Viet Nam News
It can also be great to celebrate those holidays which are foreign to the country one has taken up residence, but near and dear to our hearts, just to have a different experience of them. We learn to make amends and try to ’feel’ the holiday as best we can. Andy Hill reports.
Living abroad carries with it so many opportunities to live the way other people do, to eat the way they do, to experience the world a little more like they do, and to celebrate holidays and festivities that you may have known nothing about when living in your home country. It can also be great to celebrate those holidays which are foreign to the country one has taken up residence, but near and dear to our hearts, just to have a different experience of them. We learn to make amends and try to ’feel’ the holiday as best we can.
Coming from middle America, a big part of the Christmas experience was the paralyzing cold and the icy streets lined with towering snow banks; but after my first Noel abroad, in Thailand, I realized that the spirit of the season could be grasped wherever I found myself; in tropical climes or frozen temperatures.
It is just as heart-warming to exchange Christmas cheer with loved ones next to a coconut tree on beach than next to a plastic tree in a living room in the frosty mid west.
However, one thing that does not always translate so well is the food. Every holiday has it’s own basic dishes and culinary traditions, depending on where you are, and the kind of food that one would eat at a normal Christmas dinner in the West is just not common in other parts of the world.
Like turkey. I’ve been in Asia for nearly ten years, and I’ve only seen a turkey twice (and one of them tried to attack me). Another common drawback is that a lot of wintry, holiday food from the West needs an oven, and they just aren’t used in most parts of Asia. The materials and equipment you need for a Christmas dinner can be hard to find, depending on where you are.
However, expat Hanoians looking to savour some of the foods they remember from the Christmases of their youth will be taken care of this holiday season. Mulled wine and holiday-spiced beers will be poured and stuffed birds, puddings and pies will be served by many fantastic restaurants and bars in this culinary mecca.
Turtle Lake Brewery in Tây Hồ District will have a full Christmas buffet on the 24th in support of the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. For VNĐ700,000, revellers will get to fill up on turkey and champagne ham with all the traditional Christmas sides, such as stuffing, roast vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, potato gratin, cranberry sauce and gravy. In addition to a full desert buffet, the taps will be open for over a dozen of their award-winning beers. On Christmas Eve, be sure to check out their event Barrels by Candlelight, with the new Slovenian Christmas Porter on open pour for VNĐ300,000 to sip while belting out Christmas carols.
Moose and Roo Smokehouse (21 Hai Bà Trưng) will have a set menu for lunch and dinner on the 24th and 25th, with roasted squash soup, roasted turkey with gravy, honey-smoked ham, bread stuffing, sweet potato puree, mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, cauliflower gratin and cranberry sauce, followed by bread pudding with custard, for VNĐ550,000.
For a different approach to traditional Christmas dishes with a Vietnamese twist, head over to Highway 4 (25 Bát Sứ) to sample their holiday menu, available now until the end of December. Some of the items include turkey breast salad with passion fruit dressing, turkey roulade served on a bed of rice, turkey leg braised with red wine in a clay pot, and turkey wrapped with mushrooms and seaweed. Guests can also try their seasonal spiced cider or many of the delicious Sơn Tinh artisan rice spirits available at Highway 4.
For those looking for a five star dining experience this Christmas, Press Club Hanoi (59A Lý Thái Tổ) will be serving a special Christmas Eve dinner on the 24th featuring a menu from Michelin-starred chef Alain Dutournier. Guests will be treated to mise en bouche, black scallop mimosa with tartar seaweed, avocado and lobster, oyster consommé with green asparagus and the chef’s secret caviar, caramelized foie gras, crumbled hazelnuts, green apple and cider sauce, poached turbot with lobster mousse and American sauce, roasted coot with wild mushrooms, chestnuts and brussels with truffle sauce, brillat-savarin cheese with truffle and lettuce, followed by a Yule log cake of lychee and mango cream with rose sorbet.
If you happen to be celebrating Christmas dinner at home this year, or headed to a friend’s party but don’t have the time (or skill) to cook up something nice, Oasis (24 Xuân Diệu) can prepare all the stuffed turkey, glazed and smoked ham, broccoli casserole, garden peas with shallots and bacon, roast piglets with crackling, pumpkin pie, apple strudel, and mulled wine that you need to entertain your friends and family, available for pick up, delivery or catered to your party.
So, for those of us who will not be home for the holidays this Christmas season, there will still be plenty of options for stuffing ourselves full of all the mulled wine and yule cake we can handle. Now the only thing left to worry about is that drunken Skype call with the family. — VNS
Press Club Hanoi (59A Lý Thái Tổ)
Moose and Roo Smokehouse (21 Hai Bà Trưng)
Highway 4 (25 Bát Sứ)
Oasis (24 Xuân Diệu)
Turtle Lake Brewery in Tây Hồ District