New Year’s Eve seems to be celebrated here much like in the U.S., with an emphasis here on fireworks. People go out to dinner, they watch fireworks. We went out to dinner.
My friend Mike has just opened his Italian restaurant, Casa Mauro, and was offering a set meal for the evening. Reservation for two at 7:30. calling Eddie to drive us there – in the rain, with heavy traffic everywhere.
The restaurant is very well done inside, with lots of red brick in a large, open room. A pizza oven is on one wall, next to the food prep area. There is a glass-enclosed room for sausages and dried meats, another for wine (most selections pretty expensive – $60-80 a bottle – Mike likes good wine), and a large central area for an impressive bar, with a wall of brick and bottles of wine embedded into its multiple alcoves.
The walls of the dining area are decorated with large pictures of Italian landmarks, except for one wall that features what looks like the Greek Parthenon in Athens. Our reserved table was in the middle of the room, with the Rome Coliseum as a backdrop.
Dinner was four courses, with a sampling of dishes for each. The appetizers included chicken and fennel salad with Balsamic vinegar, grilled bread slice topped with smoked marlin, grilled scallop with Mornay sauce, and beef in tuna sauce.
The second, or pasta course, included baked homemade pancake stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, homemade fettuccine with lamb sauce and homemade potato dumplings with Gorgonzola, hemmental, fortina and parmesan cheese sauces.
The main course consisted of veal scaloppina in white wine sauce, grilled and sliced beef with mushroom sauce, an grilled prawns and squid kebob. Vegetables were potatoes Duchesse and brussels sprouts in demi glaze sauce.
Dessert was a sponge cake wet with rum and stuffed with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. I had two glasses of an excellent house burgundy and, after dessert, an espresso with Amaretto. Each meal was priced at 425,000 rupiah, or about $42.
Mike still has some work to do getting the staff up to speed and the credit card machine did not work, leaving me with an IOU for dinner as I did not have enough cash.
We had intended to return to Smiling Hill in time for some fireworks but we didn’t leave in time. When Eddie did pick us up we were greeted with an amazing scene. The restaurant is located in Batam Centre and apparently there was going to be a big fireworks display nearby. The street outside of the restaurant was jammed with traffic, mostly motorbikes. It looked like a river of lights flowing uniformly in one direction. And they were not giving ground to any traffic, like us, trying to cross the street. Once we got through, we could see that the traffic flow extended for miles.
Back home, I went to Goodies to see if there might be a party going on but there were only a few people there. So I made a drink and headed for the outside sitting area across the street from my apartment and watched the fireworks emanating from the neighborhoods, although I had to watch through tree branches.
I missed my family and friends. I did not sleep last night.