Just like the class we did in Thailand, this class began with a trip to the market. The only people in the cooking class were Nick, Aimee, and myself, so we had a nice private tour of the market.
Aimee helping to pick out oranges
Local woman carrying her purchases away from the market in the basket on her back
Dog meat is a specialty in northern Vietnam... and something we won't be trying while we're here
After our short trip to the market, we headed back to the hotel to get things started. It was at this point that we realized that this wasn't the usual backpacker's cooking class. Our class took place in the hotel's small but pristine kitchen which is just off of and completely open to their elegant dining room. To our left were floor to ceiling windows with an amazing view of the mountains and throughout the class we were served glass after glass of amazing red wine.
Our teacher was the hotel's head chef, Son, and instead of actually learning to cook, we were getting a chance to watch a gourmet chef in action. Everything we cooked that night was an original recipe of his and all of it was absolutely amazing.
The first dish we made was deep fried spring rolls. The filling was made of chopped veggies and chicken with the secret ingredient: mayonnaise. It was a bit like a gourmet chicken salad spring roll. After Son made the filling, he let all three of us have a hand at rolling them up.
Then, he dipped them in egg and bread crumbs and deep fried them. They were melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.
The second dish we made was another kind of spring roll unlike anything I've ever had before. The filling consisted of cold rice noodles, sliced cucumber, carrot, and pineapple, and fresh lettuce and mint leaves. Instead of using rice paper for the roll, Son wrapped it all up in a freshly made egg pancake (egg, flour, and milk). They were amazing.
They were hands-down the best spring rolls I have ever had. The mix of flavors was perfect - light, refreshing, and mouth watering. And, what was even more exciting was how easy they were to make. Although Nick has his doubts, I have high hopes that I will use this recipe when I get back to the states.
After the spring rolls, Son set out cooking our main course for us: a special Vietnamese hot pot. While we chatted and drank wine, he cut up all kinds of meats and veggies and whipped up a fantastic broth that was unlike anything I had ever had before.
A plate of delicious meat for our hot pot: pork, chicken, beef, and salmon
In the end we had an entire table full of goodies for our hot pot and ate one of the best meals I've ever had over a second bottle of wine. Although we didn't learn too much about Vietnamese food, we had one of our best evenings yet.
Good friends, good food, and good wine... what more could you possibly ask for in life???