What we ate in… Vietnam!

It’s more like what didn’t we eat in Vietnam. There’s a very good chance we ate more food in Vietnam than we have in any other country so far. We loved the fact that there was tons of fresh produce included in every meal… we had missed our greens! While we ate almost every meal out at a restaurant (except the free breakfast included at all hostels), we definitely had a large variety of different types of foods. There was one point where we were burnt out on Vietnamese food so we devoured burgers, pizza and Mexican food. Here’s some of the many places we chowed down at…

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Hue, Vietnam

We left Hanoi for the final time on a Thursday night, cozily tucked in to the back of a sleeper bus. Our main mode of transportation throughout all of Vietnam were these buses. The first experience on a sleeper bus was to Sapa and it was not terrible, so we agreed to buy an “open bus” ticket for Vietnam. That meant we could travel between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with stops in Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang, for $34 each. And we could stay in each stop for as long as we wanted.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand – Elephants and Songkran

Quite possibly the highlight of our trip so far, Chiang Mai totally won us over. We left Bangkok and headed to Chiang Mai just days before the start of their New Year festivities called Songkran. While Songkran is celebrated throughout Thailand, and even other parts of SE Asia, Chiang Mai is the place to be. The Water Festival is just that, several days of throwing water at people of all ages and nationalities all day long. While we hadn’t necessarily planned to be in Chiang Mai for Songkran, we were very happy to be able to participate in the celebrations!

We stayed at an adorable hostel called Uno Bed Chiang Mai. It was one of the cutest, most home-y hostels we’ve stayed in so far. The room was great, it had a lot of common areas and living spaces, the bathrooms were clean, the location was close to all the fun and city center and it had laundry facilities!

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What we ate in… Fiji!

Bula!

On our trip to Fiji we did not leave our resort, Maui Palms, at all. We had opted to do a meal plan at the resort after reading reviews about how great the food was. Each day we were promised breakfast, lunch and a 3 course dinner. We were more than excited to try the entire menu and hopefully get our seafood fix.

The food at Maui Palms was beyond impressive, always fresh and also always surprising and slightly different. Even if we ordered the same meal more than once, we were delighted to find a different presentation and new veggies. Things never got boring with the food, but then again, when is food ever boring?! 🙂

Here’s a sampling of some of the great dishes we tried…

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“Club” Sandwich for lunch

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Appetizer of fried heaven – calamari, tempura shrimp and chicken spring rolls

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Tapas appetizer platter with crackers, cheese and veggies

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Garlic prawns

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Local fish with tropical slaw and veggies

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Surf and Turf – Filet in wine sauce with prawns

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Scallops in sweet chili sauce

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Local fish in coconut cream sauce

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Our favorite dessert…ice cream with a fresh mixed berry sauce

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Famous crepes with banana and caramel and fried ice cream for dessert our first night!

Maui Palms also prepared a feast one night where they taught us some Fijian traditions and cooked us local foods. It was really neat to learn more about the culture and also get to know the staff even more. The evening started with a ceremony where we all sat around and drank kava. Kava is made from a ground root and then combined with water so you can drink it. It’s known for it’s sedating effects, it helps prevent and/or calm anxiety and it also makes your tongue go numb. We sat around with some other visitors and the staff of Maui Palms and learned the traditions associated with drinking kava. We also all laughed at the faces the others made when drinking it and pressured each other to do “tsunami” level drinks! We both started out with “low tide” size bowls of kava, and worked our way up to “high tides”….and both got numb mouths in the process!

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Offering a kava drink

Last but not least, we sampled some Fijian beers. We loved the local beers and made sure to drink a lot of them to make sure that they did not go to waste.

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We left Fiji with happy hearts, full bellies and better tans. There is no doubt that we will be going back to Fiji, and Maui Palms, again in the future. The locals, the staff, our taxi driver, the beaches, the snorkeling, the random rain storms and otherwise intensely strong sun, the food and the beer all won us over and made us more than welcome in their beautiful country.

Cheers!
~ Kerry & Jenny

What we ate in… New Zealand

Well, it’s been a bit over a week since we left New Zealand. That means it’s time to share all the things we ate (and drank) during our visit. New Zealand is one of the most expensive countries we planned to visit on this trip, so we cooked the majority of our meals in the kitchen at our hostel. However, we did venture out a few times and found some local gems.

At Our Hostels
Jenny perfected her fried eggs (with Lantana of Texas seasoning…yup she brought that along) which we had for breakfast pretty regularly. She was a pro at this before our trip, but when you’re working with hostel-provided cookware, it’s a bit more tricky. Breakfast typically included avocado toast (we could eat this forever!). Many of our lunches were PBJ’s (ideal for hiking) and fruit. For dinner we tried a variety of things… stir fry, pasta with veggies and chicken and sometimes deli sandwiches or grilled cheese sandwiches. We also consumed a ton of cheese.

Britomart Country Club (BCC)
When Anna and Adam took us out in Auckland, we stopped by this place after our trip to Devonport. We mostly focused on the beers, but also got some tasty pizzas, fries and chorizo snacks. The location was great, the food was tasty and the company was even better!

Cable Bay Vineyards
We spent a day exploring various wineries on Waiheke Island (which you may have read about here). At the end of the tours, we stopped at Cable Bay to take in the amazing views, share a bottle of wine and devour a late lunch. We opted for one of our favorite things – a mezze platter with a variety of snacking foods. It was tasty and beautiful!

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Off the Track
In Napier we went to Off the Track with Mandy, Ben and Maddie. It was Mandy’s birthday when we arrived and this was a great way to celebrate! We took the opportunity to try a variety of tapas and platters since we had several people to share with. We got mussels, scallops, shrimp, lamb, filet, a variety of other meats, cheeses, olives, bread, veggies… the list is never-ending! Since Hawke’s Bay is a well-known wine region, we also made sure to sample a few local wines while we were there.

Stonyridge
We extended Mandy’s birthday celebration with a visit to some wineries near Napier. At one stop we ordered a lunch for the three of us that consisted of… guess what… a sampler platter! Jenny gave the mussels a taste test to make sure they were safe, then we all dug in and enjoyed as we drank wine and caught up.

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Fergburger
After we finished the Ben Lomond hike in Queenstown we hit up Fergburger. This place is well-known in Queenstown, famous for it’s burgers and long queue. We timed it just right and didn’t have to wait too long to get two burgers the size of our heads and some fries. And it didn’t take us long to inhale the entire burger after hiking for over 6 hours!

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Fat Badger’s
This was epic. We heard from a fellow traveler that pizza was amazing at this restaurant in Queenstown, then online reviews confirmed the same thing. After our lazy day of sitting in our bunks doing nothing, we decided to go here and have some pizza. Some pizza. Ha! It was happy hour when we arrived, so we ordered a few beers and their Parmesan curly fries that were on special. They were huge… we should have realized then what we were getting ourselves in to. We continued with a few more beers. Then ordered our pizza. We decided on a 20 inch (12 inch would NOT be enough) split between with 2 of their specialty pizzas. Here’s the description on the 2 we chose:
Cheesy Badgers Cheesy Cheese 5 Cheese Pizza: Cheddar, NZ Mozzarella, Feta, Ricotta, with crusted Parmesan
The Smokey Badger: Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Roast Ham, Chicken, Spicy Beef, Thick Cut Bacon, a Smokey BBQ Swirl, All Topped Off With NZ Mozzarella.

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Needless to say the pizza was giant and amazing. We ate a ton, then packaged up the rest for leftovers the next day. They were pretty darn delicious left over for breakfast and lunch.

Drinks

As far as the beer and wines we tried… the list is long. New Zealand is well known for a lot of its wines, so we stayed pretty busy sampling those. Here are some of our favorite drinks, bars and vineyards we visited.

Thirty30
In Paihia, this was the first bar we tried in New Zealand. It had a great patio, was close to the beach, happy hour beers, free wifi and was directly next to our hostel.

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All of Waiheke Island
We visited a few different wineries and loved each of them for their own reasons. More on this great visit is in this blog post.

Speight’s Summit Lager
This beer was suggested to us while we were staying in Rotorua. It quickly became a favorite and our regular go-to beer when we hit the stores in each town. Jenny was a champ and carried it back to our hostel, the Funky Green Voyager, after our long day’s visit to Wai-O-Tapu.

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Craggy Range
Near Napier, the grounds of this vineyard are stunning. We tried a ton of wines and settled on a few to take home with us to drink on Mandy and Ben’s patio as we overlooked Napier.

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Perky’s Bar
This wins on the atmosphere card for sure. Located in Queenstown, this bar is actually a boat floating on the lake, overlooking the mountains. The views are amazing, the beer is cold and they provided blankets during a chilly, windy rooftop visit.

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Cheers!
~ Kerry & Jenny

What we ate in… Hawaii!

We’ve decided to start a series of blog posts to let folks know all of the unique, local, terrible, tasty, scary and/or delicious foods we tried while visiting different locations. We’ll often also throw in some new beers and wines because hey, we like beer and wine.

Our first post is dedicated to the things we ate in Hawaii. We tried to branch out and try new things that were unique to this island. No Hard Rock Cafe or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for us! Here’s what we tried while on Oahu…

Teddy’s Burgers
This was recommended to us by our hostel and it was fantastic! We devoured some meat and fries and were happy campers at the end. It was also nice that this was right around the corner from our hostel.

Pau Hana Market Waikiki (aka Food Truck Park)
We tried 2 different food trucks here – Fisherman’s Tacos and Barrio Korean Fusion. Both were vastly different and also wonderful food. We favored the Kimchee Fries we got at Barrio (minus the mayo on top) and the ribeye on the fries was amazing. Fisherman’s Tacos had some hefty tacos with tons of goodies on top that were quite messy to eat, but we managed to take care of it all 🙂

Rainbow Drive In
One of the foods we decided we had to try was a local Hawaiian fare called Loco Moco (which we kept accidentally calling Coco Moco). This is a delicious concoction that starts with white rice then hamburger patties and gravy over it all, topped with fried eggs and served with a side of macaroni salad. This was a “must try” for sure and it did not disappoint. We did some research on the best place near us to try this amazing dish and found the Rainbow Drive In. We’ll be back for more of this!

Of course we also tried some new beers that we have to tell you about. As many of you know, we both love Coors Light. And while we found plenty of Coors Light on this trip, we also tried a few new beers.

Aloha Beer Company’s Aloha Lager at Growler USA
We were walking to the grocery store our first day and stumbled upon Growler USA (a bar with tons of beers on tap) and figured we should catch the end of the Cowboys vs. Packers game and get some cold beer in us. The grocery store would still be there in an hour or two when we were done. This was a great decision since we found Aloha Lager and loved it!

Maui Brewing Co. Pineapple Mana at our hostel
Courtesy of a dorm mate that left us a few beers. They were interesting, not our normal type of beer, but free so why not?!

One thing to note was that most of our meals and beers really were not that expensive. We had heard the island was pricey, but it turns out if you share meals and look for bargains, it’s really not that hard on the wallet. It also helped that our hostel had free breakfast each day and free pizza for us on Tuesday night.

Cheers!

~ Kerry & Jenny