Well, it was also hot in addition to delicious. Hi! It’s Sami again, filling in while Yasmina is convalescing from her surgery last week and is on non-blogging mode.
The three of us (Angki, Sami and Ata) spent the long Easter weekend in the West Javan city of Cirebon, a seaside town on the northern coast of Java, on the border of West Java and Central Java, about 300 kilometres east of Jakarta. It’s known for being a melting pot between Chinese, Sundanese and Javanese cultures, impacting the local language, cuisine and batik.
Good friends were getting married that weekend, so rather than making it a daytrip, we decided to make it a long weekend of culture and culinary outings by hitting a few historical spots, batik-hunting and hitting the culinary hotspots.
Here’s our quick write-up of our visit and Cirebon specialties. More photos below.
Cirebon’s famed Batik Megamendung
We went batik-hunting at the batik market one day. Batik from Cirebon has several variants, the most famous being the batik megamendung with its Chinese-influenced cloud-like pattern which symbolises the raincloud as a symbol of fertility (of soil) and the prosperity it brings the citizens. It’s a very distinct pattern and anyone familiar with batik would be able to recognise it. It’s as iconic as the other classic/royal batik patterns like sekar jagad, kawung, tasik and Pekalongan.
If you are interested in finding out more, here’s the Batik Cirebon Wikipedia page; it’s in Indonesian but just use Babelfish or Google Translate.
Cirebon heritage site: BAT building
The BAT building in the old Cirebon centre is a beautiful example of colonial architecture and is deemed by the government as a protected building. Built a hundred years ago (almost!), this factory closed in 2011-2012 when production moved to Malang (where I now work). BAT is British-American Tobacco company, the holding company of Bentoel, which is where I work as a legal advisor.
The building currently lies empty, and is for sale. The protected status it has means that the next owner/buyer would have to adhere to strict rules regarding the preservation of the original features and facades.
The area out front is a square where young people gather and practice their BMX and skating skills on the ramps set up there. Very urban activities, and quite fun to watch as some of the riders are quite skillful.
Saving the best for last
Finally, the food! Oh, the food! We ate ourselves silly,
A Cirebon specialty is the Nasi Jamblang. It is steamed white rice wrapped in teak leaf, served with side dishes. Since the northern Javanese coast is so hot, teak trees grow in abundance, and the teak trees have thick broad leaves that is perfect for wrapping rice in. If you cook teak leaves, it will release a natural red pigment and particular aroma to your dish.
The most famous side dish is the sambel goreng Cirebon, which red chillies sliced diagonally and sauteéd with garlic and sweet soy sauce with medium salt flavour (Indonesian soy sauces have varying degrees of sweet and salt flavours). Aside from that, there’s also balakutak (small squid cooked in its ink), semur daging (sweet Javanese beef stew), tumis remis (sauteéd small mussels/scallops), sate kerang (skewered mussels/scallops), sate telor puyuh (quail eggs on a stick), cimplung (a potato-and-meat dumpling with glutinous rice flour added so it has a chewy texture).
See you next holiday trip!
We had a really delicious weekend, and hope that your Easter was as yummy as ours!