Sunday, April 28, 2013

Delicious and Fresh Tropical Fruits

When I visit tropical places such as Vietnam I love to eat fresh fruit. All over Southeast Asia you will find people selling fresh fruit from a small push cart, back of a bicycle, a boat, on the side of the road, at a street corner, or in markets.  Wherever you buy chances are the fruit will be much better than if they have traveled for thousands of miles to reach you.  Of course the best fruits are the ones you have grown them yourselves as my grandmother tells me!  

cut up dragon fruit
(I used part of the outer layer of the fruit to make a garnish--
make for a better presentation)
cut up guava fruit to be eaten with a
combination of hot chili pepper and salt
(the preferred Vietnamese way of eating some fruit)
my cousin, Hui Chieu bought me sweet
succulent purple mangosteen from Soctrang
creamy and sweet durian
my 93 y.o. grandmother proudly held
up this large home-grown mango
my cousin, Sieu Hui cut this
fresh guava for me when I visited
(cam on S. Hui!!)
green mangoes hanging from a tree
(one of my uncles picked a mango
from his back yard)
one of my aunts battled a durian--the king of all fruits
the durian has sections and you can easily
pry it open and get perfect pieces out
beautiful durian meat
(you can also cook the seeds and eat them!)
young coconuts
ripe mangoes for sale in a market
neatly stacked fruits in An Trach market
portable fruit cart on the side of the road
(Soctrang, Vietnam)
selling fruit from a bicycle
(An Trach, Vietnam)
market inside a Khmer temple property
(Soctrang, Vietnam)
portable mango cart outside a pastry factory
(I was buying mangoes from this woman and it
turns out she knows my mother!)
Chi Tam selling fruits
(photo taken in Saigon, 2010, I tried to find
her on this trip to give her this photo
but she was nowhere to  be found)

*This last photo of Chi Tam selling fruits was on displayed at several exhibitions in 2011.

Minh Châu Restaurant

My aunt and uncle own this small family restaurant in Nga Ba An Trach, about 3 miles from Soctrang, Vietnam. They started off selling pastries and prepared dried food.  Later they expanded to serve hot food.  They have rice plates and different types of noodle soup.  I must say their food is excellent. You can also observe this by the many mini-vans and buses that stop here for food.  Many return customers keep coming back for their good home-style cooking.  I love eating their noodle soup in the morning.  If you like noodles then this is the right place to eat!!

Tiệm Minh Châu--cơm, mì, hủ tiếu, bò kho, bánh canh
(Minh Chau Restaurant, serving rice dish, noodles, beef stew)
activities in the kitchen
getting busier with hungry customers
garnishes/topping for the soups and rice dishes
mother and daughter team
it's hard work to feed hungry people
cousin Tú Huệ --the chef
(working hard and still all smiling!)
Son, cousin-in-law
breaking ice with her hand
--the Vietnamese way!
dì ý (second maternal aunt)--
owner and chef, making a rice dish
the family
the staff
Vietnamese iced coffee
bún bò kho
(Vietnamese beef stew with rice noodles)
bánh canh
(noodle soup)
special prepared wrapped food
wrapped food (nem)
bánh ú--wrapped rice snacks
(great food for traveling)
bánh pía--special Chinese pastries
with durian filling
(famous pastries in Soctrang)
bánh phồng tôm
(Soctrang is famous for these shrimp chips;
if you are here you should buy some of these to try)
back of the restaurant--beautiful rice field

Café Mộc

Café Mộc is a unique place that serves many types of fruit drinks in addition to the traditional Vietnamese coffee. It is located inside the water park (Hồ Nước Ngọt) in Sóctrăng, Việtnam. My cousins Tín and his wife Tố Thanh are the owners. Tín's brother,Thành designed the floor plan. Tín actually hand planted all the trees in Café Mộc. There are quaint gazebos where you can enjoy your drinks in an intimate and romantic setting.  During the day you can sit in the cool shade of the gazebo and listen to the many doves. Tín loves nature and this spot reflects his love for the outdoors. Tín speaks English. He is the only one I know who can speak English well with almost no training and basically no practice. One year we visited he did not know English and a few years later we visited and he was speaking!  He amazes me!  He is a very hard worker. His day job is a banker. During lunch he comes home and helps his wife and staff in the cafe.  In the evening and weekends most likely you will also see him at Café Mộc working. If you are ever in Hồ Nước Ngọt in Sóctrăng please stop in and say "hello" to Tín.  He is known to the family as Siện.  Here are some photos that I took while I visited during my recent trip to Việtnam.  Thank you Siện and Tố Thanh for all the delicious drinks in a beautiful setting!  We are very proud of what you have accomplished!! Keep up the great work!

Café Mộc at night
Café Mộc--night view I
Café Mộc--night view II
Café Mộc--night view III
entrance of Café Mộc
Café Mộc
seating area
romantic seating area
surrounded by trees
small trail to more seating area
park your motorcycles in the shade
seating under the palm frond gazebo
(best type of shade for the tropical heat)
palm frond gazebo
beautiful palm frond ceiling
a cafe surrounded by nature
private seating area for you and your friends
the afternoon crowd starting to come in for cool drinks
Paul enjoying some cool drinks
Café Mộc
cousin Mien Lai--my driver!
Tin and his dove
dove #1
Paul and Tin
back to work at the bank!
light house
small friend
Hồ Nước Ngọt in Sóctrăng, Việtnam
Hồ Nước Ngọt in Sóctrăng, Việtnam