News Alert: Semarang Durian Fest, Jan 23-24th, Indonesia

This announcement was published in the Jakarta Post (local Indonesian newspaper). 

 Apparently a durian fest complete with durian and rambutan eating competitions will be held in Semarang, a city in Central Java. Semarang, famous for its Jamu and beautiful batik, has a sub district known as Mijen as a regional retail and distribution Center. This is really in the boonies by the way. I reckon it’ll take at least an hour from the city in good traffic conditions.

it sounds like a fixed price fruit buffet is on offer. No mention as to the type of durians but I’m sure it’ll be fun for the locals (riotous celebration as stated) nonetheless.

Tragedy due to durians in remote Indonesia

This article from Indonesia attributed the deaths of 18 people from a small village in Sumatra to them watching over their durian garden. 

   
 Apparently a landslide killed them when it came down on their hut in the middle of the night. Were they waiting for the durians to fall? Or were they trying to prevent thieves from coming in to steal? 

We may never know. May these durian watchers rest in peace.

Durian at Cengkareng Airport, Jakarta part 2

I still had another hour before the flight. I had my toasted Starbucks cheese bagel (which was bad it was more like a spongy cheap bread with a dry crust) and an orange juice. I ate it because I was starving hungry, but my recommendation is to choose something else, maybe quiche.

Starbucks Cheese Bagel - Not recommended

Starbucks Cheese Bagel – Not recommended

Anyway, I left Starbucks via the shop next to it. It’s a bit awkward but essentially Starbucks got the premium space with the windows and the shop just gets the corridor facing bit. If you ever go to that airport (terminal 2), you will see what I mean.

So this was the first display I saw which I was curious to see. It looked like lego boxes piled up high.

Colorful boxes

Colorful boxes

I went in for a closer look.

Aha! Durian Crepe

Aha! Durian Crepe

And then one particular box caught my attention. Not just durian from anywhere mind you but Bali durian. I suppose the target market is Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Basically North Asia.

photo 3

Price wise, it’s 9USD per box and if you buy 6, you get 1 free. That’s how they get you to buy it as a souvenir and distribute it to all your friends.

Competitor

Competitor Durian Crepe

And then round the corner was a display of another box and brand of durian crepe. It specifically says “A gift from Indonesia” on the box. Well, now you know what its for.

I didn’t buy any but here’s something that’s not dol-dol from Indonesian durian.

Durian at Cengkareng Airport, Jakarta part 1

On our most recent expedition to Jakarta to investigate and inspect AR’s new property, I looked all around the roads we travelled for fresh durian but didn’t see any.

It wasn’t until I got to the airport for my flight (which was severely delayed) that I perused the shops and found some durian related items. It does look like the Indonesians are finally catching the durian commercial bandwagon and starting to process them into something other than dol-dol or frying them in nasty looking orange oil.

After verifying that the plane would eventually leave from that gate, I wandered off to explore the various shops in the terminal. This shop was nearest my gate in the “D” section.

photo 4

Looks like the usual spread of chocolates and packaged snacks.

photo 1

Then I came across these. What were they? Chocolates, Dol-dol or something else entirely? It’s called Choco-Dol and comes with different fillings…. one of which is durian. Hmmm.

Here’s a close up.

photo 3

I am not sure whether it is from the town of Garut in Java, near Bandung. Probably.

How much is it?

photo 2

Rp 12,000. That’s about 1.50 USD. It’s about the same price as a Magnum ice cream stick. I haven’t tried this dol-derivative but think I would rather have a Magnum.

Durians at GrandLucky (Update)

I can’t help surveying durians offered in the usual haunts, I think many of us durian fans are probably the same in that way ;).

At the GrandLucky Supermarket in Jakarta, they were offering both Thai and Medan Durians.

Medan Durians for Sale

Medan Durians for Sale

Medan durians featured in my last post, but in this post I’m just keeping a record of what was available and at what price (doesn’t the price fluctuate like crazy!). As you can see in the above sign, the Medan Durians were marked down 40% from their original price per kilo. It really doesn’t keep. On closer inspection of the fruits, you can see why.

Close up of the Medan Durians

Close up of the Medan Durians

Some of the fruits were already split open – which is an indicator of ripeness (or of drop damage)- and the fruit inside are exposed. The fruit guys have put rubber bands around the base of the fruit to prevent the skins from opening up completely, but this means that the fruit has to be eaten on that day otherwise it can’t be displayed for sale any longer. I noted the lack of durian fragrance from these Medan Durians as well. Perhaps this tree is related to the non-smelling trees in Chantanaburi.

While strolling the aisles, something else caught my eye.

Make Your Own Durian Ice Cream

Make Your Own Durian Ice Cream

A rather baffling and strangely unfortunate brand name, Pondan ( I’m not sure why they chose this. In Berhasa it is a derogatory adjective, you can google it). It is an Indonesian product from a company that makes mixes for puddings, cakes and ice cream. One of their flavors is the Durian flavored ice cream, each box for Rp. 14,900 (equivalent to USD1.50). I can’t imagine how this would compete with the various Durian Es sellers who peddle their carts on the street using fresh durian. Hmm. Or maybe they display the fresh durian and use this pre-mix instead. It would certainly be a lot cheaper but somehow doesn’t seem as appetizing.

A taste of Durians from Medan

After all this time that I’ve been visiting Jakarta, I’ve seen local Indonesian durians for sale (usually from Medan) but never bought any to try. Well, that all changed last week when I decided to take the plunge for the first time.

I was out to buy some peaches for a friend at the Total Fruit Store in Jalan Wolter Monginsidi and of course the display caught my eye.

Monthong and Medan Durians for Sale at the Total Buah Segar

Monthong and Medan Durians for Sale at the Total Buah Segar

We are definitely already in the midst of durian season and I’ve been eyeing the Monthong durians for sale at the GrandLucky but succeeded in holding off my purchase as it just doesn’t smell or look as good as the ones we get in KL.

But durian deprivation finally got a hold of me and I thought a good way to get rid of the craving would be to try something new. I had to take a closer look.

Small Medan Durian Fruits

Small Medan Durian Fruits

OK, not too unfriendly pricing. The one on the left is equivalent to 5.6 uSD and the one on the right is 6.3 USD. Not too bad I guess. I contemplated for a short while and picked up the one on the left because the fruit didn’t look quite as “squashed” from handling and packaging. It’s a pity that it’s just labelled as “Durian Medan”. It’s as if there is just one type… which would seem very unusual to me. Perhaps there just isn’t the breeding and cultivation industry as there is in Malaysia.

We attended a dinner that evening so we didn’t end up consuming it on the same day. I stuck it in the freezer for another evening. We didn’t wait too long.

Here’s a picture of the durian post thaw:

Nice Color

Nice Color

Color looked great but what was disappointing was the lack of the usual durian aromas which are so important to kick the saliva glands and neural connections into overdrive. Oh well, we’ll give it a try anyway.

Saving the Durian for last

Saving the Durian for last

Durians should always be eaten last or solo among fruits. The taste is usually overwhelming and even the best ripe Californian peaches and grapes will be bland compared to it.

So the taste test.

MMMmmmmm Durian....

MMMmmmmm Durian….

Verdict

Aroma: C

Flavor: C

Color (vs expectation): B-

Texture: B

Size of seed: Large (compared to pellicle)

Overall rating: C

I thought it was generally lousy compared to Malaysian durians but am open to re-rating if I get a better sample. No wonder Indonesians fly in to KL to eat durians.