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NESO San Jose Indonesian Bazaar/Food Festival Report

Nathan P. | Jun 14, 2004 12:32 AM

I spent a very enjoyable couple hours at the Netherlands Society Organization's Indonesian art and crafts festival in San Jose today. Before I mention the food a HUUUUUGE thanks to Han Lukito for posting on this event!

Most of the attendees seemed to be part of the NESO organization but the food vendors and crowd were very friendly and happy to discuss the food with those less familiar with the cuisine. Vendors were happy to tell you the components of a dish and the crowd at the picnic tables were happy to fill in any details you may have missed while you were eating.

Everything I ate was at least very good and the only drawback is that (in my western opinion) a few of the items whould have been even better if served hotter.
So with a bit of shame for the gluttony of it all I ate the following:

Rendang: two versions both with very tender braised beef, complex spicing and a nice coconut richness that I assumed came from the kerisik? Both were in the fairly mild heat area and one of the vendors mentioned that these were 'americanized' as we could not handle it if they made it like they do in Indonesia.

From the ~2nd booth or so I tried a rissole and a lemper which were fantastic. These were greatly aided by a homemade sambal that was not as hot as the commercial versions I have tried and let the chile flavors shine through.

With one of the rendangs I ordered a combo plate which also included a slightly sweet noodle dish and a nutty (perhaps peanut or sesame) vegetable dish.

From a fairly quiet booth on the left hand side I had a (perhaps a lemper from previous posts on this event) bundle of sticky rice wrapped in bannana leaves and stuffed with spiced ground meat. This was one of my favorite dishes and was greatly helped by a bit of left over sambal from a different booth.

Pastel Goreng- a sort of fried crescent shaped dough (sort of eggroll-ish) filled with some sort of bean thread noodles and vegetables and a fried shrimp cake thing whose name I can't recall. Both were excellent and from the vendor that Han linked to and also had my favorite rendang. I also tried one of their (I assume) glutinous rice desserts.

Pepes udang (I think from previous reports)- a very fragrant and fairly spicy dish of shrimp roasted in banana leaves. I really liked the flavors of this dish but found the texture of the shrimp a bit odd. I suspect that this is the result of a fairly long cooking time.

I also stole a few bites from dining companions including other risolles, egg rolls?, and a very cool dish that was a meal wrapped in banana leaves with a layer of rice and another layer of a curryish (is that a word) blend of meat, vegetables, egg etc..
Everthing was very good and certainly represented everything that can be good about home-cooking.

And on the what did I buy front?!?!?!: Impressed by some great sambals served at many booths, one of my dining companions purchased a tub of what was described as a chile sauce. Unlike the other sambals which were basicly pureed chiles this one is medium brown and sludgy. It is chunky with big pieces of fairly large green chiles and lime leafs? It is very hot (buy my standards) and we all agree that it has a sort of fish sauce funkiness to it. I hope somone with a real knowledge of Indonesian food can give me a name for this condiment and some traditional uses.

I hope some other hounds made this very chow-worthy sout bay event.

Nathan P.

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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