Indonesia: Snacks in Jakarta

CL, T, and I parted ways with my sister at the airport in Yogykarta.  While the three of us went onward to Jakarta, my sister had to return to school in Baltimore.  Poor baby.

When we arrived in Jakarta, the city was flooded.  According to CL's aunt and cousin who picked us up at the airport, this happens every year:



With parts of the city inaccessible, we essentially spent most of our time in Jakarta at CL's aunt's house. Which was perfectly fine with us because she kept plying us with food.  Nonstop food.

It started the minute we got into her car at the airport.  We'd barely buckled ourselves in when she handed us this box:


Which was filled with these beauties:


An entire box with two layers for the three of us.  Soft, glutinous shells filled with peanut sugar:


Best welcome ever.

We should have realized then and there that this was an indication of what our two-day stay in Jakarta was going to be like. We caught on quickly, however, when we found out that we weren't going to CL's aunt's house directly from the airport, but were instead making a stop first at a fruit market AND a bakery.  Wuh.

CL's aunt has the energy of a tornado.  She was almost a blur in the market, picking up mangosteens here, pineapple there, and rambutan elsewhere.

In the bakery, we could only watch in stunned silence as she stacked box upon box of desserts on the check out counter.  Back at CL's aunt's house, we were expected to eat all of the fruit as well as one of each dessert.

This was one of my favorites:


The coconut milk on the outside was very, very soft and almost liquid-like.  The filling was shredded coconut in brown sugar syrup:


These cones were made of coconut glutinous rice and the same shredded coconut and brown sugar syrup mixture:


These spongy cakes were less memorable:


As was this thing:


I don't remember what was inside, but I do remember not really liking it.

By the time we got around to this guy, we were stuffed:


I vaguely remember putting a bite into my mouth just to satisfy CL's aunt.  I probably was already in a food coma by then.

All of this took place before lunch.  That's right.  We still had lunch after all of that.  (What we ate for lunch will come in the next post.)  

Dinner was a ridiculous seafood feast.  There won't be a post on that meal because I was too much of a chicken to bust out my camera with CL's grandmother present at the table.  You'll just have to take me at my word when I say that the crab was fantastic, the razor clams amazing, and the fried calamari with salted egg yolk dipping sauce unexpectedly addicting.

The next morning, CL's aunt presented us with this soupy delight:


Kind of like a very liquid-y curry, you're supposed to pour it over these rice blocks, peanuts, and fried shallot bits:


So.  Damn.  Good.

As wowed as we were by that dish, we were completely floored by what came next.  Lemper:


Lemper, lemper, lemper.  Easily my absolute favorite discovery in Indonesia.  Heck, in all of Asia.

The glutinous coconut rice.  The shredded chicken with coconut fragrant with kaffir lime and lemongrass.  How I love thee:


There's no way to describe the bliss, the joy, the ultimate pleasure.  I can't.  I just can't.

And now, I must stop talking about it because the knowledge that I will probably never again taste such perfection is soul crushing.  (We found an Indonesian restaurant in Hong Kong that sells lemper and it just wasn't the same.  We also tried to make some after we returned to the States and while good, it still wasn't the same.)

Later that day, we braved the insane Jakartan traffic (made even crazier thanks to the flooding) to have lunch with one of CL's cousins.  On the way back, CL's aunt plied us with even more food, urging us to finish everything while still in the car.

She jumped out of the car to dart into a roadside store to buy these rolls:


Think spongy crepes and sweet/savory veggie filling:


She also bought this strange, crumbly cake:


So dry and crumbly that none of us liked it very much:


Then she made CL's cousin pull over on the side of the road so that she could buy these skewers from a cart:


The skewers of meat were smothered in a spicy gravy.  At the bottom of the parchment paper cone were rice blocks that were extremely difficult to pick up with the wimpy skewer sticks:


Once at home, CL's aunt had her cook take out some fried fish paste dumplings:


By then, we were so full that we wanted to cry, but we still cleaned the plate because they tasted so damn good.  Especially with sweet soy sauce.  Each dumpling was filled with egg:


We ate all of this knowing that dinner was coming.  Shortly.

And it didn't end with dinner.  Oh, no.  We got ready for bed only to find out that there was cake waiting for us:


Not overly sweet.  Nice and moist.  I remember that much.  I remember more clearly that feeling of eating through the pain.

Such delicious, delicious pain.

Even though Jakarta was flooded and we weren't able to really go anywhere, we had a blast there thanks to the generosity of CL's relatives, particularly that of her aunt.  She thought of all of needs and went out of her way to make our short stay a comfortable and food-filled one.  Extremely food-filled.  We couldn't have had a better experience.

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