Cool your self from the sunny Medan with old school home made ice cream

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Yes, I agree with you that Medan sometimes can be super sunny even for equator-born gal like me. I often seek for small restos or tents that offers not only cool remedy for my sweaty body but also some history for my mind.

One of my aunt’s favorite is Ria ice cream at Surabaya street, Medan.

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Watch carefully for this non-challant sign. Psst, I always missed it and make our driver took another turn. it happened every time.

You must look carefully for not so obvious sign board at noon. The sate padang and martabak carts displaying their food in front weren’t helping the store to be easier to find either. That’s how old school they are. My mother in law and my aunt said that the store had been around since their teenagers. Wow, that’s like 25-30 years ago!

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My aunt’s fave combo; choc-orange with lychee.

The selection of ice cream flavours really describe their glorious history at the 70’s and 80’s. Sweet corn, oranges, very light chocolate flavor (back then, chocolate and milk were expensive), light strawberry and durian. They also mix the ice cream with fresh or canned fruits, like lychee, palm fruits, papayas. My mom’s favourite is the ice cream soda, with plain soda water and sliced fruits. Oh so vintage but yet so appropriate with the Medan vibe and repelled the heat effectively. We don’t want heavy milky ice cream on a very hot and humid day, we just want cold freshness that light and easy breezy like the long waited wind on summer days.

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My 1st try was the sweet corn and kopyor (or young coconut) with palm fruits condiment

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Hmm mommy with her ice cream soda, but her eyes wandering to the martabak vendors at front. They also great, but I recommend to eat separately from the ice cream to be able to appreciate each dish better. PS: I eventually bought her one portion of martabak (savoury pancake made from plenty of eggs, mince meats and green onions) to go for her late snack at the hotel.

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My pick on Indonesian perfect summer treats

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Never get bored with this fruit! Palm fruit or what we usually called “Siwalan” fruit. The flesh are similar with young coconut and each one of them is pocket of coconut water-like liquid. It’s gummy, chewy, jelly-like and refreshing. Best served after chilled in refrigerator.

Jambu air Cincalo

Rose apples are cute, with their pink pouty lips. This fruit is my childhood remedy for summer heat. My neighbor had the tree and the apples are all over the place. We called them “Jambu Cincalo”, usually eat them directly or with peanut based sambal.

Jus daun Pandan

Don’t worry, the green liquid is not contain biohazards. In fact, it’s the most organic juice as organic as it can be. It was a Pandanus leaf’s juice. My mom has a lot of Pandanus leaf’s  bushes. Often she picked a lot and make all sort of food and beverages out of it. It’s grassy, in the good way, and had lovely fragrant that’s were all natural. I used to drink this syrup with a bunch of ice cubes, so its frozen cold, under the mid day sun. Did you just salivating…?

Putu Mayang (polos dan bermahkota)

Yes, this cake also made with Pandan leaf juices. When I crave on cupcake, It’s seem too much If I looked for the usual one. To much cream, to heavy and just too sweet for hot summer day. Indonesian version of cupcake is called “Putu Ayu”. It’s very light, between sweet and savory. Specially when you bite the the fresh coconut shredded’s ‘crown’ , just Yummy.

What’s you favorite treat on summery day?

Look what I found! Japanese summer snacks (2)

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I found the sweet ones on the same shops. A rather large shops (compare to the others) at Ameyoko market. One thing I could say about this shop, it’s adorable but quite busy. I don’t catch the name, but it near the cherry vendors. The front part of the store are piles of crunchy snacks, followed with spreads of sweet treats. All kind of mochi cakes; in square, round, rectangle, character shaped; translucent or colorful type; regular red bean paste filling or chocolate, almond, strawberry, pineapple and a whole lot more. The spongy cakey snack like Kastella, Dorayaki and others with red bean paste fillings. The assorted packed, contain the salty crackers and sweet treats. The next shelf is my target, all things chocolate.

They have so many varieties of chocolates truffles with different fillings in different brands. I’ve tried some of them at my previous visit, quite soapy and not very good. I’m sticking to my plan, buying as much as Kit Kat in different flavor I could find. Unfortunately, there were only two flavors available: Green tea and Dark Chocolate. I grab a bunch of those  and put it to my cart. Since then, every time I can find snack shops or Konbini, I always look for different Kit Kat flavor. Unfortunately, can’t find the summer special flavor or package yet.

Ooops, I forgot. I found a few of funky flavor at one of the corner of the Tokyo central stations. It’s a Cantaloupe,  chocolate orange dan strawberry. But the price they tagged on it, Oh my God! unreasonable. The smaller package size with the one I bought from Ameyoko for 215 Yen, they charged 800 – 1200 Yen. I think, for a tiny chocolate wafer with uncommon flavor, It’s not worth the money.

Moons stone on ceramic jewel box

Moons stone on ceramic jewel box

I’ve seen this at Singapore before. Looked a colorful tiny bevel for aquarium, they called it Moon stones. It really is a milk chocolate in candied colorful shell, carved like stones. It quite tasty and cheap too, I bought it in a huge plastic package to share with my niece and nephew back home. By the way, the ceramic case is actually a jewel box given by  a friend of a friend as memento from Japan.

There are a whole lot more snacks, food and spices at stores and stall in Ameyoko market. If I could, I want to bring a sample of every one of them, but that will cross my budget limit. At least I have my personal mementos from Japan, salty and sweet eatable nick nacks.

What’s your most interesting food/beverages mementos from traveling?

Look what I found! Summer snacks Japanese style

mini crab crunchies
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Okay, maybe not all of the items below considered  to be summer snacks. We can find it all year around but, since it seem so cheerful I find it appropriate for summer too. Although, some of them maybe not quite pleasing for the eye for most people, I can guarantee they all taste good.

So, I’m strolling the alleys at Ameyoko market, Ueno, Tokyo. The day was still early, around 11 am. I was thirsty after circling the whole Ueno park since morning. I want to find cool beverages, other than the vending machine. Suddenly, my eyes caught these small charming tea store. They specialized in high quality green tea, that will cost you thousands Yen for a can of tea. No, I don’t want to spend so much money for tea. I’m interested in the sign that said “Matcha ice cream, 300 Yen”.

“Wooohooooo!” I said to my self. I’m thirsty, and a bit hungry too. Sampling traditional ice cream will be suitable. The traditional part was tagged by the merchant. He said that he used traditional Matcha to make his own ice cream. 300 Yen for a cone of ice cream was not cheap, but when I tasted it I forgot about the money. The matcha flavor were so bold, almost bitter. Not too sweet like regular green tea ice cream you can find at Konbini.

I’m sorry I don’t have the picture, since I was so busy indulge in the cold smooth and creamy green velvet. The sun began to shine in full power, so it’s quite hot outside. The ice cream soften fast, I had to finish it before melting. Oh, if you don’t trust me, I get the stare of several teenagers in school uniforms. I think they were sent by their school to have some kind of field study to the market? I don’t know. They giggled behind me, I don’t even aware of them before my ice cream gone. When I look up at them, with green milk mustache, they give me a thumbs up then giggled more.

I’m chilled and sugary happy, then continue strolling the market. I saw two large merchants selling all kind of snacks and sweets and more. I remembered that one of my friend asking for Kit Kat green tea, that quite difficult to find in Indonesia. Before I can go to the chocolaty shelf, my eyes widen seeing the pile after pile of snacks. They had the crunchy crackery ones, the soft and cakey, the gooey-doughey like mochi and others, they also had plastics of squid or octopus tentacles, all kind of nuts and grains, et cetera. Unfortunately, the employee caught me when I want to take pictures, and he said no. When a Japanese said no to me, I must obey them. Finally, I found the green tea Kit Kat and also the dark chocolate ones. My curiosity make me bought some other bits too. You can find it below.

Coming out from that store I smell the freshly grilled octopus ball or takoyaki. Oooh I’m hungry again.  Only 200 Yen, I got 4 octopus balls and self served toppings like mayonnaise, sliced green onions, katsuoboshi or bonito flakes. I sat there, in open table, in the middle of the market. To my left cherry stalls were crowded with customer bargaining the fresh cherries, to my right the cook busy preparing something steamy for other customer. Just in front of me, there were dried fish vendor, shouting their goods to attract buyers. A little further to the left, after the cherries, I can see a man standing on top of what looks like a garbage bins. He stood high and taller from everybody, shouting about his goods in Japanese.

Finishing the last bit of hot gooey ball, I’m checking the spiced merchant. Unfortunately, he couldn’t speak English at all. So I only bought some sprinkles that obvious enough what it was for me.

mini crab crunchies

mini crab crunchies

I found these crunchy seafood snack, made from original soft-shell crab and assorted of anchovies. They taste funky, in the good way though, it sweet and salty.  But it didn’t quite suitable for teve snacks, because they are a bit sticky and too savory. I guess, and tried, that these umami loaded crackers are good to add flavor to my oatmeal or plain rice porridge. They even suitable as filling for rice cakes or onigiri.

Jazzin up my oatmeal

Jazzin up my oatmeal

The next one is pickled octopus. The Japanese, Korean and Chinese are great in preserving their molluscan to be ready to serve delicacy. There were a whole range of  variety of dried and pickled octopus and squids. The dried strips; with or without spice. The fully form squid or octopus legs, the shredded jerky and even powdered.

I like eating them just as it is. The thin coin ones are great for teve snacks, only if you eat it with fork or chop sticks. We don’t want our fingers to smell fishy all night, right? It has natural umami flavor of seafood, with a touch of sweetness and a punch of sourness. I also combine them with my fresh salads; with cucumber, tomatoes and parsley or coriander leaves. Add a drop of sambal or hot sauce, it’s a refreshing nibble.

pickled octopus coins

pickled octopus coins

The other ones looked a lot scary. My husband didn’t even want to look at it. I know it may look un appealing, but I see them beautiful like butterflies.

pickled headless baby octopus

pickled headless baby octopus

The red marinade gave more pungent flavor than the coin ones. It has strong fishy and sour smell. The texture also more chewy and a little hard to swallow. Maybe I should grilled or boiled them, I don’t really know. I use them in my salads or fried rice, with a lot of chillies.

Salty and spicy sprinkles

Salty and spicy sprinkles

The next one are sprinklers!

Not the ordinary donut or cupcake sprinklers, it is the salty and spicy ones. They have a bunch at the store, I’m picking out the ones I’m certain what’s in it. I’m getting the mixed chilli and katsuoboshi sprinklers; katsuoboshi and nori; dried fish and vegetable; dried beef and vegetable; also the black sesame seeds. Again, I’m using them to pimped my plain oatmeal. Now, we have colorful and tasteful breakfast on oatmeal day. By the way, I finally conclude, the sprinklers must be some kind of flavor enhancement. Hmm, I don’t know.

No worries my friend, I’m consulting about this with a veteran Japanese food blogger, Ms. Makiko Itoh at Justhungry.com. When I get her replied, I’m updating this post.

Done with the savory, jump into the sweet findings next.

Damn, I miss the spring and can’t meet the summer!

Last chance blossom
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Have you ever have had a vacation in the middle of two season?

You must know what I’m talking about. Its the end of Spring, where all the flowers tired to bloom and already start to wrinkled hanging on a thread before fall to the ground. The temperature isn’t rising yet, so there are still coolness. But the rain and wind also accompany them.

Last tree with cherry blossom @Tsuruma Park

Last tree with cherry blossom @Tsuruma Park

Specially when your destination is Japan. A favorite place for all kind of storm; typhoon, cyclone, etc. Rain drops playing your mind everyday: “Maybe just quick sprinkle this morning”, “Oh it’ll rain heavily all day!”, “Probably there will be huge storm and earthquake tonight”. Those lines are something you don’t want to hear on your vacation week. Even though you are getting transportation and accommodation at the lowest fare you could imagine. Apparently, money speaks with mother nature about this.

Foggy day at Kanayama

Foggy day at Kanayama, I’m hiding at my Hotel

If you are looking for the regular touristy experience, June will be the wrong time to come to Japan. It’s all the above situation happen, adding extra mental burden and anxiety. But, if you are looking for holiday in  bargain, then this is the perfect time. Don’t forget to bring umbrella, raincoat and extra socks. Oh and a huge pile of good mood too. So you can still smile under your umbrella during heavy rain when you visit the theme parks.

Although June is supposed to be the early phase of Summer, but the holiday isn’t started yet for Japanese. If you like to dressed up in “holiday outfit” like me, then you’ll see the difference with everybody else in the subway. Yeah, they all still wearing suit and formal shoes. The women still keeping their bamboo woven bags in the closet. Stockings and leggings are applied with shorts or skirts. Mean while yours truly, only bring all summery outfit. Sheer and cool shirts, summer skirts, shorts (with no legging) and absolutely no jacket. You can imagine how I feel in the middle of extra breezy day.

Rainy afternoon by Sumida River

Rainy afternoon by Sumida River

That doesn’t mean you can’t having fun or enjoying the vacation. Because everybody else still working, you won’t get long line of queue in tourist destination. There are lower price everywhere, additional bargain on weekdays. Museums, theme parks, certain trains and busses, hotels, traditional markets, arts and crafts, everywhere. Street food to gourmet food, still at “before holiday” price. You can also see the hustle and bustle pre-summer excitement. Advertisement for summery products; from clothing line to beauty products, vitamins even teas. It’s all fun to watch.

Left over from last night storm under cleanse blue sky, the holiday must go on!

A pile of wrecked umbrellas, left over from last night’s storm under cleanse blue sky. But, the holiday must go on!

Although I won’t lie that I feel a bit sad when my holiday over, I have to come home when everybody else just about to start the cheerful summery holiday.

Last chance blossom

Last chance blossom, traces of Spring