Sunday, March 25, 2012

Credo Dinner Party

So a week before we departed on our holiday, Jo comes home and tells me she has invited her workmates home for dinner the week after our return, including partners that would be dinner for twelve, OK.  As it turned out a few were unable to make due to other commitments, so the table was set for eight and eventually with the bosses wife being crook there were seven of us sat for dinner.

It was while we were in Bali that we formulated the menu for the night, which was set for a four course meal, a great opportunity for me to cook some of the recipes I received from Lobong and to cook some of the other dishes we enjoyed whilst away, I really looked forward to the night.
First course
Spicy Chicken and Green Papaya Soup
Second course
Grilled Tuna Salad
Main Course
Beef Rendang
Green Curried Chicken
Green Papaya Salad
Tumeric, Ginger and Garlic Rice and Steamed White Wice
Chilli Tomato Sambal
Mango Soufflé with Vanilla Ice Cream

As unusual, Jo was in charge of setting the scene and this time around she also was responsible for the drinks for the night, Jo is good at drinks it seems and believe it or not there was not a drop of wine on the table, can you believe that?  But what she did produce was fantastic, she concocted a Asian styled cocktail as a welcome drink that was so nice some drank them all night, it was very spritsy and refreshing, and available as both alcoholic and non-alcholic, she also did a fruit punch, that I did not get to try but by all reports was very nice.

She showed her usual flair when decorating the table and venue for the evening, with a very tasteful setting in red, black and white, with a strong Asian persuasion, it looked spectacular she is a clever girl.

It was an early start with a quick trip to the Wanneroo Markets, I decided on going there as I was sure we would get all the ingredients I wanted, alas we left without about 6 of the things I wanted, but a quick stop at little Vietnam in Mirrabooka sorted that problem out and we were home by 12, in time for a quick lunch and the cooking began.  Well actually, I had started on Friday night, completing the dessert, which included making a Coconut and Lemongrass Ice Cream from scratch, and without an ice cream machine, it did not feature on the night though as I was not happy with the flavour, luckily we had a Connoisseur Vanilla on standby, which is pretty hard to beat anyway.

Having 6 hours to prepare everything for the other 3 courses was terrific, it was a very relaxed atmosphere in the kitchen preparing ingredients and even managed to add an unplanned salad and tomato sambal to the menu as I went along, it was a pleasurable day indeed.

I had the first course made and slowly ticking away when our guests began to arrive and whilst they slipped into their welcome drink, I started on the salad for the second course, by the time the last guests arrived I had started on the Green Chicken Curry, and actually took it off the stove just in time to put a little more heat in to the soup, the only thing left to do was to grill the tuna for second course, the early preparation had paid off.

Spicy Chicken and Green Papaya Soup
The soup was very well received by everyone, it was nice and spicy but has an incredible flavour, I made this soup with zucchini after we returned home from Bali and it was really good, with the papaya it was even better, a great way to kick off any meal.

Grilled Tuna Salad
I loved this course, the ingredients in the salad are packed full of flavour, the salad has no dressing at all, it just relies on the herbs and spices, the Chinese cabbage adds a nice soft crunch and I served the salad on poppadums which added a lovely crunchiness, the tuna is only grilled for a couple of minutes each side and served rare and thanks to my fish monger was delightfully fresh.

Beef Rendang
Green Curried Chicken
Green Papaya Salad

Tumeric, Ginger and Garlic Rice and Steamed White Wice
Chilli Tomato Sambal
In hind sight, I may have gone a bit big on the main, there was a lot of food on the table, I served up plates of rice and had two curries at each end of the table so people could help themselves to as much or little as they wanted, it took a little longer to get the Green Curry to the table than I had anticipated, and our guests were quite surprised when I brought it out, all had tucked into the rending by this stage and I was pleased to hear so many complimenting the dish, when I got to try it the sauce of the rending was rich in flavour and the beef almost melted in your mouth, I was pretty happy with it.

Mango Soufflé with Vanilla Ice Cream
I am not very good with desserts and I have never had an Asian dessert that I was totally taken by, so when I found the recipe for this I was a little excited, it sounded fantastic, unfortunately it did not turn out quite as I wanted and was way too big, having said all that the flavours were good, though it was more like a custard than a soufflé and it would have been better to have had a lot more fresh mango, we had one left over which Jo and I shared tonight and we had it as a custard over ice cream, it was so YUM YUM, it has given me some inspiration for a future dessert!

All in all it was a great night, both Jo and I enjoyed ourselves immensely and I think our guests had a pretty good night too, and at the end of day that is what you want, you can’t beat enjoying a night with nice people, sharing some good food and stories, it is what life is all about!

Beyond Paradise ...

There was one rather special place we visited however, we had to fit one in!

Late February 2011, as we are pulling out of our driveway to head for the international airport, to catch a plane to Bali for a two week holiday, I notice the March issue of Gourmet Traveller sticking out of the letter box.  I stopped the car, got out and pulled the magazine out of the letterbox and shoved it in my bag, where it stayed until we were in Ulawatu about seven nights later.

Arriving in Bali at midnight, we got off the plane and headed directly to our hotel room and then to bed.  The following morning we had breakfast and headed out to catch a cab to the BMC money changer in Seminyak, after changing some money we walked past a quaint little restaurant next door to BMC.  The restaurant was SIP Wine Bar, I loved the look of it and suggested to Jo we might have some lunch there later in the day, however we never got back there, as after doing some shopping we bumped into some people we had met on the plane and decided to have a drink with them.  Little be known to us, the couple were a pair of die hard piss heads from way back, so after 8 Bintangs and a few bourbons later, we were in no state to do anything.  We had the following day around the pool in recovery mode and then the next day we flew off to Lom Bok for three nights. We then headed back o Bali, but this time heading to Ulawatu for a couple of nights.  It was whilst we were here relaxing by the pool that I pulled that magazine out of my bag and opened it up, to a ten page spread titled Eat, Play, Love, the article reported the coolest places to eat, drink and make merry in Bali. Turning to the second page of the story, where the first restaurant covered was, you guessed it SIP.  You think I got excited? You bet I did, I couldn’t wait to get back to Seminyak and make my way there.  A few nights later we were back in Seminyak, I told Jo to get dressed up a bit as we were going somewhere which I thought would be special, after a couple of pre dinner drinks we made our way out to the taxi rank and told the driver to take us to SIP.  We pulled up out the front, but there was a small truck on the footpath, with a couple of workmen busy throwing wheelbarrow loads of rubbish into the back of it, the restaurant had been completely gutted, it appeared everything but the walls had been demolished, I couldn’t believe it, I was devastated.

Fast Forward to March 2012, Jo and Jack hit Seminyak after a few days in Ubud, Jack says to Jo, we have to go to the money changer, Jack and Jo finally get to dine at SIP!

As it turned out in March 2011 the restaurant was closed for ten days for refurbishment, just in time for the commencement of the busier season, our waitress was shocked that we remembered and was so excited when I asked if it was she that had been photographed, she told me it was not her but her friend, however she was not there at that time, she did however bring the young lady out to meet us just before we finished our meal about an hour later.  

If the food was no good at this place, and the décor was horrible, you’d still go back to enjoy the company of these girls, they were so lovely, terrific smiles and personalities.

But the food was good, better than good, every mouthful was fantastic, it was another one of those meals you wish would never end, it leaves you wanting more, wanting to go back again and again.  It was a rather late lunch we were having, so there were few people there, but one couple came in sat and looked at menu for about five minutes, then stood up and walked out, we were sat near to the footpath and the chap as he went by commented it was too rich for his money, he walked away from what could have been the best meal he had ever eaten in Bali, and something back home you’d be happy to pay four times the price for, could never figure that out, especially when the food we enjoyed came at a set price of around $19.50!

Jo’s perfect lunch,
Chicken Broth with Red Port Wine, Dash of Garlic,
Peeled White Onions, Ementhal Cheese on Croûtons Gratinés
Grilled Australian Rib Eye Steak -Faux Filet- 200gr. Topped with a Pat of Fresh Parsleyed Butter,
Served with Golden Home-Made French Fries and Mesclun Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Served with Vanilla Sauce

Jack ate,
Thinly Sliced Marinated Australian Beef Served with Basil Oil, Pesto Mayonnaise,
Shaved Parmesan and Rucola Salad
Roasted Farm-Raised Kintamani Chicken -Dark Meat-, Boneless and Skinless,
Stuffed with Chicken Mousse and Wild Mushrooms, Potato Maxim’s, Fresh Tarragon Sauce
‘À La Minute’ Warm and Thin Individual Fuji Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream -´À LA MODE’

I started with a Beef Carpaccio, something I love, tender tasty slices of beef with a little rocket salad, Dijon mustard mayo, and parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper, very simple dish very big on flavour.
Jo opted for a French Onion Soup, something when reading the menu sounded so good, I almost ordered it myself, and it came out and delivered exactly like it read, an awesome soup which I was privileged to have tasted.

Chicken Roulade, Stuffed with Chicken Mousse and Wild Mushrooms, Potato Maxim’s, Fresh Tarragon Sauce and a STEAK, FRITES, SALADE !
Grilled Australian Rib Eye Steak -Faux Filet- 200gr. Topped with a Pat of Fresh Parsleyed Butter,
Served with Golden Home-Made French Fries and Mesclun Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

No need to guess who had the steak, my chicken was divine and the Potato Maxim’s where incredibly good as was the Tarragon sauce, the steak according to Jo was mmmmm, aahhh , ooooo repeated with every mouthful, she seemed to be enjoying it and the four glasses of wine she swilled down along with it.

And the desserts, well they were to die for, Jo got in an order for the soufflé before I had a chance to, so I went with the apple tart, I was not disappointed, it actually blew me away it was that good and with the vanilla ice cream OMG.  Jo’s soufflé look absolutely amazing as it was brought to the table, it was so light and fluffy.
Take me back, take me back!
The whole meal was YUM YUM YUM every single bite, Jo love the wines she tasted, it is a wine bar after all and the wine list they have there is extensive, some of them pretty hefty in price, but for the wine lover, I think they would find this little bit of Bali to be Beyond Paradise.  Sometimes when you get excited about a place and you have great expectations, when you finally get there you are a little disappointed because it did not live up to your expectation, not the case here, I had 12 months of expectation of how good SIP would be, to my surprise it was pleasantly so much better.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Taste of Bali, God I love the place!

Jo and I travelled for our fifth time together to Bali in late February – March staying at a beautiful resort Kamandalu in Ubud for five nights, followed with a seven night stay at the Royal Beach Resort Seminyak.
Tasting plates Nomad's Ubud
Our trips to Bali are as much about eating as it is relaxing by a pool or visiting interesting places, and in previous years we have favoured some top notch restaurants such as Ku De Ta, La Lucciolla and Ultimos with a smaller traditional warung thrown in here or there.  In 2012 we decided, or maybe it was me? That we would like to try a bit more authentic Indonesian food and I was so glad we did, Indonesian food is bloody awesome!  We did have one night at a long time favourite, Ultimo in Seminyak, but I was disappointed, it may have been the fact it rained so hard we had to wait 30 minutes just to cross the road, and then when we did it was by being escorted across by the parking dude with an umbrella.  Then once seated inside we were on the edge of the restaurant and still had rain coming in a bit, it made things a tad uncomfortable, but the Italian food that has so excited me on so many occasions at this great restaurant, just seemed a little bland when compared to some of the wonderful soups and curries we had been eating.
We found a few good places to eat in Ubud, being the first time we stayed here we were a bit unsure of where to go so for the first couple of days just went with the look of a place and judged by how many people where eating there, or how nice a view we had.

For our five nights in UBud, there was only one meal that was less than satisfactory and that was when we were too tired to go out, so we ate at the restaurant in the hotel, we had eaten here before and I was really impressed with their Indonesian styled seafood, one dish in particular BBQ scallops with watermelon salad was fantastic.  This night though, I had a Western dish and it was woeful at best, the steamed vegetables had sand in them and the meat was like leather.  But on the bright side, we had a fantastic lunch at a place called Clear Café, this is a real greenies joint, just about everything was organic and they did not serve alcohol, which was fine as we had had some big days!  The place was really interesting inside, all the tables were different, some were chunks of threes , others slabs of stone and a real multi cultural mix when it came to the cliental, absolutely loved this place and I haven’t mentioned the food yet!  The food was hands down the best within the township of Ubud of all that we tried, that does not include our day at Lobong of course!  The Thai curry soup I had was the best Thai curry soup I have had anywhere, I followed up with a Tuna Steak with Garlic Mash and a Daikon Salad, this was also a great dish, the sauce on the fish looked like it was straight out of a bottle, but it did not taste that way, it was yum, though the tuna could have been a little rarer for my liking, but I loved the meal.  We had read some reviews about this place and people were complaining about the price, I could not believe it for a three course lunch for two with a YUM YUM smoothie was less than 30 bucks and the food was awesome!

Another place we found walking down the main drag, I spied a beautiful garden whilst peaking over a fence and then found a few meters along the road a gate with a sign inviting us in to have a look, it was a water lily pond out the front of a beautiful temple, absolutely gorgeous it was.  After walking around taking 327 photos we noticed a café off to the side, it was early, but it was so hot I heard a Bintang calling, a couple of large ones later I had become so impressed by the place we came back that night for dinner.  The Temple had one of them dances on with all the bells and men screeching, if you wanted to pay 80,000Rp each you could have a table out the front, I got a table at the back, to get as far away from the bells as I could, we could still see the dance and I threw the 160K we saved into a bottle of plonk for Jo Girl, a bottle of Jacobs Creek.

It was a good choice for dinner, the food was great I started with a Soto Ayam soup, another new favourite, and followed up with an Indonesian Fish Curry in banana leaves and rice, and a fresh fruit salad with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Funny thing was Jo found it hard to finish the wine off, this has never happened before, but since I introduced her to vodka orange and soda she had no hankering for her vino!!!  Not sure if that is a good thing or not, probably not after trying to swim in our pool villa when we didn’t have a pool, one rainy afternoon!
Nasi Goreng - Me'Nu Seminyak

Bintnag's by the pool


Bintang anytime!
Babi Guling, BBQ at the beach

Beef Rendang, lunch by the pool, horny looking chilli!
Nasi Goreng, lunch by the pool

Mud Crab, @ 9 bucks an awesome meal
even if it does get messy!
Sishimi - Dhana Seminyak

Tempura Seafood and Veg - Dhana Seminyak

After walking around Ubud back country, I reckon it is a good thing the Indo’s love their rice, there is so much of the bloody stuff planted, every nook and cranny seemed like it had a puddle with a rice plant in it, I miss it though, looking back through some photos to jog my memory whilst I write this makes me sad, makes me want to be there, to wake up to the hustle and bustle of Melatsi Street being drowned out by them bloody bells, the humidity and heat, the smells, the cold Bintangs, the cool pools, the daily massage, the food, glorious food, take me back , take me back!!!