Tag Archives: Feature

Coffee tasting experience in a skyscraper

It was a long and tiring day. Not to mention that it rained so heavily late in the afternoon and that adds more misery to the already miserable Jakarta with all its traffic and pollution. The journey from my office to Pacific Place was not a pleasant one as well though quite nearby. I was forced to use the less comfortable public transportation and took the wrong route to make it worse.

The agony didn’t stop there, I was again forced to walk the long way from Crowne Plaza Hotel considering that using any public transport would be futile or wasteful. Therefore I fought against ticking clock to my appointment time, drizzling rain, splashes from puddles, slippery muds, toxic fumes, and the long walk.

Well, it all started from an invitation for a coffee tasting at Ritz-Carlton Hotel Pacific Place from a good friend of mine, Mr. Burhan Abe (http://burhanabe.com), a seasoned and famous journalist. It didn’t take long for me to accept and the journey proved itself to be fateful.

Long story short, I got acquainted with one of the PRs of Ritz-Carlton, Ms. Angelina. We all started with excitement and it turned out to be a delightful evening where we talk about the current project of Ritz-Carlton to introduce coffee to its customers. Here in Pacific Restaurant and Lounge, there are plenty to be enjoyed aside from the luscious interior look of the place and the extravagant view of Jakarta. People seemed to really enjoy their time relaxing with either their coffee, cigars, and other kind of refreshments Ritz-Carlton has to offer everyone.

Since we came for the coffee, Ritz-Carlton proudly presents many kinds of coffee from all over the world, freshly brewed and French pressed. We were given the chance to taste four kinds that evening. The exotic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, the balanced Colombian Supremo, the muscle strong Torajan Kalosi, and the nicely done Acehnese Gayo. So it’s the battle between the continents!

Since Ms. Angelina informed us first about how she awed with the strength and the goodness of Torajan coffee, we decided not to start from there. First, it was the Ethiopian. The result was quite satisfying since it’s mild and suitable for black coffee beginners. There’s a hint of spice scent and it’s not acidic at all.

A good start for us as we head for the Colombian afterwards.

The Colombian Supremo proved itself to be quite dense with the higher body level than the previous one and again with no sign of acidic taste. Thus I was convinced that the Supremo is more at the advance level, but don’t get to carried away since we’re not arrive at the Indonesian coffee.

Next would be both the Acehnese and the Torajan at the same time. Clearly, it’s a ‘lost cause’ from those who attempted to overthrow the Torajan Kalosi that night. Even though the Acehnese Gayo came in quite strong but the Torajan Kalosi retaliated with such fury and such greatness. Everything was dense with the coffee starting from the smell, the thickness, and up to the after taste.

But make no mistake, clearly we have to judge almost about everything not only from the variety (in which we have to be grateful that there are so many choices out there to your liking) but also on how the coffee brewed and served. Sometimes most of all, we can’t ignore the fact that if you’re having a good time out there with your friends or even by yourself. That evening proved to be a great experience for us, great chats in a great place, and  with great coffee. You wouldn’t bother about this coffee or that coffee especially me, considering the toll I had put myself through to honor the appointment.

Not long afterwards, I got acquainted with another PR Ms. Hanny Gunawan and treated for a good fix of amazing dinner at the restaurant. So on my next journal, it will be about the dinner and our other fun we had on the dining table. The joyous evening still continues. Stay tune!



The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place 6th Fl.

SCBD, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 52-53

Jakarta 12190

RSVP: 021 – 2550 1888 ext. 3993

‘A Glass of Water please!’

We often forget about the importance of being healthy. As a food and restaurant reviewer, it is imperative to maintain a healthy life to ensure that this beautiful profession can endure long even until I go way past the famous critic in Ratatouille.

Things we can do to prolong the benefits of enjoying any kind of food, even if you’re not a critic, are mostly related to sports or a good deal of physical activities, cholesterol check, or dental care.

Those may require time, energy, and money in which most of us, I bet, can’t do it religiously. So how about starting from one simpler thing that we tend to ignore?

It’s easy, it’s not costly, and it’s the key to our survival. Yes, water is the answer. It’s something that we always neglect, forget, or don’t even bother about.

Hey, that’s wrong!

Just look at Aron Ralston in 127 Hours or the Survivor series or many other grim examples and we should be grateful that here, water is abundant. But this is not a case of extreme survival but it’s a matter of health.

So this seminar sponsored by Cognito and led by Dr. Luciana, a prominent RSCM doctor and a nutrition expert, discussed about the hidden benefits of water and how we waste it just like that.

‘Water is the most essential part of the body and losing 20% of it can be lethal’, said the doctor.

Every problem starts from dehydration with symptoms easily read but often neglected. Your mouth and lips getting dry, fatigue, lethargic, thirst, less urine than usual, headaches, or worse where extreme thirst, freezing, no urine at all, low blood pressure, rapid pulse, and led unconscious.

The latest study on 2010 from Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD and Harris R. Lieberman, PhD shows that dehydration may also lead negatively to heart performance, cognitive, and mood.

In terms of heart performance, the bigger the loss the more devastating it will be. From the loss of stamina, muscle endurance, heat cramp, up to even a coma.

While from cognitive perspective, the loss of 1.5% for men and 1.3% for women will result in fatigue, loss of concentration, headache and getting angry all of a sudden.

So the thing is, women get caught easier with dehydration way more vulnerable than men. It’s because women comprised of higher fat composition and influenced by hormonal factor alongside lower water components inside their bodies making them more sensitive. While men here comprised of higher muscle composition.

Enough science talks, the thing is get yourself rehydrated every time up to 2 litres minimum or as many as 8 glasses of mineral water. Especially for Indonesian who lives in tropical side of the earth.

Not to forget that you have to ensure the quality of the water itself. Minerals like calcium, magnesium, natrium, flouride, silica, and zinc are a must to maintain body functions work well.

Sounds good? It’s not hard right? So start your healthy life today and have a glass of water, will you? Cheers!

The Top 40 (early years – 2010)

Hereby I present you my Top 40 F&B of 2010, some of them might dated from 2010 but hell, they’re just too good to be forgotten. I didn’t include the price since some of them might already updated without notifying me (what the..).  Also some of them might be too common as well, but people seek common things right? If it’s too exotic, they might not like it as much as I do. However, it’s a mix-it-all-up list that balances everything.

Feel free to come around to these joints and try ’em up. Disagreement is much respected but if you’re out of line, then you might as well get out from here.

Anyway, cheers! Oh ya, the list here is in random order by the way.

1. Baked Escargot Burgundy style (Java Bleu – Jalan Cikini Raya No. 15)

What’s better for an appetizer than a plat de escargot full of fresh snails covered with thick butter and herbs? The only one that can serve it decently and furiously appetizing is only Chef Antoine Audran from Java Bleu. He knows his way around Indonesia and with his rustic style and hearty dishes, he serves what’s best from French cuisine. Don’t stop at the appetizer, ravage the rest and you’ll know what I mean.

2. Sop Tahu (Mandala – Jalan Wolter Monginsidi No. 80)

For many decades the tofu soup from Mandala has ruled over many generations of Jakartans. It may sound simple but once you feel the delicious broth combined with many nutritional elements inside such as the tofu itself, silk gourds, and seafood or chicken, you’ll be instantly zapped to heaven. The broth itself is the essence of the dish, it’s the soul of the all the goodness you’ll feel.

3. Tenderloin Steak with Black Pepper Sauce (Gandy Steak – various locations)

Gandy may be old and dates back to the memory of my father where he remembers that Gandy serve decent steaks. Being curious, I found out at last that they do serve good old juicy beef steak with opulent black pepper sauce. Served wholeheartedly on a hotplate, the 250 grams of Tenderloin was a sight to see and a pleasure to be harnessed. Make sure you ask for more black pepper sauce because it won’t last long before you can even finish the good meat.

4. Seafood Platter (C’s Steak and Seafood – Grand Hyatt Jakarta)

It’s all-in-one test for Chef Christer Foldnes from Norway, a specialist of seafood and I was dumbstruck by his might and magic with this wonderful dish. Consisting of grilled fresh lobster, salmon, prawns, sausage, lamb chop, and steak, this dish can be the benchmark of every dishes C’s has to offer. The lobster was sweet, the prawns were perfect, the salmon was very fresh and impeccable, yet both the beef and lamb were tender and juicy. All grilled to perfection!

5. Pla Pad Pong Galee (Aro Aroy – MidPlaza I Building)

Thai food is not always about tom yam though we must admit that it’s usually related with sour and spicy theme. Aro Aroy comes gracefully to teach us how to enjoy sautéed seafood washed with thick curry and eggs. It’s a harmonious blend of savory seafood and the spiciness of the curry added with the capsicum and chili. Top it on a plate of warm, fluffy rice and you’ll feel the taste of Asia there.

6. Antoine Ego Galette (Kitchenette – Plaza Indonesia)

For those who got tired of sweet crepes, why not try on this delicious French galette? It was a savory dish many options for the fillings. The name of the dishes funnily derived from French male names such as Antoine or Arnaud. The one I had was a good composition of galette filled with turkey hams, mozzarella cheese, and mushroom caviar with truffle oil. It’s a well balanced dish, fulfilling, and tasty.

7. Snow Monster’s Crunchy Giant (Seroeni – Plaza Senayan)

Snow Monster is the new froyo fever. It’s not a yogurt at all but it’s a shaved ice fare, customized, and served on a crispy waffle with many kinds of variations. The one I had was this chocolatey, milky, and indulging shaved ice. It’s cheap and you can share your dessert with somebody else! Bring your family for a good Peranakan food here and close it with a fine shaved ice desserts to make it even a happier day for everybody.

8. Blue Cheese Royale Chili con Carne (Pizza e Birra – Plaza Indonesia Extension & Setiabudi One Building)

At first we thought that this place boasts only its pizza and beer but try instead the astonishing chili con carne for the appetizer first. It may be only French fries poured by the traditional chili, meat, and bean a la Mexicano but they magnify the scrumptious dish with blue cheese sauce as well and outranked even the pizza itself! Have a try!

9. Baklava with Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, and Strawberry (Bibliotheque – Sampoerna Strategic Square)

Dreaming of the stupendous richness and sweetness of Turkish baklava in Indonesia is now only a few minutes from reality. Bibliotheque serves homemade baklava combined with only vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries. Appears in simplicity but it does worth more than a usual cake for a dessert. The Turkish likes it sweet and we all do!

10. Wiener Melange (Kopitiam Oey – Jl. Sabang no. 19)

The classic Austrian dessert now proudly introduced by Bondan Winarno, the Indonesian culinary prodigy, at his café. A scoop of the good old vanilla ice cream dipped on a couple of shots of espresso. Feel the refreshing, sweet sensation that blends in with the bitterness of the coffee on a hot summer day.

11. Bestik Lidah Sapi (Miranda – Jl. Besuki no. 1A)

Tan Goei was the original name of this proud, old establishment. For many decades they’re successfully heralding the colonial dishes with the homemade classic gravy sauce undisputed for its authenticity and deliciousness. The bestik (you can say steak instead) is also available in beef, chicken, prawns and they also serve wiener schnitzel. But the one that rule them all was definitely this ox tongue. Tender, gamey, and juicy with fries, carrots, mushrooms, beans, and cauliflower will sure make your dinner a pleasant experience of nostalgia.

12. Unagi Yanagawa (Goemon – Wisma Kyoei Prince)

Unagi Yanagawa is a rare dish in many Japanese restaurants in Jakarta. The best one would be at Goemon. Not just that they serve it delectably, it’s also very affordable and abundant. When you drool every time you see an unagi sushi, instead you can have plenty of eels by choosing this dish. Heartwarmingly served as teishoku or set menu, the bowl filled with succulent eels are cooked with many vegetables and eggs, drenched in Japanese soy sauce where one would ask nothing else aside from this dish in a state of hunger on a cold night.

13. Takoyaki (Sakana – MidPlaza I Building)

Indonesians these days can’t get enough from Japanese snacks but where to find the decent takoyaki? The answer is indeed in Sakana. With only IDR 30,000 taste six huge balls of takoyaki filled with octopus and shrimps dipped with special sauce and mayonnaise. Served hot and appear alive with all the dancing of the seaweeds on top of them. Accompany your snack time with a cup of ocha and you are now in Japan overlooking the sakura trees blooming in springtime.

14. Teh Tarik (Meutia – Jl. Bendungan Hilir no. 36A)

As one of the famous Acehnese restaurants in Jakarta, Meutia may be promoting more from their Mie Aceh dishes but strangely enough the shining star actually came from the Teh Tarik beverage. It’s skillfully pulled between the tea and the milk, served cold, and added with cinnamon quill. It’s exotic, refreshing, and good!

15. Ayam Goreng Kremes (Ayam Gemes – Jl. Setia Budi I)

One of the first decent dishes I tried when I came to Jakarta a few years ago. The chicken may be small (ayam kampung) but it is of good quality. Spiced and fried, added with its soul mate, the kremes, and ready to be dipped with sambal and eaten with warm rice is indeed the best way to enjoy good Indonesian rustic dish.

16. Iga Sapi Bakar & Urutan (Warung Sapi Bali – Jl. Cibulan no. 17A)

People seem to be always amazed whenever they see the brutish portion of the ribs served in Warung Sapi Bali. Warung Sapi Bali is a virtuoso of in beef ribs. Not just tasty, it’s also spicy and comes with affordable price. The authentic urutan sausage was also created using 12 types of herbs which makes it delicious and hot. The beef rib fever proves to be far from abating and the only cure for it is only at this place.

17. Mozaru (Zenbu – Jl. Senopati no. 65 & Plaza Indonesia)

Mozaru is the house specialty! It’s a plate full of buttered rice with assorted toppings all cheesewashed with mozzarella and baked to perfection. You can pick from mushroom, chicken, beef, seafood, and the mix toppings or zenbu for this dish all available in three different sauces of tomato, butter, and homemade dynamite. Choose between butter rice or curry rice and add more cheese if you’re a maniac! Don’t be afraid to indulge yourself because Zenbu always give the calories meter on every dish so you can watch yours.

18. Bebek Goreng (Bebek Kaleyo – various locations)

Opens sharply at 11 AM to face the crowd who expect good lunch, Bebek Kaleyo offers a fast, flavorful fried ducks with rice. The fried duck is crispy, savory, and you have to make it complete with fried tempe or tahu. Try also the grilled ducks and bebek sambal hijau or fried ducks with green chili sauce. Dip them all in the tradition sambal and sweet soy bean. You’ll love it!

19. Soto Kudus Campur (Soto Kudus Kembang Joyo – Jl. Sabang no. 30)

Located strategically among the best place for backpacking and to find local food, this joint delivers a modest but delicious Soto Kudus. Served in small bowl, the soto or what Indonesian called as soup, is filled with rice, bean sprouts, fried garlic and shallots, and shredded chicken. The broth itself was very rich and that makes a soupy dish like this filled with energy. Accompanied by various satays of quail eggs and chicken livers and not to worry about the price, just have more and more because you can’t get enough from only a single bowl.

20. Sop Buntut (Bogor Cafe – Hotel Borobudur & Pacific Place Mall)

Hotel Borobudur has always been the pioneer of the best sop buntut (oxtail soup) in Jakarta and after decades of their success they finally open the legendary Bogor Café at Pacific Place Mall. Now everybody can have their favorite oxtail soup nearer than ever. It’s hearty, soupy, tender, succulent, and watch out for the size. Don’t get too ambitious because it’s a treat for the contentment of your heart and soul. Also available in grilled version.

21. Original Beef and Beef Teriyaki Rice Bowls (Yoshinoya – Grand Indonesia & Mall Kelapa Gading 3)

Japanese rice bowl dish now reigns over the hearts of modern Indonesian people nowadays. Yoshinoya strikes timely with its cheap with dishes that date back a century ago to satiate the appetite of many workers for their lunch and even for dinner. Add a clear soup or the original miso shiru to boost more energy. The difference here, queue first before you can feel the best of what a donburi has to offer.

22. Rare Cheese Cake (Bonjour French Pastry – Grand Indonesia)

Bonjour French Pastry was brought by a Japanese pastry chef who originally started the business back in USA. Pastry Chef Yuji Shiraki, acclaimed as the guy behind Victory Cake for LA Lakers and cabin desserts for JAL, finally opens his way to Indonesia. Introduce yourself with his one of the best, Rare Cheese Cake, for your afternoon tea. Smile because the cheese and the sweetness with the impeccable tenderness will guarantee your satisfaction.

23. Veneziano (Cork & Screw – Wisma Kodel & Plaza Indonesia)

Need someplace cool aside from your usual coffee shop? Need a change of view? Come to Cork & Screw for the scenery of and elegant wine & dine joint with a view directly to the heart of Jakarta, Bundaran HI. Choose Veneziano, a mixture of iced cappuccino with peach syrup, peaches, whipped cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Take a sip, converse with your partner, but beforehand, have a wonderful dinner first with your favorite wine there.

24. Kamameshi (Kado – Intercontinental Hotel)

Kamameshi has always been one of the most traditional Japanese dishes and nostalgic faces will soon be lit from any Japanese whenever you’re talking about it. It was an ancient dish, full of life, cooked on a hotpot full of rice and with various types of meat, seafood, and vegetables. Served on an iron pot, the dish will become very fragrant, inviting, and the slightly burned rice on the corners of the pot is everybody’s favorite part. Watch out for the serving time because it takes almost 30 minutes, so make sure you reserve first to avoid waiting with an empty stomach.

25. Manhattan Platter For Two (Manhattan Fish Market – Grand Indonesia)

For modern seafood lovers, try the huge portion of seafood platter here where you can feast upon the selection of fried dory or cod, fried oysters or mussels, fried calamari, and their trademark Flame Grilled Prawns with melted mozzarella cheese. All of them topped on a bed full of garlic rice and French fries added with fresh tomatoes and lemons. The enormous size of the dish will even satiate the most lustful eater.

26. Mie Jawa (Mbah Jingkrak – Jl. Setia Budi Tengah no. 11)

A nocturnal dish famous in Java! Whenever you’re looking for Javanese dishes hawkers or in this case, Mbah Jingkrak, Mie Jawa is indeed only available during night time. This particular noodle is cooked with eggs and vegetables and can be added with meatballs, chicken liver, or shredded chicken. Cooked traditionally on a coal instead of stove because they say it’s more delicious that way.

27. Dendeng Balado (Kembang Goela – Plaza Sentral)

Thinly sliced, fried to extreme crispiness, and spicy, Kembang Goela’s dendeng balado has become a legend. Prepared beautifully and served in a big bowl, make your family dining day out a feast and enjoy more of Indonesian premium dishes here.

28. Huzaren Sla (HEMA – various locations)

Richly dressed with Holland mayonnaise sauce, the sla or salad consists of eggs, potatoes, beans, pineapples, apples, and beets all diced. The fresh ingredients and the savory mayo tingles your taste buds and make you want more and more. Not to worry, HEMA has many delicious Dutch main courses to catch up with after you finish with the ultimate teaser.

29. Avocado Chocolate Cake (Hunnybear Cakery – Bukit Dago Cluster Ambassador Blok D7 no. 5)

Hunnybear Cakery now decently competes with many prominent bakeries and patisseries all over J-Town. Thanks to the wondrous two layers of chocolate sponge cake filled with a layer of avocado cream and another layer of chocolate cream and ganache. The avocado taste makes it very exotic and tempting. You won’t stop until somebody told you to. A sinful delight indeed!

30. Beef Rendang (Sederhana – various locations)

Sederhana is one of the leading Padangnese cuisine franchises all over Indonesia. The quality of each one of the dishes which served skillfully and all at once on the table are flawless, but certainly the heart of Padangnese cuisine should be at its Beef Rendang. This particular dish is known for the lengthy cook it needs to complete its darkish form but in the end you’ll taste a good, solid, and spicy meat best served with warm rice and other curryful Padangnese dishes.

31. Le Salade Caesar (Emilie – Jl. Senopati no. 39)

Chef Ivan Duchene introduces his three plats of lunch course with an extraordinarily big prawn salad and it was beautifully arranged. It was fresh and tempting. You will be most certainly got motivated for the next course. Emilie serves aristocratic modern and colorful dishes. Try the discovery course for your dinner. Make sure you taste everything Chef Duchene has to offer!

32. Ravioli with Tiger Prawn Sauce (Rosso – Shangri La Hotel)

Chef Alessandro Santi serves the pasta and delivers it to your table personally. Helming Rosso for already a few years now, he serves different pasta dishes and notably was this Ravioli with Tiger Prawn Sauce. Alongside his other delectable dishes Lasagna Bolognaise, Dover Sole Cannelloni, Saffron Fettuccine, Spaghetti Rustichella, Farfalle, Black Olives Gnocchi, or Sea Bass Agnolotti, feel the majestic fares on Rosso’s all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch! Satisfaction guaranteed!

33. Hakau Dim Sum (Oenpao – various locations)

Cheap and cheerful, Oenpao is the herald of dim sum and Hainam rice dishes as the theme. Available in many places, ready to be franchised, and proudly local, Oenpao is about to rule the class of affordable and quick Chinese food. Try the magnificent Hakau Dim Sum. Filled with shrimps and served in four inside the warm steamer basket. Dip it in the traditional chili sauce and let the good feeling run inside your veins.

34. Bebek Kurma (Seulawah – Jl. Bendungan Hilir)

Don’t let the appearance of the place and the dish fool you. Bebek Kurma may not seem that inviting. It’s basically a duck cooked in a thick potage made out of dates and herbs. Sounds good actually and all you have to do is tuck in and feel that the meat was really infused with all the goodness of the sauce. It’s tender, rich, and very succulent. It’s an Acehnese exotic that you really should try!

35. Nasi Bakmoy (Omah Sendok – Jl. Empu Sendok)

What about a bowl full of classic bakmoy and rice? Designed uniquely resembling a face on the bowl, bakmoy is a heartwarming dish originally from Java. Omah Sendok’s version of bakmoy was a triumphal one. It’s filled with small cubes of tofu, chicken, and egg with succulent chicken broth. A fare for good health and I was instantly recovered from my illness.

36. Hot Cappuccino (7 Eleven – various locations)

This may be corny comparing with the real coffee from specialized coffee shops but 7 Eleven version of cappuccino is the answer for a satisfying and affordable coffee. Customizable in size and free of charge if added with any syrups that you like, 7 Eleven’s cappuccino is served hot, steamy, sweet, and costs you only around IDR 10,000. It’s good-to-go coffee to wait for Jakarta’s traffic to abate or just face it with the good old hot cappuccino while you’re driving!

37. Ayam Goreng with Peanut Sauce (Ayam Goreng Bu Haji – Jl. Jatinegara)

Located strategically in front of Jatinegara Station in East Jakarta, Ayam Goreng Bu Haji has reigned over for Sundanese style fried chicken for many years now. The difference between the usual fried chicken however is the chicken itself, it’s not fried to maximum crispiness but a bit ‘drench’ somehow. Even so, it’s a very luscious one where you can feel the good, savory taste of the chicken. Served with peanut sambal instead of the usual sambal terasi and that adds the sweet flavor to your dish.

38. Sayur Asem (Sari Idaman – Jl. Cipinang Jaya)

This traditional Sundanese soup can be found literally everywhere these days but Sari Idaman surely serves one of the best. The fresh sweet and sour taste thanks to the tamarind-based soup added with many exotic vegetables such as peanuts, jackfruit, melinjo, long beans, and corns. Sayur Asem is usually served as a companion to boost your appetite when you’re having Sundanese dishes feast. Make it a must when you do that.

39. Curry Beef Pepper Rice with Cheese (Pepper Lunch – various locations)

The rice dishes at Pepper Lunch, a famous franchise from Japan, are actually a DIY fried rice but served on a sizzling magnetic hotplate and added with high quality beef from Aussie and NZ, Norwegian Salmon, chicken, or unagi. The most favorite one would be the curry beef pepper rice with cheese where they added the Japanese dried curry and will make everything turned brownish when you stir ‘em up with the cheese as well. Add the sweet or savory ketchup to your liking and max out the black pepper because you’re in Pepper Lunch.

40. Prawn Kung Pao (Chicken Master – Grand Indonesia)

Kung Pao dishes may be quite common in many Chinese restaurants but the one in Chicken Master was very delectable. First of all, choose your rice first, I’d recommend the Hainam rice because it suits well and delicious. Then top it with the Prawn Kung Pao. The already peeled prawns were stir fried together with the spicy Sichuan style condiments and ingredients and notably added with cashew nuts. Though the name indicates that they’re specializing in chicken, the chef who happens to come from Hong Kong can surely treat you well in any other dishes!

‘All About Belgian Chocolate’ Workshop with Le Chocolatier, Laurent Bernard

Emilie was designated as the host for bloggers workshop held by Prisma PR on August 4, 2010. The show ran by the chocolate/pastry expert Chef Laurent Bernard and he’s to show his might in creating the original Belgian chocolate and tell the audience everything about it. Why at Emilie? Because Emilie proved to be the best place for the workshop since it owns a special kitchen designed solely for cooking class on the 2nd at Le Bar.

Before that upon arrival at the scene, the bloggers were served with French dejeuner menu consisting of Le Caesar Salade, Le Poulet, and Le Profiteroles. Lovely designed dishes created by the prodigy Chef de Cuisine Ivan Duchene seemed to be more than enough introduction of Emilie’s presence within the small population of French bistro in Jakarta. In a separate post, I took the liberty to do a bit restaurant review on Emilie.

I also encountered several media people such as Mr. Burhan Abe, an editor-at-large with many years of experience in several big Indonesian media and Ms. Rahmayanti, an Indonesian traveling journalist based in Japan. This chance meeting proved to be a fruitful experience where Mr. Abe turns out to be an ex editor-in-chief of a certain food magazine Appetite Journey and currently a contributor for The Jakarta Post. He now owns a creative syndication site called Vox Populi. While Ms. Rahmayanti accompanied by her Canon Rebel camera, travels here and there between Indonesia and Japan sharing her life as an Indonesian who lives in a foreign country.

About the guest star, Chef Laurent Bernard hailed from France and after many years of experience being a pastry chef and chocolatier all over the world, he anchored in Singapore to establish The Chocolate Factory which he renamed into Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar. The very manifestation of his body and soul passion, in Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar he dedicates his two decades of immense expertise in chocolate to create delicious and delicate confectionaries.

The workshop started with the video presentation about the history of chocolate, how and who originally brought it to Europe, how nowadays chocolate brought from the plantations, and the basic processes before the final shipment to be created into the chocolate we know and consume nowadays. Afterwards, introductions made and now Indonesia ready to witness the skills of Mr. Bernard had inside his sleeves. He was at that time assisted by Karen Carlotta, an Indonesian rising star pastry chef stationed mainly in Singapore.

He began by explaining about tempering the chocolate. This is an exact procedure where a chocolatier should rise and lower the temperature of the melted chocolate in several phases. Mr. Bernard prefers to rise it first to 40 degrees Centigrade then lowers it to 28 degrees and finally to 31 degrees. Other chocolatiers may have their own preferences in temperature. That sounds simple but the procedure’s a bit complex than that and it is imperative to own a temperature measurer device in order to know exactly when to rise and to lower the melted chocolate. Rising the chocolate temperature would not be trivial but to lower it actually requires a certain low temperature room so that the chocolate will get cold ideally. Instead Mr. Bernard used the fridge to lower the temperature, but he didn’t recommend it at all saying that keeping it in a fridge can make the chocolate moist due to the matter of low humidity. Since it’s for quick class presentation sake, he had to do so.

Before Mr. Bernard successfully returning the chocolate to 31 degrees by pouring it over the marble table and mixing it, Ms. Carlotta quickly prepares the chocolate mold and Mr. Bernard pour the melted chocolate into it over several times. Solidifying it with the special hammer and finally using the fridge again to freeze the chocolate a bit. Afterwards Ms. Carlotta helps him to prepare the fillings for the chocolate.

Next, the chocolate which Mr. Bernard currently refrigerate will be filled with praline and ganache. Praline here is a filling made of mixture between chocolate, nut, and sometimes added dried fruits. While ganache is a mixture of chocolate and milk/cream. He can’t help but notice that people usually misinterpret the meaning of praline with any small chocolates other than chocolate bars they encounter. Praline is only a filling and doesn’t represent the whole chocolate. It’s just a flavor in a sense, it’s like your daily milk flavored with chocolate, strawberry, or mocha.

After reaching the desired temperature from the fridge, Mr. Bernard filled the chocolate with praline and then ganache in the next round. Then he showered again the gaps with the 31 degrees chocolate, hammered it to ensure the fullness, and then refrigerating it again. Seems quite difficult and it’s easier to just buy your usual box of chocolates at your favorite stores right? But if you know the whole process then we might appreciate a bit about the effort.

Later, using the rest of the unused chocolate, he also demonstrated of how to create a good ol’ hot chocolate. What made the hot chocolate interesting was that he had added a small scoop of vanilla ice cream into the base of the glass and after the glass filled, he topped it with a fresh cream and thin almonds.

The testing time has arrived at last! Each and every one of the bloggers expressed a joyful mirth when they savor Mr. Bernard’s creations. The chocolate was so fragrant and inviting. When you bite, it crumbles elegantly. Next all you gotta do is to experience the harmony between the filling and the chocolate. The praline chocolate was divine and tasty, not fully mild because you can feel the texture of the nuts there which was either hazelnuts or almond. Not to mention also the ganache. The proportional balance between the chocolate and milk created this perfect mildness and sweetness. Enjoy it with a glass of warm water and Mr. Bernard assured that every elements inside the chocolate will get rejuvenated somehow and you’ll feel the maximum taste of it.

This new concoction of hot chocolate was also interesting and taste really good. Sometimes you might get bored of your usual hot chocolate. Try to add the ice cream, topped it with whipped cream and almonds. Next, you’ll see the difference. I can safely say now that whenever you come to Singapore, don’t forget to visit Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar. Good job you did for us in Indonesia, Monsieur Bernard!

Now after he introduced and shared the beauty of Belgian chocolate, being the country that produced finest chocolates in the world, to Indonesia. Whether one day he wish to also compete in growing local chocolatier industry or not. The idea about opening one here will be most anticipated by any bubbling foodie and chocolate lovers in Indonesia. I love chocolate, do you?