Hanoi’s Wine Scene

8343259A wine lover’s dream. Hanoi has a vibrant wine scene and here’s my list of some favorite bars and restaurants with great choices in wine and tasting notes. Whether it’s pairing wine with Vietnamese and Mediterranean food, or a glass of wine with friends at sunset overlooking Hanoi’s lakes, here are some of the best spots. The most amazing bottle of wine you have ever tasted might just be the next one, so never stop searching and never stop drinking. Cheers!

My Top Favourites

La Badiane Hanoi has many restaurants that celebrate the Vietnamese-French culture so If you want to know the definition of “real French” in the middle of Hanoi, go to La Badiane. A Fusion of local and regional ingredients blended into classical French cooking. A great selection of wines, my favourites here are the Beaujolais and Premier Cru from Joseph Drouhin and the Spanish Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro with (Sweet dark cherry overlying pure red fruit with appealing wood smoke and blackberry set among grippy tannins) The restaurant setting is elegant and you’re welcome to pass by for wine and an aperitif. The restaurant delivers interesting tasting menus, including one designed with the most discerning gourmands in mind. La Badiane’s vegetarian menu is as sophisticated as its Dégustation Menu: a four course feast, with authentic flavors, which will convert you into a lover of the French cuisine. 8265104

Avalon Cafe Lounge Refreshments with a view. First I love their amazing roof top terrace with views over the lake, this is one of my favourite spots to relax with friends over a glass of wine and some very delicious snacks. You can eat here too and they have good Vietnamese & Western cuisine. Their selection of wine is varied, I would like to recommend the Pascal Jolivet blanc from the Loire Valley and Spanish Hecula red wine with (plum, fig, berriesintense balsamic aromas) The lounge bar is open all day, till late and a glass of chilled wine on the roof top late afternoon is magical. If you like, top off the experience with a snack to go along with your drinks. Both their Vietnamese and Western dishes are prepared creatively with the freshest ingredients. Then sit back and enjoy the view of the lake while the sun goes down and the city lights start illuminating the night skies. 8344295

Salmonoid Elegant fusion cuisine: There’s a new aroma and a new concept in town and it’s called Salmonoid. The idea is to create a wide range of fusion cuisines all based on salmon. Located in a beautiful villa with terraces and balconies which are filled with exotic palms sets the mood for Wine & Fine dining. A really great selection of wines, my choices would be Chateau Haut Selve, Graves with (Morello cherry, cedar, vanilla toast and black fruit notes) paired with the Grilled lamb-rack & Salmon with ginger sauce or with the Grilled beef & Salmon on potatoe puree. Also try the delicious Salmon Symphony with a chilled white wine. 8344297

Au Lac House:  I love sitting here at sunset on the villa veranda with it’s majestic columns, the black and white tiled floor and the wooden shutters surounded by shady trees it feels like stepping back in time, it’s wonderfully French-Vietnamese, and to have in my hand a glass of Chateau Paveil or Pessac Leognan. The beauty of this villa with its great selection of French wines to pair with the delicious Vietnamese cuisine on offer makes this a wonderful spot for lunch or dinner. Though I love just passing an hour or two here drinking some seriously good wine. Don’t be fooled by the French name though – the restaurant specializes in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, serving all-time favorites such as fresh and fried spring rolls, and more extravagant dishes, like roasted duck in mandarin sauce. 8344380

Sunset Bar at InterContinental Hanoi Westlake. Champagne and sunsets : In a super location with a large terrace overlooking the lake, this is the place to sit and enjoy Hanoi’s amazing sunsets. With large cane and bamboo sofas and shady gazebos it doesn’t get more luxurious than this and if you feel like splurging they have a really good choice of different sparkling wines to enjoy such as Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and Cremant. This is the go to wine spot in Hanoi as they host a Vinoteca event each month with seriously good wine. They also have red & white wines imported from famous wineries around the world. 8344292

Vine Restaurant & Wine Bar Worldly wines & innovative plates. Located in the buzzing restaurant and bar area of Tay Ho, this has to be one of my favourite wine bars in Hanoi. They have a superb selection of wines, the decor has a luxurious ‘wine cellar’ style and if you’re looking for something special this is the place. I enjoyed a Turriga Isola Dei Nuraghi 2003 with two years aging in French barriques, Turriga has notes of Mediterranean herbs, roasted coffee, spices, and licorice with a generous core of black and red fruit.) they also have a good range of Tiganello and South African wines from the Winery of Good Hope. I’ll just add they have friendly staff and really good metierranean cuisine. 8344290.jpg

Local Bar Wines in a party atmosphere, 16 Ta Hien Hoan Kiem. Aimed at a younger generation of wine lovers, this party place serves wines such as light Italian roses and crisp French Sauvignon Blancs.  If you are feeling adventurous and want to go for something out of the ordinary, test their signature wine cocktails. Drop by with your friends in the evening and dance the night away to their cool tunes or come by during the day and sit and chill.  The wines on offer change each week as choices are aimed at good value for your ‘dong’. Local Bar is in the old quarter and has those cute Vietnamese cafe chairs and tables outside the bar where you can sit and watch the ever changing panorama of the French quarter. 8344291

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Wines of the month in Hanoi

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Ruffino Chianti: Chianti DOCG occupies a special place in the heart and history of Ruffino. When Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino founded the winery in 1877, the first wine they produced was a Chianti. In keeping with tradition, Chianti DOCG features a distinct Florentine bottle reminiscent of the fiasco, the straw-dressed flask in which Chianti was originally bottled. Known as a Tuscan red: 70% Sangiovese, blended with varietals Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Tasting Notes: This medium-bodied, well-balanced wine is approachable and aromatic, with classic Chianti aromas of violet and wonderful cherry fruit flavors. It finishes with spicy hints of wild cherry and hazelnut. It retains these fresh and fruity flavors since it receives no wood ageing.

ACCLAIM
Best Buy – 2011 Vintage
World Value Wine Challenge

Gold Medal – 2011 Vintage
Sommelier Challenge

Food Pairing: Pair this Chianti DOCG with a variety of traditional Italian dishes like ravioli and tomato-based pasta sauces, such as the Tuscan slow-simmered Ragù. Pizza is another favorite pairing especially the Margherita and a personal favourite meat pairing is Bistecca alla Fiorentina and beef carpaccio. Cheeses such as Mozzarella, Parmesan Reggiano, Pecorino and Ricotta will be simply perfect. Its brightness and acidity also makes it a great companion for some Vietnamese cuisine such as the strong salty meat dishes and spicy pork dishes that are heavy on the garlic.

This wine is Imported by DaLoc wines and you can find this wine in Hanoi’s finest restaurants and as Wine of the month at Il mediterraneo restaurant in Hanoi. A great wine that you can really enjoy with great Italian food.

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The Tam Dao Bear Sanctuary – Meet Mausi

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MAUSI

Female
Mausi arrived at our Vietnam sanctuary in June 2007 after being discovered with two other tiny cubs in a secret compartment under a passenger bus – headed for a life of torture on a bile farm. Mausi thrived in her new environment and her excitement over anything new was a joy to watch. She has grown into a sweet-natured, playful young bear. She shares her den and outdoor enclosures with a large group of bears, mostly energetic juveniles but also a couple of mature bears. Mausi gets along famously with them all.

Spread over an area of 12 hectares, the sanctuary has over 10,000 square metres of seminatural outdoor enclosure space designed to stimulate the bears’ natural behaviour The Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre is about a two-hour drive from Hanoi. You can visit the bears on these dates:

 4 and 18 October
1, 15 and 29 November 13 and 20 December
To book your visit, please email info@animalsasia.org

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https://www.animalsasia.org//intl/our-work/end-bear-bile-farming/what-we-do/bear-sanctuaries/vietnam-bear-sanctuary/vietnam-bear-sanctuary.html

Italian Food Tour – This week week Lazio

ravioli-con-piselliAt Il Faro this week’s culinary trip is taking you to Lazio. The Lazio region, located in central Italy, has always been a seat of cultural exchange, especially during the Roman Age. Simple pasta sauces, roast meats and pork products dominate the table. The sauces that adorn the pasta dishes in Lazio, vary from the very simple like cacio e pepe, or salty Roman pecorino and pepper, to much more elaborate recipes that may include butter, egg, pancetta or guanciale. The traditional pasta sauce from Amatrice, called Amatriciana, is made by sautéing onions in pork fat, adding tomatoes and spices and allowing the flavors to come together. The sauces are typically served with long pasta noodles like spaghetti and fettuccine. Short, or broken pasta, often appears in soups, where it is pairs with beans, chickpeas, cabbage, or broccoli and flavored with pounded lard, onions and herbs. Beef is the meat of choice in Lazio, however lamb and kid is also served. Coda alla Vaccinara, or braised oxtail, is a popular Roman dish. Outside of the city, and especially during the spring, you can find abbacchio, or lamb, baked in the oven, roasted on a spit or prepared in a fricassee. Many people eat chicken as well and either roast it or cook it with tomato and peppers, or in a pan with fiery spices. The most popular regional pork recipe is porchetta alla romana.

This week we have chosen 4 dishes that are typical of Lazio:

Antipasto:

Prosciutto e Melone – Parma ham a jewel in Italian culinary tradition, a dry-cured ham that is usually thinly sliced and served with cool melon wedges, an explosion of flavours.

Il Primo:

Agnolotti alla Romana con creme di piselli – Fresh egg pasta parcels filled with roast beef and herbs in a delicious cream pea sauce.agnolottidutto

Il Secondo:

Salti in Bocca – veal Cutlets filled with sage and ham and cooked off in a white wine sauce.piatto-pronto-bicchieri-tovagliolo-azzurro_dettaglio_ricette_slider_grande3

Il Dolce:

Macedonia di Cesare –  A salad of fresh mixed marinated fruits.

 

Come by and try the best dishes from this region. 

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Venetian recipe: Baccalà Mantecato – Whipped Cod Mousse

news-dried_salted_cod_fishYou cannot talk about Venetian food without talking about the ‘chicheto’, that wonderful ritual bite to eat with a sparkling glass of Spritz or an Ombra, a glass of local wine. And you cannot talk about the ‘chicheto’ without mentioning the Baccalà Mantecato: Dried Atlantic cod, soaked, poached and whipped into a mousse, then spread on a slice of baguette or grilled polenta.

Ingredients

700 gramms of unsalted Baccalà (stockfish already soaked) or if unable to source the dried fish, fresh Cod maybe used. 2 Cloves of garlic, half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Method

Place the Baccalà in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, add garlic and bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the fish is tender. Drain the fish and keep aside a little of the water, remove the garlic and the skin and any bones, then place in a bowl. While the fish is still hot begin whipping the fish into a cream, using a wooden spoon and at the same time add a thin slow drizzle of olive oil. Continue whipping until the fish reaches a creamy mousse like consistency. This is easiest with two people, otherwise just pause now and then to add the olive oil in stages. You might need to add a spoon or two of the cooking water if it is too dense, this will depend on the quality of the stock fish and how long it was soaked prior to poaching. After season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt.

Serve on Polenta or slices of Baguette, garnish with chopped parsley leaves scattered on top and a little ground nutmeg.

 

Italian Food Tour in Hanoi – This weeks menu

menu3Venetian cuisine is varied with many traditional recipes from the famous lagoons and the countryside close by. This week we have chosen some favourites and some of the lesser known but very highly prized dishes from the Veneto region.

Stracetti Al Radicchio, fine slivers of tender veal cooked with a chicory leaf marinate. Crostini Di Zucca In Saor, marinated pumpkin with sun-dried black olives.

Risotto Al Ragu Di Quaglia E Funghi, a delicious risotto with a quail and white mushroom ragu. Bigolli All’Anatra, fresh egg pasta with a duck ragu.

Agnello In Crema Di Asparagi, Lamb fillet with an asparagus cream. Fegato Alla Veneziana, finely sliced veal liver cooked in the venetian style with lemon and gently stewed onions.

Sorbetto Vino e Frutta, a sorbet of wine and fresh fruits. Crespelle con Fragole e Cioccolato, light crepes with a strawberry and chocolate garnish.

10609531_349188588565190_5960174740529984396_nCelebrating the Veneto region with many delicious dishes from Venice and Treviso.

Italian Food Tour in Hanoi – August – The Veneto Region

cucina_03cucina_07cucina_11Il Faro Italian Restaurant is celebrating the Veneto cuisine with a dedicated menu. Veneto is a rich region under many aspects, above all the gastronomic one. It’s easy to see why, given that Venice for centuries traded with distant lands in the East and the Venetians integrated the use of exotic spices into their recipes. The 4 key points are polenta, rice, cod and beans.

Some favourite Venetian Dishes: Sarde in Saor, sweet and sour sardines. Bigoli in Salsa, thick coarse spaghetti seasoned with a sardine and onion sauce. Risi e Bisi, risotto with beans and Bruscandoli, radicchio from Treviso which has many delicious varieties. Baccalà Mantecato, a creamy soft Cod mousse served with polenta. Fegato alla Veneziana, liver cooked with figs. Trotta in Gradela, delicately flavoured grilled trout, Filette di Coregone alla Gardesana, white fish baked with capers and anchovy fillets. Triglie al Cartoccio, reef mullets wrapped and coated with spices creating a heady burst of aromas. Frittelle, sweet fried dumplings and many more traditional Venetian dishes.

The dishes on offer each day will be subject to the fresh ingredients available locally in Hanoi.

Molise Recipe – Minestra Maritata, Wedding Soup

minestra_maritata-300x225This delicious traditional recipe from Molise is for a wedding soup with meatballs, chicken, endive and escarole.

INGREDIENTS

For the meatballs – 1 lb of ground beef or veal, 1 egg, half cup of bread crumbs, 1 clove of minced garlic, sea salt and black pepper. For the soup – I chicken (cleaned. heart, liver etc removed), 1 escarole head and 1 endive (or use other greens such as cabbage, kale or spinach) 2 medium chopped onions, half a cup of chopped celery, half a cup of chopped carrots, 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese .

METHOD

In a large soup pot place the chicken, chopped onion, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt then cover with water and simmer for 1 hour. Prepare the meat balls: Mix the ground meat, egg and bread crumbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and shape into little balls, then bake the meat balls in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 F or until browned. Boil the endive and escarole until tender then drain and set aside. Remove the chicken from the pot and bone the chicken and return the meat to the pot. Add the meatballs and endive and escarole and heat, then serve with grated parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper with crostini-toasted bread garnished with olive oil.

 

Cannelloni Alla Sorrentina – Stuffed Pasta, Sorrentine Style

Delicious cannelloni with a rich tomato sauce, topped with melting cheese.To celebrate this week’s food tour to Campania, we are posting a classic recipe from Sorrentina. The southern Italian region of Campania has much to offer food lovers:
Pepperonico and buffalo mozzarella reign as kings, fresh seafood is abundant and the pizza is the best in the world. Campania is home to the gorgeous Sorrento Peninsula and below is one of the most popular recipes for Cannelloni Alla Sorrentina.

You’ll need:

1/2 cup olive oil

*1 clove garlic, chopped

*4 anchovy fillets, chopped

3/4 lb cubed lean beef or pork *400g minced beef and pork

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 2/3 cups tomato paste

1/4 cup shredded basil

2 cups ricotta

6oz fior di latte cheese, cubed *170g

*50g baby spinach, chopped

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

12 squares fresh pasta 5-6 inches to a side.(* I used the fresh lasagne sheets)

Salt

Preheat the oven to 400F (*200C). Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, onion and anchovies.  Then add the meat. Cook until the meat is browned and the onion is golden.  Pour in the wine and let it evaporate, then add the tomato paste, a pinch of salt and basil.  Add 1 cup of water and cook until the meat has broken down nearly to a paste (if you use mince, it will take less time then cubed meat).  Remove from heat and add the ricotta, fior di latte, baby spinach and a little parmigiano-reggiano. Cook the pasta squares a few at a time in lightly salted boiling water, removing them from the water when they rise to the surface and aligning them on a counter top (preferably marble) dampened with cold water (*You don’t need to pre cook if you use the fresh lasagne sheets that are ready to go).  Put a tablespoon of the meat and ricotta filling across the centre of each square and roll them up to form cannelloni.  Spoon some of the meat sauce in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish, then align the cannelloni in the dish in a single layer.  Cover the cannelloni with more sauce, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and bake for 15-20 mins until the sauce is boiling.

Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley.

Makes 12.