Of glorious food and strange coffee


I’m now in my final week of my ‘social trip’ to Indonesia – on Saturday morning, I will be flying over to Singapore for a daytrip and then flying out of Singapore on Saturday evening, to return to Adelaide by Sunday morning. I’m slowly exercising more self control and caution when I eat the local delicacies as I don’t want to return to Adelaide as a fat boomba. The last 1.5 weeks have been a period of reacquainting myself with the food that I grew up with as well as with my personal favourites that I can’t obtain in Adelaide. My Facebook statuses and posts are full of updates of my gastronomic adventures which have triggered comments from my friends to repent from being such a glutton! Haha.

I returned from Malang yesterday, after attending Ricky and Isabella’s wedding on Sunday. I know both of them from Adelaide and it was great to meet some of my friends who returned to Indonesia for good. For those who don’t know Indonesian geography that well, Malang is situated around two hours out of Surabaya, the capital city of East Java. Similar to Bandung, my hometown, Malang is surrounded by mountains and hills and is blessed with cooler climate. Visiting Malang is like a trip to Bandung around twenty years ago before development and so-called progress destroyed the character of the city.

The wedding itself went really well – it is interesting to see a wedding ceremony a year in my marriage life, knowing how exciting and tiring the whole day could be! In Malang, Yani and I were informally guided by our friend Vito, who returned to Indonesia last year. He owns a café in Lawang now, sharing the site with his mum’s souvenir and snack shop. If you ever come down to Malang area, drop a visit to Sensa Cafe in Lawang, and while you’re at it, grab some traditional cookies called piah. It can only be described as round flaky pastries cookies with chocolate, cheese, mung bean or tangkwee filling. They are delicious and great souvenir from the town!

After the wedding, we went around again and visited a cafe called Java Dancer Café. They serve various types of coffee including the exclusive kopi luwak (civet coffee). Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans collected from civet’s droppings – after the civet eats the coffee berries, only the skin is eaten and digested, while the shelled coffee beans are passed out. The beans are protected from the icky stuff by the hard shell – however somehow the digestive enzyme makes the coffee more mellow, more rounded. I tried it out of curiousity and of wanting to tick it off as something that I’ve done (Have sweet and sour snake meat. Tick. Eat whale meat. Tick. Drink coffee made out of civet droppings. Tick). When I drank it, I had to assess the sensation as a researcher – would I think that it tastes different because it is different? Or would I think that it tastes different because I believe that it should be different?

Kopi luwak

I didn’t realise that there were a lot of options for kopi luwak: Arabica or Robusta? And then – do I want kopi tubruk style (similar to Turkish coffee), plunger or siphon? Do I want Gayo (from Sumatra) or Java? So many options! Ultimately I picked siphoned Arabica coffee – Java based on the recommendation from the barrista, Andri Gunawan. Andri kindly explained to us a lot of information about coffee and different types of beans and other interesting facts and tidbits about kopi luwak and coffee in general. From my first kopi luwak tasting, the coffee did taste smooth and mellow – it leaves an organic taste around the mouth, which is hard to explain. It lacks the punch that I actually love from my coffee, but it does have a more sophisticated taste to it. I would probably need to try out more kopi luwak to have a definitive opinion of the coffee.

Kopi luwak reportedly could cost you $50 per cup in Australia – here in Indonesia, you can pay around Rp30,000 – Rp 100,000 (around AU$3 – AU$10) for a cup, depending on the beans and the method or style of the coffee. If you happen to visit Indonesia, have a try – you might get hooked! Java Dancer Café in Malang could be a good destination for your first taste of kopi luwak. 🙂

So, we returned to Surabaya from Malang yesterday – after which, Yani and I were duly summoned to join a family dinner with Yani’s aunt. The choice of the venue was a seafood restaurant, and whilst I don’t like seafood that much, I had to oblige and eat. 🙂 It was a good meal although I did exercise greater restraint not to eat too much so I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself in front of Yani’s extended family.

Today is a much more low-key day – no big feast, no strange things to try – except for a large, juicy and deliciously sweet mango, and a simple plate of Nasi Empal Kremes (shredded fried spiced beef with crispy dressing with rice) in a nearby eatery.

I have another full day in Surabaya, and then a half day on Wednesday before I fly back to Jakarta. I still do my daily push-ups, but it’s time that I slow down my eating again! 😮 Time to return to my tiptop shape before I head back home! Now how I can I do that when I am yet to have Empek-empek Palembang, more Baso tahu, more Nasi Udang Bu Rudy, … hmmmmm.

Published by fuzz

I've finally relented to the lures of blogging - and for those who care, well, I'm a self-confessed geek who's a wanderer at heart, who thinks and analyses too much, and who's trying hard to hold on to his 7-year old inner persona.

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  1. In olden times in Indonesia, the Dutchmen don’t permit local farmers to consume the coffee harvested in “their” plantations so, they collect the coffee beans found in the floor (the civet pooh) and finally realize that the coffee made with them taste better than the normal one.

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