Cooking up a Balinese food storm in Sanur

Last summer we decided it would be fun to try a cooking class while holidaying in Bali and we found Caraway Cooking Class on TripAdvisor and quickly decided it was exactly what we were looking for. My boyfriend, mom and I were picked up at 4 pm by the owner of the school, the lovely Ibu Dewi, who drove us back to the cooking school, which is also her private home a little bit outside of Sanur.

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Cooking up a storm in Ibu Dewi’s kitchen.

When we arrived at the school Dewi’s best friend and young niece were both there to greet us, and we quickly got started on our lesson. We spent around three hours preparing traditional Balinese food, and we also ended up making Indonesian beef rendang (which is not something that is usually on the menu, but we requested it and Dewi was kind enough to go out of her way to show us how to make my favorite dish). Ma kasih ya Dewi! 🙂

We spent the late afternoon and early evening learning how to make homemade vegetable spring rolls, grilled chicken satay with peanut sauce, mi goreng (fried noodles), acar kuning (yellow pickled vegetables) and a coconut dessert. It was a truly spectacular day, and I would recommend anyone in the Sanur area to take the same class.

Our entire experience was very hands on, which we all really loved as we got to learn the intricacies of each and every dish we made, and obvs asked a ton of questions along the way. As I spent my childhood in Indonesia I’ve always been accustomed to (and loved) spicy food, but I really didn’t realize how many chili peppers typical Indonesian and Balinese dishes contain, especially in notoriously hot dishes like rendang.

One of the tricks to making awesome Indonesian food is to prep your herbs and spices before you start cooking, so that you can easily throw them in when their cooking time comes. We spent about an hour preparing all our garlic, chili, ginger and spices, so that once it came down to cooking everything, it all came together in a flash.

The final Caraway Cooking Class feast consisted of beef rendang slow cooked with coconut milk, red rice, grilled chicken satay with peanut sauce, yellow  pickled vegetables, mi goreng (fried noodles) and a beautiful coconut pudding for dessert.

This was the first time any of us had tried a professional cooking class (but certainly not our last), and we not only walked away with extremely happy stomachs and giant smiles on our faces, but also with a rich understanding for the basics of Balinese cooking.

Terima kasih banyak Caraway Cooking Class. Sampai jumpa lagi!

 

The best Xiao Long Bao (soup filled dumplings) in Jakarta

It can be argued that there is no such thing as the best Xiao Long Bao in Jakarta, and it is indeed true that when looking for a favorite variant of the Chinese delicacy, Indonesia’s capital is at no loss for great places to choose from.

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However, I write this post with the pure conviction that I have indeed found one of the greatest dim-sum restaurants in the giant durian (one of Jakarta’s many nicknames) and it may come as no surprise to some of you, and a disappointment to others, that the best Xiao Long Bao in Jakarta can be had at the Michelin starred Chinese restaurant, Din Tai Fung.

Truffle Xiao Long Bao (left) and Chicken & Vegetable Xiao Long Bao (right)

What is Xiao Long Bao? 

Xiao Long Bao are soup filled dumplings, which are often served with a chicken or prawn filling. In recent years, restaurants around the world have started playing with the flavors of XLB, and you can now also get more exotic fillings in your dumplings, including Truffle XLB (as pictured above), Bolognese, Taro and even Cheese versions of my favorite Chinese morsels.

Xiao Long Bao are some of my favorite dumplings of all time with the soup as the piece de resistance that you should sip while still hot (don’t ever let the soup escape from the dumpling, unless it’s directly into your mouth!)

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How to eat Xiao Long Bao

Eating Xiao Long Bao is a bit of an art, and it’s imperative that you don’t lose any of the soup when consuming your dumpling . For this reason, it’s advised to use a Chinese soup spoon along with chopsticks to eat your savory morsel, but before that, you should create the sauce you will be dipping your dumplings in.

At every proper dim sum restaurant, you will be served a number of condiments to mix yourself, including vinegar, soy sauce, chili and sliced ginger. Each diner has their own little bowl with ginger slices in it, and you can then add the vinegar, soy sauce and chili as you see fit.

The recommended ratio of soy sauce to vinegar is 1 to 3, and you should always put the soy sauce in before the vinegar. 

Once you’ve created your sauce, you should take your Xiao Long Bao with chopsticks, and dip it into the sauce gently. Then place your dumpling on your spoon, and add a few slices of ginger to the top. Bite into the dumpling at the top if you wish to release some of the heat from the soup before eating it.

Enjoy!

Prawn wontons in a spicy Szechuan sauce

In addition to Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung serves a plethora of other great Chinese dishes, including crispy roast duck, soft shell crab in black pepper sauce, stir fried beef and broccoli and enough dim-sum to feed even the pickiest diner.

It probably comes as no surprise that this is my choice for Xiao Long Bao in the city, but I’m sure I’ve also missed some other foodie gems in Jakarta! What are your favorite dim sum restaurants (and specifically Xiao Long Bao places) in Jakarta, or in your city?

Stay tuned for more food adventures from #thetastytraveller!

4 must-try Bali restaurants

We spent four days in Sanur, Bali during a two week holiday around Indonesia last summer, dining on fresh seafood and sipping mojitos by the sea. Having grown up in the country, I have visited Bali many times, and always like to stay somewhere different to mix things up a bit and make each holiday as exciting as possible.

As my mom was coming along on this trip, we decided to stay in Sanur, which is one of the quieter beach towns in south Bali, and perfect for couples, families, and anyone looking for a laid-back and relaxing holiday. Sanur may be a lot tamer than Seminyak and the infamous Kuta, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot to offer, in terms of accommodation, activities, and the key ingredient to any amazing holiday, awesome food.

As Sanur was the first stop on our three-pronged Bali and Gili island adventure, we spent a lot of time in the pool at the hotel sipping on gin n’ juice – laidback.

Kidding, we mostly had mojitos and bintang beers. However, we did manage to rally ourselves enough to hit several restaurants during our stay, and below are my recommendations for eateries you don’t want to miss if you’re in the area. We also spent a few days in Ubud on our way off the island, and I would highly recommend that you take the time to visit several towns in Bali, as each place really does have it’s own magical appeal.

SANUR

Canang Kitchen and Bar – Pork Belly Pintxos and Be Guling Nasi Goreng

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Pork belly pintxos with cabbage and apple

We came here based on Trip Advisor reviews, and to be brutally honest…. because we stumbled upon it in a fit of hanger (hunger + anger) which would have seen myself, my boyfriend and my mom viciously attacking each other with our words if we weren’t feed instantly. The reason for our visit doesn’t really matter though, as the food really does live up to the TA hype, not only the quality, taste, and presentation, but also  pleasing prices to match.

We kicked off our meal with Pork Belly Pintxos, which came out as four individual bites of roasted pork belly, served on top of small pieces of toasted bread, with white and red cabbage, apple, coriander and a spicy sauce to boot. As we bit into the nibbles, we all agreed they were way better than we had expected, and eagerly started discussing what the mains would be like.

Be Guling Nasi Goreng is a pork lover’s dream – it’s the traditional Indonesian fried rice dish that everyone loves, but with one oink of a twist. All the condiments and sides are pork themed, and as a redblooded Danish female (we have more pigs than people in Denmark), I had to try this dish, obvs obvs.

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Be Guling Nasi Goreng

Price: $$

Jack Fish – Grilled snapper, grouper, prawns, and squid

We found this beachside restaurant as we were wandering around outside our hotel looking for something less expensive and more authentic than what the 5 star resort had to offer (apologies for that very pretentious sentence).

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Grilled prawns on the beach #ftw

The food on offer at Jack Fish was all seafood (surprise surprise), and you could choose between fresh fish, crab, prawns and even lobster, which they would grill up right in front of you as you sipped on a beer.  We came here every single day for lunch after finding this place, and I would highly recommend you give it a try if you’re in the area. Even if you’re not – it’s worth traveling for!

Price: $

UBUD

Bebek Bengil, Dirty Duck Diner

Bebek Bengil (translated to Dirty Duck) is a beautiful restaurant in Ubud, Bali, established in 1990. Serving mainly Balinese duck dishes as well as other traditional Indonesian food, the story behind the name of the restaurant is that the owner of the establishment was having a hard time coming up with the name until a storm caused a group of dirty ducks to take shelter in the restaurant – and hence Bebek Bengil was born!

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Price: $$

CasCades Restaurant

We went here for our engagement dinner, and it was a truly spectacular evening. The restaurant is set on the stunning cliff side, so you overlook rice terraces and rainforest whilst being served five star food and drink. We had the beef Wellington, and it was the best Wellington I’ve ever had. So good, in fact, that I didn’t take a single picture of the evening, so here’s a shot of the view instead.

Price: $$$$$

Stay tuned for more foodie adventures from #thetastytraveller!

City shots of old Jakarta

Snapshots of old Jakarta, more precisely Batavia and the old Dutch colonial city square.

FIN