Readers of my previous post will be surprised to learn that we are still in Minneapolis, not in Singapore, not yet. We were just about to leave for the airport on Friday, when I discovered some fine print: Singapore won’t allow visitors with passports less than six months from their expiration date. Carol’s expires in June. Bummer, especially since we were flying on super-restricted use-it-or-lose-it winter cash-and-miles tickets. So we went to the airport anyhow, and threw ourselves at the mercy of the Northwest airlines staff, who graciously agreed to rebook us for Wednesday. Tomorrow, Carol flies down to Chicago to try and get a same-day passport renewal. Which should work, but isn’t guaranteed – so I am keeping my fingers crossed..
At any rate, after rebooking, we decided the best consolation prize would be an Indonesian lunch, so we headed for Bali, 1410 Nicollet, and told chef and co-owner Tries our sad story. Tries is Indonesian, from Banda Aceh, the province in the north of Sumatra that was hardest hit by the tsunami. He sat down with us and told us about the customs of the Island. In Aceh, which is a patriarchal society, the men buy the women, with big dowries. In West Sumatra, where we are headed, the Minangkabau are matriarchal, so the women buy their husbands. Etiquette is elaborate; because we are his elders, he asked permission to sit with us. He also wrote out for Carol how to say in basah Indonesia, “I don’t eat meat. I eat seafood.” We ordered the Ikan Bakar Bumbu Kecap, a pair of grilled mackerel seasoned with a spicy paste – Tries said the one ingredient for the traditional recipe that he can’t get is fresh tamarind leaf, but it was very tasty anyway. I also ordered the sayur asam kelapa, a meal-sized bowl of soup with shrimp ($13, or chicken, $10) with mushrooms, onion, tomato and big chunks of jackfruit in a savory coconut milk broth. And Tries insisted on serving us another dish, Tumis Kecang Panjang ($6), a delicious dish of green beans and tofu in a savory sweet and salty brown glaze.
Bali has a full bar, and some pretty good Happy Hour specials – a big selection of appetizers for $4 a plate, Summit, Guinness, Stella, and Sapporo for $3 a bottle, rail drinks for $3.50, and Menage a Trois red or white for $5 a glass. Definitely worth a visit.
Bali, 1410 Nicollet Ave S. Minneapolis, 612-354-3302.