Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Airlines ready to include airport tax in ticket prices

Domestic airlines say they are ready to include the passenger service charge (PSC), also known as airport tax, in their ticket prices, following a call by Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan.

The minister recently called on all airlines to include this tax in their tickets, saying the tax and ticket must be in “one package”.

According to Garuda Indonesia sales and marketing director Erik Meijer, the national flag carrier was ready to comply with the call, as long as the practice was implemented in accordance with the standards set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), of which it is a member.

“We are ready. The system is there because we already implemented it for two years,” he said on Thursday.

Garuda began embedding the tax in its ticket in 2012, but decided to drop the procedure in September 2014 as it suffered losses from uncollected payments.

It attributed the losses, which stood at around Rp 2 billion (US$164,217) per month, to differences between the information technology (IT) system that it used and that used by domestic airport operators, represented by Angkasa Pura I (AP I) and Angkasa Pura II (AP II).

Meijer said the airline had received numerous requests from its passengers asking for the tax be included in the ticket price again as it was more practical.

At present, the tax to be paid differs from one airport to another. It stands at Rp 40,000 per person for domestic flights from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang and Rp 75,000 per person at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar.

Meanwhile, the tax is set at Rp 35,000 per person at Kualanamu International Airport in Deli Serdang and at Rp 75,000 per person at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya.

Passengers must make the payment in cash at a separate counter at the airports.

Meanwhile, Sriwijaya Air corporate communication senior manager Agus Soedjono said that the private airline was ready to implement the practice, provided that a clear system and regulations were first put in place.

“We are waiting for the system to be developed by all Angkasa Pura companies because there are several issues that must be made clear,” he said.

Among the issues, he added, were those related to the tax implementation on multi-stop flights and payment collection between airlines and operators.

Audrey Progastama, AirAsia Indonesia spokesperson, said that the company would also support the tax integration policy as long as it was executed consistently across all airlines.

AirAsia Indonesia currently includes an “airport charges and fees” component in its ticket price for several routes, information on its website shows.

Separately, AP II corporate secretary Daryanto said that discussions were ongoing between the company and its fellow airport operator.

“We are still in the early stage of the system development. We have so far held informal talks with AP I and have not met with the airlines,” he said over the telephone.

AP II currently manages 13 airports, including Soekarno-Hatta and Kualanamu. AP I also oversees 13 airports, such as Juanda, Ngurah Rai and Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado.

Daryanto said that the company hoped all processes would be complete by December.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bandung's most popular desserts on Instagram

One of Bandung's traits that keeps attracting visitors, especially from Jakarta, is its always-exciting culinary adventure.

During the 1980s, it was the baso tahu goreng or batagorfor short (fried fish and tofu eaten with peanut sauce) and an array of pastries and cakes from big bakeries that were the sought-after food souvenirs from Bandung.

Nowadays however, continuing the city’s legacy of always moving forward and creating new trends, new hybrid foodpreneurs are emerging; offering a totally new style and concept in desserts, which are not only exciting and show creativity but also genius in pampering our taste buds.

Though not all of them have managed to establish a store, all are creating a lot of buzz on social media, especially on Instagram.

So, prepare to savor these treats when you are in town.

Think about pretty, elegant, and at the same time modern cakes or cupcakes, which upon eating will give you a lot of happiness for the soft and delicious texture combined with a satisfying creamy buttery icing.

That's what Pompidou, a little cake shop at Jl. Ciliwung 14, is all about.

Founded in 2009 by Irma and Arthy, the duo started out by receiving custom-order cupcakes for friends or family. Their interest in cakes and cupcakes began after reading a red velvet cake recipe in a Martha Stewart cookbook.

Pompidou now offers cakes, cupcakes and pies, starting from Rp 18,000 per cupcake. Pompidou's chocomalt cake, red velvet and salted caramel cake, are among their best-sellers.

Fat Bites
Astrid and her partner have a passion for food and so the two often experiment to create new exciting dishes. The duo's exploration later resulted in an online-based business named Fat Bites which offers their product through an Instagram account.

"We wanted to explore new tastes and flavors of food and beverages as well as new unexpected ways to present them," said Astrid about her business.

At the moment, she said, Fat Bites offered ice creams, sorbets and pies. The varieties are quite rich with cheese cake, Oreo, apple caramel, vanilla, bubble gum for the ice cream and strawberry punch and lavender lime for the sorbets and banana soufflé, strawberry soufflé and salmon wasabi for the pies.

According to Astrid, Fat Bites' signature and best-selling menu item are Summerfling, which is a lychee drink with fruit popsicle, the fruit and ice cream S'more -- ice cream with butter cookies and melted marshmallow -- and the salmon wasabi pie.

"Currently we still do a lot of pop-up events and participate in culinary festivals. But we have a pick-up point for our customers who order through our LINE account or email, which is at Jl. Bagus Rangin No. 7," Astrid explained, adding a requirement of three days’ notice for customer orders.

Chef Kamal's tiramisu is more than just a delicious dessert dish but also a success story amid hard times.

His tiramisu dish started gaining popularity in 1997, but then the monetary crisis hit and Chef Kamal, who worked in a hotel as a pastry chef at the time, tried to join the line of street cafes that emerged in the Dago area, as a response to the crisis and a demand for new affordable eateries.

To his surprise, his hotel-quality tiramisu, which sold at an affordable price, started to gain popularity.

Long story short, five years later Chef Kamal decided to quit his job and started his own business called TnC (Tiramisu and Coffee) by Chef Kamal at Jl. Sawah Kurung IV No. 14.

Following the trend of social media, TnC also set up an account on Twitter and Instagram, resulting in a new batch of younger customers who praised his tiramisu and proudly posted the experience online.

Armita Sunaryo had never baked a single cake in her life before. But the global trend and craving for red velvet cake in 2011 sparked her curiosity. So she Googled and YouTubed and tried out one recipe and had great luck with a result that was delicious.

As a person who actually doesn't really enjoy sweet treats, Armita then developed recipes using low-fat milk and less sugar, resulting in a healthier product for everybody to enjoy but still offering some indulgence in the flavor.

At first, Armita used social media to market Arromanis. From word of mouth, Arromanis became more popular so that in January 2014, Armita finally established a small shop at Jl. Wira Angun–Angun 14.

The most favorite items from the Arromanis Corner Shop are the banoffee pie and matcha whoopie pie which sell around 500 pieces per month.

The Wooden Spoon
Founded late last year by Amy Fahmi, The Wooden Spoon (TWS) offers mouthwatering but lower-in-fat as well as halal versions of the Italian panna cottas.

Amy's version of the dessert dish comes with vanilla, almond and hazelnut flavors and up to 12 choices of toppings such as latte macchiato, summer berry coulis and yoghurt, and apple sauce and cookie crumble -- all priced at Rp 165,000 (US$13.53) per half-dozen.

Thanks to interesting promotion through Instagram, TWS’ business has grown quite fast in less than a year with around 800 to 1,200 cups of panna cottas sold per month.

According to Amy, loyal customers from Jakarta regularly order her panna cottas and have them delivered to the capital city.

Mila Savitri, an architect and foodie, posted on her Path account a batch of chewy green-tea cookies topped with white chocolate. She raved that the treat was superbly delicious and she was proud to be among the first customers who savored the new product from Cokelatia.

But before the chewy cookies, it was Cokelatia's RockyBars that were so popular and established many loyal fans.

Tia, founder of Cokelatia, the small company she runs with her sibling Poji, started out the business as a hobby. Tia blogged about her fascination for chocolate and baking cakes on her blogspot site, Cokelatia, and started to receive orders from friends and family.

Among the orders, she noticed that her RockyBars -- which offer an interesting new look and taste from the usual brownies -- were really sought after. So, in 2012, Tia and her husband and Poji, founded a small business dedicated to selling their RockyBars.

At first they sold RockyBars online. But several months later they started to rent a space at Jl. Raden Patah 12 in Bandung and created the RockyBars' Open Kitchen where they baked and provided a customer order pick-up point.

From the original RockyBars, now Cokelatia has created many variants of RockyBars and also a new product called ChewyCookies.

Actively participating in Bandung's chic culinary festivals such as Keuken, Cokelatia offers menu items such as the RockySundae, which mixes RockyBars and ice cream and always turns out to be one of the crowds' favorites.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Savoring authentic German cuisine in Bandung

October is a month full of celebrations.

Across the globe, festivals are being held, from the Ghadames Date Festival in Libya, Diwali in India and Jidai Matsuri in Japan to one of the largest folk festivals in the world, Germany’s Oktoberfest.

The annual festival began in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. As a tribute to the princess, the festival site, located in the heart of Bavarian capital Munich, was named Theresienweisse, or the fields of Therese.

Joining in the party, Trans Luxury Hotel Bandung on Jl. Gatot Subroto is hosting Oktoberfest in their third floor restaurant, simply named The Restaurant, piloted by executive chef Michael Deutsch, who, as his name might suggest, is of German descent.

An array of Bavarian beers and delicacies, such as white fish poached with Riesling butter sauce, beefsauerbraten, kummel kops and kohlrouladen can be enjoyed in an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner, says the hotel's F&B marketing & promotion manager Melody Siagian.

When I met Chef Deutsch himself last week, he talked about the dishes served at Oktoberfest.

"It's all about comfort food to accompany the overflowing beer. Nothing complicated, really," he said during dinner.

But some dishes, he added, despite the simplicity of the method, took a longer time to prepare.

Take sauerbraten, for example. It takes around two to three days just to marinate the beef alone before cooking.

The end result, I must say, was really worth the time. The thinly sliced roasted beef was so tender and tasty. The marinated sauce covering the beef also tasted subtle, yet juicy.

I also sampled the restaurant's chicken dish, which was equally delicious, as well as a German-style potato salad, pickled asparagus, potato rosti, braised red cabbage, an array of salads and the sour cabbage dish sauerkraut.

"Most of the dishes have a hint of sourness due to the addition of vinegar. In the old days, before the invention of the refrigerator, vinegar was used to preserve the food," explained Chef Deutsch.

The chef added that he stuck to the dishes' original traditional recipes rather than trying to customize them for the Indonesian palate.

"I only added chilli to my asparagus pickle because I know you guys love spicy food. I know I do," he laughed.

The joy of savoring authentic German dishes was capped with delicious German desserts such as traditional cakeklugehopf, a sweet cake with sweet white icing.

Oktoberfest at The Restaurant at Trans Luxury Hotel is available throughout October on Thursday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tastemarket Bandung: A feast of unique and innovative cuisines

Upon entering the venue of Tastemarket Bandung at Paris Van Java Mall in Bandung, one will immediately feel refreshed by its all-natural, mostly wood, decorations. There was even an inviting green artificial grass laid in one corner, transforming the area into a lush meadow -- suitable for the event's theme: “Picnic in the greens.”

This second installment of Tastemarket's three-day culinary festival, starting Aug. 29, was initiated by Trademark, the organizer of the annual fashion event Trademark Market.

Trademark Market basically gathered young and innovative local designers and fashion entrepreneurs to sell and introduce their products to an equally young market.

According to Tastemarket spokespers
on Decil Prapanca Ikranegara, Tastemarket is the culinary version of Trademark Market.

"This year's Tastemarket offers a total of 104 exhibitors; only around 40 of them are from outside Bandung," said Decil.

"This is where young ‘foodpreneurs’, who mostly don't yet own a store, usually introduce their products to segmented larger markets and gain more popularity through social media like Instagram."

In addition to the market, live music and DJ performances also enlivened Tastemarket with today's entertaining indie music.

"Tastemarket is such a young, unique and innovative event: a must visit!" said foodie Nurul Wachdiyyah, who attended the entire three-day event.

Nurul got to watch the performance of Mustache and Beard, which played romantic folk tunes, and commented that the band had indeed instilled a romantic mood in the air.

She also found enjoyment in many of Tastemarket's food stalls that offered unique and delightful dishes.

She mentioned Teppanice as one of her favorites: a unique ice cream vendor from Bandung with a display that allowed visitors to watch how the dessert was “cooked” at the ice cream grilling station, starting from the original milky dough.

"It was fascinating to see ice cream prepared in the Japanese teppanyaki-style. It successfully made the stall really popular and caused a long queue," said Nurul.

Fatbites, another stall from Bandung, also stole Nurul's heart because of its refreshing Summer Fling, a beverage consisting of milk, yogurt, dragon fruit and a large chunk of mango.

Other food stalls that attracted long lines included Greenlab (a smoothie stall selling healthy fresh juice from fruits, vegetables, cereal and honey), Dr. Freeze (a stall selling ice cream made with liquid nitrogen), Karokun (a delicious sate stall that sold wagyu beef skewers), Ima Mobs Kitchen (a stall operated by a young male crew that offered infused vodka and a Dutch menu item called Blinde Vinken that tasted amazing) and Jago Warung (a stall that offered chic and well-designed food packages as souvenirs).

Other than being the most “happening” event last weekend in the West Java's capital city, Tastemarket also had its flaws.

According to one of the tenants Royal Stag Bistro Citra Sadiqah, although the culinary festival successfully featured a merry and joyful atmosphere and indeed offered a great way to boost its brand awareness, the venue was rather small and thus was quite uncomfortable to visit, especially during peak hours.

On Saturday night, for example, Tastemarket reached its peak with more than 10,000 visitors attending, making the place too crowded and too hot to stroll around in comfortably.

The lack of signage placed around the Paris Van Java Mall was also an issue upon which many visitors commented. The mall is famous for its hard-to-reach location and is surrounded by congested streets, especially during weekends.

However, all agreed that Tastemarket was a unique and attractive event and must be repeated annually to help boost the city's creative industries and its young food entrepreneurs.