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OK, I'm back, by popular demand! hehe.... After being back for 2 days, I'm still struggling with crazy jetlag and exhaustion - so please bear with me!
This year, for our Asian adventure, we went to Bali, which for those who don't know, is one of the islands in Indonesia. Bali is a very unique place - from its topology, to the people, language, customs, religion and food. Whereas the majority of people in Indonesia are Muslim, most people in Bali are Balinese Hindu, which from what I understand is a little like Indian Hinduism, but has more ancestor worship. Religion is very important to many people in Bali - there are temples everywhere, and at least in one area, there are religious processions through the street practically every day - but we'll get to that later.
Bali has some food unique to it among its Indonesian neighbors, but like everywhere, has seen quite a bit of immigration from other Indonesian islands (many from Java, just to the west) who have brought their classic dishes with them.
Basically all Indonesians speak Indonesian, or what they call Bahasa Indonesia, or just Bahasa, which, anyone who has read my prior foodblogs wouldn't be surprised to hear that I learned a little bit just before the trip. Unfortunately, I didn't get to use any of it, except a couple times which were totally unnecessary. When speaking with each other, most people in Bali speak Balinese (totally different from bahasa) - many times when I tried using my bahasa, they smiled and replied, and then tried to teach me the same phrase in Balinese! As time went on, and I used some of the Balinese, I got lots of surprised smiles and laughs - who is this white guy speaking Balinese?!? Seriously though, tourism has been in Bali for a very long time, so just about everyone we encountered spoke English to some degree. Some people spoke German as well, as they supposedly get lots of tourists from Germany. As one of our drivers was telling us, Bali is heavily dependent on tourism as they have no real industry other than agriculture, which doesn't pay nearly as well as tourism does.
While there are beaches all around the island, most of the popular beach areas are in the south of the island, and those areas are the most highly touristed. We spent very little time in the south as we are not really beach people (we get really bored) and during planning, decided to stay in less touristed areas so we'd have more opportunities for local food... this didn't work out, as you'll see later.
So, it wouldn't be a KennethT foodblog without photos in the Taipei airport and I-Mei Dim Sum, which we called home for about 4 hours before our connection to Bali...
Beef noodle soup:
This was the same as always - huge pieces of beef were meltingly tender. Good bite to the thick chewy noodles.
Xie long bao (soup dumplings) and char siu bao (fluffy barbeque pork buns):
Recently, there was a thread about stir frying over charcoal, which immediately brought to mind memories of eating in Bangkok in July 2013. At that time, I hadn't gotten into the habit of writing food blogs, and considering that I had some spare time this weekend (a rarity) I figured I would put some of those memories down on paper, so to speak. Back then, neither my wife nor I were in the habit of taking tons of photos like we do nowadays, but I think I can cobble something together that would be interesting to folks reading it.
In the spirit of memories, I'll first go back to 2006 when my wife and I took our honeymoon to Thailand (Krabi, Bangkok and Chiang Mai), Singapore and Hanoi. That was our first time to Asia, and to be honest, I was a little nervous about it. I was worried the language barrier would be too difficult to transcend, or that we'd have no idea where we were going. So, to help mitigate my slight anxiety, I decided to book some guides for a few of the locations. Our guides were great, but we realized that they really aren't necessary, and nowadays with internet access so much more prevalent, even less necessary.
Prior to the trip, when emailing with our guide in Bangkok to finalize plans, I mentioned that we wanted to be continuously eating (local food, I thought was implied!) When we got there, I realized the misunderstanding when she opened her trunk to show us many bags of chips and other snack foods.. whoops... Anyway, once the misconception was cleared up, she took us to a noodle soup vendor:
On the right is our guide, Tong, who is now a very famous and highly sought after guide in BKK.... at the time, we were among here first customers. I had a chicken broth based noodle soup with fish ball, fish cake and pork meatball, and my wife had yen ta fo, which is odd because it is bright pink with seafood. I have a lime juice, and my wife had a longan juice.
This is what a lot of local food places look like:
I recently took a trip to Northern Italy, and was delighted to find that the cappuccino everywhere was just wonderful, without exception. Smooth, flavorful, aromatic perfect crema, strong but not too strong.
Aside from the obvious answer (duh, Italians created cappuccino ), what makes Italian capp so fantastic, and how do I duplicate the effect here?
I'm wondering if it's the water, the way the coffee is ground or stored, the machines used....I'm baffled.
Also noticed that the serving size tended to be smaller than what I'm used to -- i.e. a small teacupful vs. a brimming mug or Starbucks supersize. Not sure why that is either.
Grazie mille for any insight on this!
By Modernist Cuisine Team
The Modernist Cuisine team is currently traveling the globe to research pizza and different pizza styles for our next book Modernist Pizza. Nathan and the team will be in São Paulo and Buenos Aires soon. We'd love hear from the eGullet community—what pizzerias should they visit while they're there? You can read more about our next book Modernist Pizza here. Thanks in advance, everyone!
My article was published (my first one!)! Hooray! And I do have some Florentine restaurant recommendations including the new Osteria del Pavone which is amazing--lampredotto ravioli is now a thing and it must be tried.
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