Spectacular landing with gear forced up…read article in Aviation Herald
Tag Archives: Travel
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.…
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!
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.
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!
Boeing has resumed flight testing of it’s vaunted 787 Dreamliner after a recent in-flight fire caused the test flights to be temporally haulted.
Unfortunatly, for Boeing, the Dreamliner has been plauged by production delays. The aircraft, a twin engine long range jet is a revolutionary attempt in commercial aviation. It is the first aircraft to have a fuselage made of composite materials. This enables the 787 to be lighter and more fuel efficient, and in theory more durable than aluminum based aircraft. The 787 also introduces new comfort feature such as larger interior space, mood lighting, new era seating, advanced climate control, improved entertainment systems and larger windows. All of this should add up to a much improved customer experience.
The issue at hand now is, will the Dreamliner hit production before the A350? Initiially the Dreamliner was to be in production by 2009 and at that point compete with the A330, but with all the set backs Airbus has had a chance to catch up and possible steal some of Boeings thunder.
The stakes are high and it will be interesting to witness how things will develop between the two competitors. In the end, we as paying customers should benefit by being able to fly in these new age dynamic aircraft. The “burning” issue for Boeing is can they get the Dreamliner out there in time to put them over the top?
(photo by Razoray5150)
Walking down the Jetway to a brand new Continental B737-900, we couldn’t help but overhear a ground crew member on the phone with dispatch explaining that the plane had no APU….they tried putting a new one in, but it didn’t work!
What the Frick…..it’s those conversations I wish I never eavesdropped on….. everyone else boarding the plane seemed to be in ignorant bliss… but not me! I jumped on my I phone and Googled APU.
Auxiliary Power Unit. A none essential piece of equipment, so I found out….unless you are flying in a ETOPS aircraft….then it is a essential piece of equipment and the plane cannot leave without it. Regardless, we didn’t have one.
The pilot announced that the plane had a equipment issue and would have to be started manually….aka “hand crank”???? haha
Then he mentioned that we were very close to the 11:30pm curfew at San Diego International Airport and would have to “pick up the pace”, to get out of the gate…..
Needless to say we were off in a NY minute and shot down the runway like a rock out of a catapult!
One thing I love about taking the red eye across North America…..you never know what to expect….APU or no APU…….