Restaurant review: Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920 in Jakarta

November 15, 2009

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When discussing with my friends in Jakarta where to meet for dinner, Jasmin suggested “Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920” right in the center of Jakarta.

The restaurant belongs to the Tugu Hotel group, owned by the family of Anhar Setjadibrata, a famous art collector from Malang, East Java. The family has two more restaurants in Jakarta, “Dapur Baba” and “Lara Djonggrang”, both exotic places with wonderful decorations of Indonesian and other antiques where we had spent memorable evenings with family and friends while living in Jakarta.

“Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920” is no exception. The interior is just stunning. Apart from dining one can also listen to Jazz music which is performed on a large stage. It was my first visit, and I was in a nostalgic and elated mood: back in Jakarta and out with old friends.

We ordered a round of starters, in fact we ordered the whole menu of starters, followed by main courses. To say it from the outset: the starters were stunning, the main courses could not keep up with it and were mediocre at best. This did not prevent us from having a great time. We had a bottle of white wine from Western Australia. When selecting it together with my friend Flo, I thought that I would not forget the brand. Writing this blog entry a couple of days later, I must submit to the vagaries of life once again. Never assume the obvious. Memory will have its little victories. usually I take a photo of the wine bottles I consume, not this time. Maybe the reunion was just so much more important. Anyway, the started (see some in the pctures below) were wonderful and the wine was just right.

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For us the evening ended in the Buddha Bar, a trendy hangout in Menteng. We were not deterred by a function for Cartier which occupied the interior of the bar but instead sat on the wide back-terrace with the garden view (also nice in the night).

I highly recommend to the casual traveler to visit the restaurants of Anhar Setjadibrata in Jakarta. The atmosphere in the three places – Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920, Dapur Baba and Lara Djonggrang – is wonderful but unique, the exhibits are breathtaking, they bear witness to Java’s glorious past.

PS: I never stayed at one of the Tugu Hotels but friends of mine rave about the one in Malang. From the website www.tuguhotels.com you might get a glimpse what it might be all about. Breathtaking, spectacular come to mind. I promised myself that one day I will visit one of them and enjoy a night delving in Javas past and in a “Tugu bed”.

Address:
Warong Shanghai Blue 1920 Restaurant
Kebon Sirih Raya 79
Jakarta Pusat
DKI Jakarta – Indonesia
PH 1: +62-21-391-8690
PH 2: +62-21-7088-3366
www.tuguhotels.com


Obituary

November 13, 2009

Yesterday, my good friend Peter Ryan passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was buried this morning in Singapore. We are mourning him.

Pete was a wonderful man, kind and loving and always helping out. He was a teetotaler, not drinking a sip of alcohol, but his liver failled him nonetheless (cirrhosis).

He tought me, among others, how ups and downs are part of human existence and that in end both do not matter. I also learned from him to appreciate the beauty of eccentricity.

He was a fan of Johanna Budwig and defeated his liver cancer successfully following the Budwig diet.

I salute you my dear friend. We will drink a bottle of champagne tonight in your honor, I will smoke a cigar and we will be reminiscing about the good times we had together. We will celebrate your life and the impermanence of it.

Though I am not particularly religious, I like the Irish folk song, “Your long jouney”, especially its version by Robert Pant and Alison Krauss. Two of the verses I find appropriate and want to share with you.

Your long journey

1. Verse
God’s given us years of happiness here
Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pains of grief tug at my heart

3. Verse
Fond memories I’ll keep of happy ways
That on earth we trod
And when I come we will walk hand in hand
As one in heaven in the family of god


Impressions from Jakarta – Social House

November 9, 2009

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The centre of Jakarta

We were lucky that we got a seat in the first place. “Social house” was, as always, booked out. We had a great view of the fountain at the city centre, odered two pizza and two glasses of house Malbec, a drinkable red wine.

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Social house menue

SocialHouse motto

About food and wine

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Pizza

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Social house wine cellar

There is nothing more relaxing than having a meal with a good friend, in a location where my heart is: Jakarta. Glorious memories and good company. What can be better in life


Paolo Scavino – Barolo 2004 at Casa D’Oro, Kempinski Hotel, Jakarta

November 7, 2009

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Unfortunately, the circumstances prevented me from writing a proper restaurant review of Casa D’Oro, an Italian restaurant at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski in Jakarta. I have to go back, eat there and write a proper review. A friend of mine says it’s the best Italian gourmet dining in Jakarta. It’s chef de cuisine, Francesco Greco, is a well accomplished master of fine cooking being just awarded the “Best Chef of 2009 in Shanghai” award.

But I can write about the wine, we had with our quick dinner. I selected a ‘2004 Barolo’ by Paolo Scavino, from Piedmont, Italy and one of the best producers of Barolo in the world. Made from Nebbiolo grapes grown in the cool climate of the Piemontese hills at the foot of the Alps, this wine has a deep red colour and is characterized by an elegant nose. Dried roses, cherries, and plums can be tasted together with herbs and dusty vanilla notes. The long finish is very impressive. The wine is of medium-body, very smooth and very well balanced. Wine experts award it 91-92 Parker points. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine.

I am so happy that I had spotted this wonderful wine on the extensive wine list of the hotel. I can only highly recommend it. Moreover, the wine was very reasonably prized.


Sunday at the Yarra Glen Hotel

November 6, 2009

One of the great things to do on a weekend in the Yarra Valley is to attend one of the many life music events. I especially love the music on a Sunday afternoon at the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel. First of all the food is quite good and second the venue is very suitable for the occasion provided there is not too much wind rattling the tent in which the bands perform.

Moreover, the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel is a beautiful historic building, a landmark in Yarra Glen, with it’s tower which is visible from many parts of the valley, it really stands out.

We had lunch and eagerly awaited the Bob Starkie Band which was to play in the afternoon. Bob Starkie is well known in Melbourne. He used to be one of the members of the legendary Skyhooks in the 1970s, a cult band in Melbourne. One of their top hits was “Women in Uniform”.

But first came the food.

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The food was hearty and very tasty, as the two pictures above show. The wines we had with it were excellent examples of the local wine culture.

We had a bottle of ‘2006 Mandala Chardonnay’ from the Yarra Valley and a bottle of ‘2005 Dal Zotto Barbera’ from Whitefield in the King Valley, a neighboring wine region with very good cool climate wines.

Both wines were excellent and very enjoyable. The 2003 vintage of the Dal Zotto Barbera was given 90 points. The Dal Zotto family with a proud Italian heritage is well known for their quality wines. Their Italian varietal wines made from Barbera, Arneis and Sangiovese grapes have won high acclaim. Also their prosecco is commendable. The high altitude of the King Valley and its cool climate seems to be very suitable for those Italian varietals.

Owned by the Smedly family, Mandala Wines is located just a few kilometers up the highway, north of Yarra Glen. The cellar door and restaurant (open for lunch Thursday to Sunday and dinner on Saturday evenings) used to be “Henkel Vineyard” but has been redone completely. I love the design of the label, a huge mandala, which changes colour on the website, and expresses the philosophy of the owner on life and wine-making.

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Mandala Chardonnay

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Dal Zotto Barbera

And then the music started. The Bob Starkie Band promised exciting entertainment. They did not disappoint playing many of the classical Skyhooks songs. It did not take long and the dance floor was crowded with rural folks moving and shaking. There is nothing better then a dance on a Sunday afternoon. It also makes sure that one is clear headed on a Monday morning. We had great fun. I can only highly recommend it to the accidental traveler. If in the Yarra Valley look out for live music events

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Bob Starkie

Addresses:
Yarra Valley GRAND Hotel
Bell Street, Yarra Glen, VIC. 3775
Tel.: 03-9730 1230
int: +61 3 9730 2434
fax: 03 9730 2434
e-mail: hotel@yarravalleygrand.com.au
www.yarravalleygrandcom.au

MANDALA WINES PTY LTD
1568 Melba Highway Dixons Creek Yarra Valley Victoria 3775
Tel. +61 3 5965 2016
Fax: +61 3 5965 2589
e-mail: info@mandalawines.com.au
www.mandalawines.com.au

Dal Zotto Wines
Main Rd, Whitfield,
King Valley, Vic 3733 Australia
Tel.: +61-3-57 298 321
Fax +61-3 57 298 490
info@dalzotto.com.au
www.dalzotto.com.au


Hosting the vintner – with Timo Mayer at Patara in Bangkok

November 3, 2009

I admit, we take all our friends traveling through Bangkok to our favorite Thai restaurant if time permits. Patara is Thailand’s best restaurant and was awarded the corresponding prize for this achievement in 2009. We just love to dine there.

When Timo Mayer and his two daughters came through Bangkok we were pleased to have them for a couple of days and show them around. The Mayers’ came from Germany where Timo was helping with some wine-making in his native village near Stuttgart. He was also selling some of his Australian wine in various places (London for instance).

He was loaded with different bottles of very unique wines some of which we tasted together at various occasions. But one evening was reserved for fine Thai cuisine. Patara sent his tucktuck taxi service to pick us up from our home in Thonglor.

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The colorful entrees

We decided that we would order the food and Timo would choose the wine. As always we started with the three colorful delicacies shown above. Somehow I had problems taking clear and crisps shots of the food that evening. But you can look up earlier posts in this blog where you can find some more photos of the various Patara signature dishes.

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Happy diners

Timo selected the ‘2007 “Hugel” Riesling’ the classic wine from Hugel & Fils from Alsace. Jean Hugel, the senior vintner and wine-maker of this pioneer family of wine-making in Alsace was a legend and had passed away only in June this year.

I had never tasted their wines before and was very excited about the choice. Hugel and Fils maintain not only a very informative website but also an entertaining blog. I had visited Riquewihr, the picturesque Alsatian village where the winery is located many years ago (actually decades ago).

As a high-school student I had visited Alsace and its villages with my school and tasted my first Gewuerztraminer ever. A couple of years later I had seen a play at my “alma mater”: the Bonn University music and arts festival telling the story of the Alsace in three languages. After that my fascination with Alsace was complete. I had the chance to visit several times but mainly the north of the region. Our favorite destination was a restaurant, Au Cheval Blanc near Wissembourg but this is another story.

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The ‘2007 Hugel Riesling’

The ‘2007 “Hugel” Riesling’ is a very fine wine, young and vibrant. 2007 was a good vintage because the grapes had the opportunity to ripen for the longest time ever and therefore the grapes were very healthy. As a consequence the wines show great elegance and balance. The wine is fruity with mineral notes, a typical Alsatian Riesling with the characteristic petrol note. I love Riesling with Thai food.

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After we “demolished” the food

Our evening was great fun. The culinary delights of Thailand are just “breathtaking” for the palate. I can only highly recommend the restaurant. I love the atmosphere and the professional and friendly service.

We talked a lot about Timo’s German visit, his impressions, the adventures and, of course, wine. But when friends from afar visit, time flies. That’s how it was. Hours shrink to seconds and in a blimp of the eye it’s gone.

Address:
Patara Fine Thai Cuisine
375 Soi Thonglor 19 Sukhumvit 55, Klongtonnua Vadhana, Bangkok 10110
Tel. +66-2185 2960-1 Fax. +66-2185 2962
www.patarathailand.com


Climate change and grape varieties

November 2, 2009

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Riesling grapes in Schoden, Saar, shortly before vintage 2009

Uff, I am reading in todays “Your Daily Wine News” newsletter that some of Australia’s top wine experts think that over the next 20 years climate change will be responsible for the decline of Shiraz and Chardonnay and the rise of varieties such as Vermentino, Arneis, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio and Viognier (some call them “alternative varieties”).

This is bad news for me and my own small vineyard. At Two Hills Vineyard we have concentrated on some of the traditional French varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay (first vintage in 2011 or 2012). Our fruit ripens usually well (if we do not suffer severe frosts) and shows a superior quality. But will that persist under the conditions of climate change?

I still remember vividly how I pulled out the 2 1/2 acres of Cabernet. it was hard work, wrapping a chain around every single vine and lifting the hydraulic of the tractor. I should have left them in, I guess. If temperatures rise in Glenburn, the drought persits, and/or we’ll have less percipitation in the future, Cabernet could have been the ideal variety for our spot. I ripped the vines out because the grapes would not fully ripen. At the moment we have sufficient water, our two dams are overflowing after years of drought but that might change quickly again.

Another issue is age, my age. At 55 I might still have a chance to enjoy some of the coming Chardonnay vintages but replanting would “cost” me many years of waiting. I could contemplate to plant on our second hill where we still have another 5-6 acres of space. Well, let us see what is going to come.

At least there is no politician who tells me what to do and chances are small that an elector such as Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxonia, who changed the Mosel by instructing vintners to ripp out their red varieties and replant with Riesling, would appear on the Australian scene. However, danger is looming from the anti-alcohol lobby in Canberra which is working day and night to convince law-makers that the purchase of alcoholic beaverages needs to be made more costly for the consumer and profitable for the taxmen.


Halloween – biscuit style

November 1, 2009

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Lucy and Charlotte were busy in the kitchen. The twins produced “Halloween biscuits” (aren’t they beautiful?), which were sold at school for charity. Being a bit old-fashioned-continental Halloween does not mean anything to me. The cookies, however, I just love although there were none left for me so that I could taste them. What consoles me is that Charlotte did not get one either. Only the lucky Lucy bought the second last one, I heard.

Happy celebrations. Cheers