A day in Bali – the villa, the beach, and the food

After just about a week of travel, we were pretty exhausted. Bali was a really welcome change. We could just literally do nothing and relax.

All of this was a part of our villa. I’ve never had such nice accommodations.

We got to try some Indonesian Roti. Each dish was like a dollar!! We watched the staff at the restaurant tossing and spinning the dough and everything. They have plain roti, roti with sausage, cheese, onions, or even dessert roti!

Warung Bunana

Getting around is pretty easy with the many taxis around or even a motorbike rental. I’ve read that there have been altercations between taxi drivers and Grab drivers, but I didn’t experience that while I was there, except for some areas clearly marked as not Grab friendly. There aren’t a lot of gas stations around, but a lot of stores fill up petrol in vodka bottles and sell them.

This section of the beach was part of a restaurant/bar/resort called Ku De Ta, and people could just sit back and enjoy a drink or two (cigars are on the menu too!) while enjoying the beach. Locals own the chairs on the beach and charge people to sit on them.

The waves were a bit strong for actual swimming though

We couldn’t chill on this beach, but we did have a pool in our villa! Mike made an amazing video tour of the villa in his video below!

I spent my time in the pool learning how to swim (at this point, I didn’t even know how to float). I started off being super uncomfortable even leaning back to float, and was really frustrated at not being able to do basic actions on the water. I looked up YouTube videos on how to float and tread water and eventually figured it out! We basically stayed in the pool until we got hungry for dinner – this time to try local seafood. Mike, if you’re reading this, you missed out by not recording this part.

Warung 24/7 has an option on the menu that serves a variety of barbecued seafood and it’s amazing – highly recommended for seafood lovers

After the meal, we went back in the pool. I practiced some more, and when I got tired, I floated on my back and gazed at the stars.

I was disappointed to leave this amazing villa, but alas, all good things must come to an end. The next day, we took the plane and flew back home, where we resumed our regular lives.

For my photos of Bali, click here.

Chiang Mai food

I’ve already talked about the live shrimp and the bugs, so this food post is going to have normal stuff.

The first stop is a food market not far from where we stayed. The curry dish isn’t as spicy as it looks and is very flavourful. The beef noodles is pretty similar to pho, but with their Thai spin on it with the herbs that they use. I’d say it had a bit more umami than the typical pho. The Pad Thai I thought wasn’t as flavourful as I liked, and was actually kind of plain. The other two dishes are highly recommended though!

Clockwise from top left: panang curry, pad thai, beef noodles

As far as fruit smoothies go, the fruit seemed to be so much more flavourful. I know that with bananas they are harvested before they’re riped so they can last for a few weeks as they are transported, so it’s possible the same thing is happening with these fruits. But since these fruits are local, they get to fully ripen on the tree.

I also saw them add a little bit of salt to enhance the existing sweetness and acidity of the smoothies. It made it perfectly sweet, without being overpowering.

From left to right: pineapple, mango, and honey queen orange

Next is probably the most famous dish in northern Thailand: Khao Soi. It’s a noodle dish with soft noodles in the soup and deep fried noodles on top. The soup itself can vary in spiciness, but is made of a curry-like sauce with meat, chilis, lime, and coconut milk.

The main attraction about this dish for me is the spiciness of the soup. It isn’t just a big spicy attack on the senses, but rather it’s nuanced because it’s balanced by the coconut milk.

Last but not least, we had some tom yum, yellow curry, and morning glory. This place is an actual restaurant with western style ambience, so naturally there was a price premium to that.

It’s kind of difficult to comment on how the yellow curry and tom yum tasted because it was way too spicy for our senses. I definitely tasted the spiciness and sourness of the soup, but the spiciness overpowered me quickly. The best by far as the morning glory. I just really like leafy greens with crunchy stems. The chilis added gave it a slight zing.

From left to right: yellow curry, tom yum, morning glory, pad thai

As usual, Mike has made a video!

The food I miss most is definitely the fruit smoothies. When I came back home, I had constant cravings for those smoothies for weeks. To see the other parts of my trip in Chiang Mai, click here.

Eating grasshoppers and crickets in Chiang Mai

I have a rule where I eat everything at least once. So when I saw the bugs in the Chiang Mai street market, I knew what I had to do.

They had different sized crickets, grasshoppers, silkworm larvae, and water beetles. Having already tried the latter two, we got a bag of crickets and grasshoppers.

They honestly don’t taste like much. They’re crunchy and have a texture like a potato chip, but without the deep fried potato flavour. It’s got a pretty neutral taste. I can’t say I like it though since I really can’t ignore the fact that I’m eating a literal bug. My buddy Mike has summarized it really well in his video.

That’s about it for this post. See the rest of my trip to Chiang Mai here.

Eating live shrimp in Chiang Mai

I managed to get a week off work and I spent it with some friends in Southeast Asia! The first destination: Chiang Mai, Thailand. One of the goals of the trip in general was to eat whatever we could find – anything different and exotic. Mainly exotic. We arrived at a nice water reservoir with restaurants by the beach.

It doesn’t look like it, but the weather was at least 30°C outside. The cloud cover is from the smog generated by burning crops
Clockwise from top left: salad dish with spicy ground pork and liver, papaya salad, deep fried fish with herbs

And now for the dish we came here for…

When the lid is opened, the shrimp immediately try to jump out, so the lid can’t be opened for very long. They’re hard to grab too because they keep wiggling.

They taste like eating small pieces of shrimp sashimi, but at the same time I had to chew through the shells. There’s a little bit of flavour from the spice and herbs that were added, but it’s subtle. We were given some chili sauce on the side to give it more flavour. The spicy sauce is what you’d expect from chilis and cilantro.

The shrimp seem to move a bit erractically, so it’s possible there was some alcohol in the bowl as a part of the sauce

I have no idea how “clean” this dish was since it’s raw… I could only bring myself to eat a couple for fear of getting parasites or some other foodborne illness. My friends on the other hand were completely grossed out by this even though they initially wanted to eat it. To be fair, this is the first time I considered shrimps to be like bugs at all.

My buddy made a video summarizing the entire experience. See below.

Otherwise, that’s it for eating live shrimp!
See all the photos here

Cooking a boneless leg of lamb for Christmas!

I impulse bought one from Costco maybe about a couple of months ago thinking I would learn how to cook it in a reasonable amount of time. That would have made sense had I bought a smaller portion, but the one I got was almost 6 lbs… Around November, some friends and I thought it’d be a good idea to cook it for Christmas!

This post is not so much an expert chef cooking something, but more so the chronicles of a noob trying to learn the art.

I knew I wanted to sous vide it (what is it?). I wasn’t going to mess around with baking temperatures and times and what not. The sous vide would make the texture and consistency perfect. So I went ahead and looked for recipes.

I found these two:

I pretty much did a hybrid of those 2 videos. Both of them show similar content as to how to season the lamb, but the first one finishes it in the oven and deep fries some herbs for additional aromatics, while the second one uses a blowtorch. I didn’t want to deep fry anything, and I didn’t have a blow torch. So this is what I did:

Ingredients for the seasoning

  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 80g Colman’s dry mustard powder
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary

Ingredients for the glaze

  • Leftover juices from the bag after the sous vide process
  • 200 mL balsamic vinegar (could be more or less according to taste)

Instructions for cooking the lamb

  1. Score the lamb (in a grid pattern with each cut around 0.75″ to 1″ apart)
  1. Mix the mustard powder, salt, and black pepper together
  1. Rub over the lamb generously
  2. Put lamb and rosemary into the sous vide bag
  1. Sous vide at 55 °C / 131 °F for 24 hours. Throughout the process, juices from the lamb will collect in the bag. Be sure not to dump the juices since it will be used later
  2. Preheat oven to 232 °C or 450 °F
  3. Take the lamb out of the bag and put it into the oven. When putting the lamb in the oven, it helps to prop up the lamb with something like a steaming rack that can go into the oven so the bottom doesn’t get soggy. Alternatively, propping it up with tin foil also works.
  1. Cook the oven for 10-15 minutes. The timing here isn’t so important so long as the meat has the right “look” that you want since it’s already cooked from the sous vide.
I left it in the oven for a *bit* too long

Instructions for the glaze

The glaze can be applied on the lamb or on the side. I opted to do it on the side since I didn’t know how the glaze would turn out.

  1. Mix the juices from the bag and the balsamic vinegar
  2. Cook it over medium high heat until it reduces to the point where when you put a spoon into the glaze, the liquid coats the back of the spoon instead of sliding off

The lamb was a fine addition to the rest of the meal we had!

Overall, the meat tasted great. The doneness and tenderness were spot on due to using the sous vide. Some parts of the lamb were unexpectedly gamier, but I think the rub wasn’t as evenly spread as I thought. Also, I think I left the lamb in the freezer too long since the quality of the meat itself had deteriorated a bit, making the lamb meat a bit rougher. The glaze itself added a bit of acidity to the savouriness which was welcome. So I think this was somewhat of a success!

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