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Tag Archives: Jakarta

Music & Lyrics…Hugh Grant I am not…

I recently started playing the drums again…while doing this I have become obsessed with Apple Garage Band. My own home studio!

This is my first attempt at a Music Video. With a little help from Garage Band, I added my drums, lyrics and photographs…OK, I am no Bob Marley or John Lennon, or even Hugh Grant from Music & Lyrics, but it is fun!

The montage is from Jakarta and Yogjakarta..Enjoy

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Music & Entertainment

 

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Jakarta by Day….Mosque tour!

Sunset on the Goat Bridge

Entering a Mosque

This past week I went on a walking tour of five Mosque in the Pekojan section of old Jakarta. Pekojan was the area for Muslims during the Dutch Administartion. Pekojan comes from the word Koja which means trader in Bahasa, Indonesian.

It was amazing. I was actually able to go into the Mosques and look around….being utmost respectful. I was the only Bule (white) within a mile. This was the 1st time I have entered a Mosque. And to my surprise worshipers wash off before they pray….very cool…. Anyway, enjoy the pics…..

Look like some Old Town in the Wild West!

Inside the Mosque by the Goat Bridge

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Living in Jakarta

 

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Java Junkie in Java!

The cocoa like coffee of Java

OK, lets face it. I love coffee. Always have always will. Being a Chef has it’s “perks”so to speak: free unlimited coffee consumption. This is needed when you are working 12 hr days…so instead of being coke heads, most of us Chef’s are Java Junkies.

So why when I found out that we were moving to Jakarta, which is on the island of Java, did I not get excited about the prospects of going to the land of Java? I guess I had other things on my mind, like moving across the World…but to my delight, I entered a coffee paradise.

My favorite Brand so far....they have many varities....

So what makes the coffee so good? It is rich in flavor, full bodied yet mellow and mild. It is hard to explain, you just need to brew and drink it. Java is Arabica coffee ; which tends to be smoother than Robusta coffee. Java also has hints of Cocoa and earthy tones and when it is  brewed the smell is fantastic…

People ask me how I brew my coffee…everyone I speak with uses a Coffee Press…But I prefer a traditional drip brewer. Maybe it’s because I was raised on Mr. Coffee, or maybe I prefer the smell a brewer makes; but I swear they make a better cup of coffee. The key to success with the drip brewer is to use ice cold water….it steams when heated and extracts more flavor from the grind.

My traditional Drip Brewer

Another coffee trick I learned while working in Deli’s is if adding milk or cream, add it to the cup before the coffee, pour the coffee over the cream…it will froth up and make a delicious cup of Java….Just don’t try this at Starbucks, you may cause a riot!

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Food & Culture, Living in Jakarta

 

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Chinese New Year & Donuts at a the Pondok Indah Mall

Dance of Hands

We stumbled upon the Celebration of Chinese New Year during one of our many trips to the Pondok Indah Mall in Jakarta. This mall is awesome. It is actually 2 malls in one. The two sections are connected by an air bridge.

Mall 1 is more pedestrian with practical stores: bookstores, electronics, media. It is anchored by Metro department store, which is like a Macys. Mall 2 is more fashion forward: Zara, TopShop, Hugo Boss, Longchamp, and anchored by Sogo department store, which is like a Bloomingdales.

Kids lined the Mall to view the Dragon Dance!

The mall was filled with pleasant surprises: fantastic Chinese food, cool performances for Chinese New Year, and most of all, the best fresh made Donuts my wife and I have ever had. I had a Belgian chocolate stuffed, chocolate glazed donut. My wife had a chocolate sprinkled donut. They are fried right in front of you. Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts are nearby, but J.CO Donuts & Coffee had the biggest crowd by far.

Shana smiling in front of J.Co

That’s right, Indonesians have a sweet tooth, and a very healthy taste for high quality cakes, donuts and confections…..This apparently is a holdover from Dutch Colonial rule.

Mango Cream and Banana Chocolate Cream!

What makes the donuts a J.CO so special is how light they are. Yes, they come in all kinds of exotic flavors: banana cream chocolate, mango glazed, etc… but the fact that they are so delicate makes them so much better than the rest. I admit, we were somewhere else in town and tried some Krispy Kreme; which felt like I ate two lead bricks! That’s when I understood just how good J.CO is….

I am very impressed with the cuisine I have sampled so far in Jakarta. I am truly surprised by the amount and quality of tasty treats. I cant wait to try some more…and I cant wait for some more Pleasant Surprises!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Food & Culture, Living in Jakarta

 

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Iron Maiden, an old friend in a new place!

Maiden looking over Jakarta

I was walking the narrow, busy streets of Kemang South Jakarta a few days after our arrival. My main concern was for our personal safety: motorbikes whizzed close by, Bajaj’s puttered smoke in our face, foul smelling puddles awaited my footsteps. Jakarta is an amazing place, never boring, never asleep and full of surprises, and in this Brave New World …to my surprise, I found an old friend.

A Bajaj in Kemang

I couldn’t believe it….Iron Maiden in Jakarta!

It was like I ran into one of my old best buds on those crazy narrow streets. It was very comforting. My wife asked me if I wanted to go to the concert. Well, hell ya! It would be my 3rd Iron Maiden Show. But I didn’t know anyone who would go with me, and I really am not comfortable getting around this huge city yet. I have been a Maiden fan since junior high school. I am amazed that they are still one of the top touring rock bands in the world. I also am amazed that they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!! A true crime!

Maiden on Kemang street corner

In 1983, my obsession with Iron Maiden started with the video “Flight of Icarus” off the album Piece of Mind. My friend Franky had seen them a year before when they were touring with Judas Priest. Franky told me they were the shit, and now I was a believer. Flight of Icarus was the first song in my life I couldn’t get enough of. I bought the album and fully immersed myself in Maiden. Iron F@#*ing Maiden!

That August my best bud Doug and I got tickets to see Maiden at the Mid Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. We met our other best bud Big Steve at the show. The Civic Center has one big open floor with bleachers in the back. Iron Maiden was probably one of the biggest shows that venue would ever host. The place was alive with electricity and busting at the seems. Amazingly, that night they had folding chairs set up on the floor. This would soon turn out to be a big mistake, as me, Big Steve, Doug and 5000 other fans would make sure of!

Big Steve was big, 6 foot 6 at age 15. So to make a long story short, Big Steve had a better view than everyone else. No worries, we all stood up as Maiden came on stage. Soon, people started to stand on the seats of the folding chairs…Big Steve was the last up. But that wasn’t good enough, next thing you know, people are straddling the tops of the chairs, one foot on the top of the backrest below and the other on the one behind. We actually had to hold each other up. As the band rocked the audience swayed and everyone went with the flow, screaming, head banging, all the time surfing 5 feet above the ground on the tip top of those cheap folding chairs. Every so often someone would fall off and take a tumble to the ground, quickly recover and get hoisted back up again…rock on! Needless to say it was one of the best Rock Concerts I had ever seen, and I have seen a few!

1983 Iron Maiden Tour

Big Steve, Doug and I where hooked. We decided to go see Maiden a month later at Madison Square Garden in NYC. I called my Mother and she picked up tickets for us (yes, that’s how I rolled back then, before the internet). We bought beer, had a great time, and went to the show. The funny thing is, Maiden’s Stage looked small in the cavernous Garden, even though it had seemed so massive back in Poughkeepsie. Fact of the matter is, Maiden was not yet the giant band they were to become. The show was good, but not great. Apparently we had witnessed something special back in August at the Civic Center. Something I will never forget.

That is why Iron Maiden made me feel more at home in Jakarta, some old friends made sure I didn’t feel like a ….Stranger in a Strange land.

RP

 

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Welcome to Jakarta Kitty Cat! How was your Flight?

Welcome to Jakarta Kitty Cat! How was your Flight?

Milo relaxing in DC

We got to Dulles International Airport 3 hrs early….and that was barely enough time. We had 4 gigantic stuffed bags to check in and 1 VIP…Very important Pet! Milo (me-low), our cat, who consumed all our worries about our move from the USA to Jakarta, Indonesia.

What carrier should we buy? Well, we actually purchased 5…

“that one is too small, that one is too big, Oh, frick they need to be IATA approved! That one is a piece of JUNK! OK, this one is perfect…very safe and secure”.

IATA approved pet crate

During boarding I approached the Qatar Airlines counter and asked if my kitty was going to make the plane. The attendant called the baggage handlers directly and ensured me that she was just going on….The staff at Qatar did a great job of handling our VIP. And for that matter, handling my wife and I as well.

See, the deal was, it was my responsibility to oversee Milo’s trip across the World. If anything was to happen, I would be in deep shit! Never to live down my failed mission. Never trusted again and in the dog house forever!

The first leg of our journey started on a Boeing 77W. My Wife and I shuddered when the 2 giant engines of the 777 roared to life and we rumbled down the runway like some super charged Harley Davidson. We both looked at each other and imagined little Milo’s face during takeoff. It must have been some experience for her. But, we told ourselves, she is a tough Kitty!

Qatar 77W at Doha

We arrived at Qatar, Doha in the middle of the night. We had just traveled 12 hours (7000 miles) on the massive 777. Now all we wanted to do was get to the airport lounge, chill, and eat!

Doha International Airport is like a giant 24hr Hypermart. Cigarettes, booze, cars, electronics…it’s all there. We relaxed in the lounge, which cost $40, ate humus galore and watched Al Jazeera’s fantastic coverage of the crisis in Egypt. Only then did I realize Al Jazeera was from Qatar…what a dumb ass I am sometimes!

The experience in the Doha Oryx lounge was throughly relaxing…..best money spent….but the whole time we couldn’t help but worry about little Milo….how was she? Was she gonna get on the next plane? We could only hope for the best. It was out of our hands. So, how about a Scotch on the rocks!

The final leg of our journey from Doha to Jakarta was performed on a Airbus 333. This plane was a bit older than the 777, had less movies and the seats were 1″ narrower, but they reclined more and overall I found the plane more comfortable than the 777. I checked again and made sure Milo was put on the plane…again the staff at Qatar where on top of the situation. I almost was about to pat my self on the back. My Mission was almost accomplished.

But then……my wife and I went to the bathroom and as I waited for her in the lounge area, guess who happened to be there? The Captain. I knew that I should ask him if Milo was OK…was he aware he had Live Cargo??? But I froze, instead just saying “hello” as he passed by. My wife saw him as she came out of the bathroom….”Did you ask him about Milo?”

Uhhhhhhhhhh….

Should have, would have, could have….

Damn!

A few hours later we had a perfect landing in Jakarta, and on the way in I could see the 1000 Islands...which are beautiful!

When we went to baggage claim, Milo was already there. She was fine, we where able to see her for a minute,  and then she was taken away by our support service, Groovy Pets, to Quarantine for 2 weeks.

Today Milo was delivered by Groovy Pets to our new home. She was a bit stinky, and has a kitty cold…but otherwise she looks good and is in good spirits. She loves our new house…She wants to explore even though we know she needs some sleep. But as we said, she is a tough Kitty!

World Traveler, Milo, Home at Last. Mission Accomplished!

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Living in Jakarta, World Travel

 

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Ode to Anthony Bourdain…

No Reservations (book)

Image via Wikipedia

10 years ago someone gave me Anthony Bourdains Kitchen Confidential” as a gift. I gave the book a cursory view, didn’t like what I read and threw it in a pile of books on a shelf in our apartment.

I was a working Chef in NYC, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and at that time was running the catering department at Columbia University. I had no time for trivial stories about some drunk’s exploits in the kitchen. I myself was a drunk, trying to get on the straight and narrow….and succeed in the Big Apple.

My career in NYC started in 1999. My future wife and I moved to the city for her educational pursuits and I scored a sweet job at the Russian Tea Room as  Chef Tournant. The Tea Room was re-opening in a grand new gaudy style, with the backing of restaurateur extraordinaire Warner LeRoy.

By the end of the first week I knew I had to get out of the Tea Room. I was starting work at 2pm and not leaving till 2 in the morning. The minute I clocked in I was running up and down 4 steep flights of rat infested stairs, pumping out borscht by the cauldron, getting yelled at by coffee drunk Sous Chef‘s and in turn yelling at line cooks! The place was an utter mess. Completely F#*cked up! One night the catering department served 200 raw Chicken Kiev‘s to a dining room full of stunned VIP guests. The only benefit was when I made a quenelle of Caviar for the signature RTR stuffed potato, I could lick the spoon clean of the excess delightful Ossetra row; tossing the sterling silver utensil into the dish room with gusto! Hey, it was 1 in the morning!

At the Cape

In 2001 I was lucky enough to score a job as Catering Chef at Columbia University….and get out of the restaurant mayhem….never to return. Later I would run Ferris Booth Commons, Columbia’s premier gourmet retail outlet. Working for Columbia had its own issues though….weekend parties, 5000 guests/parents on graduation day, Ivy League Politics etc…..But Columbia  gave me a semblance of normalcy, and that’s when I was given Bourdains book. So you can see that I had no interest, or time for Tony.

Cooking the Goat Heads

Columbia did afford me time to travel, and my wife and I went off to Peru, South Africa and Europe. With this new love of traveling came an interest in Tony’s travel show, “No Reservations”. At first I was reluctant to watch, maybe even jealous: this old Chef got it right…and here I am still slinging hash. Regardless, I couldn’t help but enjoy his show. He was a natural on-screen. He was funny, insightful. His shows went to all corners of the world…and he ate whatever was served to him. When I was in South Africa I attempted to copy Tony by agreeing to eat roast goats head. The head was buried in hot ashes and was fully intact, eye balls and all. Luckily the tour guide forgot about our deal….thankfully I was let off the hook.


So I was now a fan of Bourdain…watched all his shows, rented the “Lebanon” episode from Netflix. I was impressed that as he became more popular, he stayed true to his form; unlike Emeril, who I used to watch when his show was simple and interesting and he didn’t wear so much make-up.

Recently my wife was promoted to a position in South East Asia. The location was between Bangkok, Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia. We eagerly rented Tony’s shows on the 2 mega cities. Bangkok was our first choice, but to our surprise, Bourdain didn’t have great things to say about the city (protests and all). Jakarta on the other hand came across quite well. So Jakarta it is. I’m not saying we made our decision based only on Tony’s show, but it did make an impression.

Last week we were back in NYC, saying goodbye to friends and family. I was looking through some old stuff of mine at my mother’s house. I came across Tony’s book…in the same place I tossed it 10 years earlier. The book didn’t look a day older, not even a crease, just a bit of dust. I was about to put it in the “goodwill” pile, but hesitated. I thought to myself….”should I read this? Give it another shot?” I was at a different place in my life, maybe the book wouldn’t bother me as it did long ago. I thumbed through the first few pages, and there it was, the connection I missed in my arrogant past. Tony mentioned that he was the guy who came in after  “the first Chef turned out to be a psychopath, or a mean, megalomaniacal drunk, “and stabilized the kitchen. He was no superstar, but he was a solid, damn good Chef, and that was his value. That was my role as well. And it took some time for me to accept that role. Everyone starts fresh out of school thinking they will be the next big thing on the Food Network.

Anyway, I always followed some high paid, blustery fool, who had ground the kitchen right into the grease-trap/sewer. After a few successful “clean ups”, I found my niche. I introduced sanitation programs, addressed employee issues, tightened up inventory controls, lowered food cost and got the business into the black. Not very glamorous, but a solid career. So after all, Bourdain and I did have something in common. We were both solid Chefs…so I read on…and was hooked!

Now, just as Bourdain has, I am about to embark on my next career path. No one should stay in the kitchen for too long…it can burn you out, but you will never get the kitchen out of your blood. So thanks Tony. Sorry for dismissing you way back then….but back then I was too close to the fire to enjoy the burn!

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Food & Culture, Living in Jakarta, World Travel

 

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