A cheesemeister in Hanoi

Richard Thomas, our mojito-suckin’ reporter wrote from Hanoi recently.

I’m sitting here in a friend’s home in old Hanoi just loving a perfect raw milk Normandy Camembert and fresh butter on baguette. All washed down with an ever so slightly sweet German sparkling rosé, trying to figure out the meaning of ‘third world’. It’s not happening.

Lunch started late today. We were out in a simple pavement café last night, washing down swimmer crabs with ‘Viet whisky’ served in shot glasses from plastic drink bottles.

But it didn’t finish there. We moved on to the ‘Wanted Bar’ for a ‘party mojito’ which arrives in a two litre bucket festooned with colour coded straws. An extreme form of entertainment on a cold Hanoian winter’s night.

Nobody seems to be letting up, so what could I do? I had what resembled a genuine Aussie meat pie at half time, made here by a Melbourne ex-pat who, it seems, just couldn’t live without them.

Every now and then, I tear myself away from marvellously ripe ‘just off the tree’ mandarins, bananas and mangoes, icy glasses of passion fruit juice and noodle soups, to down a couple of pickled eggs from the Britannia fish and chip shop, and a heap of Hanoi beer.

Or like today, something from the Continent. A vestige of French influence provided by one of the truly excellent bakery deli’s like Oasis, St Honore or Annam, a $3 taxi ride from the old city.

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