Octopuscarwash's Gourmet Adventures

I live to eat. Yes, I am an Asian Jew. My favorite meal is breakfast (oatmeal in particular). I'm only in high school, so I am a complete amateur. Some of my favorite cuisines are Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Japanese and Korean. I eat so much Chinese food that it's hard to say whether I like it or not... all I know is that I don't like what most of America seems to think of as Chinese food, Panda Express. I'm a pescetarian and love coming up with my own healthy fusion food.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ridiculously high tech traveling and airports

I'M BACK (in Beijing)!!!! Sorry about the delay. Basically, this is what happened: we were originally going to Bali for 3 days (4 nights), but then we were invited to Singapore for another two days! Since one of my best friends, Nisha, just moved to Singapore, of course I was ecstatic. We had internet there, but we got back late every night, and since we were eating so much, it just didn’t make sense to write every day. Plus, I figured that, like Paris, if there were meals that weren’t worth mentioning, I could just summarize the highlights of the trip.

I’ll start with just the travel process, since the airport and airplane are worth a post in and of themselves. Again, some background info: my dad was invited to Bali by our extremely generous Chinese-Indonesian host, Mr. Tek, who now lives in Shanghai. Mr. Tek, in addition to owning restaurants and cafes, has also just opened a bunch of museums, which is where my dad comes in (he’s a curator, remember?). So all we had to do was come with him, and we would be treated to a business class flight and a stay in a really nice resort. Not bad, right?

We first got to go to the Beijing business class lounge, which had TVs, a giant fish tank, and a buffet table, where they were serving breakfast. I had already had breakfast, but my parents hadn’t. They had steamed dumplings (chicken and Korean kimchi-vegetable), pumpkin congee, udon, and zha jiang mian, which I’ve already mentioned. To refresh your memory, it’s Chinese wheat noodles topped with a salty sauce with pork, soy sauce, and I think fermented soy beans, which is then topped with cucumber, radish, or whatever you want.

Although we didn’t know that we would be going to Singapore too, we had to make a connection in the Singapore airport before going to Bali. Because we were flying Singapore Airlines and everything in Singapore is ridiculously clean and posh, the airport and airplane, especially business class, were especially nice. On the airplane, we were served lunch. There was a menu and everything, and you were constantly being offered wine, as well as hot washcloths. The appetizer was a salad with frisée, cherry tomatoes, oranges, duck liver, and duck confit.

For me they put together a simple salad of lettuce and tomatoes, which I was very happy with.

They passed around a basket of crackers and bread, in addition to MINIATURE bottles of Colavita extra virgin olive oil! They were too cute. Of course I got some to take home.

For our main course, my parents and I all got the fish option (which was the only one I could have gotten… I don’t know why they always pick what I get when they could choose anything), which was cod in a kind of sweet and sour sauce and fried rice with red peppers and what looked like mustard greens. It wasn’t the kind of thing I would have ordered for myself at a restaurant, but for airplane food, it was really good. It wasn’t as Panda Express-like as it seemed—the sauce wasn’t too gloopy or sugary and the rice was so light that it seemed pretty much oil-free.

There was dessert—little mini-pints of Ben and Jerry’s, but since I didn’t take one, I also didn’t take a photo. They also passed around trays of chocolates, cheese plates, and fruit. I got fruit and my mom got cheese, but mainly just ate the grapes. We’re just too healthy, I suppose.

When we got to Singapore, we had a lot of time to wander around the airport, which was definitely a good thing, considering it was INCREDIBLE. It was the kind of place you would consider going to even if you didn’t have a plane to catch—according to the map, it had a swimming pool, shopping center, and massage lounge!

We first went to the business class lounge (thank you, Mr. Tek!), where you could watch the Olympics, check your email, read the paper, eat, or just chill out. Although we had already eaten, I made sure to get some photos of the food. Not very good photos since I thought it would be too weird to lift every single buffet platter and take a picture of it. I only took a photo of the most “Southeast-Asian” looking dish: Chicken Rendang and Nasi Goreng. Not sure what the chicken was, but it seemed like a curry. Nasi Goreng is fried rice. There were a bunch of other dishes, like I said, like vegetable quiche and a creamy carrot soup, as well as fresh fruit and not very appealing looking wrapped-up sandwiches.

My mom and I decided to wander around the rest of the airport, and I’m really glad we did, since we were right by the restaurant area. I think what fascinated me the most wasn’t that there was such good food in the airport, since I’ve been to European airports that have wonderful coffee and sandwiches and muesli, but just that I had never seen so many examples of fusion food in my life! This is what true fusion is: not pretentious chefs trying to overprice Chinese home-style cooking, but different kinds of people mixing their traditions without even realizing it!

Here are some places that I saw:

-A little café called the Soup Spoon that had creative wraps, such as Indochine Prawn, Chicken Tikka, Falafel with Hummus, Aloo Gobi with Lentil, and Vietnamese Spring.

-A sushi chain, Sakae Sushi, that had cute little containers of sushi and chirashi to go. They also had unagi pizza, which fascinated me to no end. It’s not that it looked especially good, but who would have thought of eel on pizza? I had white pizza with clams and garlic in Cape Cod, and people eat Thai chicken pizza, so why not unagi? Hmm, maybe California Pizza Kitchen has a new addition to their menu…

-A pizza place that had a wood-fired oven, beautiful thin-crust pizza covered with coins of mozzarella and tomato, prepackaged salads, and bizarre sandwiches: bak kwa panini, anyone? Bak kwa is crispy, sugar, barbequed meat. They also make a chicken version, but I’m not sure if it has another name or not. There was also a meat store in the airport just for this type of preserved meat, so here are some photos of that:

-Kaya toast: kaya is basically lemon curd but with coconut, saturated fat be damned.

-A bakery with Hello Kitty and Doreimon cakes! I should have had one of those at my lower school birthday parties!

-a South Indian vegetarian place

-Burger King... I know, but I had to get a photo of their taro pie

-And here are just some miscellaneous oddities:

Sorry for the rushed post, but I really must get on to Bali! Believe me, there’s some good stuff coming up.

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Blogger leucippe said...

Your camera seems to be working overtime. I think the photos are terrific. was wondering whether you use the macro function that allows super closeups (as, for example, for flowers) or are you using portrait mode? Bali truly sounded magical. oddly enough the resort reminded me of the Aventura Spa in Mexico, where resorts also snuggled up to one another and it was very easy to get lost. and the breakfasts seem the same the world over: eggs, fruit, juices, breads, etc but with some local variations, as for example, in Lisbon. bye for now and keep me entertained with your fabulous gifts of description and vivid writing.

August 26, 2008 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Catriona said...

I remember in lower school you used to bring those sponge cakes for your birthday. good times.
and bali looked amazing.. really jealous.

August 26, 2008 at 6:26 PM  

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