Sept 2014 my wife and I have just returned from an amazing tour of the gastronomy, culture and history of Vietnam, all facilitated by Monika and her Chowdown Vietnam experience. And experience we did, in ways that would be difficult to create without the Chowdown Vietnam concept. It starts with the food: fresh, local and plentiful, viewed and sourced at the markets in the morning, prepared with passion and enthusiasm by chefs and amateurs alike at mealtimes throught the day, and always consumed with a hearty “Mot Hoi Ba Yo!”
The walking and cycling segments of this tour get the traveller into the heart of cities, and out into the countryside for first-hand expeiences with local farmers, artisans and crafts people. If you appreciate food at all, you have not lived until you’ve sampled rice noodles which you personally just transformed from a large sheet fed through a hand-turned antique noodle press. Tofu: not everyones favourite, but sampled warm and fresh right out of a generations-handed-down tofu press, across the floor from the soy bean grinder and wood-burning fire that in the past 20 minutes have transformed a raw vegetable into a silky smooth delight: unforgettable. And I’m talking imagine the last piece of really good creme carmel you tasted – improved. Dip in a little freshly made chilli garlic sauce, and this foodie wants to volunteer to work and stay for 6 months. All accompanied by a glass of smooth rice wine – and this was just one memorable afternoon stop at one small family-run operation. You can just imagine the appetite generated for the next sit-down meal.
I suggest to anyone who enjoys travel and food, research further the wonders of Vietnam and it’s delightful, resilient people; surprising natural wonders, architecture and history; fresh and healthy food culture, and consider joining Monika and her Chowdown Vietnam tour for an experience which will remain with you long after your return home.