Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
Many of you know how much I love chocolate ice cream. A few years ago, Brad and I spent a father and son weekend hanging out in South Beach, Florida. One day our breakfast and lunch was chocolate ice cream at Ghirardelli’s on Lincoln Road.
I have requested recipes for homemade chocolate ice cream on this blog. I received 12 delicious recipes.
Cecelia and I just got home from a 19 day trip to Vietnam and a 4 day trip to Cambodia with the tour company, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). OAT runs fabulous trips at affordable prices. The Vietnam trip was the fourth we have taken with them. Each trip seems to get better than the last.
The Vietnam trip was the best mostly because of the group leader Nguyen Huu Quang. He is a 45 year old with a knack for language and a great sense of humor. He has mastered most of American slang. He was a treasure. He was the glue that bound the 14 of us together. OAT limits their groups to 16 people per trip.
He was always singing on the bus. We decided to pick a theme song.
learned the words to the song, and rehearsed on the bus. We visited many villages and Vietnamese tribes in the countryside. When a group entertained us we reciprocated by singing our theme song. Everyone laughed a lot. Norman Cousins said laughing is therapeutic.
Cecelia and I flew to Hanoi a day early to explore Hanoi on our own. The most amazing experience was crossing the street. It was culture shock.
There are millions of motor scooters in Hanoi with very few traffic lights. Traffic never lets up. Both sides weave into each other. The only way to cross is to walk in between the motor scooters. The first day it took us about 10 minutes to get up the courage to step into the street. Quang taught us the way to cross. He told the group to bunch together. When he shouted “sticky rice” we would all march across the street without fear. The scooters stopped or slowed down to avoid us.
I discovered the Vietnamese eat everything that is not poisonous. Quang showed us how to eat duck embryo. You could see the feathers, wings, eyes of the embryo as well as the yoke. No one in our group volunteered to try one. Along the way one day, he also stopped at a cricket restaurant. The owner was very proud of his product. The crickets were pickled in rice wine. A few in our group ate them. It was not for Cecelia or me.
OAT provided us with most of the meals. We ate in handpicked restaurants and in homes during our home and monastery visits As you can see, OAT makes an adventure of its tours for people over 50. However, I think I would have had a ball on a trip at age 40.
The main dish as Qwang says is always rice except when eating pho with noodles. Vegetables were next followed by a little chicken, pork, or beef.
We visited all the major cities including Hanoi,Hue, DaNang, Dalat,Hoi An, Nha Trang, Saigon and the Mekong Delta villages.
Vietnamese are not desert freaks. A big desert is fruit in season. It was watermelon or pineapple during our trip. The most exotic was coconut rice pudding or coconut sorbet. I set out to find a place that had the best chocolate ice cream.
The dairy industry is not large in Vietnam. Ice Cream was scarce until recently. I searched for the best ice cream in every town. I was unsuccessful in the villages.
In Hanoi Fanny’s Ice Cream was the winner. I tried about three other places advertised as “western” and even “italian” and nothing came close.
You can see its popularity by the motor scooters parked inside the store. It is on a very busy street around the corner from a pseudo pizza restaurant the group ate lunch.
Romey Ice Cream and Coffee Bar was the best in Nha Trang. It was the only one I found near the beach. It was too difficult to search inland.
In Saigon, Fanny’s wins hands down. The Chocolate Chili is out of site.
However, the best I found was in a Happy Room (western restroom) stop on the way to the Mekong Delta villages.
This ice cream was deep dark chocolate gelato. It makes my mouth water just thinking
It was the ultimate discovery in my great chocolate ice cream quest on a magnificent trip.