Solomon’s Pineapple: A sweet and refreshing treat

Week 5 in Honiara and we’re still living by the suitcases in nice hotel. So glad that we finally move to small apartment which had small kitchen (with basic and small cooking utensil) because at least I can cook and start do some experiment in my laboratory 🙂 yay!!!

But today, what I am going to share is no need to cook. Today is about my favorite tropical fruit; the Pineapple. Oh my… I can not stop munching fresh slicing of yellow pineapple. It’s so goog, sweet and sour, so refreshing especially if you put in the fridge first a while before you eat it. What better than fresh cold fruit in the hot day?

 

 

Pineapple is considering always available all year long (In tropical Island like here in Solomons, there are only two seasons; dry and rainy season) The main pineapple season is between January to June and also on September to December, with the peak harvest on October – December. Most of pinepple in Honiara comes from Malaita Province – the north east of Guadalcanal Island where Honiara the capital city is located. Malaita Province can produce up to 400,000 fruits per year. Beside for lical consumption, Malaita shipped the pineapples to Honiara and also export it to Australia. I learn there was a plan to build a juice factory in Auki – provincial city in Malaita – as well as factory of pineapple jam in Honiara but no sure the progress though.

Too good not to buy :)

If you go to Honiara Central Market’ you’ll see lots of pineapples with different varieties, colors, sizes and prices. The pineapples are sold avcording to its size, normally around 10 – 25SBD (Solomon Dollar with 1USD =7.2 SBD). According to the vendors the price in Auki Market in Malaita province is 2-10 SBD only :).

Though Solomons have abundant of pineapple, from what I observed, cut and slice is the only way how locals enjoy the pineapple. In some cafes managed and or often visited by expat, they served some fruits salad and juice / smoothy with pineapple as one its ingredients. But i never saw cake or food( dish) with pineapple here 🙂

There are lots of theories on how to pick a good pineapple, but for me it’s easy. Choose a pineapple with yellow skin, sweet smeel at the end of stem, no bruises, free of soft spot and quite heavy for its size (meaning the fruit is juicy). After i bought a pineapple, I usually store it for 1-2 days on room temperature, to make it softer and juicer. The larger size of pineapple, the more flesh you can eat, so make sure you buy the big one as yo need a little effort to cut and peel the pineapple :). Here the link how to cut the pineapple
Pineapple that has been cut and peel up should be put on the airtightcontainer and stored in the fridge. It will stay fresh for 2-3 days. If eating pineapple hurt you tounge, please spinkle the pineapple with salt soon after you peel it, leave it for few second then rinse with drinking water. It will take away the accic twang.

These are some ways my family and I enjoy the pineapple
Simply cut and slice, put make sure you put on the fridge first a while before you eat. It will make a big different.
Sprinkle the pineapple slices with cayenne or chili powder. This is how indonesian enjoy the pineapple, we called it “Rujak”
Fruits salad, anykind of fruit you have, add with honey or yougurt
Juice and smoothie
Pineapple + watermelon + lime
Pineapple + banana + papaya + cinnamon
Pineapple + bok choy / other green leaves such as kalee, spinach, ect
Pineapple on sweet and sour fish/chicken
Pineapple pickles or “asinan nanas”
Pineapple tart or “nastar” ohh i can not wat to make and eat this sinful sweet treat again 🙂

Next week I’ll share the recipes of pineapple tart, but for now, please try one of my favorite Juice; pineapple with bok choy. It’s very easy 🙂 but very nice and refreshing 🙂

One cup bok choy, 3 cups pineapple, 2-3 tablespoon sugar or honey (I didn’t use it since my pineapple is sweet enough) and 2 cups cold water 

How to : Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. That’s it and ready to enjoy!! ( for 4 -5 cups)

 

 

Ready to eat a lot in Honiara? Go to The Capitana Restaurant

After almost a month staying in the Mendana hotel, last week we decided having a buffet dinner in the Capitana Restaurant located in the hotel. The Buffet is served every wednesday night and from my observation, it’s always packed and fully booked, not only by the hotel’s guests but also group of office/company dinner as well as family (with kids). Hmmm… That’s why reservation is recomended, as I saw some customers dissapointed as no more seats available.

A table reserved for us

The food selection was awesome. For appetizers they served three to five kinds of salads, Asian finger foods (spring rolls, samosa, meat skewer, etc), western bites (sausage rolls, baked macaroni, ect) and also some seafood such as clams, shrimp, fried calamari. Soup is also provided, on that day they served very nice pumpkin soup. We liked it.

Still on the Japanese food section there was tempura station which only served fried shrimp, taro and sweet potato :). Smokes from the boiled stock for udon soup will invite you to taste a bowl :).

In the barbeque section, there were roasted/grilled pork and chicken. Both were nice but not special I must say. They also had fishes, but I was not so sure wether it was grilled as it looked like a steamed fish for me.

 

Still on the main courses section, there were a display of chaffing dishes full of rice, meat stewed, ribs, curry, and there were 2-3 more dishes that I did not remember.
Rather than picking these selections, I was I more interested to sample the local food. They served taro, sweet potato, green cabbage in coconut milk with mussels and chicken with vegetables also with coconut milk. The taste was good, the chicken and vegetables was very soft, rich in coconut milk but less spices to me.

In the dessert section, they served slices tropical fruit (pineapple, watermelon, etc) and two or three kinds of sweets such as brownies, cheese cake and banana cake. In a separate table there were coffee and tea. Juice, beer and others soft drink you can order in the bar during the dinner.

Since the options were many, I only took very small amount each, mostly only one or two bites or one small scoop. I just wanted to sample lots of food because “yummy” food is very limited in Honiara:(. So.. I have to say the food selection is very good. The taste is average, but not special. The price is expensive ( afforable only for expat living in Honiara or company dinner) but considering the selections of food the option and the quantity of it the price seems still reasonable.

The other things I want to share is the cleanliness that may needs some improvment. The restaurant perhaps needs a bigger spaces both for the table (too small table for 4 seats) and for the isle so that there is more space for food queuing.
Another highlight is the live cultural entertaiment, very good especially for tourists or newbie in Solomons like us.

So my last conclusion is; this buffet is just average but not bad. If you living in Honiara, it is worth to have this buffet dinner for your special occation or to entertaint your quest, family or even yourself :).

Remember, every Wednesday night, as you will see the advertisement in a news paper.

Honiara Central Market, a central business for local products

Welcome to a crowded market. But it's fun!!! :)

Welcome to a crowded market. But it’s fun!!! 🙂

Are you looking for local grown and fresh product?  You should go to Honiara Central Market.  Here some tips for you :

  1. Bring your small cash/money, it makes it easier to buy/shop. Some of the vendors don’t have change and if they have, the notes are usually very dirty :).
  2. Don’t bargain. It’s not common for Solomon islander.
  3. Bring your own bag or basket. Most of the vendor don’t provide plastic bag. So rather than buying 1 SBD for 1 piece of plastic bag, better to bring your own, it will save the environment as well as your small money 🙂
  4. Somehow products sold on the ground (not on the table) is cheaper, especially fruits. With the same price you can get bigger size or larger amount.
  5. Relatively safe, but precaution with pick pocketing
  6. If you want to buy lots of fishes, you better come around 1- 4 pm, because the fresh fishes are just arrived.
  7. After shopping you may need a fresh shower afterwards 🙂

IMG_1022

Honiara Central Market is open Monday – Saturday from morning to 6 pm, Sunday is closed but there still some traders outside the market.

And now, enjoy the pics and let them  talk for themselves 🙂

The main gate which usually blocked by public transportation

The main gate which usually blocked by public transportation

Raw peanut for snack ?I

Raw peanut for snack ?I

Watermelon price may vary from 5 - 120 SBD depend on the size of the fruit

Watermelon price may vary from 5 – 120 SBD depend on the size of the fruit

IMG_0973

The sweet pineapple from Malaita province

The sweet pineapple from Malaita province

Too good not to buy :)

Too good not to buy 🙂

IMG_0971

IMG_0977

IMG_0942

IMG_1025

IMG_0968IMG_0972IMG_0966

IMG_1012

IMG_1013IMG_1024

IMG_1014

Oops!!!  where is the betel nut vendor ?!

The Breakwater Café

IMG_0961

Our favorite !! Spinach with Feta Cheese pie, smoked chicken with mayo roll 🙂

If you live in the small city like Honiara, Solomon Island, you don’t have many options for hangout or eating out.  For me, within a week since I arrived in Honiara, I had identified all popular (or recommended) cafes and restaurants, and visit more than half of them :), yes, half of them, since there are only less than 20 cafes and restaurants available here and most restaurants are attached with the hotels.

photo 1 (7)From all the cafes and restaurants that my family and I have visited (so far) we like “The Breakwater Café” the most, though we believe that other cafe/restaurant will also have recommended specialty which is not available in Breakwater. But for me, Breakwater is still the winner in term of taste (of western food), the atmosphere, décor, and also for the cleanness and service.

photo (14)The Breakwater café faces the sea, which is very attractive for costumers especially for tourist.  Even my family and I never bored to enjoy this view. If eating outdoor make you sweating and can’t enjoy the food, – the daily temperature is 30 degrees Celsius in average – you better sit inside the café, but don’t worry you still can enjoy the sea view with  the coolness of A/C, especially if you sit on the high bar stools. That’s one of my daughter favorite site to sit J. The café’s décor is modern but the touch of tropical theme is felt through the design of wood chairs and tables

Though it’s pricey, but the taste is good, meaning is pretty tasty and suitable to “western” palate – the term that I used for Asian and non local people. Somehow, it feels that you are not eating in Honiara :). That’s why this café is always full of foreigners (tourists and expats).

If you’re tourist who stay in Honiara for short term only, you will have enough options for breakfast and lunch, but if you live in Honiara like me, within 2 weeks, you will memorize all the menu on the top of my head or even you may had tried all the meals they serve :).

photo 3 (5)

Here are some of my family’s favorites;  Spinach and Feta Cheese Pie. It’s score!! You cannot find this kind of pie except at this café.  They also have some variation such as; bacon and egg pie, shepherd pie, chicken pie and some more.  Also try the roasted chicken with mayo baguette or roasted beef with bit and pickle baguette.  Sometimes you can buy their baguette/roll if you want to make your own sandwich at home, but it’s not always available.

photo 5The Savory Muffin is also delicious but it will make you stuffed.  I was never able finish it by myself, so I always share it with my husbandJ.  It was very good way to leverage the uses of local ingredient – sweet potato mixed with bacon, cheddar and onion (sweet potato is one of food staple in Solomon Islands).

Beside pies, baguettes/rolls and muffin they also bake croissants, even though the variations only limited to plain/butter croissant and Chocolate Danish.  For sweets, they have cakes (usually one or two cakes per day), doughnut, éclairs, brownies and also 3-4 kinds of biscuit including Anzac biscuit.

Coffee, tea, chocolate drink, smoothie, juice and fruits salad from fresh local fruit are always available at anytime from breakfast till lunch time and afternoon coffee.

photo 2 (8)

IMG_0963

photo 4 (4)

This café is always busy on breakfast and lunch time moreover on the weekend. But don’t worry; their well trained staff will serve you quick and always smile.

The Breakwater Café, Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Mendana Avenue (walking distance from Heritage Hotel, Mendana Hotel and King Solomon Hotel).

Monday – Friday  : 07.00  am –  04.00 pm

Saturday –  Sunday :  07.30 am – 04.00 pm

Greetings from Honiara!

It’s been ages I am not updating the blog. In mid July, we’re flied back home to Indonesia for 6 week holiday and when we came back to Nicosia, we prepared our relocation to Honiara, the Solomon Islands. Yes, as you can expect there were a long list to prepare if you’re moving overseas. We had also some farewell gatherings with friends from church, Janes’ office as well as at Orry’s classmates at the American Academy.  Surely it was a mixed feelings – on one hand, it was sad leaving Cyprus with it’s beautiful nature, beach, our lovely home, good friends, beautiful parks and playgrounds, clear air and many more. On the other hand, we felt also excited to embrace a new adventure in a completely different culture at one of the world’s ends :).

photo 2 (5)

Arrived safely after 36 hours flight from Cyprus

Arrived safely after 36 hours flight from Cyprus

And here we are, starting our new adventure in the Happy Isle, Solomon Island, a very beautiful island surrounding by The Pacific Ocean, a paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving, but at the same time, a very expensive city to live in :(. We arrived on 29 Sept, greeted by flowers and coconut drink, a very fresh treat on the hot and sticky weather, especially after more than 36 hours flight from Cyprus (with 10 hour stop-over in Dubai and 3.5 hour in Brisbane).

And now, we are, still staying in a very nice hotel with a beautiful sea view as our temporary accommodation before finding a permanent one. Everything almost back to normal life, meaning; Janes is back to work, Orry is back to school, and myself?  I am busy exploring Honiara – walking around the city, identifying how to get this and that, where to buy this and that, especially if I want continue to do an Asian home-cook catering just like what I did in Nicosia. It seems like we will stay in this hotel a bit longer and by end of next week to move to an apartment. It is because the house that we want to rent is still being renovated.  It may be finished till mid of December, but we think that would be a perfect time as our shipment stuff from Nicosia will be also arrived.

Orry's school : Woodford Intl

Orry’s school : Woodford Intl

Janes's office : World Vision Solomon Islands

Janes’s office : World Vision Solomon Islands

So goodbye Cyprus, welcome Solomon Islands!  Good bye goat cheese and olives, welcome coconut and fish :).

I hope I would be able to post more regularly on this blog because internet connection here is not reliable . So Wish me luck  my friends.

Let’s beat the heat with watermelon treat.

What you can say about the weather in Cyprus during Summer ? It’s hot! Very hot!! Extremely hot!!! The real summer start on June, when people start to wear short, tank top and sandal or slipper. People also start to use air conditioner in the afternoon since the temperature is about 28  – 30 C (Celsius) in average. On July and August is even worst, the temperature could reach 35 – 42 C, even on the 4th week of last June, it’s 44 C in Nicosia, ooohhh… we’re melting here :(.

There are many ways to cool yourself down on hot summer day; drinking lots of water, swimming, going to the beach, etc, even some food are made to help you feel fresh and cool. Today I will share some recipes of watermelon, the king of summer fruit. We often made those during summer, because it’s very refreshing. Yes, what better than cold watermelon in the hot summer day? It’s juicy, sweet, fresh and also nutritious.

Watermelon at market

Many people think watermelon is simply water and sugar, but the fact is that watermelon contains more Lycopene than other fruit and vegetable. This powerful antioxidant helps fight heart disease and reduces cancer risk. Watermelon is also excellent source for vitamin A, C, B6 and Potasium. Continue reading

Sweet cherry season is here !

Apples, oranges, bananas, and some other fruits never disappear in the market, you will easily find them all year round.  But that’s not applied for cherries, they only available in limited time and the peak season of cherries is in summer.

in chopping board

Even though in season, cherries are still relatively pricey. Here in Nicosia, the price is around € 4-8 per kg, depending on its quality.

cherries in boxes

How to pick the fresh cherry ? 

Glossy, no blemish, depth/dark color with bright green stem, but a lack of stem doesn’t necessary means that cherry in low quality.

How to store

Fridge your cherry as soon as possible. You can keep it fresh for 3-5 days. Avoid washing prior to storage because the water will be absorbed by the stems which lead to splits or spoilage. Place cherries in the plastic bag or covered container and if possible divide into smaller bag/container to prevent from bruising. Many people froze their cherries but I never had experience on that :).

There are many ways to enjoy cherry, but for me nothing better than eating fresh sweet cherry . My favorite is eating directly as a snack, but sometimes I put it on salad.  Below is my favorite cherry salad with spinach and feta cheese. It is simple, very easy but hhmmm … so refreshing. it’s sweet and sour from the cherries  and balsamic vinegar, mixed with crunchy spinach and a little bit saltiness from feta cheese, perfectly blended in your mouth.

Cherry with spinach and feta cheese salad. ( for 1-2 portion)

salad 2

1 cup of cherry, pitted and cut half

1- 2 cup of spinach (or you can use lettuce, romaine or any green leaves that you have)

1-2 tablespoon of feta cheese (or goat cheese) crumbled

For dressing

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey, I tablespoon of lemon and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

saladHow to : Place the green salad on a plate/bowl, pit and cut half the cherries, top with cheese and drizzle with dressing.

Yes, I know, I know, it’s a little bit tricky to pit the cherries without  tools. But I found the easy and fun way to do it here. If It  works for me so it might work for you.

Since pitting the cherries is easy, fast, and fun, how about make it some cherries Jam ?just boiled some cherries with sugar and little bit water. What better than fresh homemade cherry jam?  Yes, My family love it. Waffle with cherry jam and melting dark chocolate? Who can resist ??!!

IMG_1748