Giverny is the location of Claude Monet’s garden and home – established by Monet in 1883 and now open to tourists to view.  There is also a nearby village, which is in a small rural setting although over the few decades tourist numbers have increased greatly.  The restoration of Monet’s house and gardens is an ongoing process – and if you love gardens & art, a visit is highly recommended.  When we were there (a small group tour from Paris) as can be seen from the photos, it wasn’t too crowded;  however, on reading recent reviews it can get very crowded.  Fortunately, we didn’t have any large buses of tourists arrive when we were there and we spent an hour or so strolling around quite easily.  So if planning to go,  find out what days might be a little quieter – we went mid week (I think it was a Tuesday).  We have heard it’s easy enough to access via train so that might be an option too + buying tickets on line of course.


Tony giving me the “hurry up and take the photo” look
we didn’t know the couple on the bridge but such a romantic moment that I loved!

More photos later…I’ll swap to food/cooking inspirations as Tony is heading off to the supermarket in an hour or so…

In Luke N’s book “Indochine” he has a chapter “Saigon – Paris of the East” and his words at the beginning of this Chapter were similar to how we felt when we visited Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in 2008 (another post to come soon):

“I was amazed at what I saw – such huge decadent French buildings situated in the middle of a Vietnamese city.  I asked Aunty a million questions, eager to learn more about Saigon’s past.”

Various versions of the next recipe can be found in different parts of Vietnam – most serve them on Lemongrass stems but at home we often improvise and use bamboo skewers found in most supermarkets.  Of course, you don’t get quite the same flavour & appealing presentation (I’ll pop in photo below) but they’re the next best thing especially when we’re at the Sth Coast (like today) mid week.  There are 2 large supermarkets in Ulladulla which both have a reasonable Asian section for a medium sized country/seaside town.

Beef and Lemongrass Skewers P203 Indochine

Ingredients:  600 g minced (ground) beef;  200 g minced pork;  3 garlic cloves (finely chopped);  1 tbsp lemongrass (finely chopped) – white part only;  2 teasp sugar;  1 teasp ground black pepper;  1 tbsp fish sauce;  2 tbsp veg oil;  3 teasp chilli sauce;  3 teasp hoisin sauce.

So many gorgeous recipes in this book – a couple of faves I’ll note here later today.  Must close down our seaside “office”😉 & go for a walk on such a stunning day (photo below)…



Vietnamese Herb Chicken Roulade P231 Indochine

“This dish is from the coolest contemporary Vietnamese restaurant in Saigon called Xu.  Their cuisine has pioneered the modern food scene in Saigon and has seen them voted into the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence.”

Ingredients:  1 bunch Vietnamese mint (leaves picked);  1 bunch coriander/cilantro (leaves picked);  2 cm piece of ginger (peeled & sliced);  3 garlic cloves (chopped);  1 lemongrass stem (white part only finely chopped);  1 tbsp fish sauce;  juice of 2 limes;  2 teasp salt;  2 teasp ground white pepper;  1 small cauliflower head, trimmed & roughly chopped;  4 x 250 g. Chicken thighs skin on;  2 tbsp veg oil.

Pickled onion:  100 ml white vinegar;  100 g sugar;  1 onion (thinly sliced);  10 Vietnamese mint leaves

Method (summary):

A lot of detail in the Method but basically the refreshing pickled onion could be used with any simple/similar chicken dish and placed on a bed of puréed cauliflower (strained for the best consistency).  So I’ll note the Pickled Onion method below:

Put the vinegar and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add the onion and Vietnamese mint, cover and leave to pickle for 2 hours, then strain.

For the chicken roulade recipe basically make a herb paste in a mortar & pestle – add fish sauce, S&P, lime juice last.  Flatten chicken, spread with herb paste and roll up securing with string.  Brown in a frypan and then bake at 220 deg C for approx 20 min.  Slice into 3 cm thick pieces.

Other option (if you like to follow a recipe closely) is to buy Indochine…a great book!  We love Asian flavours!