Bali, isle of heavens

No other place in the world has been so highly praised for its beauty as Bali,  many temples, shrines and beautiful palaces.  Even the most remote  corners of the island, the visitor’s eye is engaged by magnificent views of these richly ornamented constructions.  Very much living shrines, they are the sites of both daily observance of the Balinese Hindu rites and more spectacularly religious festivals.

A mask dancer performing in Pura Sadia temple during the Galungan-Kuningan festival, the most important in the Hindu Balinese calendar, celebrating the victory of good over evil.  It is believed that during Galungan spirits descend to bless the earth and ascend back to the heavens on Kuningan day.  Music and dances performed in temples are considered as offerings to the deities.

Bowl of flower petals and holy water are left on temple altars after blessings or purifications rituals.  For the Balinese people, offerings of food , flowers and incense to the gods and the elements, promises a state of equilibrium where man, nature and the divine can co-exist in peace and harmony.

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IMG_0529                                Rows of fishing boats along the beach of Jimbaran.

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Carved decorative Balinese door.

Children learn to dance and play musical instrument at a very young age.

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31Women dressed up in their splendid attire in preparation for a temple festivity.

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Barong a character in Balinese mythology He is the king of leader spirit of the host of good.  Banas Pati raja the good spirit which animates the Barong.  The character of the Barong often accompanied by two monkeys (dancers dressed in monkey costume)

 

 

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How to roast a perfect engagement chicken

The title and recipe intrigued me so much I have to make it.      A fashion editor gave this recipe to her assistant who made the chicken for her boyfriend, who a month later, asked her to marry him.  How is that for a recipe.  to make story short the assistant gave the recipe to others similar to chain letter but with beautiful result.  When the fashion editor heard about her recipe she called it engagement roast chicken.

If you have not roast a chicken which is my favorite you need to know how to prepare before roasting.

Remove giblets, these are the neck, gizzard, heart and liver, usually packed in small paper bag inside the chicken cavity.  Wash chicken inside and outside, then take a paper towel pat the chicken cavity and outside.

Before roasting, use your fingers to remove the fatty flaps under the skin near the cavity (so there is less fat to trim later)

Tuck the wing tips under the chicken to secure tips and prevent them from burning and to help steady the bird.

Bring the legs together and tie with kitchen string or in a pinch, heavy duty  thread. to secure.  This help the chicken brown evenly.

If using a standard meat thermometer, insert point into thickest part of thigh, next to body (be sure point touches meat, not bone)  If using an instant read thermometer, start

testing after 10 minutes of toasting, placing thermometer point in thickest part of thigh.  Because instant read thermometer is not oven safe, remove it if chicken needs to roast longer.

Coming  back to the story of the engagement roast chicken,  this is truly a delicious meal.  I made it many times over, still do, easy to make.  Try the recipe, give it to a friend and who knows……………..wedding bells in the horizon.

1 whole chicken (approx.3 pounds)
2 medium Lemons
Fresh Lemon juice (1/2 cup)
Kosher of sea salt
Ground black pepper

Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400F. Wash chicken inside and out with cold water, remove the giblets, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander until it reaches room temperature (about 15 minutes).

Pat dry with paper towels. Pour lemon juice all over the chicken (inside and outside). Season with salt and pepper. Prick the whole lemons three times with a fork and place deep inside the cavity. (tip: If lemons are hard, roll on countertop with your palm to get juices flowing.)

Place the bird breast-side down on rack in a roasting pan, lower heat to 350F and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn it breast-side up (use wooden spoons!); return it to oven for 35 minutes more.

Test for doneness, a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should read 180F, or juices should run clear when chicken is pricked with a fork. continue baking if necessary. Let chicken cool for a few minutes before carving. Serve with juices.

Keep it simple. I served the roast chicken with steamed new potatoes, toss with fresh parsley from my herb garden. Boiled green beans, sliced carrots and steamed asparagus, cut tough ends, mix the vegetables then top with butter.  Delicious.

If you want to serve with a glass of wine, Gallo of Sonoma is a good choice, smooth with a touch of citrus or your favorite wine.

Bon Appetit

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Lao Culinary Journey

Although I am not too familiar with Laotian cuisine, my trip to Luang Prambang was an eye opener for tis traditional food.  I tried some of its many good restaurants serving local dishes.  A stopover at Tamarind for its delicious yummy  ping gai grilled marinated chicken served with sticky rice, al fresco luncheon in a lovely Lao Lao tropical garden tasting the traditional laap an appetizing minced chicken salad with sticky rice.

A relaxing dinner in an colonial style building of Tamnak Lao while getting local with its delightful grilled  followed by or lam vegetable meat stew and of course a  visit across the Nam Khan river using the hanging bamboo bridge and spend an afternoon at the popular Dyen Sbai while munching away savory local snacks.

khai peng or Mekong is the traditional local snack. Nori style algae these crispy thin sheets of green riverweeds dipped in hot seasonal oil sprinkled with sesame seeds are served with jaew bong aromatic chili dip specialty of Luang Prabang. I love this local chili paste made of chilies, palm sugar, garlic, kafir lime, galangal and dried buffalo skins. Delicious with sticky rice !

 


Like many Asian food a variety of spices and local herbs are used in their cooking and being curious I tried Or Lam the traditional meat stew with its unusual taste of sakhan the local spicy wood Another typical northern Laos dish is the Laap or meat salad which can be made with chicken, duck or pork. My minced chicken laap flavor with local herbs (chili, mint, Asian basil) and fish sauce I had at Lao Lao garden was simply divine. As for drinks and being in a tropical climate, while many like to immerse themselves in the local  ,beer lao,  I love to quench my thirst with fresh tamarind juice.

I also had a go with its many French style cafés while enjoying the Mekong vista. An afternoon pause at the Saffron café can be quite rewarding after cycling around town and for a real French style breads, is my daily morning visits to Le Banneton bakery … and here are some shots I took journeying into the land of northern Lao cuisine …which gives a numbing sensations of the palate with a lingering bitter sweet aftertaste (somewhat similar to the sichuan pepper chilies.   The stew is a mixture of eggplants, young bamboo shoots, pork, dried buffalo skins, phak tam ling local greens cooked with lemongrass, chilies and local spices.

Another typical northern Laos dish is the Laap or meat salad which can be made with chicken, duck or pork. My minced chicken laap flavored with local herbs (chilli, mint, Asian basil) and fish sauce I had at Lao Lao garden was simply divine. As for drinks and being in a tropical climate, while many like to immerse themselves in the local beerlao, I love to quench my thirst with fresh tamarind juice.

 

 

 

Garden Peas

Home grown peas always taste better than store-bought.  Growing your own is easy and you do not need a large garden to grow this nutritious vegetable.

Pisum Saticum the botanical name for garden peas.  Loaded with vitamin A, B, C, Riboflavin, Protein, Carbohydrate, calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Adding peas to your diet also has health benefit.  They are excellent nourishment and strength restoring.  Peas contain nicotinic acid reportedly recommended for reducing cholesterol in the blood.  Steam diced carrot and peas , mix with meat, or sprinkle on salad.  Anyway you use peas they are healthy nutritious.

Garden peas was discovered at all place in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand by an archeological expedition at approximately 9750 B.C.  This is a much earlier finding than the peas found bronze age (approximately 3000B.C.) lake dwellings in Switzerland and Savoy.  The Greeks also cultivate peas and they were brought to Britain by the Romans.  Peas were the first vegetable to canned and later deep frozen.

Peas are cold weather crop, so plant them early.  I started mine in the greenhouse in flats in early February, then transplanted outdoors in early spring depending weather condition.  Green Arrow variety is my first choice shelling peas, they are prolific producer, long pod up to 10 peas per pod, excellent pea taste.  Pick them early when they are still tender.

Many diseases affect peas.  the most common is pea root rot (Fusarium or aphanomyces euteiches) which causes browning and dying of the foliage from the ground up.  Another pea disease to watch is the powdery mildew, those white powdery mold on the leaves, stems and pods in hot weather.  Choose resistant variety.

 

When done with harvesting, pull the stalks and spread them on the ground in a sunny area of the property to dry.  when they all look brown and brittle I use my gas driven mower and mow the stalks into shredded particles.  Dried pea stalks have nitrogen  content that is beneficial for compost and the garden.

Peas are good for freezing too.  shell the peas, spread on a cookie sheet then put in the freezer for several hours or until peas are frozen.  Fill one gallon plastic bag with the frozen peas, depending how often you use, it will last until next planting or longer.

 

 

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The Old China Town

 

Surrounded by Dutch colonial architecture, a town where Chinese immigrant live since the discovery of Indonesia.  Many buildings still stand through time, grand, imposing and some left to the elements.   For anyone who want to venture out to Old China town is a must.  Plenty to discover such as Chinese temples,  walking is the best way to experience the hustle and bustle of this old city.   If you still have energy walk to the old Dutch train station in Kota with its 1930’s style façade and browsing through the many old VOC Dutch buildings.  Visit Fatahillah Park where a large building stand was the Dutch Governor residence, it is now a museum.  A large draw bridge build by the Dutch still stand proudly through time.  This bridge connect to sea port “pasar Ikan” fish market where you can find Dutch storage area where it is a museum.  There are plenty to see and experience in this wonderful corner of Jakarta.

Fatahillah Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Living Last Supper

 

My good friend neighbor asked me whether I want to attend the living last supper.  It will be  held at their country Camp Creek Church a nondenominational affiliated with Village Mission.

Located in a rolling hills dotted with homes and farms. Horses  in the pasture, cattle grazing in the field and sheep roam the hills.   Nearby  hazelnut orchards, a nursery where local buy  plants and vegetable seedlings for their summer garden.  Meandering country road perfect for Sunday drive.
I have met  pastor Craig and Shelly his wife.   They are friendly outgoing people.  Listening on Easter Sunday was beautiful with choir and congregation joined in singing .
The presentation itself was quite mesmerizing.  Jesus is played by intern pastor Stewart, along with his 12 disciples played by twelve men from the congregation. Before their meal Jesus washed the disciples feet. After this ritual  they all went to their respective place. They dined together on stage depicting events from the Biblical account of the eve of the Crucifixion. In between play Pastor Craig would add what the last supper is all about.

 


In groups of two or three, each disciple stood up and told the story according to his perspective, while the rest of the group was frozen in their position as depicted in Da Vinci’s painting.
The play followed the progress of the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples, when he announced that he would be betrayed by one of the twelve, and began his sacrament of Holy Communion. The dramatizations were mixed with musical interludes provided by the church organ player. It lasted for whole hour. I was not disappointed they did a wonderful play of the Living Last Supper.
On Easter Sunday I went again with my neighbor for Easter brunch and celebration in the church. Brunch is a family type of potluck with everyone pitched in. The dining room packed full even one couple brought in their baby. Children sitting quietly enjoying their food.  The room felt alive with everyone having a great time.

Food are plenty for anyone who want to eat more, even dessert which was plenty full.  I cannot resist dessert so many to chose from and difficult to decide. After brunch they all went into the church to hear Pastor Craig Easter sermon. Being in a country church have a better feeling of community especially with a friendly Pastor on Holy Sunday was a treat.

 

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CREDIT TO:  Kamala Bright

 

 

Jungle delight at Rainforest Cafe

Rainforest Cafe at Disney Village Marne La Vallee France
Rainforest Cafe at Disney Village Marne La Vallee France

Animated animals lurking through lush vegetation, glimpse of elephants, gorillas and orangutan surrounded by tropical birds and macaws bathed in the mist of sounds of a tropical jungle, Rainforest Cafe is certainly one of the most impressive fun restaurant in Disney Village. It all began in 1989 when its creator Steven Schussler imagined dining surrounded by a tropical, developed the concept and transformed his home in Minneapolis into the first “jungle” style Cafe recreating a tropical forest with aquariums, exotic animals and birds as well as a retail shop. The Rainforest Cafe was born. But it was not till 1994 when Lyle Berman of Grand Casino took interest in the idea and help finance the making of the first Rainforest Cafe at the Mall of America in Blommington, Minnesota. In 2000 Rainforest Cafe was bought by the Texas based Landry’s Restaurant Inc. Today this original concept expanded and franchised world wide in Mexico, Canada, Dubai, Tokyo, London and can be enjoyed by visitors coming to Disney village in Marne La Vallee France. Managed by Groupeflo, France largest restaurant company Rainforest Cafe attracts people of all ages and children love it. For the kid’s corner it is great fun to meet up with the forest inhabitants such as Chacha the red eyed tree frog, Bamba the gorilla, Maya the jaguar, Tuki the elephant, Nile the crocodile, Ozzie the Orangutan and Rio the macaw. Many of the dishes are also named after these wild bunch. Active in charity work Rainforest Cafe helps to preserve animals world wide. “Throw a coin and make a wish” in a small alligator wishing well at the entrance of the restaurant or at another in the Atlas man waterfall in the restaurant, where visitors can throw coins and make their wish. A fun way to donate, and with all coins collected, it goes for world wide animal preservation. The entrance to the restaurant itself is an original concept and even I was impressed after passing through the shop, greeted by a beautifully kept aquarium. A delightful representation showcasing marine life habitat as a result of a working partnership with Sea Life of Val d’Europe. Another enchanting aquarium filled with various species of fishes can be seen at the Atlas room.

After meeting up with our jungle friends meet Fabrice Duranel the chief cook of Rainforest Cafe who has nicely orchestrated the classic Tex Mex cuisine from appetizing starters to delicious desert accompanied with lush tropical cocktails.

Fabrice Duranel Chief cook of Rainforest Cafe at Disney Village Marne La Vallee
Fabrice Duranel Chief cook of Rainforest Cafe at Disney Village Marne La Vallee

And now let’s travel into the deepest epicurean jungle delight skilfully concocted by Fabrice with an array exotic cocktail drinks. My Rainforest Ricky a mixture of pineapple orange, apple, strawberry and grapefruit juice is an absolute must try and so is the Virgin Colada a refreshing blend of coconut cream and pineapple juice. For alcoholic lovers there is a long endless list of great choices from classic margarita to mojito and for those keen on beers, have a go for their Coronarita daredevil cocktail – a frozen margarita topped with Corona beer !

After a refreshing plunge into the river of cocktails time to unwind while savouring some jungle starters. For solo adventurers, dip into Rainforest Pita Quesadillas, deliciously grilled chicken, roasted peppers caramelized onions and melted cheese wrapped around toasted pita bread. Another choice is to share between friends a fun way to begin the epicurean journey with an awesome appetizer adventure, the house favourite, featuring an array of tidbits around Tam Tam chicken wings, pico de gallo (mexican style mixture of tomatoes, onions and jalapenos peppers) on garlic bread, crispy fried chicken, blue cheese sauce and guacamole served with a mountain of fried sliced sweet potatoes.

Hunger still creeping through, dive deeper into a cornucopia of jungle treat with a selection of delicious exquisite goodies. The exotic Siva’s curry will surely entice you with a hearty platter of tasty sautéed chicken and shrimps, pineapple cloaked in light creamy coconut sauce topped with sweet smelling basmati rice. For pasta lovers a choice of Rasta Pasta wrapped around penne with chicken, spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers and parmesan cheese tossed in garlic cream sauce or natural Japanese style Udon pasta engulfed around asparagus, zucchini, peas tossed in tomato garlic cream sauce and pine nut pesto.

For burger lovers a choice of great burgers are offered featuring their most popular dish, the French burger delight made with special French beef- the Aubrac beef (well known French cattle breed that goes back centuries, raised in the rugged highlands and moors of Aubrac, southern Massif Central) topped with bacon, fresh lettuce, fried onion, Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, safari sauce and coleslaw.

Their grilled meats are also a must try with a unique Earth Sea platter, when the land meets the ocean to emerge as an irrisistable delectable duo of char grilled filet Steak & grilled Shrimp Rainforest syle with French style Béarnaise sauce served with rocket salad complete with its jacket potatoes topped with sour cream and Cheddar cheese. Another choice would go to their grilled meat dish, Maya’s mixed grill with BBQ spare ribs, smoked beef, sausages served with corn on the cob and French Fries.

Still hungry ? then try out their luscious Amazon fajitas, chicken, beff or combo fajitas served over grilled onions and bell peppers with sour cream, cheese, salsa, guacamole and flour tortillas.

Our epicurean jungle trip is soon ending, but wouldn’t it be nice to end our trip with sweet tasting delicacies and there is a yummy list on their menu. Among others are Bamba’s pancake – a warm pancake served with vanilla ice cream, pan sauteed bananas topped with maple syrup chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The volcano is another explosive experience and to share with friends too, is made of a giant chocolate brownie cake with nuts served with vanilla ice cream whipped cream and caramel sauce. Candle sparklers may also be placed on cakes for special treats. My desert choice perhaps goes to Maya mango sorbet. A sweet tasting fresh mango puree, mango topped with raspberry sauce and chocolate wafer.

Here ends our epicurean jungle trip and for those visiting Disney Village in Marne La Vallee just a few kilometres from Paris, it is certainly worthwhile visiting the friendly forest inhabitants while enjoying their hospitality at their home, the Rainforest Cafe.

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The Rainforest Cafe
Disney Village
Disneyland Paris
77705 Marne-la-vallée Chessy
France

Open daily Monday through Sunday from 11.30 am – 11.00 pm (Saturday till midnight)
Telephone +33(0)1.60.43.65.65