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Food in Ubud

How are you going to eat INdonesian food? It’s so spicy!
Wrong! Indonesian food isn’t necessarily spicy – it can be if you want it to – but there are variety of choices!

I did my best to sample to local fare in Legian and once I have done the 5 staple dishes, I felt it was time to try more. Ubud is renound for its fabulous food and abundance of restaurants. As you walk down the street in Ubud each building is either a restaurant, cafe, accommodation or a shop. Most places are offering local dishes, artfully served and delicious in every way.

Banana pancakes, fresh fruit and Balinese coffee for breakfast
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Nasi Campur – Fairly typical lunchtime cuisine. This is the vegetarian version – meat also possible.
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Vegetable curry – know how to make this now!
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One of the only things I had planned to do was a cooking class – so I could go home with something practical other than just a suntan and a few cheap sarongs (can’t afford a lot else!) so I took a class in Bumu Bali, on Monkey Forest Road.
We started with a tour of the local market – with Made, our 18 year old tour guide/cooking teacher, myself and a German/French couple. This made things interesting as at times we had a 4 way translation going! Made might mis pronounce something, which I would re-itterate and then it was translated into French and/or German. Or vice-versa a German word was translated into French, which I figured out in English, to tell Made who told us the Indonesian word… tiring!

First stop: Ubed markets. These are partially underground and relatively quiet as far as markets go. The smell is something to note and the the place doesn’t look or feel clean in any possible way. Even Made commented on the “funky” smell! This is where most of Ubud buy their groceries and a number of them are unrecogniseable to the Western pallette. I wish I had taken a paper an pen, as I cannot remember what most of them were!

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Next we went into the darkness of the underground part of the market – a maze of darkly lit stalls, squeezing past vendors and buyers, a musty smell and rice, spice and more rice!
Made talked us through the spices that most Balinese kitchens have, where they come from and what forms you can buy them in. I realise now, having done the cooking class that a number of spice can’t be bought in the UK, so I should have invested…

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Next came the class…

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First we learnt how to make Basa Gede – which is a basic spice paste – used as the base for many dishes.
It contains all of this:
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and usually is ground by hand with a mortar and pestle. However- thankfully many modern ladies use a blender!

The next dish prepared was indeed my favourite – Tempe Manis Otherwise known as sweet tempe. I my default did a vegetarian course, which interesting though it was used tofu and tempe as the base for all the dishes. I am not sure if I can sway my family to eat “vegetarian” food, but oh my goodness if I can whip this dish up again I’ll be happily eating it all by myself!

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Next on the list was Vegetable Curry – which I forgot to photgraph as I was too busy eating it! And finally Balinese fried banana – bit of a heart attack – at least the idea is, but the batter itself uses half wheat, half rice flour, so it’s light enough to not feel too guilty…

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And not to forget palm sugar! Used in everything and it makes it all so delicious!

Watch this space readers – plenty more to come – Rice terraces, Amed coast, a whinge about solo travel, and a bit more on Candidasa and Padangbai…

This is Hong Kong

Ladies Market

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DSCN2577Hong Kong…
ChungKing Mansions
8th Dec 2012
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I wasn’t even sure where it was when I booked my flight home for Christmas, via four days in Hong Kong.
But here I am in the city that calls itself “Asia’s World City” and here are my observations so far…

It’s not cold. I expected the Northern Hemisphere to shock me with its temperature difference… I guess England will do that for me next week.

The level and use of English here is remarkable.

You can buy genuine fakes of anything here.

People here burp. They don;t cover their mouths, apologise or get embarassed. Two people have burped next to me on the train.

There are a lot of people wandering around wearing surgical masks. No there is not an unusual number of surgeons or dentists and hopefully not a new epidemic of some killer flu either…

It’s normal to hoik up and spit.

People here like to smell things. That is that carry little tubes of something, that look like a lipbalm, or a small perfume and regularly put it in once nostril, close the other and sniff, Regularly, and lots of them.

Lots of people who appear to be Indian or nearby, dressed in suits, keep asking me “nice lady” if I would like a “good copy watch-handbag or handbag-watch miss”

LOADS of people smoke. But there are many outdoor public spaces where it’s prohibited and the fines are LARGE.

It’s wonderfully cheap to travel around. Melbourne and London, you suck!

The markets are a world in themselves. Everything has a “special price”, just for you!

Food is interesting, sometimes alarming. Today I found “Vegetarian Chicken”. Yester Fried Chicken’s feet.

So many things to talk about, but here are a few pics to paint the picture!