Has it really been 3 months since I last published The Kasbah Chronicles? You will soon understand why.
Yes, I have been on a roll. . .A Vietnamese egg roll that is..
This will explain my tardiness: I spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in April. Thus, March was spent preparing for the trip, in April I ATE MY WAY THROUGH VIETNAM from North to South, and May finds me roaming the aisles of local Asian markets to locate the ingredients with which to prepare my newly acquired recipes!
My travels will take up at least two editions of The Kasbah Chronicles. .. so please stay tuned for Part 2.
At a zillion dongs (actually 22,000 to the dollar)
how could we go wrong? Vietnam is fascinating, welcoming, and affordable. As I did when went I travelled to Chile two years ago, I planned my own tour using Asiatica.com,a Hanoi-based tour operator found on the Internet. China Southern Airlines(discovered while perusing Trip Advisor) flew Amy and me (a most compatible roommate), in cocooned comfort (business class), from LAX to Hanoi and return. As I mentioned above, my requests to our dedicated agent, Phoebe, of Asiatica, was to forego war memorials, tunnels, and war museums. All we wanted were cooking classes, markets, and local eateries… Boy, did she deliver! If you want suggestions for our itinerary, shoot me an email.(oops, I almost forgot to mention we also spent 2 days in Angkor Watt.…)
My photos tell part of the story:
Hanoi:Hectic, fun, historic, and better yet, food, food, food… Great cooking class with a local instructor in her home, a farm house outside Hanoi. Mandy (www.cookinginhanoi.wordpress.com) taught us all about crab soup and la lotleaves. Can’t wait to find some here!
la lot leaves eggrolls:
Hanoi has a mosque!
We soldiered on under a warmish rain through the insanely busy narrow streets of Old Hanoi, past dozens of pocket-sized shops. Shades of a Moroccan souk came to mind. The merchandise was quite different however. When saturation set in signaling an empty stomach, we dashed into a stall to sit in child-sized plastic chairs (they are everywhere and adults usually occupy them…) While a trio of Hanoi teens fingered their cell phones, out came a young woman bearing a hotpot, the local version of French pot-au-feu. We were wrapped in a cloud of star anise, cinnamon, lemon grass, and cilantro, and dipped into the pot with chopsticks to retrieve butter-tender pork shoulder, vegetables and bits of fresh pineapple. And, to cap it off, an addictive blend of salt, lime juice, and chili (I think).
Ha Long Bay: Phoebe asked if we wanted to cruise on Halong Bay. Why not? She booked us onto into a Jr suite with Signature Halong Bay Cruise. Our young cruise manager, Mr. Cuong, fretted over us like a mother hen:
Our bathroom came complete with a JACCUZI! For close to 24 hours (I wish it had been 48) we cruised among the dozens of tree-capped islands of Halong Bay,
and dined on dishes worthy of an A list restaurant.
Sara, the on-board hostess, doubled as our cooking teacher to demonstrate nems, REAL Vietnamese eggrolls. Les vrais!
The next day, a short flight out of Hanoi landed us in Hue, site of Vietnam’s historic Imperial City. Upon landing, our driver took us straight to Eco Garden,so we could experience life on a farm.
Have you ever tried to grind rice? It ain’t easy! We tilled the earth for sweet potatoes and enjoyed the fruits of our labor during an al fresco cooking class held under a riverfront cabana. Cycling among the lush banana and pumelo groves surrounding the Eco Garden really increased our appetite.
We were pointed to Hanh restaurant near our hotel. Our lunch encompassed such an array of local specialties, that Amy and I coined a new logo for them, When in Hue, head for Hanh’s, a strictly local hang out, where we joined the cook in the open kitchen to watch her prepare eggrolls, dumplings, pho… and my very favorite rice pancakes: you get the idea.
Our four hour drive from Hue toHoi Antook us along the Mandarin Road, and past Danang’s bayfront. This industrial city caters mainly to foreign sun-worshippers who stay in the resorts out of town.
Hoi An and its centuries of Chinese occupation beckoned an hour south. The town’s architecture still reflects this influence.
he pedestrian friendly city center is jammed with stores and restaurants, including the most unusual Reaching Out Tea House, run by a deaf staff. It was heavenly sitting overlooking a tiny patio without any auditory distractions. (Yes, they have WI FI.)
Hoin An holds other attractions, including eating a superb banh misandwich at Mme Phuong(like Anthony Bourdain). I am happy to say, however, North San Diego County now has a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants to choose from, many of which make mouth-watering banh mis.
Ah, that cooking class at Mme. Vy’s: UNFORGETTABLE (https://tastevietnam.asia/vietnamese-cooking-classes). 5 hours of culinary bliss, instructed by a professional chef, and her numerous assistants. This extraordinary establishment holds much more than a state of the art culinary center. Street level holds a huge dining area surrounded by tasting stations… so many samplings, so little time (read more about them on my website www.kittymorse.com)from a guided boat ride and market excursion, to a variety of samplings too numerous to name: snails, banh mi, freshly made noodles, breads and pastries. My head still swims. We were told that Mme Vy is in the process of exporting her concept to Melbourne! Dear Australians, DO NOT MISS IT!
. . . . suite au prochain numéro.
Read the next edition of The Kasbah Chronicles for more on my Vietnamese experience.
My instructor at Mme Vy’s:
I already mentioned that we have a well-stocked Vietnamese market in the North County, in Escondido (CA). San Diego cooks will head to the enormous Zion supermarket on Convoy Street, but we live further north. La Sorpresa Barata(asianmarketescondido.com) has morphed into The Asian Marketbetween Fig and Date streets(. . .and that’s the story of immigrants…) Next door is an excellent little Vietnamese take out restaurant.
How cool is this request?!
When I was growing up in Casablanca we couldn’t wait for Hitchcock’s films to be screened in English at cinema Rialto. One of my favorites was The Man Who Knew Too much.
“New comment on my post “Kitty’s Bio”
Author: merri mullaney
“Hi, I have just purchased a tagine, can’t wait to start cooking. There is one recipe I have searched for, sounds crazy, but in the movie “the man who knew too much” there is one scene that takes place in a restaurant in Casablanca (K: it was Marrakech, I think). The chicken and olives and other ingredients looked absolutely delicious and beautiful. Is there a recipe for this dish, and also the bread served with it?”
-I think the restaurant Merri is referring to was Dar Es Salam in Marrakech where my annual tours used to dine in the mid 1980s, (http://www.daressalam.com) average food and very, very touristy) but the scene where James Stewart struggles to fit his long legs under the low table is priceless. I haven’t seen the film in years, but if they featured a Moroccan dish, it had to be Chicken with Preserved Lemons! Does anyone know??”
Presentations and book signings:
I will be happy to plan a presentation on Moroccan cuisine or edible flowers, for your book club or garden club. Just send me an email.
May: Private book club/dinner in Oceanside, CA.
I was flattered to be asked to speak to this Oceanside book club, one that has been meeting for 20 years. This time, rather than gather at someone’s house, the group planned a Moroccan dinner based on the recipes in Mint Tea and Minarets and Cooking at the Kasbah, at one of North County’s BEST patisseries, Petite Madeline(sic), (www.petitemadelinebakery.com) just about as far north as you can drive on the Coast Highway in San Diego County. I knew I was in good hands when Chef Marc Mialo said he obtained his culinary training in Australia, where, I hasten to add, they SELL MOROCCAN PRESERVED lemons in every deli! Australians love Morocco’s cuisine, something I found out when I visited over 15 years ago.
La Petite Madelinereopened for us past their 3PM closing to welcome the book club. Once dinner began, we were treated to mouth-watering renditions of a trio of cooked and fresh salads,
kefta(ground beef) kabobs seasoned just right, baraniyaeggplant and tomato tagine, with dates stuffed with almond paste, orange slices in orange blossom water ( all found in Mint Tea and Minaretsand Cooking at the Kasbah) AND ice cream bestila for dessert filled with the chef’s own lemon mousse (WOW!) I demonstrated how to make traditional Moroccan mint tea. At this writing, I am lobbying for this gifted and imaginative young chef, and for the restaurant’s owner, Christine, to add a couple of these dishes to their regular menu. . . Chef Marc would probably duplicate the menu if Morocco’s cuisine (and Mint Tea and Minarets!!!) figure on your reading list.(www.petitemadelinebakery.com) and I’ll be happy to come and chat!
Saturday, June 10: 9-5PM.
Book Club Bingo
San Diego’s spectacular central library
300 Park Blvd.,
Special Events Room, 9th Floor
San Diego 92101
MENTION THE KASBAH CHRONICLES OR KITTY MORSE FOR A SPECIAL DISCOUNT.
Call Adventures by the Book at 619-300-2532 and mention
KITTY’s name and you will obtain a $25 discount
Book Club Bingo, a day-long LITERARY EVENT takes place at San Diego’s spectacular central library. All proceeds from book sales go to the library. 22 authors from around the country, all of whom are excited to connect with book clubs, will participate in seminars, panels, and book signing opportunities.
My mentee, Laura, graduated from Cal State University San Marcos, where, last Fall, I had the honor of being selected as a mentor. Last week, Laura gave the commencement address to 600 grads in the college of Humanities, Art and Behavioral and Social Sciences! I had attended the opening of this latest Cal State campus in 1992 with 2000 students. . . It now counts 45,000 alumni. Go Laura! If you live in San Diego County and you want to know more about this fabulous mentoring program, shoot me an email.
Links of interest about Morocco and beyond:
To makebaghrir, semolina flour pancakes, one of my favorite Moroccan breakfast foods, see Mint Tea and Minarets page 246. Serve with honey or apricot jam!
Who “invented” couscous?”: A diplomatic quandary
“Slimane Hachi, directeur du Centre algérien de recherches préhistoriques, anthropologiques et historiques (CNRPAH) et promoteur du projet, a précisé à la radio algérienne que l’initiative devrait réunir Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Libye, Mauritanie et même Mali,.. . »
Tangia:See Mint Tea and MInarets, page 124
Yes, it’s true, many families (including me, when I am in Azemmour) cook tangiain the glowing coals of the baker’s oven which is usually adjacent to the hammam. Tangiais great for entertaining, as it can be made the day before (I use a slow cooker.) Sorry, I haven’t practiced with the Instant Pot yet! View my recipe in Mint Tea and Minaretspage 124.
Your Next Serving of Truffles Should Be From Oregon
Of course: We have it all, right here, in the US. The Beaver State is serving up fancy fungi that might be just as good as the imported varieties.
“Food for thought” à la française:
Concerned about California’s Water history?
Rita Schmidt Sudman’sis an expert on the subject.
and a long time observer of the California water scene. She led the Water Education Foundation for over 30 years. Her insight into the historic and current water conflicts provides context for the past and solutions and answers for the future. Hers is an anthology in art, history and story. https://watermoreorless.com
Les alligators en Louisianne:
« Voilà un gros », lance-t-il en français. « Lui, il a plus que trois mètres. » Dans la direction qu’il désigne, sur un tronc d’arbre à demi-submergé, sommeille un alligator. Tous les jours, de février à octobre, il emmène jusqu’à 66 personnes en excursion sur le lac . . .
Need a graduation gift? I ship books!
Tune in next time for Vietnam edition, #2…