you just put your cameras down and enjoy the class?’

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Friday
Mar242017

Weird and 'wonderful' food in Hoi An

I'm fairly open-minded with food and will try most things once, but there are a few things I just know I never, ever want to put in my mouth. Or so I thought. Today I ate something that I never thought would pass my lips. But let’s build up to that, like I had to. 

As part of a market tour and cooking class I did in Hoi An, we were given the opportunity to sample a number of dishes at Vy’s Market Restaurant, which is basically a posh version of a street food market geared towards westerners. That doesn’t mean they dumb down the food; if anything, in an effort to educate foreigners they go to great lengths to provide all manner of dishes from around the country.

They let us in gently with some lovely tasters, such as these gorgeous bahn cuon, which are like a mini-version of bahn xeo (rice-flour pancake). Slightly thicker, they were crispy on the outside, soft and juicy in the centre and studded with little pieces of pork, chives and a crispy prawn.

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