Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Food Glossary: Tempe

Tempe is simply delicious and I am so happy to have made this discovery...I just hope I can get hold of it back in the UK!  Vegetarian – often used instead of tofu and is much nicer in my opinion.  Tempe is a traditional soybean product from Indonesia and is especially popular in Java.  It is a fantastic source of protein, and in fact has a higher protein and vitamin content than tofu due to the fermentation process and the beans remaining whole.  It can be used in a number of ways such as curry, steak, and stir-fried.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Food Glossary: Bandrek

Bandrek is a really strong ginger tea with coconut, lemongrass, pepper, aniseed, coriander seeds and other delights in it – a spiced tea, and very popular in Indonesia.  It is especially good for helping clear out nasty colds and blocked sinuses!  This drink is really good if you are a ginger lover which I am so I became a bit addicted whilst in Indonesia!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Review: Ming, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

It was our last night in Bali when we discovered Ming restaurant.  It is definitely more pricey but it really was outstandingly exceptional food.  With a varied menu of cuisine styles overall I would describe it as international with an Indonesian twist!  To begin with we were brought a complimentary small drink and some gorgeous dips and bread which were a good sign of what was to come!

I ordered the salmon wrapped in parma ham, which was served with a creamy mascarpone sauce on top and a 'sauce vierge' on the side which is a french accompaniment typically made from olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and chopped basil.  Wow, this dish was truly mouth-wateringly yummy! Every element of the meal was perfectly cooked and all the flavours and textures complimented each other wonderfully.

Also on our table were a beautifully cooked steak and wonderful array of satay’s served sizzling on a hot plate.  Everyone in our party was more than happy with their meal and we were made to feel very welcome by the friendly staff.  The restaurant is very cosy and warm and there is a beautiful bathroom!You may think this sounds silly but when you are travelling to so many varied countries good toilets become a bit of a conversation point!

So to conclude, if you are looking for a treat whilst staying in Sanur, Bali then do head to Ming…I am confident that you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Food Glossary: Salek

Salek, sometimes referred to as snake fruit due to its scaly thin skin is native to Indonesia and is a species of palm tree where the fruit grows in clusters at the base of the palm.  Once peeled the actual fruit looks like garlic cloves (peeled) and is similar in texture once you bite into it.  The taste however, is not like garlic!  It is a very sweet taste, it reminded me of a penny sweet from being young in the red and yellow wrapper?!  For some this could be a dream come true...a fruit that tastes like sweets?!  For others like me, its a bit too sweet.  Also the texture can range from very dry to a slightly juicier but it is definitely a different texture fruit to many.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Food Glossary: Rambutan

This tropical fruit is named by a Malay word which means 'hairy'... but don't worry, this spiky looking fruit is not sharp to hold so don't be put off by the outside!  Red in colour on the outside, and translucent on the inside this fruit is very similar in taste and texture to the lychee (also a relative!).  I really like the little fruit and you can find it growing across South East Asia which is good!  

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Review: Casa Luna, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

We arrived in Sanur, Bali after spending a few days on Lombok and met up with James’ parents.  Sanur is a fairly small beach town with mainly up market hotels and resorts on offer.  The nice thing about Sanur is that it is not as crowded and expensive as down on the southern peninsula and there are not hawker’s every minute trying to sell you every type of water activity or tour going!  However, there is still a fair amount of tourism and so taxi driver’s are always around ready to take you around the island at your will!

Due to the touristy/resort nature of Bali I think it is harder to make decisions on where to eat at it can be very hit and miss in places like this.  We luckily stumbled upon the Casa Luna on one of our first evenings out in Sanur and we were all very pleased with the results.  The restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and there is usually a band playing (sometimes better than others!) so maybe linger for a few moments to ensure you can cope with the music whilst eating!

Casa Luna makes it very easy for a group of people with different tastes to eat in as it serves traditional food as well as some more western offerings.  It also makes sampling Balinese delicacy’s such as Babi Guling and Bebek Betutu accessible of which we sampled both in the Casa Luna.  Although it is not the raw experience of eating in a small local restaurant specialising in just the suckling pig they do a great job with the dish and it is served beautifully.  You usually need to give 24 hours notice to the restaurant for this dish and it easily serves two people so remember these details if you have your heart set on the dish.  The variety of pork on the dish is amazing and each with such a different flavour and texture.  We devoured the mouth watering platter and definitely could have repeated this another evening!

In addition to these two delicious meat dishes we also sampled nasi goring, sesame chicken, fish and some soups here and all were superb.  With friendly staff and reasonable prices you cant ask for much more.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Food Glossary: Bebek Betutu

Another Bali classic dish this is duck stuffed with spices, wrapped in banana leaves and coconut husks, and then cooked in embers.  The meat as a result is delicious and falls off the bone.  The flavours of the spices are really special and this is another dish that should not be overlooked.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Food Glossary: Babi Guling

Babi Guling is my favourite Bali speciality and probably one of its most famously boasted dishes.  It is suckling pig stuffed and infused with chilli, turmeric, garlic and ginger and other spices they fancy, then spit-roasted and is served on a platter with a multitude of other pieces of pork presented and prepared in a variety of ways.  Not only do you get succulent tender pork meat, but crispy crackling, spice flavoured minced pork, diced meat, sometimes some added to soup, and the varieties go on.  

Ensure you try this tasty dish when visiting the island, it was one of my highlights!  You will signs for it all over the island like in the photo below, or you can look up recommended places to try the dish as well.  I found this useful blog post which might help.  For a mouthwatering close up picture of the pork check out this amazing photo on Flickr too!

Food Glossary: Arak

Arak is a traditional Balinese alcohol made from rice or palm-sap and sometimes referred to as rice wine.  The drink is often used in religious ceremonies but also became popular with tourists visiting the Indonesian islands in the 1980s when the term ‘Arak Attack’ was coined as the effects from the alcohol are so swift.

The controversial drink is colourless and sugarless and with a 20 – 50% alcohol content is as you can imagine very strong and not something many enjoy sipping with their dinner!  I sampled it whilst staying on Lombok and one shot was more than enough….I actually wimped out of even that and asked for lemonade to accompany it.

After doing further research it seems this drink has gained negative media coverage in recent years for a bad batch being the cause of 35 deaths in 2009, the batch had methanol traces in it.  As with many products/experiences that become popular with tourists everyone wants a piece of the action which led sadly, to many unlicensed companies producing the drink and trying to increase its alcohol content by adding methanol.

So if you do decide to sample the drink whilst visiting then just remember to ensure that it has been produced by a licenced producer and/or is being sold in a safe environment.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Review: Ketapang Café and home stay, Kuta, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia!

From the Gili Islands we moved on to Lombok.  Taking a boat from the Gili’s to Lombok is about 30 minutes and is an easy trip.  It was quite fun taking the local taxi boat with the locals who were keen to engage in conversation with us about all sorts!

After arriving into Bangsal port we took a taxi round the coast road to Sengiggi.  The drive was breathtaking and we loved every second of listening to the reggae, feeling the fresh breeze on our faces and watching the mesmorising scenery pass us by.  We stayed just one night at the Windy Cottages just outside Sengiggi before moving on the next day to the south of the island – Kuta.

If you decide to go to Kuta, Lombok then just note that there are no atm’s so you must ensure you have enough money to last your time.  The nearest is about one hour away in Praya town so it’s a bit of a

Kuta is really charming, you can see it’s a place where tourism is going to rise, especially with the completion of Lombok’s own international airport which locals will love to chat with you about.  Right now though Kuta is simply one road along bay front with many guesthouses and small bars and restaurants.  To get around this area it is essential to hire a moped or motorbike which is very cheap and easy to do.  From here you can explore the south coast and its bays and surfing beaches.

We had a really magical moment whilst staying in Kuta, we had a big rainstorm just as we were heading to the sea for a swim so we decided we may as well continue as we were wet anyway, and within a few minutes we heard hundreds of screams and from all directions children were running towards the water with big smiles from cheek to cheek!  They were a little surprised to find us there but so excited and we had lots of introductions and questions as well as splashes in the water!  It was a really lovely moment and one I will remember forever.

Later that day we took a walk to find some food and came across a small bar called the Ketapang Café and homestay with a very friendly owner.  We enjoyed a few Bintang beers here before ordering the most delicious food.  I tried the Pepes Ikan and James had the Ayam Taliwang.  The fish (Pepes Ikan) was really spectacular with amazing flavours it was perfectly cooked and very healthy and satisfying. The chicken was also very tasty and we both were happy with our choices.  A cute bar, with a cozy feel this is a great spot to sit and enjoy the sunset and some drinks and dinner.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Food Glossary: Pepes Ikan

This dish originates from Kalimantan, but I actually tried it on Lombok.  It is beautiful and I recommend it strongly to fish lovers.  Spiced fish cooked inside banana leaves with tamarind and lemongrass – again, this dish proves that steaming food inside banana leaves really enhances the flavours and makes the texture perfect.

Sadly not my own picture...taken from