Day Tripping to Epping

These hills that greet visitors on Melbourne’s northern approaches once were dotted with sheep and rocks. Now they are blanketed with houses and huge shopping centres.

For lunch, a taste of Japanese tonkatsu at Plenty Valley.

Not fancy, just crumbed pork with udon noodles, vege and egg in a curry, heated by a cute, gimmicky blue gel tealight.

A filling lunch for $16.80 at Fukutontei.

Open letter to UK travellers

Dear UK travellers,

Please visit Australia. We are a friendly bunch, with a continent full of unique wonders, and you get an embarrassingly fabulous exchange rate on your money.
Contrary to our Govt’s silly marketing, most Australians do not have “plastic” faces with collagen lips and botox smiles, but do expect a laugh and a cheeky grin under a layer of sunscreen.
Please also bring any mates who don’t speak English – modern Australia was made by millions of migrants from across the world, and an ancient Indigenous culture. Besides, interpreters can be handy as many of the most popular dishes in our world array of eateries have foreign names.
You won’t miss out on your favorite British breakfast tea but be prepared for arguably the best barista coffee outside of the Mediterranean.
Oh, do you like good wine and cold beer?

Yours sincerely,

Australia

Why does ‘good’ often taste so bad?

The lovely ladies here reckon I need something healthier than iced coffee, BBQ scallops and Tiger beer.

Hence: rau má, AKA pennywort or Centella asiatica.

I gave it a go: ever imagined what the water would taste like after you’ve hosed underneath the lawn mower?

I doubt even vodka could save this stuff.

I’m now viewing Australia’s V8 juice in a whole new light …

– Vung Tau, Vietnam 2019

Sold on the performance

Olivier, Gielgud, Jacobi, This Old Duck: the great performances of our time. The weathered, forlorn face and the old, crooked body … irresistible to the successful young couples in Vung Tau on their weekend break from HCMC – they just have to stop and buy a bag of peanuts or fruit. And insist she keep the change. After they leave, Old Duck cracks a knowing smile and has a little giggle to herself, strategically rearranges her basket of goods, and then returns to pose: forlorn face, crooked body … When she has only a few bags left, a couple will do her a favor and buy the lot. Old Duck then collects her baskets, hobbles around the corner with surprising speed, and returns fully reloaded with peanuts and fruit. The show goes on. Hahaha Bless her soul!

Sea Mantis Shrimp if it’s still kicking, it’s fresh

Mantis shrimp/sea mantis are a popular Vietnamese seafood.

Locals call them tôm tít.

There’s not a lot of meat in them but they are a cheap-ish treat, and usually barbecued, steamed, or pan fried in coconut oil.

I don’t recomment the fried version as I find the oil too sweet, and extracting the meat is a hot, messy, oily affair.

But don’t let me stop you – give them a crack …

 

An oyster’s beauty is more than shell deep

Sometimes the words can be more appetising than the pics. I don’t fake my food pics, what you see is what I eat 😁.

Here are 12 scallops and four huge oysters, all barbecued on the shell.

I like mine with a (visually somewhat unattractive) dollop of sweet, home-made mayo/sauce; others prefer savory/chilli condiments.

This has almost become my staple dinner in Vung Tau, Vietnam, thanks to my hotel’s street seafood barbecue.

USD6.90/AUD10. Not bad for “tourist prices”, eh!

Always remember: “Never judge a scallop by its shell.” 🤠

 

Easy to Digest

Growing up, my brother and I often sought refuge in Readers’ Digest books.

I’ve found a hard cover classic here – add tropical weather and a big, frosty glass of freshly squeezed watermelon … who’s in a hurry to go back to the political morass of Australia? 🤠

– Vung Tau, Vietnam