Monday, December 3, 2007

Food from the Motherland

So this past summer '07, I travelled to Vietnam. I have been there two times before this third trip, but never have I experienced the food like this. I guess when I was younger I just never truly looked at food in the same way that I do now. And now, well now, I worship it as a second god. Not really...I just really, really love it, and true love lasts a lifetime. It's one of those things that I need to live, literally to nourish me but also because it makes me eternally happy. And if that's not enough, what is?

So anyways this trip to Vietnam was culinarily fantastic! Here are some pictures:

Freshly caught and steamed scallops off the coast of Mui Ne, topped with a garlic and scallion oil. Not lying here, this was the best scallop that I have ever encountered. You can give me scallops done by Ripert or Wolfgang any day but I dare-say, these will top anything they have to offer. They were simple and fresh; nothing could be better.

Fried Soft Shell Crab: crispy and refreshing when wrapped in lettuce. When dipped into the sauce, it was a delicious salty explosion. But honestly, what isn't good fried? 

Handmade coconut and caramel candies. They made it right in front of us by handpicking week-old coconut, shaving the "meat", and squeezing it to extract the milk. Then they reduce it and let it harden in shaped wood trays.

Freshly made Vietnamese desserts, named Che, made on a wet, sandy street (dirty by most standards) fresh every morning. And yes, I do realize that that does not provide the best of images for you to think about, but trust me, the intensity of the freshness made my knees weak. It's one of those situations where you were always content with what you had because that was all you had ever known, but after finding something better, you never knew how much you were missing out. 


Beirut stemmed from the mind of Zach Condon, a high school dropout who fled his life in Santa Fe, New Mexico in search of life's other meanings all across Europe. 'Gulag Orkester' was largely inspired by Balkan folk music and mainly comprised of the continual gorgeous layering of many interesting instruments such as the glockenspiel, ukulele, mandolin, drums, organ, piano, and other various instruments. You'll find that in listening to Beirut's music, surprise is an element that is seen in high rate. One instrument you won't be able to find in Condon's music is the guitar, but trust me, it won't be missed one bit. As a self-taught musician to well over ten instruments you'd expect a rather shitty job on such an album but nope, no such failure. And although you'd expect a full ensemble band, Condon stands alone. It's definitely not the typical album a 21 year old high school dropout produces and is like nothing you have ever experienced. 

A beautifully romantic video directed by Alma Har'el

But since then, he's upgraded in more ways than one. His latest debut 'The Flying Club Cup' was largely influenced by the likes of Jacques Brel and immerses you in a flurry of the accordion, drums, and a sweeping amount of strings (all in thanks to Owen Pallett of The Arcade Fire and Final Fantasy). The album beautifully reminisces in old style folk music while still keeping the music fresh enough to hold the attention span of the modern day person. It's easy to get lost in your thoughts of Parisian cityscapes while listening to the album.

A Take Away show along the streets of Paris

The only downside? He gives off an egotistical bastard vibe when he sings live, but who am I to judge? We all have our own initial demeanors.

Losing My Virginity (Don't get the wrong idea...)

So this is officially my first blog on the world wide web and I'm not going to lie, it's a bit intimidating. But I'll try my best not to fuck it up, as if there were a way to do so but...

I decided that my first blog would be about a classic, but never over-done topic: Christmas. It's that perfect time of year when schools almost out and when you could really care less about anything but those chunky knit sweaters, gaining 10 pounds, and cuddling near a fireplace (even though it's not cold enough in Southern California to need a fireplace).

As a gift to all out there, here's my idea of a perfect Chrismas mix-tape. Some classic songs, some beautifully reworked covers, and some songs that have nothing to do with Christmas at all, but just keep up that feeling of joy and the undeniable urge to dance in your underwear.

Death Cab for Cutie - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
The Nightmare Before Christmas - What's This?
Rod Stewart & Dolly Parton - Baby It's Cold Outside
Stevie Wonder - If You Really Love Me
Wham! - Last Christmas
Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis
Frank Sinatra - I Won't Dance
The Killers - A Great Big Sled
The Weepies - All That I Want
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough
Ron Sexsmith - Maybe This Christmas
Billy Mack - Christmas Is All Around
Madonna - Dress You Up (In My Love)
Britney Spears - All I Want For Christmas

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Hello! I'm Michelle. (See, that's me below there!)
(photo by cherish chen)

About me.
I'm Vietnamese.
I think honesty in friendship is most important.
I think honesty in general is most important.
Respect is second in line.
My feet are pretty cute, they've taken a beating, but they're still fiiiine.
I think Joseph Gordon Levitt and James Franco are just the bee's knees.
When it's raining, you can find me joyously running through it.
You will find me constantly eating. 
I daydream constantly of travel.
Sloths are my spirit animal... you know, if I believed in spirit animals.
Plane rides make me happy, cause then I know that adventure is just around the bend.
I wish I could afford everything at Madewell.
I want to be Martha Stewart (not in the commit fraud kind of way, but the fabulous homemaker-baker-entrepreneur kind of way).
I love wearing black.
I'm highly attracted to people who enjoy food as much as I do. 
I use a mac and will never, ever go back.
I literally never stress... ever.
Hiking is my favorite pastime.
I'm absolutely enamored with tea.
Love is confusing with people, it's easy with inanimate things.
Except family, with them, my love is endless and enduring.
I've never broken a bone nor gotten a stitch.
I live for cold weather, although I only do well in temperate weather.
Writing lists helps me keep sane.
I like to people watch (in a non-creepy way).
I try to keep an open mind as much as possible.
The trick is to live without an answer, I think...
Sparklers, intense laughs, and a cold beer make me happy.
My favorite TV show is Law and Order: SVU. This either makes me deranged or super cool... I haven't decided.
I have a baby blanket, it's slowly coming apart; this makes me very sad.
I am weird, but that's okay by me.

About this blog.
I used to think baking meant buying a box of Funfetti cake mix, and though I still do love my Funfetti, baking is something entirely different to me now (for the better of course)! While this blog is mainly focused on my cooking and baking, it also has a little bit of fashion, art, photography, music, and love thrown in, all for good measure of course (and maybe a little bit for my own pleasure too).

About the photos.
I shoot with a Canon EOS 30D, equipped with a 50mm f 1.8 lens (basically the only one I could afford at the moment), now concurrently with a 35mm f 2.0. Don't be fooled by it's low price though! This lens takes absolutely amazing pictures in low light and is great for portraits or food photography. I love my camera immensely, perhaps with more love than an inanimate object should receive. I bought this camera with my hard earned money. Yes, it was quite expensive, but I like to think of it as an investment, and it sure has served me well. I hope you do wander and stay a while!

Awards/ Features.
Une-deux senses has been awarded a Kreativ Blogger Award and a Lovely Blog Award and has also been featured in Gourmet Live, Serious Eats, Saveur, Foodista, The Kitchn, Society Social, Anthology Magazine, and the Food News Journal (1) (2) (3) (4). It can be seen in the pages of TastespottingFoodgawker, and Pinterest frequently.