Month: September 2010

Loomography

Ikat! Songket! Looms galore!

It can take up to 4 months to complete a length of fabric.Weaving with plastic. Try this with your garbage bags at home, I dare you!

Completed traditional Lombok textiles.I think the woman teaching me wanted to leave me there so she could have lunch. This is serious work!

But this is what we had for lunch.
Sop buntut is oxtail soup that is popular throughout Indonesia. As much as I love the clear and simple consomme of a Korean oxtail soup, its Indonesian cousin is a close rival. And the sop buntut at Istana Rasa in Mataram is the best I’ve had so far. They definitely live up to their name which translates to “flavor of the palace.” The broth is similar to a french onion soup but is made with leeks, which gives the soup a bit lighter, sweeter flavor. The oxtail just slips off the bone and melts in your mouth. And the requisite fried shallot (always available) sprinkled on top gives a nice crunch to the perfect bite.

Hope you all are enjoying the blog so far! Stay tuned for yummertown Singapore!

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King Lobster

Between all the sunning and diving, there was also a lot of eating. I must admit we didn’t do a lot of venturing throughout little Gili Air. We found Scallywags on the beach and I didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else! So maybe it’s not authentic Indonesian cuisine but when you find a seafood joint that could rival Eric Ripert for a quarter of the price, you want to eat there every day. After arriving on the little Gili, we hopped around from place to place, drinking bintangs and cocktails, perusing menus and were left feeling uninspired. Until we ambled by a magnificent display of fresh seafood and a a grill stoking with charcoal. A lot of Indonesians use coconut shell charcoal which burns hot and produces a mild, slightly sweet smoke.

The first night, we had the tuna and grilled calamari, which was perfectly cooked to the desired moistness with a sweet pepper sambal I’d like a bottomless jar of. It was good. It was real good. But it wasn’t as good as the next night. We strolled by and saw these sizable lobsters shimmering in their blue-gray omber armor. And judging by last night’s grillmaster’s superior skills, we couldn’t pass up the chance to have them expertly grilled and of course, expertly consumed. We also chose the skewers pierced with voluptuous hunks of butterfish and vibrant peppers. Friends, this was the best decision we made on the entire trip. First, let me explain that I have been deceived, disheartened, and despondent over lobster. Michelin stars and 5 star yelp reviews mean jack. Seafood is difficult and the king lobster can either be a triumph or complete calamity.

Scallywags–I would like to knight you for the perfect execution of the most exquisite lobster. This royal crustacean was embellished with the same sweet pepper sambal used the night before: a blend of red pepper, garlic, shallot and honey. The honey had caramelized enough to give the sensation of breaking into a creme brulee of lobster. The lumps of meat were succulent and sweet underlined with the taste of the local ocean brine.

The butterfish skewers were also beautiful. Butterfish is also known as escolar, white tuna, walu, or oilfish. It is extremely succulent and buttery as the name suggests and if eaten in large portions, it can be disastrous. I won’t go into it but you can read about it’s ill effects here. I was lucky enough to enjoy my dish without any subsequent problems. In fact, we peacefully digested our dinners with a game of chess on this beautiful limestone board.

I highly recommend this place for dinner, but it is quite picturesque during the day. I will let the snapshots speak for themselves.


Beetroot, apple, greens, dotted with a stinky meunster.

I’m loving the painterly remnants of my meal.

This is pineapple, guava, and mint, blended with ice. This concord of flavors hits all of your mouth’s pleasure zones at once. The tartness of the pineapple swings sweetly with the sugary graininess of the guava while the mint coolly breezes through as you sip it down.The scraggly scallywags cat I wanted to pop in my pocket.

King Lobster

Between all the sunning and diving, there was also a lot of eating. I must admit we didn’t do a lot of venturing throughout little Gili Air. We found Scallywags on the beach and I didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else! So maybe it’s not authentic Indonesian cuisine but when you find a seafood joint that could rival Eric Ripert for a quarter of the price, you want to eat there every day. After arriving on the little Gili, we hopped around from place to place, drinking bintangs and cocktails, perusing menus and were left feeling uninspired. Until we ambled by a magnificent display of fresh seafood and a a grill stoking with charcoal. A lot of Indonesians use coconut shell charcoal which burns hot and produces a mild, slightly sweet smoke.

The first night, we had the tuna and grilled calamari, which was perfectly cooked to the desired moistness with a sweet pepper sambal I’d like a bottomless jar of. It was good. It was real good. But it wasn’t as good as the next night. We strolled by and saw these sizable lobsters shimmering in their blue-gray omber armor. And judging by last night’s grillmaster’s superior skills, we couldn’t pass up the chance to have them expertly grilled and of course, expertly consumed. We also chose the skewers pierced with voluptuous hunks of butterfish and vibrant peppers. Friends, this was the best decision we made on the entire trip. First, let me explain that I have been deceived, disheartened, and despondent over lobster. Michelin stars and 5 star yelp reviews mean jack. Seafood is difficult and the king lobster can either be a triumph or complete calamity.

Scallywags—I would like to knight you for the perfect execution of the most exquisite lobster. This royal crustacean was embellished with the same sweet pepper sambal used the night before: a blend of red pepper, garlic, shallot and honey. The honey had caramelized enough to give the sensation of breaking into a creme brulee of lobster. The lumps of meat were succulent and sweet underlined with the taste of the local ocean brine.

The butterfish skewers were also beautiful. Butterfish is also known as escolar, white tuna, walu, or oilfish. It is extremely succulent and buttery as the name suggests and if eaten in large portions, it can be disastrous. I won’t go into it but you can read about it’s ill effects here. I was lucky enough to enjoy my dish without any subsequent problems. In fact, we peacefully digested our dinners with a game of chess on this beautiful limestone board.

I highly recommend this place for dinner, but it is quite picturesque during the day. I will let the snapshots speak for themselves.


Beetroot, apple, greens, dotted with a stinky meunster.

I’m loving the painterly remnants of my meal.

This is pineapple, guava, and mint, blended with ice. This concord of flavors hits all of your mouth’s pleasure zones at once. The tartness of the pineapple swings sweetly with the sugary graininess of the guava while the mint coolly breezes through as you sip it down.

The scraggly scallywags cat I wanted to pop in my pocket.

The Life Aquatic

Sorry I’ve been away for so long! Let’s just say we’ve been fasting for Ramadan and now we’re back in action post-Idul Fitri. So to rest up before fall madness, we took advantage of Labor Day weekend to jaunt over to Lombok and the Gili Islands. Lombok is just east of Bali and much less infiltrated with tourists. J spent the week prior taking less luxurious forms of transportation across the vast and vacuous island of Sumbawa to finally rendezvous with me at the Jeeva Klui Resort.

View of the reef-protected lagoon from our terrace.

The resort is set on a private stretch of beach and my love for the Indian Ocean only continues to be reaffirmed. It’s no wonder that it is referred to as Ratnakara in ancient Sanskrit literature, which means “the maker of gems.” Jeeva Klui feels like a Robinson Crusoe and Restoration Hardware collabo. It’s not quite LEED certified but is built using local sustainable materials like handmade terracotta tiles, bamboo, stone, and recycled timber. It’s a stunning boutique resort without the indulgences of a giant five-star where you might find Jay-Z and Beyonce jet-skiing in matching Burberry bathing suits. The bungalows open onto generous terraces where you can drink on a divan and watch the sun drop like a radiating gem illuminating the volcanoes of Bali just across the way. But we weren’t here to just laze around the reef-protected lagoon and swim away the hours in endless aquamarine. We were here to dive!

So the next morning, after breakfast and a dip in the lagoon, we made our way to the Bangsal port so we could be swindled into overpaying for a ferry to take us 20 minutes to Gili Air island. As soon as you get to the port, a cidomo driver charges you $3 to take you to his friend who will make you pay $20 per person for a 20 minute ferry ride. Actually,  $15 since we’re Asian and can speak Indonesian. But it should only be $5 if you’re smart and just go straight to the ticket booth on shore. But who can pass up a cute cidomo and a chance to barter with a guy who kept asking J for his shirt?

A cidomo is a brightly painted and fancifully adorned pony carriage that makes you feel like the High Princess of Munchkin Land on her way to have tea with Willy Wonka. You can also sometimes find these guys clopping around Jakarta.

This is the ferry we boarded with an old lady transporting her bed to the very spartan Gili Air island. You can walk the perimeter of Gili Air in 2 hours and needless to say, a Sealy Posturpedic is hard to come by.

OK–so let me now taunt you with pictures of PARRRRADIIIISE!

Fresh pineapple and papaya juice.

Sunset with Bali’s active volcano Mount Agung in the distance.

We didn’t have too much time to spare, so we checked in with Manta Dive and set up a dive for the next day. Dives are relatively cheap over here. A one tank dive including rental gear and equipment can be anywhere between $30 – $40/person as opposed to $60-$75 in Mexico or Hawaii. The next morning, we did a skills refresher in the pool since I could never bring myself to dive in the dark and bitter cold Monterey Bay. Later that afternoon, we finally plunged into the deep to explore the Meno Wall. It was a nice drift dive with gangs of fish like lionfish, angels, gobies, and puffers. We also spied a couple turtles just gliding along. Thanks to our friendly German diver friend Marco, we got these amusing pictures of us in the water!

Puffer! Sorry–I actually think in exclamations when I dive.

Mr. Turtle!J and I equalizing our ears in unison. This pic seriously cracks me up; it might have to be our Christmas card.

And don’t you worry, friends. We didn’t forget to eat! To be continued . . .