Posts Tagged “foodie”

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Vietnam

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Vietnam

Pairs Well With…Vietnam + Sippin’ + Slurpin’ + Pickin’ + Chop Stickin’

Month 2: Vietnam.  I’ll start by saying there was no bull penis soup this month, thank you very much. On the soup front, I stuck to one of my favorites, pho.  You can’t go wrong.  Sure, there were some left of center items on menus and street carts, but then again, when isn’t there?  You’ll be happy to know that it only took me three days in Cambodia to eat grasshoppers, so there’s that.  (In case you are curious, they taste like bacon of all things.)

But let me tell you what didn’t taste like bacon: last month’s critters.  Every month when we arrive in a new country, we do a thing called “Never Try, Never Know,” a food challenge where we try odd “delicacies” of the country – until we decide to tap out.  It’s like a gross adrenaline rush.  Whatever.

What did the Vietnam food challenge consist of you ask?  Well, here.  Let me show you what we ate – and how I reacted to all these weird creatures:

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Phase 2 is what I considered (after the fact) to be the best of the worst…

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…and the third time isn’t always a charm…

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But, wait!  Someone said fried snail are better.  Yeah, everything is usually better fried.  Or is it?!

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Now, I did try rounds four (dove: tasted like chicken) and five (frog: also tasted like chicken..ish.)  I also highly considered becoming a vegetarian upon leaving the event that evening.

In all seriousness, Vietnam offered me some of the best dishes I’d ever had, most of which I couldn’t pronounce off a menu even with three attempts.  (This is when the smile and point method proves highly effective.)  Thanks to the endless amount of noodles I ate, none of which I regret in the least, I am highly turned off by carbs.  Sort of.  Okay, not really.  This month, it’s back on track.

Here were some of the best meals I ate in Vietnam:

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As the month went on, you should have seen me with my chopsticks.  Nailed it!  Also, by the good graces of fate, I served as the bride-to-be at a mock tea engagement ceremony where we learned about the behind the scenes workings (ahem, negotiations) of marriage and exchanges of gifts from one family to another.  The best part?  The green bean tea engagement cakes.

Vietnamese Engagement Party

What I’m most excited to share with you is this month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Vietnam. Within this guide, you’ll find my favorite flight snacks, goods from my supermarket sweeps and recipes to unique meals to make at home or with friends.  Don’t be shy.  Missed last month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia?  No worries!  Here you go.  I’ve got you covered.

For more cricket eating and country jumping, catch me on Instagram, where big moves are being made daily.  More to come from Cambodia!

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Pairs Well With…Malaysia + Sipping + Sampling + Pushing Food Boundaries

Riddle me this: how do you go to another country and not eat everything?  If anyone has the answer, please let me know.  Eating, like life, is a balancing act.  The way I figured, all the walking and workouts would balance out the u-turns in my highly regimented eating.  Previously regimented eating, that is.  What can I say?  A girl’s gotta eat.

I went through a phase of two bites of this and a handful of that as I worked Jalan Alor like RuPaul worked the runway in the 90’s. And I worked it.  Now, you may be thinking to yourself based on my Instagram, “Holy shit, this girl ate a million things in Asia!!!”  Yeah, well, roughly 35 days of being in Malaysia, and we’ll call it two meals and some snacks a day, equals don’t you dare judge me! Because if you are, a couple things are probably happening here:

  1. You’re having “Food FOMO” and are jealous that what I’m eating is better than what you’ve got in your pantry.
  2. You’re hangry right now and are about to drool over the best part of this article – the pictures.  I’ll get there…hold your horses.
  3. You’re just jealous that you’re not here. (And completely understandable.)

 

Malaysia is a bit of a food bonanza if you ask me.  The flavors and meals of the country are heavily influenced by Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and braved the runny eggs, mystery meats, meat floss (yes, I did try it) – and even some seafood.  I truly enjoyed everything I sampled…almost.  Minus the bull penis soup that is.  #yesyouheardmeright  #neveragain

You should have seen the video…

 

Okay, so why am I, Ms. Carin Across the Globe, telling you what I’m eating?  Simple.  Because I want you guys to partake in this journey with me, even if we’re on different ends of the globe. I was perusing aisles in stores aimlessly and taking notice of all the foreign items on the shelves, picking a few up to try along the way.  I’d find myself saying, “Ooooh, my sister would like this” or “If I were at home, I’d totally make and bring this to my next Culture Club get together.

Well, one thing led to another and I put together the A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia as an idea starter for your next at-home dinner party, out of your comfort zone cooking attempt, or girl’s night in. It includes a few of the best must-try local recipes featured below and the most curious, fun or just plain tasty local products. (To be completely honest, half the time, I couldn’t read the package, so I superficially picked the products based on looks alone, but only recommended the yummy ones that had an interesting twist.)

Invite some friends over, have everyone pick and order an item of interest from the list and sample the night away!  (Add alcohol for an extra adventurous time.) The list, which I hope you find to be helpful, includes both adventurous products as well as select ingredients for the recommended recipes.

So, without further ado, all my month one favorites…

HOCK CHEW MEE SUAH: considered a traditional Chinese comfort and birthday food.  These salted wheat noodles are either boiled or pan-fried and dressed in sauce, sometimes with other ingredients. (The balls have yet to be identified, but I am pretty sure they are some sort of imposter sausage.)


APAM BALIK: a peanutty griddle stuffed pancake generally sold as a sweet street food in Asia.  If you’re feeling really frisky, up your game and get yours with a dose of coconut.

The master himself

Apam Balik Minis

 

ROTI CANAI & SPINACH PANEER MASALA: How I’ve not heard of pizza dough’s dramatic twin escapes me! This Indian flatbread, maybe more amazing than naan (if that’s even possible), is really just a vehicle for sauce, veggies and wiping your plate clean with an edible foodie napkin.  It pairs well with pretty much everything, but especially my favorite, spinach paneer masala.

 

ROTI BANJIR TELUR GOYANG: (also known in Malaysia as “Hanging Balls.” I just can’t make this stuff up): A local, hybrid mashup of two breakfast dishes: 1) Roti Canai (Indian flatbread) served “Banjir” style (meaning “flooded” with other stuff) and 2) Telur Separuh, two half boiled eggs.

Roti Banjir Telur…also known as submerged bread and hanging balls. #truth

 

BANANA LEAF MEALS: Look Ma, no hands!  Okay, just kidding.  Hands, yes.  Silverware, no.  The banana leaves serve as plates in an effort to reduce waste from disposable plates.  You begin with a base meal of banana leaf rice and vegetables, topped with sauces and proteins to your liking.  The best part of this meal?  Utensil free.  Monkey see, monkey do, follow suit and eat like the locals do.

Exhibit #1: The Meal

Exhibit #2: Confusion sets in on how to do this gracefully

Exhibit #3: The face shoveling begins. Toddlers, watch out.

Exhibit #4: Sh*t is all over the place. Note to self: must bring bib next time.

Exhibit #5: Feeding frenzy success.

 

MEAT FLOSS: Okay, bear with me for a moment while I try to describe this one to you as it’s almost one of those “you had to be there for it” type foods.  Looks like: carpet.  Taste consistency: cotton candy.  Feels: fuzzy. Flavor profile: sweet on the tongue and savory after taste.  Overall: it was odd. Not bad, just odd.

 

NAAN: A rising oven baked, flatbread which originated in Central and Southeast Asia.  Thicker than Roti, it is another dining accompaniment to curries or anything sauce based.  This meal will make em’ say, “Mmmm…..naan, naan, naan, naan.”  Yep, I went there.

You can’t get Master P out of your head now, can you?!

 

MAGGI GORENG: A popular instant noodle Malaysian dish.  Stir fried with veggies, egg, and sometimes protein, this dish is a lo mein meets fried rice dream.

Yeah, no comment on this one after Master P pun.

 

CHEE CHEONG FUN & CHAR KWAY:  First of off, we all know how unamusing Monday’s are to begin with.  Second, this was my Monday morning Malaysian breakfast the third week of our trip.  I was presented with a completely foreign, maybe not so appetizing meal at first sight.  But, I braved it and tried it anyway.  Turns out it was quite good.  Chee Cheong Fun is a rice noodle cooked to perfection and dressed with a sweet sauce.  The meal is complimented by a stick of Char Kway, a Chinese donut, or even a naked churro.

Traditional Cantonese breakfast

 

CURRY:  The new love of my life these days, my main squeeze.  Curry, an Indian dish, uses interesting combinations of flavors and spices, with some having higher levels of heat than others.

Hands down the best curry I’ve had in my life!

 

Have all the feels for all the meals?  I hope so!

Pairs Well With… is looking to showcase your best foodie night photography from the recipes in the A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia.  Pass along pics of the food that made you lick your plate to pairswellwith@gmail.com and you could be featured on Carin Around the Globe Instagram. Tag @carinaroundtheglobe when you post and let me know via #pairswellwith what you think your meal’s perfect pairing is.  (Oh, and don’t forget to send along those candid shots of the friend trying something she hated.  Believe me, the best picture in the world is that first bite of a durian cookie.)

And that, my friends, has been my month one wrap for this A Girl’s Gotta Eat series.

How Do You Like Your Eggs? (Kuala Lumpur’s Five Best Breakfasts)

How Do You Like Your Eggs? (Kuala Lumpur’s Five Best Breakfasts)

Pairs Well With…Breakfast, the most important, sunny side up meal of the day.

You know the story: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Morning fuel is critical, and that first “this hits the spot” meal is everything.  I’ve spent the month of February scouting out the best, most novel breakfasts in Kuala Lumpur.  Not only did I succeed in finding what I was looking for, but I also won – big time.

Trying to find a traditional, semi-familiar delicious breakfast can sometimes be a challenge as a foreigner.  Lucky for you, I did all the dirty work. All walkable from Kuala Lumpur’s City Center, these five breakfast hot-spots will have you coming back for seconds:

VCR: 2, Jalan Galloway Kuala Lumpur 50150

With one of the best menus in town, VCR is a go-to destination for Sunday brunchin’.  Their menu offers everything from eggs-as-you’d-like, to a variety of toasts – and everything in between.  VCR’s rustic downstairs atmosphere and scenic upstairs views allow you to enjoy your brunch as you wish.

Best location for: The Sunday Bruncher

What to get: French Toast (oh, but it’s so much more)

VCR French Toast

 

The menu describes it as: Espresso no churn ice cream, fluffy brioche french toast, raspberry compote, crumbles and mocha sauce.

What the menu should’ve said: “This tower of delight will put your future breakfasts to shame, so you mine as well never bother ordering French Toast ever again. The chocolate raspberry goodness, soaked into the airy cinnamon bread, topped with a softening dollop of cold ice cream, will make you unsure of whether you’re eating breakfast or dessert.”

Other VCR notables:

VCR Squash Toast

VCR Breakie

 

Ola Bowls: C5.06.00, Pavilion Shopping Mall, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Yes, from the outside, this may look like nothing more than a smoothie shack with a toppings menu as long as your to-do list.  Look beyond appearances and into the heart of the menu where you will find options that sing to your stomach – and a plethora of colorful smoothie bowls!

Best location for: The Health Enthusiast

What to get: King of Greens

Ola Bowls – King of Greens

 

The menu describes it as: Farm power with avocado and banana blend topped with goji berries, crushed almonds, cranberries bananas and coconut flakes.

What the menu should’ve said: “Nourishment by the spoonful, and made with love.  This horizontal smoothie will beam you up for the day like you wouldn’t believe.”

LOKL Coffee Co.: 30 Jalan Tun H S Lee Kuala Lumpur 50100

This is as local as it gets, and a regular hangout for many. With a space as vibrant and fresh as their food, LOKL offers a plethora of intriguing breakfast options, so there’s something for everyone. With everything on the menu sounding heavenly, make sure to plan for a second visit while you’re in KL.

Best location for: The Indecisive Eater

What to get: The Frittata

LOKL Fritatta

 

The menu describes it as: Spanish omelet, smoked chicken sausage, leeks, potatoes, and onions.  Served with a side of grilled vegetables.

What the menu should’ve said: “This hearty egg delight is a symphony to your taste buds – an overall breakfast crescendo! The bold flavors of the frittata chased by mellow savoriness of the vegetable side will help you hit those high notes for days.”

Other LOKL notables:

LOKL Scrambled Egg & Cheese Burger

LOKL Mozzarella & Eggplant Casserole

 

Coffee Amo: 1st Floor, 54, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur 50000

Unsure of where to start, I’ll give you the first three words that come to mind: Bear. Rum. Latte.  With on-point, hand-crafted coffee couture, you can’t go wrong.  Coffee Amo has one of the best lattes I’ve had – in my life.  While their menu is small, their coffee is kickin’.  I’m thinking about stickin’.   If you’re lucky enough to find this gem, tucked away in the middle of Chinatown, you must stop by for your daily caffeine drip.

Best location for: The “I Can Take it or Leave it” breakfast crowd, but gotta have my coffee 

What to get: Bear. Rum. Latte.

Coffee Amo Bear Rum Latte

 

The menu describes it as: (spoiler alert) A latte.  You pick the flavor, and the barista works on a design.  Should you try to order a “Bear Rum Latte,” your barista may give you a funny look.

What the menu should’ve said:
Option #1 – (Mic drop. No words necessary)
Option #2 – “Your latte is not only going to be the shit, but it’s also going to be the envy of all your friends – and everyone else on Instagram.”
Option #3 – This furry fella likes long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and bathing in tubs of rum lattes. He’s the perfect breakfast companion.

Other Coffee Amo notables:

Coffee Amo Waffles & Cream (with blueberry syrup)

 

Feeka Coffee Roasters: 19, Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A Kuala Lumpur favorite known for their spectacular service, coffee – and serving breakfast ALL day! Feeka’s menu is well-balanced and health-minded with a large dose of variety.

Best location for: The Charming Coffee Shop Enthusiast 

What to get: Umm…Everything?!  Pick just one item? Okay, the B.A.L.E.T.

Feeka’s B.A.L.E.T.

The menu describes it as: Beef bacon, eggs lettuce and avocado and roasted tomatoes served on top of toast.

What the menu should’ve said: “Piled high, this perfectly textured sandwich-eque delight will start your day sunny side up.”

(Bonus Round) J.Co Donuts:

Novelty donuts anyone? Move over cake, beat it crumpets, the donut train is coming through. With more than 25 sugary delights daily, pint-sized to-go sample packs, these donuts are truly “everything you ever wanted in a donut.” Looking is free.  Donuts are extra.

Best location for: The Sweet Tooth

What to get: Everything!!!

J. Co Donuts…all of them!

Other J.Co notables:

The Berry Spears

J.Co Tiny Donuts

Valentine’s Day Bacon Bouquets

Valentine’s Day Bacon Bouquets

Pairs Well With… “L.O.V.E. by Nat King Cole” + a little romance + a lot of bacon

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, my friends. It’s the time of year where we start thinking about what stops we’ll pull out to impress the one we love.

I used to be the person who absolutely despised Valentine’s Day if I wasn’t dating someone. I was “that” person who dreaded Valentine’s falling anywhere between Monday and Friday and hearing about all the gifts, roses and proposals. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Over the years, I got older (and naturally wiser) and realized that Valentine’s Day could be more than a singles pity party. On the years I haven’t been in a relationship, I leveraged Valentine’s Day as a larger celebration of love for those I care about.

And how better to show just how much you care than with BACON?! C’mon now.

These Valentine’s Day bacon bouquets are the easiest thing to make, and you’ll blow people away with your creativity and foodie DIY skills.  I promise.  For those of you looking for a memorable Valentine’s Day idea, you can thank me now. Bacon alone may not hold sentimental value (or does it?!), but the fact that you turned bacon into a craft will be unforgettable.

Add this bouquet to your Valentine’s Day brunch as an eatable centerpiece.  It will not only be pretty, but pretty tasty.

Ingredients:
(2) packages thick cut bacon (each package is approximately 10 slices)
(1) dozen artificial long stemmed roses
Foil lined baking tray
Cooking rack
Toothpicks

Instructions:
1. Remove rose buds from stems. Most detach quite easily.  Rinse and dry the stems.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Trim bacon to remove excess fat. Slices of bacon should be as symmetrical and uniform as possible.
4. Roll bacon tightly from end to end, securing by placing two toothpicks through the center to form an “x”.  For a more pleasing appearance, ensure that the more meaty edge is the top of the flower.

5.  Place rolled up bacon slices on a cooking rack on top of a foil-lined baking tray.

6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, longer for crispier bacon.

7. Place bacon buds onto washed stems.  They should attach easily.  Adjust to form robust and lush bouquets!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Meanwhile, back in Asia:
I had quite the week. I tried a lot of new things personally and professionally, including:
– Eating runny yolks.  (Picture on Instagram.) Now, you may not think this is a big deal, but the thought of anything other than scrambled eggs freaks me out.  Tried. Conquered. Succeeded.
– Presenting to a room full of people on blogging. Not a fan of public speaking, but based on the feedback I received, it was amazing!
– Recording my first podcast later today with a woman I find extremely fascinating. Excited for her to share her story with me!

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