Wednesday, 3 January 2018

My meals today as I am trying to get back on track after 3 months of eating in London, Paris and Bali.

Breakfast: 4 eggs - 2 whole, 2 whites
Late morning snack: 3 egg white omelette with cherry tomatoes and salad
Lunch: lean beef Asam Pedas, brown rice and salad

#healthyfood #shapingup #healthylifestyle

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 New Year's Celebration: I CELEBRATE LIFE!

I celebrate all celebrations. Call me greedy, pluralist or whatever else. In other words, I celebrate life. Though one celebration I don't follow the 'herd' is the New year's celebration.

In my entire life, I had only been with the oceans of people celebrating the arrival of the New year, twice. Once in Kuala Lumpur in the 90's and the second time in London in year 2000 to mark the millennium.

I was lucky enough to have lived near the Thames, so we walked there to our dismay that the London wheel, the millennium bridge (both of course built to commemorate the arrival of the 2nd Millennium) and fireworks on the water didn't work.

Well the bridge was sort of open and had to be closed for months after, as it wasn't really up to take such loads of weight!  After that incident, I gave up. It was more that I really don't enjoy large crowd, silly noise, drunken fights and the 'forced' energy to be merry and jolly.

I always opted to go to unpopular places. (When I was living in London, I went Far East to Cambodia, Vietnam or Burma). One New Year's Eve, a friend and I was in Hue where we had dinner and the restaurant had to close by mid night due to the state's regulation.

We ended up just having a chat about travels in our room with some guests of the hotel. That's my kind of celebration. I know, boring to most, right?

This New Year's Eve just past, I was lucky enough to have had been invited to celebrate Christmas and the NYE in Bali at the newly opened Beach Club in Uluwatu called 'Ulu Cliffhouse' I took the invite with both hands and an open heart.

I missed the island very much anyway. And I'd be eating the food created by the world known Peruvian Chef, chef Diego Munoz. That was one of the highlights I was looking forward to. The place I must say was stunning! 

The company were amazing and the food was a bit of a let down, sadly.

I said a 'bit' because it didn't meet my expectation. I was really looking forward to the ceviche (the Chef being Peruvian) of shrimps, fish with avocado and creamy leche de Tigre.

The shrimps were precooked, not 'cooked' by the leche de Tigre, and I had three minute cubes of avocado, though the bass was cooked by the acid beautifully. The Home made pita bread with hummus, roasted cherry and confit garlic were really good!

A good piece of baked to golden perfection pita bread sprinkled with sea salt! The hummus was perfect too with just the right amount of tahini and lemon juice! 

The star dish was the roast red snapper with citrus and chili butter served with braised fennel. The fish was fresh and succulently roasted with just a slight char on the skin. The chili in the butter was a bit 'shy' to appear for my liking as I would've liked it with a bit more 'kick'.

I would definitely comeback of course for the view and the snapper! The day started with heavy rain but ended with the skies cleared up harmoniously with the laughter of new good friends.
I stayed on until the New year with 2 days in Ubud. I normally spend at least a week in Ubud and would go straight from the airport. As I was on a budget and on an invitation, my generous friend Paul Amron put me up in Legian and explored a few  places I had not been before which was great too.

I found a new place to stay called the Suris with just 3 rooms right by the rice field. It is about 500 meters off the main road Jalan Raya Champuhan. For rm190 with very good breakfast for a double bed - villa like room, I think it's a bargain!

Though it rained on both days, both early mornings were sunny. This is my favourite time of day anyway, wake up early to do my walk and have a dialog with nature. Ubud is perfect for this.

Sad to leave Ubud on the 30th for Legian area to catch my early flight on the 31st of December. In the end I decided to extend for another day and came back on the 1st of Jan 2018 instead!

Of course, as I said earlier, I was invited for the party and count down at Ulu Cliffhouse but I also said I wasn't really up for big parties on this occasion, these days. So I declined.

Instead I had a very personal celebration. I just went for a dinner of Bebek goring (fried duck) with sambal Matah in a local warung. The duck was some of the best I've had! Even though it was fried, it was crispy on the outside and moist in the inside.

It very much reminded me of the French 'confit de canard' and the sambal Matah, though not traditionally served with Bebek, was to me a perfect accompaniment to give freshness to the dish.

Sadly I can't share the name of the warung as it doesn't have one and the owner told me they set up stalls all around Bali according to festivals and crowds!

I am not writing as a 'critic' to promote any place but just to share my thoughts and opinions based on my personal with professional undertone being a Chef.

In my experience gallivanting the world, some of the best dishes I had were at the local markets, make-do stalls or some one's home. Unfortunately with some 'narrow-minded' people who might read my writings, I can't share all. I will share more stories on my travels with food, from cheap to expensive and what my favourite dishes or places are.

After dinner, I went to a barber shop to shave my hair! Yes I did it to overcome my own fear of losing hair, and to get rid of the 'bad omens', symbolically speaking.

The last time I had my head shaved was also in Bali as I was told, to invigorate hair growth was by shaving it all off. Well... It didn't work.

But the first time I had it shaved was when I was 5 in my kampung in Batu Pahat. Mom told me it was a ritual thing from my Indian grandfather's side. I cried the whole day hoping my hair would grow back immediately, it didn't work either.

Feeling refreshingly 'light' and uplifted, I booked myself for a whole body massage. I dozed off.

I really didn't have any plan at all on this supposedly celebratory evening. I got dressed and walked lazily towards Legian beach which was only 10 minutes away from where I stayed. All my Indonesian friends were at Ulu already since 4 pm. By then, the time was around 10pm.

The streets were already busy with people going towards the beach. They all looked happy but not rowdy until I got to the beach!

They were thousands of people all along the beach with food vendors and stalls selling Bintang. I could see the mixture of local people, Jakartans and other people from all over the world.

The small fire works had already started. I found a little space in the middle of the crowd. Lied on the sand with a drink in my hand and watch the dark skies. No stars but just flickering of fire works.

The noise got rowdier, people blowing paper trumpets decorated with glittery plastic fringes. I was given one but declined as I knew for sure, at early hours in the morning, they would become part of contributions to polluting the world!

Don't get me right! I am not one of those ethical-vegetarian-yoga-practicing individuals who think riding an elephant is cruelty. Or using palm oil meaning we are killing our Orang Utans! But I just respect Mother Earth, and cleanliness. Ends there.

I got up. Shook off the sand on my clothes and walked back to the room. I jumped up on to the four-poster bed, and switched on the Telly. Titiek Puspa was singing her groovy number "Marilah Ke Mari". She didn't move that much due to her size and age I guess.

I didn't move much either. Due to my contentment being alive watching one of all timeIndonesian idols still doing it at 80 years of age! I smiled and fell asleep. Happy New Year!