Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Food

Nerja 2 – Restaurant Jacky

Thursday 12 March 2015

Having had a relatively long day on the Wednesday we had decided that Thursday would be a relatively quiet day and so much of it is spent displaying large amounts of unsightly white flesh to the sun in the hope that it might decide to go a slightly less white colour.  And it gives me a chance to catch up on sundry listening such as the rural fly on the wall documentary – The Archers – plus a related podcast entitled Dum Tee Dum.  The former is at present coping with the aftermath of the Great Flood without the assistance of Noah and an Ark to save the animals and it will all be forgotten in the blink of an eye.

Having done her research my wife has booked us into the Thursday night dinner at Restaurant Jacky where the chef provides a single (and ever changing no doubt) menu for all diners.  Eight courses plus white and red wine. €22 each plus 10% tax plus a tip.  My wife left a total of €60 at the end of our dining experience which more than covered the bill and a decent tip.  This was the best value for money ever I would suggest.


This was the menu for the evening and obviously needs a little translation.  Bouchée a la reina is a simple vol au vent containing a tasty combination of chicken and mushroom in a sauce.  A great way to start.  And good enough to justify mopping up the sauce using some bread.

Crema de calabaza led to some discussion at the time as to content of the soup.  Later use of modern technology provides the answer – a large winter squash which resembles  a pumpkin.  I had the opportunity to eat half of my wife’s portion as she was already concerned about the size of the meal, initial portions being decently sized.

Even we managed to work out that foie gras was next on the menu; this came with morello cherries.  Whilst not the best we have ever had this was very good.  It is one of the few foods not to my wife’s taste so I was able to have an extra half portion of this as well.  About here we were asked how we wanted the steak cooked and made our usual choices – medium rare for me and medium for my wife.

The next course caused the upset of the evening.  We asked for an indication of the meaning and were advised that it was “sea horses” which meant that I again got to eat much of a second portion as my wife believed it.  The correct translation is “sea urchins” and I found it quite tasty – just a good sea soup.

The sorbet was raspberry with seven up.  On the sweet side for me – but I did try it and it was certainly setup to do the job that a sorbet should; my wife was able to finish it off.

All the way when our glasses seemed to be going down they were topped up – only with white wine at this stage – but without obvious limit as we go through the meal.

We could translate the next one – white fish in a green sauce and that was an accurate description.  A nice solid piece of fish and a green sauce!  My wife’s comment was “Yum” and I cannot disagree.

The steaks were not large (but we were pretty full by this point in any event) but certainly of good quality and tasty with a good mushroom sauce.  To accompany the steak we are poured a glass of red wine; unlike the white there are no top ups on this – but then at these prices it is all amazing.

And to round off the meal a piece of cake with chocolate on the top.  Simple – but nice; again I relinquished much of this.

After eating so much I felt more like some fresh air rather than coffee and so we decided to head back towards our hotel.  However during the meal we heard at least one table book for next Thursday and another table discussing that the last time they were all together was in the same restaurant – I think most of the voices were English!

On the way back to the hotel we had to pass MarBella as mentioned earlier this week so we wandered in and through into the chill out bar at the back.  Time for a liquer coffee for my wife and (in my case) a Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky.  And another one a bit later.  When I first reached an age to drink I was told how you could only buy Black Label abroad with Red Label (supposedly markedly inferior) at home.  So I still make a point of digesting some Black Label when the opportunity arises.  The next stage is to avoid a hangover!

Summary report on the restaurant – the best value for money bar none plus the best food at any price this week.  I really cannot understand how they can afford to produce such an excellent meal at this price without losing money.  Absolutely outstanding and recommended to anyone going to Nerja.

Tonle Sap Lake

Day 10 Thursday 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas and for us a day of transition.  We leave Siem Reap by cruise boat to head south along the Tonle Sap lake and river with seven days of cruising ahead of us.

Although pre-warned the low level of water prevents the river cruiser – Mekong Prestige II – being able to negotiate the Tonle Sap lake and so we are  loaded into a motorboat which is not particularly comfortable (not enough knee room for tall western sized people) and told that we have a three hour or so journey to the river cruiser.

There are no pictures of our activities today – it was not quite what we wanted!  It took more like four and half hours to reach the cruiser and not far short of our destination those travelling on the small deck were forced indoors as we saw the first rain of the holiday.The lake is huge and for most of the journey land was only visible on either post or starboard at the horizon.  And the other horizon is water as far as the eye can see.

The commencement of our trip is enlivened by the party sitting in front of us (an apparently excitable Brazilian) and the ladies behind us have an entertaining discussion as both appear to have been allocated the same cabin.  After a while we decide nothing can be done until we get there.  I certainly get the impression that the Brazilian thinks she might be travelling on the Queen Mary rather than a river cruiser!

Eventually we have land on both sides again and we transfer from the motor boat to the cruiser.  She is a well appointed vessel as we had expected (she is less than a year old).  Whilst we might struggle to get across the crew have to get our huge suitcases on board as well – and nothing goes in the drink which is good news.  However due to the cabin mix up one of our cases goes astray so unpacking is a little slower than we might have liked.

Before long we are sat at dinner and the tensions relax.  There is a wide offering and four courses – and even cheese for the end of the meal for me.  We are going to eat well for the next week.   And I rather think we shall sleep well.

Vietnam (north) – another day

Day 3 Thursday 18 December 2014

Good and varied breakfast in the Movenpick, but avoiding the local delicacies on offer we stick to a continental breakfast as we have a busy day in Hanoi.    Our first planned stop is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum but on seeing numerous school children in long lines our guide aborts this visit and we head off to the Temple of Literature.  Originally constructed as a school for Royal children, it was later extended to become the first University and major place of learning where in the fifteenth to seventeeth centuries the people who learnt here were very important with examination success being recorded on impressive stone tablets.  The teachings of Confucius (of whom there is a statue) and the three Kings responsible for extending education are honoured in the Temple.  Whilst some aspects of the teachings of Confucius might not match modern life they formed the bedrock of society here for a long time.  Despite the bustle outside it is a quiet and peaceful area.

Today’s photographs are at

We then return to the Mausoleum where we can see the body of Ho Chi Minh, although poorly – first tip here is that if you have reactolite glasses they look like sun glasses so the (armed) guards politely and silently request removal.  Not a problem unless like my wife and I you can see not a lot!  Surreptiously putting them back on and off and not missing a step (you need to keep in step you know) as you pass the great man is quite a struggle for both of us.

Back in the open air we rejoin our guide and enter the remaining complex where we are outside the French colonial head quarters built for the Governor of French Indo-China.  The whole of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand were controlled from here and indeed the country boundaries were redrawn by the French which has ed to many significant changes in the separate countries as becomes clear in Cambodia later in our journey.

We hear more detail of the French colonial period which was effectively ended by Ho Chi Minh.  The French were in control from the middle of the nineteenth century until the Japanese took control.  At the end of the war in 1945 Vietnam declared independence but the French returned seeking to take back control.  They built  a massive garrison at Dien Bien Phu in a deep wooded valley from which to control the Vietnamese.  However the guerilla tactics adopted by the Vietnamese – building narrow paths to the top of the surrounding hills under cover of mists prevented French aerial visibility and the narrow valley enabled supply lines to be cut easily.  Eventually the French suffered a massive defeat and as a result of a peace treaty Vietnam was divided into North, controlled by Ho Chi Minh and South Vietnam which was still linked with the French.

At one point Ho Chi Minh sought assistance from the USA but in that period it was isolationist and would not assist, so not surprisingly help was sought from the Russians.  It makes you wonder how different history would have been in this part of the world if the USA had helped?

Ho Chi Minh would not take up residence in the fine ex-French colonial headquarters preferring a much simpler house nearby which we can see from the outside.  This was temporary but the replacement house on stilts, which of course is common in Vietnam, was no more luxurious.  A man of and with the people who did believe “that we are all in this together” had very modest accommodation.  Adjacent was the effective “cabinet room” alongside a massive bunker which could be used when bombs were being dropped by the Americans from South Vietnamese airbases as the “war against communism” developed in the late sixties and early seventies.

This is however all in a beautiful parkland setting (or at least it is now) with a lake, trees and now well maintained grass.

In 1989 we may recall the fall of the Berlin Wall.  What I did not know was that in the same year (when we married – so I do have a wife on these travels) was that Communism was being reformed in Vietnam and Laos.  The new communism may not entirely match our political choice, but individuals have far more freedom and can travel abroad freely.  They buy and build businesses and land and we are struck everywhere in Vietnam (and later Laos) that there seem to be plentiful supplies of food and clothing.  Hanoi may be much different to the countryside, and I will write about Laos later, but certainly in the capital there seemed to be no shortages on anything.  And my wife (well she deserves a comment) notes how clean it is all seems compared to our trip last year to India.  Here streets are tidy and clean and unemployment is very low, with people no doubt employed to maintain this state of affairs.

Leaving this central area we go the Museum of Ethnology where the 54 different ethnic groupings within Vietnam are represented.  They have many different languages and backgrounds as they reflect moving populations, invasions and economic and social changes and the museum seeks to reflect this.

However in the grounds of the Museum is a small restaurant which works in the same way as “Jamie’s Fifteen”.  It takes youngsters and trains them in cooking, waiting and management skills and we have a very tasty lunch – more Hanoi soup first.

There are settings conveying the different living and working practices of the different ethnic groups.  Outside the main museum there are samples of various buildings from around Vietnam showing different types of construction – one of wood, one of bamboo, one with a thaatched type roof, some on the ground and others on stilts from those living on or close flood plains (perhaps we should adopt this in the UK!).  We did not take photos in this area but I can refer you to .  Strongly recommended for a visit.

We return to the City Centre for a light hearted trip (after the sight seeing) in a tuc tuc – man powered, not motorised – around the Old Quarter which is essentially a huge market.  The streets are teeming with food suppliers, clothing, shoes, jewellery, cafes etc.  Equally interesting was the street traffic.  Mopeds loaded up with boxes, goods for delivery or families (4 on a single moped was the largest number I saw.  Managed a photo of three.  Walking around there are still many ladies delivering in traditional style with a pole and baskets on each end and a pointed straw hat, although the numbers are declining as the population modernises.

Finally time for dinner and a huge step change tonight.  “San Ho” is an expensive fish restaurant which is almost opposite our hotel.  So no major exercise.  Food very good, but expensive by comparison with anything else and yet nothing to make us go “wow”.  Our choice but might have done better to go back to the same place as the night before!

Vietnam (north)

Day 2 Wednesday 17 December 2014

We are awoken (well we were not asleep) in what are theoretically the early hours but it is only 21:00 back in the UK.  Vietnam has a 7 hour time difference and following a not bad breakfast we are on descent into Hanoi.

First annoying experience, despite the cases being given priority stickers at Gatwick we endure a longish wait before they emerge.  Meanwhile we are entertained by four boxes apparently containing Johnnie Walker whisky going around and around on the carousel!

Exit with nothing to declare we are met by a young guide and meeting the two other ladies on this tour (whose bags had been first to emerge so had also had a long wait), we head to the hotel and get our first taste of the Hanoi rush hour.  Public transport seems a little lacking – as far as I can see they have built a new airport terminal to cope with growing traffic but there is no rail connection to the airport!  There is heavy use of mopeds / motorbikes with this being a very heavily used mode of transport.

Our first stop is a coffee and the Museum of History which enables our guide to give a run down of Vietnamese history over the last 2000 years.  Controlled by China until approx 1000AD, Hanoi was formed and became the capital of an independent country in 1004 AD.  Much of the next 400 years or so was to be subject to continued invasions from China until the Vietnamese under resourceful leaders seduced the Chinese navy into the mouth of the river where stakes had been buried which, as the tide dropped, trapped the invaders and enabled the Vietnamese troops to inflict a heavy defeat.  The tactic was so good that it was used a second time, the Chinese having apparently forgotten the history in the meantime.

This period ended when the French came and Hanoi became the headquarters for French Indo-China in the nineteenth century.  That initially ended with the Japanese invasion and so in 1945 with the Japanese withdrawal Vietnam became independent and certainly our guide considered this an important date.  Led by Ho Chi Minh the French returned with the intention of recovering Indo-China and the Vietnamese guerillas were born.

The French built a huge garrison at Dien Bien Phu in the north of the country in a deeply wooded valley.  As we acknowledged the mists hang around in the morning in winter and under this cover from aircraft the Vietnamese were able to construct narrow paths through the woods to the top of the surrounding hillsides and were able cut the land supply lines to the garrison and also to rain down firepower from the hillsides inflicting a heavy defeat.  The French surrendered the North and the country became divided into two – North and South Vietnam.
This album records our two days in Hanoi and are now in the order they were taken I think, so should match this blog a little more closely.

Hanoi has recently celebrated 1000 years of existence and has created a giant mural covering some 4 km along the major city road, parts of which we saw and appear in the photos.  We then drove around part of the city seeing the Lake of Restored sword and the temple at Quan Thanh temple which was at the north gate of the original city.

Following on from sleep in the afternoon we wandered around the corner from the Movenpick hotel with the intention of sampling some Vietnamese food.  Quan Ngon restaurant is an obviously popular place; after a false start a waitress with some English (and English is a much taught language in Vietnam we found) helped us through the menu and we ordered far too much.  Hanoi soup to start is an absolute must.  Either beef or chicken noodle – but good and refreshing.  The highlight was a shrimp speciality in a pancake.  But then we were also given rice paper and a variety of herbs and so with the shrimp pancake, herbs and lettuce and then roll up within the rice paper so that it is a little like we would eat crispy duck and pancake in the UK but also resembling a rice paper pring roll.  Crowned the best course however was a beef dish on various greens which was very tasty.  Plus some rice and other bits and pieces.

Time for bed.