Saturday, 30 April 2011

Food Glossary: Ayam Taliwang

A Nusa Tenggara traditional dish, this spicy marinated chicken is roasted and served with a peanut, tomato, chilli and lime dip.  We sampled the dish on Lombok, where it is typically found.  The marinade is made from a mix of chilli's, onion, garlic, tomatoes, shrimp paste, kempur, (a medicinal plant) sugar and salt.  The chicken is really delicious as the marinade makes it juicy and full of flavour.  To read more check out this blog post I found whilst doing some research.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Review: Malias Child Bungalow and Restaurant, Gili Meno, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia!

After spending a couple of days relaxing on Gili Trawangan we took a boat across the Gili Meno which is the smallest of the 3 islands and can be seen clearly from Gili Trawangan.  We had heard that you could see a komodo dragon in a small bird sanctuary on the island and as time was not permitting us to visit Komodo and Rinca island themselves we thought this would be second best for now!

Once on Gili Meno it was much less developed.  We took a horse and cart to show us around and first stopped at the bird sanctuary.  There were many birds there of all kinds…but sadly no komodo dragon anymore!

We next went over to some of the beautiful beaches which really are stunning and a little piece of paradise.  With just a few bungalows to stay in and a little bar on the beach it would be a lovely place to get away from everything and just enjoy the surroundings.  We chilled on the beach with a Bintang beer and went for a snorkel – again seeing lots of different fish although the water was a little rougher than it had been the previous two so we had to be a little aware of being pulled out.

We then took the cart the rest of the way round the island back to where we started.  It was a gorgeous journey, past the beaches, small rice paddies and a little village.  Once back at the main area we settled in a small hut on the beach and had a drink and went for another snorkel.  It was much better here than on the other side of the island and we got to swim with turtles again.  After we had a lunch at the small Malias Child Bungalow Restaurant.

I tried ‘gado-gado’, another popular, traditional dish.  I actually didn’t enjoy it that much…I found the sate very strong and a bit gritty, not so smooth, although I did enjoy eating some vegetables.  James ordered a pizza and that was superb!  We also saw other people eating potato skins filled which looked delicious.  Regardless of the gado-gado not being too hot, this restaurant was in the perfect location and I can see how you could loose hours sitting in the hut, reading, having a juice, some food and then jumping in the beautiful sea to cool off.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Food Glossary: Gado-gado

Gado-gado is one of Indonesia’s most famous dishes which consists of vegetables and salad with peanut – sate sauce.  It is cuisine from the Betawi – the original inhabitants of the Jakarta region on Java island.  The dish can really vary in how it is served but usually consists of green beans, boiled egg, tofu, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage and potato.  When I tried it I did not overly enjoy it.  I found the sate very strong and harsh against the bland vegetables and not very complimentary.  Traditionally the sate coats the salad/vegetables rather than being on the side.  However, don't take my word as many people we met love this dish.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Review: Scallywags, Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia!

Imagine crystal turquoise and deep blue seas, fine white sand beaches, chilled out sounds of reggae music, the tinkle of a bicycle bell, the sound of horse hooves trotting along, the laughter of playing children and the smells of sate and sambal….welcome to the Gili Islands!

The Gili Islands were our first stop in Indonesia and they were a fantastic choice to relax and prepare for our adventures in Asia.  To get to the islands you have to fly to Bali and then take a taxi and boat over. The taxi from the airport to Padangbai port takes about 2 – 4 hours depending on the time of day and the traffic.From Padangbai you can take a ‘fast boat’ which takes an hour to the Gili’s and arrive in 2 hours! There are 3 islands making up the Gili’s – Air, Meno and Trawangan and the boat stops the Air and the latter.  If you want to go to Meno you need to charter a boat or take the taxi boat from one of the larger two islands.

Picture from Wikitravel; Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan receives the most tourist traffic currently, but don’t let this put you off as when we arrived we were surprised that is was not overrun and had a great feel to it.  If you wonder to the left when you leave the boat you will come across the ‘noisy’ area of the island, where the bars are as well as guesthouses.  The luxury hotels are also at the far end when walking in this direction.  If you walk right as we happened to it’s a bit more relaxed and quiet and there aren’t really bars that come alive at night. There are more day time beach bars and cafes with cushions on the beach serving smoothies and beers.

We found a great little place to stay for under $5 and it was perfect.  From there we chilled out, could wonder over to the beach and snorkel off the beach which was idyllic, and walk and explore the island. The snorkelling here is stunning and I can't recommend it enough…you can swim with turtles if you are patient to find them, but definitely are guaranteed to see hundreds of beautiful brightly coloured fish.

As you are surely now picturing – it’s a hard life here!!  So after all this activity you will find yourself hungry, and when you do there are plenty of options.  We tried out a café called ‘Scallywags’ which looked really inviting and had some good reviews.  This was a good decision as it is comfortable, had a great menu and the food and service were brilliant.  I tried my first nasi goreng here and instantly fell in love with the dish.  As we discovered throughout Indonesia it is hard to find a truly bad nasi goring in Indonesia….however, you can find a few that are really exceptional and stand out and looking back I think this was one of those!  James sampled a more ‘international’ dish of chicken in mushroom and white wine sauce which although was very tasty, was very rich and a large portion so he struggled to finish the whole thing!

However, I would definitely recommend this café for a nice meal and if you need to get onto the internet you can also use wi-fi here whilst enjoying your meal or just drinks.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Food Glossary: Nasi Goreng

Rice is a staple of the Indonesian diet due to the abundance of the crop which you can see growing in beautiful vast rice paddies across its fertile landscape.  Nasi Goreng is actually the national dish of Indonesia and is by far the most popular rice dish available with people eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

It consists of fried rice with spices, sambal, egg, chicken or shrimps, and is usually accompanied by krupuk, sate, and a fried egg.  It really is a great meal, tasty, satisfying and affordable.  There are always slight variations from place to place on how it is served, as well as different degrees of spiciness to keep you on your toes.

Food Glossary: Krupuk

Krupuk is the Indonesian term for prawn or vegetable crackers and they are a frequent appearance on an Indonesian plate of food.  They are made from shrimp with cassava flour, or fish flakes with rice dough, and then cut into slices and fried to a crisp.  Frying them is particularly fun as they take just a few seconds and they take on a life of their own as they curl up, and then un-curl!

Food Glossary: Sambal

Sambal is the chilli based salsa/sauce that accompanies many dishes as well as being used as a cooking sauce and base for many Indonesian dishes.  Traditionally made by pounding together the ingredients in a pestal and mortar although you can also buy some smoother condiment versions of sambal also.  I prefer the fresh home-made variety and it also allows you to control how spicy it is.  I was taught to make it using chilli's, tomato, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, salt and pepper.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Review: ‘The last breakfast’ @ The Journal, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

It was time to finally say goodbye to Kyra and her mum, and Gemima, all who had kindly put us up during our stay in Australia.  We did some research online and came across ‘The Journal’ which was in the centre of town and sounded like a good stop for a Sunday breakfast out.

When we arrived it was smaller than we had expected but luckily we were able to get a table as it was not too busy.  The menu was small and simple and we decided and placed our orders.  Gemima and I had gone for their ‘speciality’ which was a toasted sandwich with poached eggs on top.  However, by ordering this the problems began!  First they told us they were out of eggs?!!  It was 10am on Sunday morning and they had not been open long – plus eggs was in a few items on the menu?!  Then when they said it would not be long until more eggs arrived we said we would wait but go ahead with the simple fruits, yoghurt, and toast the others had ordered.  So we waited….and waited…

Finally some bits started arriving.  First the toast, then some fruit – but only one bowl of the ordered two.Then after quite some while more the egg toastie’s arrived…but still no final fruits.  It became evident we should check on their order and there was quite some confusion including them not realising anything else was expected!

To summarise, the staff here were not helpful or overly friendly.  I have never been to a restaurant where there is not a copy of the prices to accompany a menu or at least the staff know how much things are and infact, just know what is actually on the menu!  And to not have eggs on a Sunday morning so early really is a crime and not going to earn you good business!  It was a shame that all this ruined our breakfast as the toasties were quite tasty but unfortunately the staff and whole fuss overshadowed the food.

Review: Cafeteria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Outside of the CBD area of Melbourne we spent some time with a friend who lives in Brighton suburb.  One afternoon we went for lunch with him and his family at a local café, aptly named ‘Cafeteria’!  Ben’s brother spends a lot of time at the café studying and eating…so much so that they all know him and he knows the menu pretty well!  That was good for us as there was so much that sounded tasty, he helped me decide that that pesto toast was the best option to go for!  I was really pleased with the choice as when it arrived it both looked and tasted beautiful.  Served with fresh tomatoes, thick crust toast and gorgeous pesto soaked in, and with a rocket salad on the side with vinagerette this was a perfect lunch and the price was right at just under $10.

This café was bustling when we were there and seems like quite a locals place.  You can understand why people keep going back, the service was friendly and smooth, the food delicious and the surroundings simple and atmospheric.  A great café to come and read a book, do some studying or meet friends for a drink or food.  Everyone in our group was pleased!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Food Glossary: Iced Coffee - Guest blog by Jam Rose

Of course I've had your bog standard Starbucks iced coffee, but I had passed it over for what I found to be much nicer British summer drinks (like Pimms!).  However do read on as during my recent world explorations I have discovered that Iced Coffee is in fact a staple drink for many, and is top of the charts on café menus from Adelaide, Australia to Alajuela, Costa Rica.  With each country, town or even establishment serving a slightly different variation of simply putting coffee and ice together, I’ve identified three different styles that most Iced Coffee’s appear to adhere to and broken it down in this simple glossary!  Enjoy!


Premixed is a bit like flavoured milk, well actually it is flavoured milk but it is made with coffee rather than the usual strawberry/chocolate flavoured varieties we have in the UK. In Australia however, premixed Iced Coffee is big business and is advertised more than fizzy drinks, with billboards and prime placements in convenience stores. Farmers Union is just one brand amongst numerous others and originates from South Australia (where it proudly out-sells Coca-Cola).  This was the first Iced Coffee of this category that I tried and it's still my number one choice.  However, it's personal preference as to which stubby of Iced Coffee you have to accompany your pie whilst in the land down under!

Advertising for Farmers Union Iced Coffee in Port Vincent, South Australia.

The Float

This Iced Coffee is found in trendy coffee shops and eateries round the world such as Bakoel Koffie, Jakarta, Indonesia. It's like the premixed in taste but is mixed fresh in-house and served in a sundae glass with ice cream (the float) and cream on top and usually with some chocolate sauce. The float is much more of a dessert than a simple drink but who can resist?!

The Float from Pakse, Laos served in Sinouk Coffee Shop.

Black over ice with milk/syrup/other

Black coffee with ice in a glass, simple. Well simple other than the fact there are endless combinations of how this drink can be served to you. The first couple of times I've had it it's been just as simple as I've made out. However then came the optional (or sometimes not!) sweeteners ranging from fresh milk and sugar sachets, to the latest condensed milk version here (at time of writing) in Vietnam.

The problem with this is guessing whether sweetener has been added already…as if you are presented with them on the side it doesn’t mean they haven’t already assumed you will want some inside the coffee first!  This could all add up to a very sweet iced coffee with enough sweetener to add punch to about 10 servings…meaning that by the time you have added the extras you feel like your teeth are rotting away whilst you drink! I made this mistake the first few times back in Indonesia, where they give you sugar water, to just go ahead and pour the whole vial into my drink. This mistake proved that pouring slow and steady with sipping to test the taste wins the race and is the key to victory when presented with sugar water!  However when you’re presented with condensed milk this is a more difficult task as it's hard to stir in and flying ice cubes is a very real and potential hazard of the job. My advice is have fun and enjoy whatever you’re served!

Black over ice with condensed milk as served in Epic Arts cafe, Kampot, Cambodia.

On reflection maybe I've had upwards of 30 different styles & combinations of Iced Coffee so far on my travels and the new and creative ways of obtaining the drink seem to keep suprising me.  Only today a new variation of black coffee over ice was shown with a personal hot coffee dripper presented over one glass with condensed milk in the bottom and a second glass with ice, nice. So keep coming back to check for updates to this glossary entry as I continue to discover the world of Iced Coffee!

Food Glossary: Parmy/Parmi/Parma...?!

One thing that Aussies love to do is abbreviate words, usually by shortening and adding an 'o', 'y' or an 'a' on the end and that's what's happened to the Italian originated chicken parmigiana (fried chicken in breadcrumbs with tomato and cheese inside) too!  Except this abbreviation is a slight bone of contention on the ending depending on where you come from.  In South Australia we were introduced to it as a 'parmy', but on arrival in Victoria we were it's called a 'parma' and who knows about the other states?!  

Anyway, either way, Australians seem to love a chicken parmy/a which was news to me!  I think the last time I had eaten one before being in Oz was when I was growing up so in a way it was quite comforting eating one again and they are quite tasty!    

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Review: Gigi, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

As previously mentioned Swanston Street has a cluster of Asian restaurants which are all pretty inviting.These proved perfect options for us at the end of a long, hot day at the Australian Open watching the tennis!  As you can imagine the food on offer at the tennis is pretty limited and very expensive.  So at the end of a couple of days enjoyable watching we made our way up Swanston Street.

Gigi in particular became a favourite for us and slightly addictive!  The staff here really are so smiley, happy and friendly that it is quite infectious!  On top of this there is so much to choose from and plenty that feels healthy and very good value.  I had some truly delicious salmon in here – it was served in a noodle soup and was cooked to perfection and very rich in flavour.  The drinks here as well….wow.  I have already mentioned my new found love for the avocado smoothie – but I think this is hands down the best one I have had.  James and his new found addiction for iced coffee was also very satisfied with the ice cream that accompanied his smooth iced coffee!  This restaurant is a great find!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Food Glossary: Fairy Bread?!

One Saturday evening in Melbourne we were invited along to a party near Chapel Street which was being held by a friend’s friend who is a dj.  She had invited some dj friends round and had the decks set up in the garden.  It was the perfect day for it and the music was great to sit back and have a beer to!

There were a few nibbles lying around on offer and I couldn’t help but notice white bread with what looked like hundreds and thousands on it.  Hmmmm, this definitely seemed very strange but I was lured into trying them because they seemed so strange!  They actually tasted quite (surprisingly) nice and seemed to work!  I am not sure if it was butter or more of an icing or cream cheese used to spread on the bread and make the hundreds and thousands stick but I found myself eating a few slices before commenting to someone nearby that the creator must have been feeling creative!  The reaction I received was one of surprise and confusion that I wasn’t aware that this ‘fairy bread’ was a staple party food in Australia!  So there you have it…next time you have a party and are not really sure what little snacks to have around why not try making some fairy bread?!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Review: Ceres Café, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Ceres café is part of a unique, interesting organisation: the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies.  The award winning centre is recognised as an international leader in community and environmental practice and consists of an organic farm, market, shop, cafe and nursery.The park where Ceres has built its community has been built on land that was once used for a landfill and wasteland...very fitting for such a social enterprise.

Ceres leads by example as all waste and water on site is recycled and the cafe kitchen runs from solar power...all actions helping in the journey towards a goal of making the site completely carbon neutral by 2012.

As well as their education programmes engaging schools and courses and workshops open to other members of the community, the site is also home to community groups such as the Bike Shed.  The Bike Shed help people who need a bike to repair an old one and also teach people how to fix and maintain bikes.  

We visited the cafe one hot summer’s Saturday late morning for a brunch.  Biking over there was lovely and when we arrived it was absolutely packed.  So busy infact that we had to sit out in the relentless sun which was definitely a disappointment.  It seemed that people were lining up their names on a waiting list for a shaded table.

Luckily it was not too long before we got ourselves into the shade and enjoyed our cool fruit drinks and strong coffees!  We ordered some food and had a look around at the allotments, bike shed and a lively notice board full of information about events, classes etc.

This café appeals to a wide range of people from families and young professionals to students and older people.  After scanning the varied menu we went for pretty standard ciabatta sandwiches, however, it took a very very long time for them to come.  When they arrived they were tasty but they were just simple ciabatta sandwiches and so I think in order to sustain how busy this place gets it needs to focus on gaining some swifter turn around times.  Overall though we really enjoyed our visit to the cafe and think it's model is inspirational and a great role model to others.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Review: Umago, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Over on Brunswick Street in the trendy Fitzroy area there are many pubs, restaurants and bars to choose from.  One night we came across a little place on the corner which looked cosy and inviting so we went in for some grub!  The waiter who served us was really friendly and very knowledgeable about Umago's menu.  The meal turned out to be exceptional and we were really not expecting it so it was all the more delicious!

Between us we had the lamb parcels and the chicken roulade.  Both were not only exquisite in flavour and presentation but there was a lot of food!  The lamb parcels were filled with parsley, basil and almond pesto, wrapped in prosciutto and topped with a honey and mustard sauce.  The chicken was also filled with pesto, marinated with capsicum and feta and served with a creamy pesto and sun dried tomato sauce.  Both were served with beautiful Turkish bread, fresh, crisp salad and gorgeously cooked potatoes.  The lamb was my favourite as it was cooked perfectly and the flavours really enhanced the meat.

What I really liked about this restaurant though was the easy, relaxed feeling you got there, it was cosy and intimate, and had a great feel to it.  Attached to the restaurant is a take away service offering nearly everything from the full menu in the restaurant which I’m sure makes people living round here very happy with such an extensive take-away menu on offer!  And what's more you can see into the kitchen and watch your food being prepared by the happy, fun chefs working here.  Definitely a Globe Troffer favourite!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Review: The Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Queen Victoria Market is described as Victoria's 'premier' open-air market and has been running for 130 years.  It runs a varied programme of events aimed at different audiences to engage the community with food and the producers including tours and tastings of the market.

During the day it is a food market selling fresh produce, and during the months of December – February/March it opens as a night market every Wednesday evening.  The bustling, vibrant night market accompanied by live music consists of stalls selling clothes, nick nacks and art and in addition has many food vendors selling tasty food.  Many of the vendor’s are restaurants from town and the array of food represents food from Latin America, to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.  The choice is HUGE!  We walked up and down the stalls a good few times before I could choose what to have!

Finally I settled on a hog roast roll….hmmm!  I couldn’t resist as it smelt and looked so good and reminded me of when I worked on a hog roast stall at the Norfolk Show when I was at school!!  The market has a really great atmosphere with lots of people, stalls around selling beer and live music.  It was so good that we went back a second time and tried some other foods!  The Spanish paella was tasty along with the Danish pancakes!

Review: Mekong Vietnam, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

As mentioned in my previous post about ‘Your Thai’ on Swanston Street there are a cluster of Asian restaurants to pick from.  The second we tried out was Mekong Vietnam.  I have to admit we were drawn to the restaurant from the paper in the window stating that Bill Clinton loved the soup and had two bowls it was so good!

So we decided to see if the pho really was so good!  The place was pretty busy and had really friendly staff.  The soup came with all the usual dressings and was very tasty!  We all finished up our soups, however unlike Mr Clinton we were unable to squeeze in a second!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Food art!!

I love the postcard series that depicts vegetables as different animals or people and so I decided to start a post which is dedicated to cool food art that I discover!  Please point me in the direction of any cool food art you have seen and I will add it to this dedication to food art!!

Eggplant shark! Big buffet, Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Aubergine penguin! Big buffet, Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Shark again but you can see it's tongue!

Technically not food art but funny! James posing!

I found this picture here - check it out for more fun food art piccies!

Wow these amazing 'foodscapes' have been created by Carl Warner...a London based photographer. For more click here

Making fun at Raleigh...not quite Carl Warner though!

Bread 'ladies', Otavelo Market, Ecuador

More to this space!