Saturday, November 27, 2010

Merapi Aftermath - Yogyakarta

The hot ash cloud from Merapi eruption came at 200km per hour. It was a good thing they had an 1 1/2 hour warning to evacuate. The chief's son went back for his documents and was not heard since presumably killed by the heat radiated from the hot cloud. It was very certainly hell on earth. Destruction was wreaked on the land, trees, farms, animals and humans. Even the revered spiritual keeper of Merapi was not spared. It was a day where hell was let loose. The land was scorched land.

I tried to go in earlier but the flights were cancelled, but its never too late to be of help. I was taken in by the local headman through the roadblocks using small paths. We got as near as we can. If the locals dare not go, let's not push it, thus stopping at the 7km mark. Beyond and nearer to the volcano, more destruction beckoned. By then I have seen sufficient desolation for a day.

The relief work was well undertaken by the government and NGO. After a month all will be back to normal and those who have lost their houses, land and farm may be left to fend for themselves especially those that are in remote areas and well away from the glare of publicity. Temporary housing whose lifespan is between 2-4 years is need for those who have lost homes as they cannot stay too long with their relatives. And hopefully funds were made available for them to rebuild.

Windows and glass broke and exploded at the great heat. Furniture inside the house was 'cooked'. Trees were swept down.

 These yam plants sprung back into life a few days after it hot ash 'rain'. So will the Yogyakartans. They have returned from the dead after the 2006 earthquake.
 A solitary bamboo shoot springing into life. Speaks of the resilience of humans.
The streets were empty and businesses were shuttered. This village was just 1km away from destruction.
Evacuees living along the corridors of the stadium. More were housed in community halls.
Lining up for a bowl of instant noodles. The government, private sector and NGOs were quick to help out in the recovery and relief. The evacuees needs were taken care off.
The ash dumped by the Merapi went upward and then fell from the sky and settled on the fronds the palm trees like these coconut trees in the picture. As more fell the fronds bent downward at the weakest point. The trees will take some time to recover.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bebek Goreng - Yogyakarta, Jalan Gejayan

Local Indonesian ducks deep-fried to an incredible crispy and aromatic finger-licking goodness.

It was the worst of times again for Yogyakarta. Coming in on the back of the 2006 earthquake, I wonder what will the Merapi eruption do to the psyche of this city and its vicinity. Already hotels are badly hit. Mine was run by a skeletal staff. The rest were told to take a month off.

Despite the severe difficulties, the people still have the time to laugh and talk. I was almost at home when I found myself amidst rolling "rrrrs" and a genteel people. Yes, the locals here are really soft-spoken. My first trip to Malioboro in 2006 was quite something. Buying stuff was a pleasant experience. No hassling and hustling.

After the work rounds and appetite whetted we headed for Jlalan Gejayan for lunch at H. Slamet Bebek Goreng (deep-fried duck). These ducks comes in small sizes almost like the ubiquitous spring chicken.

Some feathers remained. Pull it out and enjoyed the crispy skin.
Sambel Korek. Chilies cooked in oil. "Korek" means to dig it up. This is not a dipping sauce but one that we are supposed to dig up the chilies with the meat. Caution - extremely hot.
Customary cucumber and singkong (tapioca leaves).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kunming Food Part 2 - Fiery, Oily and Exotic

Another dinner but the same type of food. Just that these were ordered by locals. The food were fiery hot, very oily (reflecting the host as generous and hospitable) and exotic. Diverse kinds of hot peppers and chilies were present in the food. The oil were omnipresent. It sunk to the bottom when it is heavier and float to the top when it is lighter. No wonder a friend who have stayed there for 15 years had a triple by-pass recently.

Business was brisk and by the time the food came it was twilight or the sun sets quickly over here.Eating utensils were sterilised and cling wrapped for hygiene. In this way there is no incidences of water slopping around at the bottom of the bowl. An improvement of sorts.
Feast your sight on these.

Bamboo Worms and Crickets!
Deep-fried small fishes.
Pepperised steam fish. My goodness, I have to get through the gauntlet of all manner of peppers and chilies.
Lovely chewy mozzarella type texture local tofu.
Three layer Pork caramelised with local sauces.
Look at the large round peppers! Intimidating and fearsome. I forgot about the food at hand.
Toothpick chicken. Marinated with loads of spices! Really good.
Tender beef with local vegetables.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tuck Kee - Pasir Pinji, Ipoh

Mixed plate of the famous Roast Pork, Roast Sausage and BBQ Pork.

I spent alot of my holidays in Pasir Pinji during my Primary school years. Tuck Kee is just a short walk from my grandma's house. There is a perpetual line waiting to purchase the best cuts from the roasts on offer. Pasir Pinji being a new village was a hotbed for Chinese food. As new villages evolved from a British strategic plan to counter the communist into centres for cottage industry, the food variety and sophistication also improved with the greater purchasing power.

The roasts were excellent. Pork belly with the right mixed of lean and fat roasted to perfection. The sausage was supple, tasty and and not dry like most sausages I had eaten. The juices could be savoured best when moist. BBQ pork were made with leaner meat. The caramelisation gave a better chew and texture. Marinaded well but not overwhelmingly sweet. Put this trio together and one will get the "ohs" and "ahs".

Salted Chicken. Great texture. Chewy meat made us to take the time to masticate. That's where the juices were tasted to the fullest.
What a perfect combination! French beans with big dried prawns. The salt from the prawns never tasted so good when eaten with the crunchy French beans.
Fish Fillet with spring onions were lacking in taste. I thought it was difficult to deal with fillet that was not of good quality. When the meat is bland no amount of marinating and sauces will make the fish taste good. The spring onion were over-fried. The chef took it out from the wok more than a tad too late.
1, Jalan King, Off Jalan Pasir Pinji, Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: 05-255 3870

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hiestand Swiss Gourmet Bakery - Bangsar Village

Imagine living next door to European bakery. Waking up to the smell great bread and pastries. This is going to be heavenly to all except probably the baker. Hiestand is a big-time provider of deep-frozen convenience bakery products. So, my take is that all their products are either raw or in different stages of being baked/finished. The final stage/s is finished off in the oven at the outlet. Their subsidiaries are found all the way from Europe to KL. And that leads me to think why they are having a bakery and cafe outlet - a downstream activity? To test the Asian market? I understand there is another one in Mont Kiara opening from 7:30am till late everyday. Online info for these outlets is scarce.

I was there with a friend catching up for a good 2 hours for tea. And I am taken aback by the steady stream of customers coming in. Most were "to go" customers. It seems to me that up-market Bangsar demands high-quality products and there is space for a few more of such.
Pretzel and Green Tea
This is (I think) a Lye Pretzel - Chewy, Hard and Savoury type
Scone - Crusty outside and soft and moist inside. Like some people hard outside but soft within. Get to know them and it will yield good results in friendship!

Croissant was so pleasant, big, soft and like those I had in Europe that I have to take-away one for my son.
Strudel Apple. And many more bread, baguettes, rolls, buns etc. I can wait for another trip.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kunming Food - Oil and Fire

Sitting on footstools made from straw is not exactly what I am looking for in a restaurant in a proper neighbourhood. The proper tables and chairs were within this large eatery. A decade and half ago I ate the same type of food albeit with fewer dishes and paid 15 Ringgit for 6 people and came away holding my belly.

Kunming is much different today. Roads were paved with granite slabs. Banks were equipped and service great. Supermarkets were stacked with products. There were depth and width. I remember how empty and lack of variety the shelves were in Guangzhou when I was there in 1995.

This time I had no time to re-visit their lakes, Stone Forest and beautiful gardens. But eat I must and here are some record of it. The food were no different from those I ate in times past. It was all fire and oil. Spices and lots of oil.

I am not sure about the unhealthy use of oil but the spices part are legendary in Kunming. All kinds of chilies and spices adorn their food. Fat, thin, fresh, dried, etc. The oil probably came from Chinese cultural and social understanding of oil. Food without oil is a disrespect to the guest. It is also a means to flaunt their means as oil was expensive in those days.
Ordering Station - Open menu. Point and choose.
Spicy and pickled.
All manner of soups for orders.
Trays of local delicacies. Don't ask me what's that!
Customary local Soy drink. Served to us like tea.
Short grain rice. A boon to all Malaysians accustomed to bad rice.
Anyone recognised this bean. No prizes. Good stuff eating it fresh rather those fried ones from the Kacang Putih seller.
Stir-fried Bittergourd slices.
Water Spinach or Kangkung.
Eggs with Tomatoes anyone?
Another vegetable dish which I can't name.
I thought this was a mushroom dish.
Kunming Pancake with some tubers and flour. Fantastic texture, feel and taste.
All their soups were bland. This Spinach Soup has zero MSG I presumed.
Customary Spring Rolls.
Fish done Kunming Style.
Local Tofu with great texture. Its chewy like mozzarella cheese.
Porky dish. But then where's the spicy and oily stuff. Next change. This was ordered by my western friend who had a triple by-pass not too long ago. My next meal were ordered by the locals and the food was ready to send me to the bin.