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my 2 cents

You would think it’s easy to find an excellent bowl of pho in Ho Chi Minh City. (It’s not.) You’d think there’d be a pho shop on every corner. (There practically is.) But as many times as I’ve been to Saigon, I had yet to taste a bowl of steaming beef noodle soup that I felt was on par, if not better, than the bowls I can get on Houston’s Bellaire Boulevard. People are surprised when I tell them this. Why? They ask. Why would the national dish of Vietnam

I got sidetracked with the holiday season being in full swing and left off in the middle of my Vietnam trip. I’d written about my great experience with Back of the Bike food tour, and today, I’m sharing with you the best place in Ho Chi Minh City to get delicious gourmet artisanal chocolates. Maison Marou was founded by deux amis francois (“two French friends—and that’s the extent of my French). The amis came to create this now-thriving chocolate shop in Vietnam after working in different industries and living in

It’s that time of year when everyone’s busy busy busy! I find myself constantly on my feet in the kitchen, running eraands with the hubs, planning menus, designing recipes, putting together the tablescape, and getting stuff tidied and done around the house to prepare for holiday gatherings. This is not even counting all the parties and get-togethers inundating our calendars. All of this frenetic running around means one thing: lots of calories are burning, but most of the stuff around me isn’t providing efficient physiological fuel. Sure, there’s a bag

There’s no doubt Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. I say it time and time again: the beauty of Thanksgiving is the fall weather, the gathering of friends and family, the feasting of food, the football, and the lack of gift-giving pressure (though my guide to great gifts for the home cook helps). I’ve already blogged about classic Thanksgiving recipes and how following a Thanksgiving checklist helps make your holiday run smoother, so when I tried to come up with ideas as to what I should write

I have tons of recipes archived, so that whenever I do a cooking event, curate a menu, or (like now) write a new cookbook, I have an arsenal from which I can pull just about any dish to fit any diet, cuisine, course, and so forth. The problem with my recipes are they’re often written using standard measurements since I’m American, and we are weird in that we have yet to adopt the more globally used metric system. And the problem with standard measurements is they’re impossible to scale! For

A motorbike food tour of Ho Chi Minh City with Back of the Bike Tours was one of the most memorable things I did while in Vietnam. Since traffic in Saigon is so crazy, it’s most convenient to travel by motorbike, and this tour offers English-speaking guides that will immerse you in Vietnamese culture, both by taking you through the streets via scooter and showing you what and where to eat to get a true taste of hidden gastronomic gems. Each place we visited, the hubs and I had never

This place gets busy so expect a wait. Fortunately, the hubs and I were willing to sit at the bar and were seated immediately. Service was courteous, drinks were delicious, and food was fantastic. The Bloody Mary was a variation of my beloved Canadian Caesar (think Bloody Mary with clam juice), and to take it over the top, my cocktail was garnished with a fresh shrimp and oyster. It was spicy and refreshing and salty like the sea all at once. The hubs and I shared the clam chowder fries

Blood sausage. It sounds gross, but it’s delicious. Many cultures have a version, from the English black pudding to the Cajun boudin. Koreans have their own blood sausage, too, called soondae. The Korean version is chewy thanks to the inclusion of sweet potato noodles. The first time I tried soondae at a Korean grocery store’s food court in Houston, I thought it was just okay: nothing special, a little dry. Then I had it in Dallas from a little Korean deli. I dipped it in the salt, which enhanced the

Bossam is one of my favorite Korean dishes. I don’t get to eat it often, so it’s always a special occasion when I do get it. Bossam consists of tucking pork belly and usually a thin slice of sweet pickled radish or even kim chi into a lettuce leaf or a thin sheet of rice cake, and then dipping it in either sesame oil with salt and pepper or doenjang, fermented soybean paste (my personal prefernce). One of my earliest memories having bossam was in Seoul—after a long night of

There are multiple locations of Ham Ji Park: one on W. 6th Street, one on W. Pico Boulevard, and one in Buena Park. The hubs and I were told to go here for gamja tang, a comforting Korean pork neck and potato stew. This stew is one of the hubs’s favorite—he says it’s best after a night of drinking soju. But this time, since the in-laws joined us in L.A., instead of a late-night snack, we had the gamja tang for early dinner. The stew was very good, but I’ve

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