Bali: Adorable Creatures We Saw

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When we arrived at Ibu Oka (the second outlet, not the main one), we were half-expecting to see a crowd and a long queue. 

What we did not expect was to be greeted by the number of CUTE chicks darting around the main driveway.  They had been dyed in a variety of bright colours like vermillion, yellow, green, turquoise and fushia pink.  I couldn’t catch hold of one in my hands – they were simply too fast. 

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In addition to the colourful chicks, the eatery also keeps a puppy, two tiny kittens, rabbits, chickens, hamsters and dogs.  The two tiny kittens shared a cage with the puppy and all three were happily playing with each other in the cage.

It was feeding time when we arrived and we crowded around the cage to watch the kittens being fed milk from a straw by one of the staff (or owners) while the chicks and chickens were feeding from a plate of rice grains.

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I mentioned that there are many birds in the Chedi Club and some are kept in cages.  This particular white bird (a pigeon, I think) will continuously coo and bow at you when you stand in front of it.  Like a mechanical wind-up bird! 

And when we walk around the cage, it will follow us inside the cage and at the same time, coo and bow at us continuously, all the while looking at us solemnly.  I wonder how the bird was trained to do this.

Other Posts On Bali:

Bali: From Ubud With Love
Bali: The Chedi Club
Bali: What We Ate
Bali: Bedugul
Bali: The Padi Field Walk

Bali: What We Ate

Foodie friends have been telling me about how we must go to eat at several places in Ubud – Ibu Oka (babi guling), Babek Bengil (crispy duck), Naughty Nuri’s (char-grilled ribs and potent vodka martinis).  One of the resort staff also recommended that we visit Ibu Mangku who is well-known for her spicy fried chicken.

So we did.  We went to all these places with our friends.  And ate way too much for our own good.

All are local eateries with a laid-back atmosphere, menus scribbled in chalk on blackboards and great food at very affordable prices.  I should also add “warm, no air-conditioning and mosquito-infested”.

Ibu Oka
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“Pisah”. 

A plate of rice, crackling babi guling skin with a thick, unctuous layer of fat, slices of tender pork accompanied by a very addictive spicy sauce and other fixings like blood sausages, deep-fried-something and vegetables.

Ibu Mangku
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Nasi Ayam Kedewalan. 

A plate of rice, a stick of satay, a small hunk of fried chicken (never mind that it was chicken breast which I am not particularly fond of), hard-boiled egg and all the delicious toppings of chili and fried bits (I had no patience to figure out what they were).

My braces “snapped” while I was shovelling nasi ayam into my mouth.  I have no idea why, but my braces seem to always “give way” whenever I eat chicken (the last time it happened at Chin Chin Chicken Rice).

Naughty Nuri’s
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The photos didn’t do the ribs any justice.  The place was dark and I was too hungry to try harder.

This is basically an open-air, dingy-looking hut by the road and they cook slabs and slabs of pork ribs on a small charcoal grill in full view of the customers.

Nothing naughty about this place except that they serve a mouth-watering rack of char-grilled ribs and a very very mean vodka martini and margarita.  I could barely walk straight after a glass of each. 
 
Most joints serve ribs using a marinade that taste just sweet.  But here, the ribs have a deep, complex and smoky flavour (from the charcoal grill, no doubt) and the meat is so succulent and tender, it falls off the bones easily.  I savoured every bit of the ribs with my hands so that I could lick my fingers afterwards.       

Problem with this place is that the smoke from the grill is so thick, I had difficulty getting rid of the smell from my hair even after two washes.

Babek Bengil (also known as Dirty Duck Diner)
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Nasi Campur Bebek.

The first time I ate this was at its outlet in Jakarta and I didn’t find the famous crispy duck tasty.  Also, the duck was too hard for me to bite into with my braces so I skipped it this time but TBH tried it and did not find it spectacular. 

We also pre-ordered the babek betutu which is smoked duck stuffed with Balinese spices and wrapped in banana leaf. I thought it was very good.  If I ever visit Dirty Duck again, I will definitely want to order this and skip the crispy duck altogether.

Chedi Club
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During our first visit, we ate in most of the time because the restaurant does a very good nasi goreng and mee goreng. I ate mee goreng at least once a day and there were other days when I ate it for all three meals.

Both dishes still taste very yummy.

Breakfast
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Fruits and bircher muesli (which I love). 

It wasn’t all sinful food that I ate at every meal.  Breakfast was healthy.

I also ate passionfruit for the first time in my life on this trip. Why have I not eaten passionfruit before, I don’t know.

Whatever the case, I definitely need to go on a “‘detox diet” over the next couple of weeks. 

DO NOT ask me out for lunch!

Other Posts On Bali:
Bali: From Ubud With Love
Bali: The Chedi Club
Bali: Adorable Creatures We Saw
Bali: Bedugul
Bali: The Padi Field Walk

Bali: The Chedi Club

We like coming to Bali.  TBH has been here 6 times and me 4 times. Our last visit together was four years ago in early 2006. We’ve stayed in several places in Bali and our present favourite is Ubud.

Kuta (icks, downright horrid).  Jimbaran Bay, a really pretty spot where we ate grilled seafood on the beach, enjoyed the ocean breeze and watched the sun go down (that was before a bomb landed on the beach). 

This visit, we returned to The Chedi Club, Tanah Gajah in Ubud, where we stayed for the first time during our last visit to Bali.  I think we both fell in love with this place the moment we set foot onto the estate.

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The Chedi Club is a sprawling, some 5-acre, verdant estate that is privately owned by a prominent Indonesian architect. The grounds are beautifully manicured and have a rustic feel to it. 

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Villas are surrounded by a variety of plants and trees, birds in cages, stone carvings of elephants and frogs, flowing streams and the ubiquitous lotus ponds.

What is most picturesque about the estate is the huge expanse of rice fields encircling it, some owned by the the Chedi Club and others belonging to rice farmers.

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Restaurant, Chedi Club

Green rice fields greet us at the restaurant (which is really a long dining hall) where we have our meals, when soaking our feet before a massage (and during yoga), when we put up our feet to read a book in one of the day-beds in the lounge and when we wander around the estate.

It is very quiet, relaxing and restful here.  We are more likely to hear a bird than a human, not that we are complaining!  Which is what we wake up to every morning – birds chirping or sometimes, geckos clicking away!

And you can’t shut these chaps up like you do with an alarm clock.

Other Posts On Bali:
Bali: From Ubud With Love
Bali: What We Ate
Bali: Adorable Creatures We Saw
Bali: Bedugul
Bali: The Padi Field Walk

Reunion Dinners

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Pen cai (or poon choy), Tunglok Classics

We had our reunion dinners this weekend.  With my side of the family – at Mom’s place.  With my in-laws – at Imperial Treasures.

For reunion dinner with my in-laws, we usually have steamboat (which I love…!) but we decided to eat out this year to give my mother-in-law some respite from looking after her new-born grand-daughter.   We had a very tasty dinner at Imperial Treasures but it just cannot beat having steamboat dinner at home.

My mom, who is not big on steamboat or eating out, prefers to whip up a few home-cooked dishes for reunion dinner.  I have always wanted to try the Cantonese dish called pen cai (I often saw this in the TVB dramas that I used to watch many moons ago) so this year, I suggested to Mom that we order a takeaway pen cai from Tunglok.  

It was quite a hit with everyone at home, especially Mom who is fond of dried oysters, baby abalone, scallops, mushrooms, sea cucumber, etc and pen cai had most of her favourites in one pot.  It made her even happier that she could keep the huge claypot that came with the pen cai.

Me, I wanted only that pile of fa cai (which vanished by the time I was done with taking photos of food on the table, damn it!), deep-fried pig’s skin….and the thick, luscious gravy!

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Apart from pen cai, Mom also made pig’s trotters in vinegar, chap chye, lotus root and peanut soup. 

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And tossed yusheng from Tunglok as well…it was disappointing though.

And now, I am all ready for that huge bout of Monday blues.

Sprinkles – From Clarence Ville

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Last year, a good friend brought back half-a-dozen Red Velvet cupcakes (light chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting) from Sprinkles in San Francisco (Palo Alto, to be exact) for me to try.

Lucky me!

Otherwise, it may be a very long time coming before I have the chance to eat these cupcakes as Sprinkles does not yet have outlets in this part of the world – which is where I usually travel to (well, I see Tokyo listed as an upcoming location for another outlet on their website…but I don’t visit Tokyo that frequently).

The cupcakes looked a wee bit bruised, having been on the plane for hours and man-handled by customs at the airport. 

I couldn’t wait till I reached home to sink my teeth into the cupcakes so I ate one as I was driving home, scattering cake crumbs in the car, with TBH squawking away.

The cupcakes were terribly good.  Moist, dense and very rich.  

My friend also bought the Red Velvet cupcake mix and made her own cupcakes at home.  The home-made ones were decadently YUMMY too. 

They were my dinner tonight.

Pig’s Trotters In Vinegar

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My sister-in-law’s mom-in-law made this for my niece’s one-month old party and it was delicious.  It was cooked in the sweet-ish style that I like (as opposed to the sourish sort).  I have to learn how to make this!
 
While I was happily chomping away on pig’s trotters at the party, someone commented that pig’s trotters in vinegar are meant for women in confinement and since I like eating this dish so much, I should have a baby.

I really ‘see no light’ in this comment.  It was a good thing that my mouth was too full of pig’s trotters for me to say something caustic in return.

Look Pet, A Cat!

If I ever decide to keep a pet, it will have to be a CAT. 

I have even thought of possible names!   Like ‘Kimchi’. Or ‘Ninja’.  Or my childhood favourite, ‘Socks’.

On the way to breakfast on Sunday, we saw this beautiful cat curl itself up, napping outside the Changi Village Food Centre. 

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A plate of carrot cake later, we see the still napping cat in the same spot but fully stretched out.

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Aiyo, this cat is so adorable and her face has so much character. 

Right Pet?

School Days, Kway Chap

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Garden Street Kway Chap, Serangoon Gardens Food Centre

Garden Street Kway Chap has always been my favourite place to go to for a kway chap fix.   I know they are not the best in Singapore for kway chap but it is still one of the better ones around.

Our standard orders are eggs, DOUBLE servings of pig’s intestines, TAU POK, pork belly, pig’s skin, salted vegetables (or is it called pickled vegetables…??) and perhaps, the fish cake.  I like the kway as it is thin and smooth, and I find the pig’s intestines very flavourful, but they could do to improve on the pig’s skin which is not sufficiently tender and tastes a little rubbery (but I still order it anyway!).

One of the reasons why I enjoy going to Garden Street is because it brings back good memories of my secondary school days.  In those days, Garden Street was located at the former Blanco Court.  After every exam or major test, my friend and I would go to Blanco Court and pig out on kway chap from this stall; always with a big glass of yummy sugarcane juice from the drinks stall next door to wash it all down.

It all sounds so inane now – what really is the big deal about eating kway chap at Blanco Court (as the husband will say)?  But it was a big deal to us in those days, at least to me, and it is also reminiscent of good times spent with a very good friend.

Sheesh, I think I am turning into an old lady. I am beginning to sound like grandpa, always talking about the ‘good ole days’.

Making Pineapple Tarts – Part III

Finally. It is finished. The first round, I mean.

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I wanted to give up after botching the dough the first time. I put it all down to my Mom’s cryptic instructions.

What does “6 eggs, want 5 egg yolks, 1/2 egg white” mean? If only 5 egg yolks are required, why did she specify 6 eggs….??

It has been too long since I last made the tarts and cannot remember the details of her instructions (and of course, I didn’t jot down notes previously). Plus she was nowhere to be found when I needed to speak to her to clarify this.

I figured she meant 5 egg yolks and the 6th egg is for the egg wash. So I tried again.

Halfway through, I realised that a rolling pin no longer resides in this household and had to substitute with an empty Dr Loosen for rolling the dough. I also have to get a watercolour paintbrush for applying egg wash.

Pineapple Tarts

Verdict of tarts? Okay, except that the jam is too sweet and tastes a bit cloying. The quantity of rock sugar has to be reduced by some arbitrary amount – maybe 50g – in the next batch of pineapple that I cook.

I also know that Mom will complain about the inconsistency in the sizes of the pineapple balls and the thickness of the crusts. As I have always said to her: “I am human, not a machine…”

And please excuse me, I am going to cam-whore a little here.

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Making Pineapple Tarts – Part I

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I said it. There is no turning back now.

In my entire life, I have not bought pineapple tarts from the stores before. Having grown up on my mother’s pineapple tarts, I did not have any strong desire to buy the ones sold outside.

Back then, the pineapple tart production line at home starts a month before Chinese New Year and did not usually stop till Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Grating the pineapple, cooking the pineapple to make jam, kneading and rolling the dough, cutting out the dough using the dough cutters for the crust, arranging the cut-out crusts in rows on the baking tray, rolling pineapple jam into little balls, placing the little balls onto the cut-out crusts, applying egg wash on the crusts, putting the tarts into the oven to bake, cooling the tarts and arranging the tarts in a container.

So many steps. Back-breaking work. But it was a lot of fun. Especially when Mom’s friends pop by to join the production line.

Growing up, my mom allowed me to roll the pineapple jam into little balls, apply egg wash and do nothing else. I have always liked rolling the dough and cutting out the dough with the dough cutters but she insisted on doing this herself. She wanted consistency in the thickness of the dough and being consistent in this respect wasn’t my forte.

My mom has stopped making pineapple tarts for the family several years ago and passed on the baton to me. As I said, being consistent is not my forte so family and friends get homemade pineapple tarts, at best, in alternate years. I emphasize – at best.

Last year, I made the jam but could not find it in me to continue. So this year, I am determined to get my act together and produce something!

For a start, I grated half-a-dozen pineapples and drained the juice this evening. I need some brilliant but idiot-proof ideas as to what I can do with the pineapple juice.

I am starting to smell like pineapple too.

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