For once in my writing years, I finally find it difficult to verbalize a dining experience, let alone having to manifest the wonderful taste into words. As I begin to write now, I wish with every sentence it could bring justice to what the two brilliant chefs brought into the table on the opening night of Jakarta Culinary Festival. Wish me luck.
The night started quite lazy as we all got ourselves acquainted with several glasses of Cape Discovery wines and fellow diners. Somewhere among the crowd was Mrs. Mari Elka Pangestu, the current Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy. As for me, it was delightful to meet Will Meyrick again after I crossed path with his San Choi Boi at the previous JCF two years ago. To add into the excitement was meeting Om William Wongso himself. They both deserve another blogpost each just to story-tell their vast experience and knowledge in the Asian culinary. I consider myself lucky to be one of the few to enjoy their co-creations.
With 5 appetizers, 9 main courses, 4 side dishes, and 6 samples of dessert, you can imagine the amount of work that needed to be done before and in the kitchen. No complaints though. The more food, the happier I am, and indeed as the night unraveled the meals in turn, I began to enjoy the slow ride of Asian delicacies.
From the line of appetizers, the one that spoke to my tastebuds was first and foremost Will Meyrick’s Burung Puyuh Tangkap Aceh. The full flavor of quail met the play of texture from the leaves and made a feast in my mouth that I could overlook the extra hint of saltiness in the end. The following two was William Wongso’s Slada Bangka Udang and Mentho Yogya. The earlier matched well with Deetlefts Chenin Blanc. It was my first time having bangka turnip as a cold salad and I’m glad to have Om Wongso’s take as my benchmark. The latter is a comfort food for me with all the sweets of coconut and beef. They did well in kickstarting my appetite.
Heading toward the prime time of the show, I waited expectantly for the arrival of the next mind-blowing meal. Five dishes after, and I concluded that there were three that fell into that category.
Will did great with Udang Asam Pedas. The spicy broth did not overpower the prawn. Although it gave a surprise in the throat on the first bite, the following was a pleasing sip of well seasoned soup. On par with this meal was Konro Bakar Sulawesi. I’m a fan of beef ribs to start with, and Will’s take on this was similar to no other. The black nut peanut sauce was a highlight of its own with one of a kind flavor. That left us with one more noteworthy meal, Gulai Kambing Banda Aceh. Thick, savory curry with generous pieces of lamb shanks that made me happy.
The only drawback was that some of the tables didn’t get all of the dishes. For instance, my table didn’t see the presence of Om Wongso’s Tumis Paku Bunga Pepaya, Rendang Wagyu, and Oseng Jambal Pancing.
Good thing that I saved a space for the cherry on top, and may I say, none… yes, none of the desserts failed me. What you see here is a plateful of tongue-pleasing, saliva-inducing treats.
Looking at the depth of Indonesian culinary from the creations of both Wills surely opens my eyes again. I think I owe it to myself to do more of Indonesian culinary heritage review.
All in all, it is safe to say that I went home with a happy belly. And you know what they say, after a full belly, all is poetry. It was a night to be remembered. Not only for the food, but also for the wonderful people I met. Cheers to Indra & Muthi, to Ria, an old friend whom I met in the event after so long, and finally to Jed & Amanda for being a great company with the stories and jokes.
To top it, Will also happened to have his first cookbook, Sarong Inspirations, launched on the night. How grateful I am for receiving one of the signed copy. Am still reading his adventures throughout Cambodia, Thailand, and it probably gonna move me to start investing in those kitchen utensils. Or maybe I’ll just visit Will to make it easier.
Thank you Ismaya, Dimatique, Martha Stewart Living, and Dreams Magazine for making it happen. I wish to experience more of these celebration annually.
For the love of food
Food Storyteller & Photographer