Guys, this is yum city.
-- my friend Lolly
Sometimes, tempe bakar (grilled tempeh) and sauteed kangkung (water spinach) are all a girl could ask for in the culinary department of her existence. And most of the time, these delicious Indonesian dishes suffice. But variety is the spice of life, is it not? Sometimes, a girl asks for more. And this past week, she received. Watch and observe, O ye of little faith, and you will learn what can happen when a bunch of creative twenty-somethings living abroad in Asia get a little too tired of rice:
Sunday, 14 February 2010 Valentine's Day Potluck at Lolly and Megan's. Where do I even begin? Lolly found some whole-wheat linguini in the cupboard of her homestay's communal kitchen, which was pretty special since none of us have seen whole grains in months (Indonesians like their white white Wonderbread, wouldn'tchaknow), and tossed it with whole garlic and broccoli which she'd bought fresh from the pasar that morning. Megan baked eggplant with some amazing tomatoey sauce she'd whipped up, and Colin pureed carrots with basil and yogurt for an exquisite thick orange soup. Emma and Cyrus pulled through, as always, with an Indian potato-and-vegetable curry incorporating spices they'd brought back from their holiday travels in India, and Luna showed up with a small barrel of mashed potatoes (half 'n half regular and sweet). And my contribution? Banana chocolate chip pancakes, courtesy of the Bisquick hand-schlepped from the USA first by my father and then by my mother, for dessert. Heart-shaped, of course.
Monday, 15 February 2010 Day-After-Valentine's-Day-Potluck leftovers at Lolly and Megan's. Just as delicious cold.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 Cyrus' tourist visa ran out last week, which meant he had to leave the country and re-enter to get a fresh visa. So while he was in Singapore for 24 hours, he picked us up what he thought were black beans -- black bean burritos, here we come! And just as our fantasies of homemade Mexican food were getting too delicious to be true, reality reared its deceptive head and revealed that, as it turned out, these were soybeans. Soybean burritos, here we come? Exxxxactly. Whipping some culinary magic outta his back pocket, Cyrus boiled those little beans down, added some veggies, and thanks to Emma's prowess with cake flour and oil, we had ourselves some mean soybean burritos that night. Best Mexican-Asian fusion south of the equator, I swear.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 Luna brought over some tiny round eggplants, which we sauteed and added to the leftover soybean burrito filling from the previous night. I whipped up some Southwest-style guacamole (avocados can be good for other things besides avocado shakes, it's true) and we had ourselves Mexican-Asian fusion Night Two, with dragonfruit for dessert. Doesn't that color make you want to dance? Or maybe just eat dragonfruit?
Thursday, 18 February 2010 Deciding to play it easy, Emma, Cyrus and I settled on a simple gado-gado style pasta and peanut sauce dish for this evening. It was shaping up to be heartily peanut-y, if a bit bland, until Cyrus dumped about a quarter cup of chili sauce from Makassar into the mix. I still maintain it all ended up great, though we did spend most of the meal with tears streaming down our faces. Better bawling than bland, right?
Friday, 19 February 2010 Friday night is jazz night at ViaVia, a tourist cafe downtown, so E, C and I took a break from the kitchen and headed down for some good eats and good music. (ViaVia, it should be noted, also serves Storm, a Balinese beer that, frankly, knocks Bintang out of the park.) Over a round of Storm Golden Ales, we enjoyed lamb curry, goat cheese salad, fried tempe and calamari. Over another round of Storm Golden Ales, we enjoyed the jazz, and over yet another round of Storm Golden Ales (though only for Cyrus), we simply enjoyed the existence of Storm Golden Ale. It wasn't cheap, but hey -- every once in a while, I'd say we deserve to splurge on brews with more kick than our usual 5% Pilsners. Bintang's fine and good, but sometimes fine and good just doesn't cut it.
Saturday, 20 February 2010 At around 1:30PM on this day, out to lunch with Lolls, Cols and Meg, I had my first taste of sushi in at least 7 months. Swoon. We were at a restaurant that serves not only Japanese food, but also Korean and Chinese food as well, so I guess I'll have to go back for kimchi and dimsum at sum point. It was no Osaka (Western Mass represent!) but it was a Spicy Rainbow Roll -- which are hard to come by in this town -- so I'll take what I can get. It's easy to forget sometimes, but a life without wasabi is really no life at all.
Sunday, 21 February 2010 This morning I slid back in to home plate from my week of culinary revelry the same way I started out -- with pancakes. I wanted to experiment with coconut milk, so I just used that in place of regular milk in the batter, with favorable results: the pancakes did have a vaguely coconutty flavor. And anyway, it's really kind of impossible to go wrong with Bisquick. Thanks mom and dad!
So as you can see, with a few imported goods and a little ingenuity, the great eats of the world can be had, well, anywhere in the world. Hungry yet?