Afternoon Sustenance

There’s nothing like a shandy on a warm afternoon and well … it is pretty warm 365 days of the year. What’s a bloke to do ?

In cooler climes, I usually place wine pretty high on my consumption agenda but wine has fallen to 3rd place behind beer and spirits. Gin and tonic has made a huge comeback in the repertoire here but the old amber nectar is hard to pass by.

And why should I be worried ? I have conclusively proven that an increase in beer consumption leads to weight loss.

Wine tends to be poorer value. Why ? Because it is often stored at ambient temperature at both supermarket and wholesale warehouse. And ambient temperature is usually around 33 degrees ! And at restaurants, no-one has caught on to the fact that serving red wine at room temperature was never intended for warm climates like here. So red wine is often served at 20+ degrees and I am sure was never meant to taste like that.

At home, we always chill our reds down to a more rational “room temperature” which I suppose is closer to 15 degrees than 30 degrees.

In any case, wine tends to be more expensive. If I use the southern Australia comparison, beer tends to be US$2-50 in bars here but can be anything from US$2-50 to US$4-50 in bars in OZ. The gin and tonics served here are huge and do the job admirably but nothing beats the domestically served variety sitting on the porch using an airport acquired duty-free gin – an essential purchase on any arrival in Dili.

As for beer, most bars have VB, Melbourne Bitter and Crown Lager from OZ. XXXX, Cascade Light, Hahn and Powers are also seen occasionally. Portugal provides Super Bock and Sagres beers (both plain and black beers). Others are Tiger (Singapore), Heineken (Netherlands), Carlsberg (Denmark), Corona (Mexico), Tsingtao (China), Asahi (Japan), San Miguel (Philippines), Kirin (Japan).

The cheapest beer in town is Indonesia’s Bintang beer which I quite like really. For masochists, the Timorese brewed Buffalo and Lion are well worth trying and then leaving alone. Both of these small breweries are now closed.

Time to eat

The Filipino “Pinoy” restaurant near the Hotel Esplanada appears to have changed hands and is now a Thai restaurant. Nothing much has changed decor-wise except the staff and the menu. A pad thai chicken can be had for US$4. Not bad but still not up to the Beach Cafe standard.

The Beach Cafe remains closed and I have been told that this is unlikely to change. But I have also been told that the Shanghai restaurant next door (currently undergoing massive renovations) will be taking on the Burmese cook (or cooks ?) from the Beach Cafe. It still looks like it is weeks if not months away and looks like accommodation will be part of the new premises.

Tiger Fuels (ie a petrol/gas station) now is doing pizzas and is also doing western-style bread making. Its all looking good so far. But large pizzas are still US$12, the going rate at Tiger, Dili Club and Castaways. Tiger is also selling Mrs Macs (imported OZ) pies which are sold from a dedicated freezer. They get a gourmet tick of approval from me.

Its probably time I went back to the Filipino burger joint south of the UN barracks. Its still there but I have tended to avoid that area given trouble around the barracks in recent weeks.

The coffee cooperative “Cooperativa Cafe Timor” is selling coffee beans and ground coffee at their premises near the ANZ bank. If you know where to go, you can also get Ensul coffee from deep in the recesses of their compound not far from Hotel Timor. It looks like you are buying from a garden shed but this is no problem. I prefer CCT coffee myself and the price tends to reflect this.

No sign of the resumption of the 2 breweries Buffalo and Lion who once brewed some very interesting beer.