Author: marina

Indonesia Part I – Jakarta

Indonesia Part I – Jakarta

Almost a month and a half after our Golden Week trip to Indonesia, it’s time to catch up on the blog posts. Thorben already shared a lot of pictures, so here come all the details … and more pictures :).

We planned our trip to Indonesia together with Marlyn (who’s from Indonesia), so our first and last stop was Jakarta, where her parents live. In total, we spent 4 nights in Jakarta and 6 on Flores – Part II coming soon!

Marlyn’s Birthday

Our first full day in Jakarta it was Marlyn’s birthday, so she made the plan and we just went along with whatever she wanted to do. Mostly, that meant eating a LOT of Indonesian food. We started with going to a local market, had some food there and also bought some fruit we had never seen before. Next, Marlyn wanted to eat something that translates to “brain brain” – she said there is no brain inside, just fish and flour. No way to confirm her story so we just went with it πŸ™‚ We also had a seafood omelette and the first of many plates of Nasi Goreng (fried rice). To get to a supermarket to buy some snacks, we took a tuk tuk. Our driver seemed quite excited to take around the only foreigners in sight πŸ˜‰

After a short rest at home, it was time to eat yet again, so we went to another restaurant for some meatball soup. Also, we picked up the birthday cake, which we had after dinner (yes, more food) at a nice seafood restaurant overlooking the water.

Jakarta sights & food

On our second full day, Marlyn’s dad was our tour guide and took us around Jakarta for some sightseeing and more Indonesian food. We started with noodles and wonton soup for breakfast and then went to a banking museum which was inside a cool colonial building. We also saw Jakarta’s first train station and wandered around in an old market square. During our time in the city center, Thorben and I got interviewed by some students who wanted to practice their English.

The second part of the day, we visited a “mini Indonesia” theme park. They had lots of different buildings, showing the different cultures and architecture of the different islands. One place we visited in detail was the Komodo museum, in preparation for the next stop of our trip πŸ™‚ There was also more food: we had a very late lunch/early dinner at another Indonesian restaurant and then picked up some “martabak”. Martabak could be described as diabetes and a heart attack rolled in one – it’s a giant cake slathered with butter, peanuts, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk, but it was super tasty!

Even more food

After coming back to Flores, we spent one more night in Jakarta. I think Marlyn’s mom was worried we didn’t eat at all during our 6 days away, so she prepared a huge feast for us. I forgot the name of everything but it was delicious!

Overall, our time in Jakarta was really fun, especially since Marlyn’s parents were so nice and took so much time to show us around and feed us πŸ™‚ It was really cool to experience the city more from a local perspective and not just as a tourist.

Jana, Marina & the Chocolate Factory

Jana, Marina & the Chocolate Factory

There’s a Zotter chocolate factory in Shanghai – Austrian chocolate in the middle of China – who would have thought? Technically, it’s a “chocolate theater”, because they don’t really make much chocolate there, but you can learn all about chocolate and taste it until you’re sick … which is exactly what Jana and I did at the end of September.

I got 2 tickets to go to the tasting tour for my birthday and one of the dates for it lined up with Jana’s visit. Coincident? I don’t think so πŸ™‚

The tour starts with a movie about the company, its founder and how chocolate is made from bean to bar. After that, it’s 2 hours of non stop indulgence. We tasted the beans, cocoa powder, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, soy chocolate, chocolate in liquid form, in bars, with fruits mixed in, chocolate coating nuts and fruits, drinking chocolate … You name it, they had it. 150 varieties of it.

After the tour, we hit the store … and then I had to recover on the couch for a few hours.

Besides going to the chocolate factory, we also did some other stuff during Jana’s 4 days in Shanghai. Namely, have Vietnamese food, go for pancakes, have brunch, and another brunch, eat burgers, get sushi … To work it off, we also went for a walk with Khan. And then had pasta and pizza πŸ˜‰ In summary – a great Shanghai visit!

DIY Food Tour

DIY Food Tour

We just got back from our Golden Week vacation a few days ago and I’m very behind with the blogging. Spoiler: We went to Indonesia and it was great! Before I get into it (still got lots of pictures to sort), I still have a couple little things to share from before our trip.

Marlyn and I had been wanting to recreate the food tour I did in June, and we decided it was time in the middle of September when it finally got a bit cooler. We met after work at the metro, booklet from the tour in hand and ready to eat our way through China and take selfies πŸ™‚

Stop 1 – Cantonese

Our personal food tour was off to a rocky start because the planned first stop, the Xi’An Burger, had been closed down πŸ™ It didn’t get much better at the second stop – a Cantonese restaurant. They had sold out of the barbecued pork, this dish I was most excited to eat again at that place. Fail. We tried duck instead, which was okay, but not nearly as good as the pork. The pineapple bun and a mango tapioca dish were good; those cheered us up again.

Since we met around 20 min before the food tour starts, we kept seeing one of their groups. They usually came into the restaurants when we had already started eating. We made sure to hide our booklet and pretended we were just in the know about local restaurants. Not sure we succeeded πŸ˜‰

Stop 2 – Ningbo

The second stop – the Ningbo place – was much better! We got my favorite 2 dishes from the tour, fava bean puree and crispy bamboo chips. Marlyn was skeptical at first, but came around after giving it a try. The beans really taste much better than they look!

Stop 3 – Sichuan

Third stop: Sichuan Noodles, no rabbit head this time πŸ™‚

Stop 4 – Shanghai

And finally, some xiaolongbao to finish the night.

Just as we were about to call it a night, we saw the guide again. He ducked into a small bakery, telling the group “I’m just gonna buy something for later”. So obviously we went in right after he left and requested 2 of whatever he bought … which gave us our dessert πŸ™‚

To anyone who wants try food from across China: Come visit and eat with us – Marlyn and I are ready!

A long weekend in Singapore

A long weekend in Singapore

Fourth time is the charm …or whatever the saying is πŸ™‚ Last Friday was a public holiday in Shanghai (Mid-autumn festival), so I took the opportunity to visit my sister and her husband in Singapore.

I arrived Thursday night and flew back Sunday night, which gave us 3 full days to eat, explore, chill, catch up and eat some more.

Friday – Afternoon Tea and Singapore After Dark

Sandra had Friday off while Timo had to work, so we had a fun sister day. We explored her area a little and had some breakfast, then lounged by the pool for a while. In the afternoon, we headed to the Ritz-Carlton to have afternoon tea, which was my birthday present πŸ™‚ The afternoon tea was really great, so much good food and it was all beautifully presented.

To walk it off, we headed to Chinatown in the evening because they had some lanterns for Mid-autumn festival. There wasn’t too much to see, so we decided to walk around Marina Bay once and visit the Merlion. Sadly, he wasn’t lit up, but it was still great to be back in my bay πŸ™‚ On the way home, we also stopped at Lau Pa Sat, an old hawker center in the middle of the CBD. Luckily, after 20,000 steps, I was able to fit in another snack.

Saturday – Food, Flowers, and Food

Saturday, the air was really bad due to forest fires in Indonesia. The worst haze in 3 years and you could really see and smell it. We still managed to go out for breakfast and then went to Gardens by the Bay. Since my last visit almost 2 years ago, another exhibit opened. Floral Fantasy lived up to its name. The flowers were really pretty and we were lucky it wasn’t crowded, maybe because of the haze. Of course we took advantage of that and took many many pictures.

We spent the rest of the day indoors and my sister made us a really German dinner – Linsen mit SpΓ€tzle und SaitenwΓΌrstle πŸ™‚ It was amazing. Tasted just like home.

Sunday – Pool Time and Brunch

On my last day, the haze was a bit less, so we hung out by the pool again and tried to work up an appetite by swimming a few laps. I’m pretty jealous this is just an elevator ride away – just one more reason to come back really soon!

Our final food adventure was brunch at the W where Marlyn’s cousin Santy is the pastry chef. She is a true artist, I could not stop taking pictures of all the beautiful cakes and dessert. The rest of the brunch buffet was amazing as well – there were 20 different cheeses! Of course we ate way too much and moved very little for the rest of the day πŸ™‚

Thank you very much to my awesome hosts for a great long weekend. Until next time, Singapore!

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

I have a new love in my life. We met in April and have been hanging out almost every week since. I think it’s getting serious.

Meet Khan.

He’s an Alaskan Malamute, 3 years old and the cutest and sweetest dog in the world. He belongs to friends of a friend, who adopted him in Shanghai about 2 years ago. We met Khan and his owners randomly at brunch one weekend and I couldn’t get enough of him. See pictures of our first encounter.

Basically, I begged our friend to give me his owners’ contact and stalked them on WeChat to please let me walk their puppy. Thankfully, they didn’t find that too creepy and actually let me πŸ™‚ I walk him almost every weekend now for 2+ hours and it’s so great to have a snuggly fluff ball in my life. He’s also good for my step count – 15.000 is not a problem – and gets me out of the house rain or shine … see Khan’s awesome raincoat below.

Like many men, he’s not a huge fan of selfies and usually tries to lick my face when I sneak up to get a picture, but I can’t resist because he’s just too damn cute!

China’s Crayfish Craze

China’s Crayfish Craze

It’s crayfish season in China, and everyone is loving it. Everyone now also includes me. Similar to hairy crab, crayfish are seasonal, messy to eat and pop up everywhere when in season.

I hadn’t really given them any thought, just that it looked like a lot of work to get to the meat. In June, Tim approached me, as a friend of his was planning to do a piece on crayfish. She wanted to have a foreigner to try it, so that’s how I ended up peeling, eating and talking about crayfish on camera, about 2 months ago.

In total, I was there for 3 hours of filming. First, we watched the chef prepare the food, then I got a briefing how to eat them, engaged in a 2 minute competition of who can peel the most and then finally got to taste them. Of course, I lost that competition, but it was fun and even though it was a lot of work, they were yummy! After we were done shooting, I got to eat another plate of them πŸ™‚ Here are some “behind the scenes” pictures:

If you want to know more about crayfish, and see me on camera for 2 minutes, you can watch the video below or read the article and see the clip here. I make an appearance at 3:27.

Also, I didn’t quit my day job, it’s also news to me that I’m a food blogger. Tim says that if it’s on TV, it must be true πŸ˜‰