Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Cameo Appearance by...

To be honest, I was a little scared when I read what the challenge for this month was. Just a little.

Well, I mean, I've made pizza dough before, but have never used the 'toss' method. This method is a nightmare for a control freak like me. Thankfully, I have help on hand. A veteran pizza maker who also happens to be yours truly's boyfriend. Isn't that convenient? The challenge suddenly turned from something daunting to something I was looking forward to.

I just hope Rosa doesn't mind the help I was getting. Not that I didn't try, but the photos of him tossing the dough turned out much, much better. Seriously. The photos he took of me tossing the dough turned out so tragic I would have to implore you to spare me from putting it up on a public domain such as this.

So, moving on to the more important topic of toppings and sauces. I decided on a sweet pizza, despite J's protests. I decided that since we are going into summer (actually today feels more like early, early spring), I might as well do something light and easy. Fruits immediately came to mind. But not just any fruits. I specifically wanted tropical fruits. Blame it on my recent trip back home. I wanted to recapture all the flavours of the tropics in this pizza.

So I decided on a pineapple 'carpaccio' pizza topped with rockmelon, mango and watermelon brunoise, with a drizzle of pine nuts-mint herb oil and a garnish of mint julienne. You don't have to tell me that it sounded doubtful; believe me, I know. But despite all, I decided to go along with this combination.

It actually did not taste bad at all. But there is definitely room for improvement. Like not overbaking the pizza crust, resulting in a hard shell with a slight bitter taste. Or adding more pine nuts-mint herb oil. Or caramelising the pineapple 'carpaccio' before putting them on the crust. Or using a fruit compote rather than herb oil to impart more sweetness to the pizza.

But overall, I'm pretty happy with this first attempt. All that's left is to play around with the component to get the best possible result. After all, that's what being a DB is all about, no?

A big thank you to Rosa for choosing this month's theme and recipe; J thought it made a really, really good pizza dough, and even asked if I could print him a copy to take home!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Memories from the Island of the Gods

It has been a week since I got back. Why no blogging, then, you ask. Three reasons. One, I fell ill towards the end of my vacation, and haven't completely recovered. Second, I wish I did not have to come back. The third is one of my strongest vices which I will keep under shrouds until the next post.

But going back to the second point. As you probably know from my last post, I mentioned that I will be squeezing in a trip to Bali during my short holiday. I did. And now I can't think of wanting to live anywhere else.

All right, I do exaggerate. But seriously now. Bali is known as the Island of the Gods. And I can't think of a more apt description. My previous memories of the island were too far away to make more than a hazy imprint of its beauty. I must have been no more than 13 the last time I visited Bali. It did not take me long, however, to be completely smitten by the place. I truly felt the elusive charm that had enticed so many Western expatriates to call it their second home.

We stayed at Tanjong Benoa, at a hotel where service was well above and beyond inspiring. We visited the popular restaurant/cafe/shopping strip Seminyak, home to the famous Ku De Ta. We had dinner at Kafe Warisan, which French chef/owner Nicolas Tourneville carefully nurtured over the past eleven years from a 10-table restaurant to a world-renowned establishment. We had the best Nasi Campur at one of the more modest restaurants I have been to. But the jewel that shines above i all is Ubud, a magical town far away from the overcrowded and overheated beaches.

Ubud is nestled among the hills of Bali, which made its climate substantially cooler than the more popular becahside destinations. Over the years, I have heard much of Ubud, so I realise that I am not what one would consider a pioneer luxury traveller. There is something about Ubud, an intangible charm that you could associate with the comforting respite that many spend their lifetimes searching for but few were lucky enough to find. From the shady foliage of Puri Saren, the thriving arts and crafts scene, to the magnificent rice fields and the bustling yet serene sights of the shopping strip of Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud was more than what I had in mind.

As luck would have it, the village temple also held its annual odalan, or temple birthday, on the very day that we chose to visit. That means visitors are treated to the captivating sight of numerous processions of local women carrying pyramid towers of sesajen, or offerings, on their heads to their village temple basked in the light of the golden setting sun.

And then it was gone. I never knew that 4 days and 3 nights could feel so short. Bali was like a much cherished lover lost much too soon, leaving one with only memories and a bittersweet longing of a time when one can really believe that the world is truly a beautiful place to live in.

P.S. I did not get the chance to take snapshots of the odalan procession, mainly because the setting sun made it very difficult to see and manually focus my camera, and we were rushing to beat the traffic to Denpasar. I wished I had taken many more photos of all the beautiful sights that I have seen, but I'm more for living those moments than trying to capture each and everyone of them on memories that only my compact 2 GB card could remember.