Friday, January 18, 2013

Plans for the future...

There is big change going on in Perth at the moment. A lot of awesome new places opening, there are loads of cool new concepts being explored and Perth is becoming a vibrant and busy city!

The downside of this is, and I guess the mining boom (with FIFO workers flocking back for a week in the city with a fistful of cash and 3 weeks worth of wound up 12 hour shifts style steam to blow off), everything is expensive.

I went to the Belgian Beer Cafe in the city a while back and ordered 4 beers. It cost me about $70. WTF?!


So many awesome places opening, small bars, restaurants........... It's hard to come by a decent glass of wine for less than $10.

Don't get me started on the red tape binding everyone hands. There are taxes and charges for everything. Every-fucking-thing. 


Pay to submit paperwork, no guarantee you'll get anywhere.

I think it's bullshit. There are so many useless government departments (plenty of useful ones I should add), taking loads of money off young, driven, passionate Western Australians. I call shenanigans. This red tape is suffocating the innovation that young people are capable of!

I've never really been one to pay charges and fees for nothing. 
I don't wanna fill out a million forms for nothing.

During my time in Bali I saw so many people seeing a gap, or using what they were good at and setting up something small and doing what they do. All they needed was a cart, or a small space. I loved seeing it, and reminded me of how IMPOSSIBLE that is here in Perth. There are good reasons for some things, I understand the need for health and safety etc. But we are on red tape over drive.

It inspired me to do what I do. To find a space and do it.

WITHOUT all the restrictions. 
WITHOUT the need for a huge amount of money.

I went to an art exhibition about Paris, Moulin Rouge, the artist was depicting life in the underbelly of this creative capital. All the underground bars, performances, food and drink...

Perth could totally use a place to go that's cheap, with good food, and a relaxed vibe. That has the charm of a small bar, all the fun things a small bar offers, with fun, good food, but you're not leaving $200 poorer.

I can see this niche and I can see how I can fill it, without giving all my money and time to a government department. 

Money will be going somewhere worthwhile. Whatever money you DO pay, will be going to places you can feel good about.

Watch this space!

Gili Trawangan, Lombok

Gili Trawangan is one of 3 islands just off Lombok in Indonesia. On the reccomendation of a friend we decided to look it up, and upon doing some reading saw that it seemed like a pretty special place. 

Book ticket.

The fast boat from Padang Bai in Bali costs you about $100-120 (depending on your haggling skills!) and takes about 60-90 minutes. Both our trips there and back were good, pretty calm waters, felt totally safe and had great views. Others didn't think so though, and the smell of vomit wafted around the inside of the boat from some poor girl who sat right up the front.

Hot tip: if you suspect seasickness might be an issue for you, sit at the back of the boat where there is less movement and more air. It's also easier for you to rush outside for a vom, rather than do it on the floor of the boat. Thanks chick.

Aaaaanyway. The special thing about Gili T is that there are NO cars allowed. Just bikes, and horse and carts, which cost you about $5 for them to take you almost anywhere. All over the island you can hear the tooting of their bells, or the clanging of their random metal instrument against another random instrument - in order to alert you to get outta the way. They don't really stop that fast...

While we were there it rained a bit which explains the flooded roads you'll see in the pics. We got sick of having mud flicking up onto our legs from our thongs, and ended up sitting in a bar drinking mojitos while it hammered down. We all know the rain had nothing to do with the drinks... I'll take an excuse if one is presented to me, alright?

The mojitos were served to me by a kid who looked about 15, wouldn't tell me his age, was getting hammered himself behind the bar, and danced like Michael Jackson. None of the other barstaff seemed to like him. When his boss wasn't there, the drinks were strong, so we loved him. It was here that we discovered a lot of mojitos are made with brown sugar in this part of the world. It looks like shit but tastes amazing - I much prefer them this way!

One of the most memorable things about Gili T is the street side grills - they are everywhere. You just pick what you like and they grill it for you. Cheap seafood, chicken, beef, pork, whatever. They have more legit and sanitary options all along the street, like the picture below, which a lot of people go for. Most of them are attached to restaurants.

But I mean... we're in Indonesia, street food is king. We didn't bother with the clean, refridgerated options. We went straight for the local street food market, where the meat has been sitting out, they pick it up with their hands and throw it in the fryer, and you get no options for how you want it done. How they make it is how you get it. It was AWESOME. 

These guys made awesome satay sticks, and when they saw I was taking pics, were all about getting in them! They answered all my questions about how they cook their fish (as best they could, their English wasn't amazing, my Indonesian is non existant). 

The fish is gutted and butterflied then put in a wire rack which is clamped shut. They brush the skin with garlic oil and grill it for a while where it moves onto the next guy, and he brushes chilli oil onto it and keeps grilling. Finally once he's cooked it longer, he passes it onto the 3rd guy who brushes thick soy sauce over it and grills it a little longer, where it's plonked onto a plate with some rice and a lime wedge and you're done. They smelled amazing, but S and I are both not massively into seafood and didn't order one. We did get the satays from these guys though and they were probably the best I've had. So tasty, chargrilled and retained their moisture. I wanted more but S pushed me along to try something else.

We had nasi goreng which we shared, and it was the BEST I've had, it was delicious. Wok fresh, I don't even know what went in it, but it was topped with a fried egg and finished off with a dollop of spicy sambal. We hoed into it like there was no tomorrow! I also got the fried chicken with sambal and rice, which was yummy. S mentioned the sambal was hot and the stall holder who was having a smoke near our table said it was only medium heat, with a snigger. S felt the challenge had been issued, and asked for some of the HOT sambal. He put on a brave face at first, but that was because it took a minute to really hit him. Then it was a lingering burn, and he went all bogan on me and chugged his beer. 

I had to go and buy him another beer. 

Oh this chicken also made me sick....... Oooops. S didn't eat any of it because he thought it looked a bit dodgy but I was getting into the spirit of the whole experience and eating everything I could see. This was the only thing I ate that he didn't so... yeah. Bali belly isn't fun kids.

Nothing that a trip down a dodgy alleyway to a dodgy medical clinic with a dodgy doctor who charged me $50 to poke me and give me immodium and some antibiotics, couldn't fix.

Long story short - Go to Gili T, it's beautiful. Ride around the island (doesn't take long), go snorkelling, relax by the beach, and eat some street food.

Just don't get the chicken.

No, stuff it, get it, it's great, just go to the pharmacy and ask for the bali belly antibiotics FIRST. Get on top of those little mofos. Who are they to stop me eating chicken anyway!?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Casa Luna cooking class, Ubud.

One of the things that was a must do in my eyes was to do a Balinese cooking class. A friend of mine has already gone to the Casa Luna cooking class and said good things, and when I did some research it seemed like this was a popular class with a good reputation. It was also only $33 each, which is a fraction of the cost of ANY class in Perth!

The school is set up by Janet de Neefe, here's part of the blurb from her book "Bali";

"26 years ago, a young woman from Melbourne travelled to Bali, and never quite made it back home. Janet De Neefe fell in love – with the people, the culture, the cuisine and since then, she has been collecting Balinese and Indonesian recipes, teaching local cooking methods and immersing herself in the colour and vibrancy of all that Balinese food has to offer."

Booking was pretty easy - I had an issue with my bank, but everyone I dealt with at Casa Luna was really friendly.

Each day they have a different class with a variety of different dishes, I had trouble choosing! But I chose the class where we made Balinese chicken satay, lawar, gado gado, beans in coconut milk, corn fritters and fragrant yellow rice.

Our teacher was bright, bubbly and had a great sense of humour. She introduced us to so many different ingredients, included info on how to use them, where to find them and what they taste like. We got a little booklet with all the recipes and I will be digging it out and trying them again!

We had to grind all the spices ourselves in big flat pestle and mortar, which took some doing! Everyone had a go, and then the pros took over so it wouldn't take us so long! The first thing that we made was a sweet and sour sauce that she put on cucumber, pineapple, and apple, which is a popular afternoon snack. However we all thought the sauce would have been amazing on ribs or anything that gets grilled, not fruit! Unless you grilled the fruit. That will be a thing. Grilled sweet and sour pineapple on a burger. Make a mental note of that! It was so simple as well, tamarind, palm sugar, chilli, and salt, its on the must make list!!

Here are some pics, they explain better than my words!

The food was great, my favourite was the lawar, it had great flavour, something different from a normal salad type dish that had the heartiness of meat with the light touch of fresh coconut and salad. Obviously the corn fritters were also great - its deep fried, so it goes without saying really! 

If you're in Bali I can recommend taking a trip out to Ubud to participate in one of these classes. They're fun, informative, and you get a belly full of delicious food at the end of it! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bali travels #1 - Ubud!

I'm home! Finally. I've been away for about 3 weeks and it's great to be home. I love travelling and I had a great time, but I'm stoked to be home to get back into a routine and home cooking again!

I'm not going to waffle on about the trip to Bali, I'll just let the photos do the talking!

We booked into Mozaic, Ubud for Christmas evening. We wanted to do something special, and this was it! It was a decadent meal full of fois gras (which I don't eat, but some do!), truffles and lobster. It was a lovely evening.

Ubud is a fabulous place to eat and we found some real gems. Naughty Nuri's Warung made some amazing ribs and chicken on a gnarly old grill. We ate there twice, and ate A LOT! They have a menu on the wall and that is it - if you ask for a menu, they just point to the wall. Don't go expecting amazing service, but DO go expecting awesome grilled stuff. We didn't bother ordering anything from the kitchen, we got our fill from the grill! Anthony Bourdain has been here and decided that the martinis are the best he's had outside of NYC. We tried one, they are ROCKET FUEL! I felt hammered after one. 

Ubud is also home to an amazing coffee house called Senimen - they have a massive range of coffee, and scientific methods of getting it from bean to cup! It's a fabulous brew. You can't miss this place if you enjoy coffee!! We had an iced latte on trip, and then an iced coffee the next time. Iced coffee is just that - cold coffee. They used the Sumatra Gayo Mountain beans, and it was gorgeous. There was so much more to it than it just being a cold black coffee. Try it.

Another spot to visit in Ubud is Ibu Oka, the warung made famous for its babi guling aka sucking pig. It came in a variety of forms, all tasty. We sat on the floor, ate pork, drank beer. It was good. A little tough, but the flavour was great. We'd eaten babi guling somewhere else previously and this was MUCH better, so the rumours are true.

Ubud is definitely a place for the food lover. Read up on where you'd like to go and go find them, if the word is out about them, it's likely that its worth the search.

Next post?

Casa Luna Cooking School.