Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sharing a Love of Street Food at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) 2014

It took me by a complete surprise when Ibu Janet De Neefe offered the chance to participate in Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2014. I read her invitation email several times to make sure I wasn't misinterpreting her message, and I was so excited I don't think I've sent her a proper thank you yet!

To better explain the magnitude of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), it brings together no less than 150 writers from around Indonesia and 25 other countries, sharing their view on global issues, big ideas and extraordinary stories. With this magnitude, UWRF might be the most important annual International event in Ubud, hence feeling thrilled and dwarfed at the same time is a bit normal reaction I guess.

As a foodie, I find UWRF becomes even more interesting when it begun to incorporate culinary topics and workshops performing national renowned hosts like William Wongso, Bondan Winarno, and Chef Wan from our neighboring country Malaysia.

The Event

Representing Bali food bloggers, I will be doing a blogger sharing session on the first day of Kitchen Sessions, side by side with Ibu Amanda Katili Niode from Omar Niode Foundation.

Ibu Amanda herself is Chair of Omar Niode Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Indonesia working to raise awareness on the quality of education and human resources in the field of agriculture, food, and culinary arts. She's also Indonesia’s First Certified Culinary Travel Professional of The World Food Travel Association, as well as member of National Council on Climate Change, and Manager of The Climate Reality Project Indonesia. We've met before on one of the event she sponsored in Bali about creative cuisine and sustainable tourism.

As the topic, we settled on sharing our stories about Street Foods. Yes, those good ol' culinary treats you enjoy side by side with the bustling traffic!

Why does it matters? Because beside of its yummy and cheap price, they often act as the front runners in promoting the local cuisine culture, as well as becoming inseparable part of a traveling experience.

This feat will be in line with my contributions into the writing of Makansutra Indonesia 2013 Guide book last year, and series of article writings I've done for in-flight and food magazines outlining the beauty of Bali's street foods.

To accompany the street food experience, I will also bring variety of street food satays for the audience to sample.

Should you're in Ubud for the festival, don't forget to stop by. It's free and there's 20 seats only! (byms)

More information about The Kitchen Program.
More information about UWRF
More information about Omar Niode Foundation.

Location map:

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The cost of FREE dinner invitation for a food blogger

As food bloggers are more often and often getting invited to fancy dinners, it's no wonder that this hobby is quickly viewed as an alluring one; especially considering dinner invitations held by famous restaurants and hotels are ranging between 600K to 900K, or 1.2Mil IDR including wines or cocktails.

However should you are familiar with the phrase "With great powers comes great responsibilities," those dinner invitations usually comes with an unwritten obligation. Quickly recognized as alternative media, food bloggers too, are expected to broadcast about the event on their own media channels; blog and social network, so there's no such thing as a free loading folks!

Therefore while those invitations in your inbox might excites you, or even makes you proud, let's have a look at what's really going on.

The Costs

Wait? What costs? Aren't we talking about FREE invitations?

Well yeah, but let's not forget that it still requires time, and time is your biggest asset. In this case then, to be able to produce a quality writing, the blogger must go through a series of pre and post-event activities, for example:
  1. Research: what's being recommended the most, what's the chef specialities: 30 minutes
  2. Travelling back and forth: 1-2 hours
  3. Food tasting, taking photos, and interviewing the chef: 3-4 hours
  4. Photo editing: 2-4 hours
  5. Writing: 2-4 hours
  6. Publishing multiple photos on Twitter, Intagram, Facebook: 30 minutes-1 hour
Hence for a night out enjoying fancy dinners, there's at least 9 hours required for pre and post efforts, not to mention the 1-2 hours spent for exercising and recovery to burn those extra calories.

If you value your time for as low as 100K IDR/hour, that means you spent 900K IDR worth of efforts for committing to one FREE dinner invitation. And that's excluding travel expenses, camera's cost, internet bills or electricity. Or the pain of building up your skill to become the food blogger you are now.

Suddenly the "FREE" invitations doesn't sound like one any more eh?

The Rewards

To be fair though, let's have a look at rewards offered from such invitations:
  1. A good night out
  2. Content for your blog
  3. Acquaintance with chefs and their cooking styles
  4. Chance of networking with people in the industry
  5. Expanding your gastronomic knowledge
  6. Goodie bags, sometimes
  7. Etc.
While there's no real money put on the table, depending what you're food blogging for, you might find those rewards interesting, and worth the efforts. 

I myself found #3 and #4 worth for now (and #6 for the wifey), that's why I do accepts dinner invitation, especially when there will be interesting people attending.

What about you? Do you find dinner invitations worth the time spent, and why? (byms)
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Menikmati Waffle ala Hong Kong di Lapangan Niti Mandala Renon

Bagi yang penasaran dengan Waffle ala Hong Kong, di seberang Lapangan Niti Mandala Renon sekarang Eggie Waffle buka food truck setiap malam, dan kalau hari Minggu plus pagi-pagi. Waffle ala Hong Kong ini berbeda dibanding waffle tebal empuk bersiram sirup yang biasa ditemui, karena Hong Kong Waffle ini memiliki terstur garing dan renyah di luar, dan tidak disiram sirup tapi memiliki isi yang beraneka macam sesuai pilihan.

Pilihan variasinya beragam, mulai dari pilihan rasa wafflenya, hingga ke pilihan isinya. Selain dari Hong Kong Waffle, Eggie juga menjual minuman coklat, baik yang dingin maupun panas. Adapun kisaran harganya sendiri cukup terjangkau antara Rp. 10.000 dan Rp. 20.000.

Kalau datang ke sini Minggu pagi, jangan lupa pakai pakaian santai dan lebih asik lagi kalau sekaligus berolah-raga, atau sekedar menonton aksi para muda-mudi Denpasar yang tumpah ruah di saat car-free hours ini. (byms)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Indonesian Hell's Kitchen coming soon

The Hollywood Reporter recently published that Indonesia will have its own flavour of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen soon, as ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced the selling of its first deal for the show in Asia, to Indonesian broadcaster SCTV.

SCTV has commissioned 25 of the 60 minute episodes of the show to be aired later this 2014, and it will be hosted by the local chef Juna Rorimpandey, a.k.a. Chef Juna (@JunaRorimpandey), the jury of Indonesian Master Chef, dubbed as "Indonesia's wildest, hell-raising chef" by CNN Travel.

The heavily tattooed, Harley-riding chef Juna will tests both the performance and gut of competing amateur chefs, eliminating them one by one until a champion is born.

Want to take a part? Visit Hell's Kitchen Indonesia to register for an audition.

With Indonesian TV stations practically thrown in every kind of drama possible for the sake of rating though, and Hell's Kitchen has been known worldwide for its dramatic quality, I hope this Indonesian Hell's Kitchen will also provide an educating and entertaining cooking show. (byms)

Source & photo of Hell's Kitchen from The Hollywood Reporter.

Photo of Chef Juna from CNN Travel.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tempe in Indonesia: staple food in the past, import-dependent goods today

As a kid growing up on Tempe and Tahu, I can say with high confidence and authority that they're part of Indonesian staple food, as well as unseparated part of every Indonesian family. Not only tasted great eaten alone or with sambal, they're easy to prepare, and (used to be) dead cheap.

This tempe's synonimity with the poor however, once borne a negative notion of "mental tempe" to call someone with short vision, weak will, and low self-esteem -- despite Tempe's high nutritional properties.

Fast forward to nowadays, while Tempe and Tahu are still a national favourite, some things have changed for worse:
  1. Tempe and Tahu still affordable but no longer considered as a dead cheap product
  2. Sometimes there's a shortage of Tempe and Tahu in the market, because...
  3. The price of imported soybeans is keep on rising, because...
  4. Most (if not all) soybeans used to create Tempe and Tahu, are imported from either US or Brazil
What does it mean? If you eat Tempe and Tahu regularly now, then you're one of those people that fancy imported food -- which is not a big deal though, since the rice you eat will probably came from another country as well.

Seeing the facts, then it's not surprising that a recent Food Magazine Australia article "NT farmers push for increased exports to Indonesia" wrote about Northern Territory's farmer aim of fulfilling Indonesia's import needs of soybean, especially since it still lacked behind their export of cattle:
"Last year the state exported $230 million worth of cattle, but only $6 million worth of horticulture products, ABC Rural reports.

The Northern Territory Farmers Association (NTFA) has recommended more be done to tap into the Indonesian market, in its submission to the federal government’s Northern Australia Development White Paper.

Chief executive of the NTFA, Gran Fenton said Australia needs to shift its focus into commodities that Indonesia wants, like soybeans, sugar, cotton and peanuts.

'They import an enormous amount of soybeans from the US and Brazil, [so] that's the kind of stuff we need to be connecting to,' Fenton said."
Not that I'm specifically against the NTFA plan of fulfilling Indonesia's need of imported soybeans, or sugar, cotton, and peanuts -- since we'd still need to import it from somewhere else -- my concern lies on this nation's food defense and its people: what would happen, when the import cost is continually rising, but the people's income level are not?

Not to mention the fact outlined in Indonesia: why food self-sufficiency is different from food security, that currently Indonesia is a net importer of all of its major staple food commodities, including rice, maize, cassava, soybeans and sugar, even though domestic production of each of these commodities is substantial.

Indonesia has surely went so far, from one very rich country sung in children songs, to becoming a record-breaking country in imports these days. Don't you think so? (byms)

Photo from Wikipedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sliced_tempeh_(cropped).jpg
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Amazing High Cliff Tea at Karma Kandara Resort Bali

Karma Kandara! We were thrilled when finally got the time to visit this beautiful resort in full team, after some schedule misalignments. Located about an hour away from the Airport, Karma Kandara is reached by heading south past the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) complex, then keep heading south off the main street following the sign board posted at the intersections. Keep in mind that you're heading to the Southernmost beach of Bali, so don't get distracted by the main traffic that most likely are heading towards Uluwatu or elsewhere in Southwest Bali.

Known as one of the most beautiful resorts in Bali, Karma Kandara Resort houses 70 private villas, which half of them are privately owned, and half are for rent. Our destination on this trip is Di Mare restaurant, one of three eateries existed within the Karma Kandara complex.

Reaching Di Mare Restaurant in Karma Kandara

There's a parking space within a short distance to Di Mare restaurant, so make sure to follow the sign board that says "Di Mare" instead of "Karma Kandara Resort" at the final intersection. From this parking space, Di Mare is reached through a corridor with limestone walls, that emits the rustic feeling.

Literally mean "The Ocean" in Italian, Di Mare is set on top of a steep cliff overlooking the infinity pool lies below, and the vast blue ocean that marked the southernmost part of Bali island. With its breath taking view, Di Mare restaurant is such an extraordinary venue to spend your afternoon at.

Di Mare's High Cliff Tea 

Di Mare some while ago launched a High Cliff Tea promotion, available from 3 pm to 5 pm where guests are treated to selections of sweet and savory snacks, along with a choice of tea or coffee.

The snacks are presented in three tiered tray, offering savoury treats of three different sandwiches, each filled with either cured salmon, tuna, or chicken. There are also some Sushi rolls, and Thai springrolls to pleases your palate.

On the sweet treats selection, there's muffin, cookies, delicious cheesecake with coconut crumbles, and what turned out to be the very succulent, creamy, dark chocolate brownies, best we've had in a long while.

While the food in general was good and fulfilling, we can't help but feeling they're quite minor compared with the amazing view that lies before us.

Since people says that a picture speaks a thousand words, then I'll let these beautiful pictures speak for themselves.

Temple Bar and Lounge

Sits right above Di Mare restaurant, is another Karma Kandara premise that provides the even better spots to witness the majestic sunset here in Karma Kandara.

Karma Beach Club

Steps away from Di Mare to the south, lies the entrance to the electric tram that take guests down through the almost vertical cliff of Karma Kandara, to where the Karma Beach Club are (previously called Nammos).

Our tram operator informed that there's a 200K IDR voucher purchase necessary for each person using the tram to Karma Beach Club down below, however the ride itself is free as the vouchers are used to pay for the meals and drinks guests ordered in Karma Beach Club.

Alternatively if you just want to enjoy the beach, there's a stairwell leading down from another part of Karma Kandara, however she warned that it has about 300 steps so make sure you have the necessary stamina.

It was already dark when we went down, so we didn't get to experience the crystal clear waters that Karma Beach Club visitors talk about, but it is for sure that we already had a blast of amusement during our short visit to Karma Kandara that afternoon.

Many thanks for Karma Kandara and Middleton Manning for introducing Karma's High Cliff Tea, the amazing Di Mare, Temple Lounge and Bar, and Karma Beach Club to Epicurina readers. (byms)

Note: All photos are taken using Samsung Galaxy Grand and underwent necessary editing. 

Karma Kandara Resort

Jalan Villa Kandara, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan, Bali, 80362 Indonesia
Phone : +62 (0) 361 848 2200 | Fax : +62 (0) 361 848 2244
Email : res@karmaresorts.com / info@karmaresorts.com
Web : www.karmakandara.com
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Five reasons why Holycow is a new hit in Bali

Steak are no stranger in Bali's food scene. However when you passed by Dewi Sri street after dark, you'll be certain to see queue of people waiting to get a table at Holycow, the fast riser steak house from Jakarta who recently opened their newest branch here in Bali, their 8th nation wide to be exact. 

Queue outside Holycow Camp Bali at Dewi Sri Street, Kuta, Bali

While we know there are many steak houses in Bali, offering steaks of different style and price range, but it seems like Holycow is quickly emerged as a favourite among those already settled and established steak houses in Bali. How could this happen?

Here's what Epicurina thinks:

1. Holycow put robust flavours right on the meat, instead of only in the sauce. While it might seem like a heresy for the steak purist, who believes in putting minimal treatment to the meat, having been grown up on spices heavy and flavoursome Indonesian cookings, my taste buds quickly succumbed, and found themselves at home with the flavours Holycow steaks offered, and I'm sure many others feel the same.

Sirloin Combo (149K for two steaks)

2. Holycow offers plenty of quality meat cuts to choose, at decent pricing. While it's not as extensive option as Arena in Sanur, who serves like 40 different type of US and Australian beef, among others. It's plenty enough for people with different liking and budget. Also while their Wagyu is not as lavish or buttery as Australian Grade 8+ Blackmore Wagyu, or as robust and juicy as Stockyard's Silver Sirloin, Holycow's Wagyu is clearly notches above average. Price wise, while they're not cheap but it's only about 20K IDR difference from having a plate of dry steak cooked over the meat counter in a local supermarket. 

Holycow Camp Bali menu
3. Holycow offers plenty sauce options, five to be exact: Homemade mushroom sauce, W sauce, Buddy's special sauce, Blackpepper, and Barbeque. While that number is not amazing, that's already tops over most of Bali steak houses who tends to become very conservative with BBQ and mushroom sauce as the most common option. Among the choices, Holycow even invented their own flavour, "W Sauce" which are made from very local ingredients thus creating a unique flavour rarely found elsewhere in Bali Steak houses.

Wagyu Bolar Blade (87K), one of the minor cut offered at Holycow Camp Bali

4. Holycow is famous. They attracts not only customers, but loyal followers, just like Jakarta's Abuba Steak phenomenon in the 90's. This is why most of the marketing are also done virally by satisfied customers, one to the next, the strongest form of marketing there is. And that's seems to be the reason why when Holycow first opened their doors in Bali, they already have eager customers lined up, warmed up by the good reputation already circling around, looking forward to try the Holycow experience.

Wagyu Rib Eye (135K)

5. Holycow don't sell pork, where most of the serious steak houses in Bali do. This quickly drawn the captive market of local muslim population in Denpasar area, who previously think twice or thrice before attending the usual steaks and pork ribs joint, thus have to resort to the usual Steak Kakilima or Waroeng Steak and Shake. Also different with seasonal tourists, they're here to stay. (byms)

Holycow Camp Bali

Jl. Dewi Sri
Gedung BTC no.7
Across Fontana Hotel
Kuta - Bali
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Haute Tea Couture Fashion Show at The Mulia Bali Afternoon Tea

Haute Tea Couture is the theme of a fashion show from Bali's designer Oka Diputra, shown at The Mulia Bali during its Afternoon Tea program.

The Mulia Afternoon Tea

Starting in early 2014, The Mulia offers two different kind of treats for its Afternoon tea: Classic or Indonesian. As you might have already guessed, the classic set offers international selection of snacks and desserts, ranging from the savoury bites like canap├ęs, and the sweets like pies, pudding, and macaron.

The Indonesian selection on the other hand presents the refined version of Indonesian desserts and snacks, like lumpia, lemper, and the delicious Lapis Legit neatly decorated as a blue gift box.

With each set, there are no limitation to what drinks can you order, as The Mulia offers a range of tea and coffee to accompany your afternoon tea.

Thinking of having something energetic, initially I choose Ice Latte to go with my Afternoon Tea. However as the afternoon progress, and the heat of the Balinese sun was becoming more intense, I quickly switched my option to their Iced Tea, and happily sips through glasses of them as the waiter keep offering to refill my empty glass.

Beside of the delicious snack and desserts coming with your set, there are also selections of individual treats circulated around by the server.

Entry to The Cafe Dessert Station

As if those option are not plenty enough, along with any set of Afternoon Tea you order The Mulia offers as compliment, free entry to The Cafe's all you can eat dessert section! If you love desserts, then you better make sure there's plenty of room still available on your tummy, as this dessert station is quite a sweet-tooth heaven.

Standing as the main attraction of the dessert section is their Gelato corner which offers delicious selections of both gelato and sorbet, along with its colourful toppings ranging from jellies, chocolate rice, fruits, nuts, and berries. What's also good beside of the tons of matching possibilities, all of the gelato and sorbet are made in-house at The Cafe, thus its freshness and quality are well maintained.

There's also a dedicated cake and jellies display next door, not to mention various international and traditional snacks available for you to choose.

Haute Tea Couture Fashion Show

The fashion show itself started around 5 pm, where Oka Diputra showcasing his beautiful Haute Couture collection, mostly in black.

As with the fashion show itself, The Mulia's Assistant Communications Manager Kris Mikail Silitonga explained that it will become their regular part of their Afternoon Tea, as naturally the majority of guests for their Afternoon tea are women.

If you're planning to try out The Mulia's Afternoon Tea, I'd strongly suggest to dress down, as the seating area are facing directly to the West, hence you'll experience the afternoon Balinese sun in its full intensity.

Thank you The Mulia for introducing Epicurina readers to your sumptuous Afternoon Tea. (byms)

The Bar at The Mulia Bali

The Mulia, Mulia Resort & Villas - Nusa Dua, Bali

Jl. Raya Nusa Dua Selatan, Kawasan Sawangan,
Nusa Dua 80363, Bali, Indonesia
T: (62-361) 3017777

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