I did not know what to expect food I will encounter in Dili. Well, had very least expectancy about it prior to my departure. I only wanted to fly to Dili for my best friend’s wedding. The only food from East Timor that I knew was tuna and potato salad. During our college years, Bebe usually made that for lunch or dinner. And I knew cookies Bebe’s mom, Tia Ana, usually made that; it’s a sweet one, with coconut flakes. So yummy. It went good with tea or coffee.
After flew for almost two hours, Bebe, Bebe’s older sister Ji, and her niece Zaza picked us up at Nicolai Lobato airport. We were greeted by blue and clear sky, and hot and humid weather.
Then, we drove to the city – to the apartment where we’re going to stay for the next six days The Magno’s sisters drove two different cars. Bebe was actually quite surprise when she saw our luggage because she was expecting us to bring more stuffs. That’s why she took Ji to pick us up too. Teo and Yoko were at Bebe’s car, while Tika and I were in Ji’s.
On the way to the apartment from the airport, we saw a lot of construction’s going on. Ji told us that’s Dili is now building roads, bridges, and other construction works.
After dropping our stuff at the apartment, Bebe said, “Girls, let’s grab some lunch!” Bebe took us to a really nice restaurant in the beach-side called “Diza.” Zaza told us, “This is my favourite restaurant!” We walked into the restaurant. It’s a really nice place though with sea view. Some people were still having late lunch and chatting. I saw some ladies were still hanging the linen under the sun. I could smell the fragrant scent from the detergent.
We started to order food. When I looked up at the menu, I suddenly thought about Mediterranean Sea. Seriously. Many ingredients will consist of olive oil, fish, tomatoes, etc. I ordered roasted actopus with sweet potato. Tika had tomato rice, Bebe had lasagna, Zaza had spaghetti. I don’t remember what Teo and Yoko order. We stayed at Diza for about two hours; waiting for the weather to get colder.
Finished eating, we drove to Area Branca beach where we could see Cristo Rei or Christ the King Statue. Well, we did not make it to the Statue because we needed to get back to the city, and prepared for the rehearsal dinner at Hotel Dili. Honestly, we had another big meal in Dili Hotel. But I did not remember what we had. I only ordered salad and hot chocolate because I was still quite full. Joining in the dinner; the bride and groom to be, Bebe’s sister Nadia, Bebe’s childhood friends Sica and Luzia, four of us, Migui’s cousin who also named Miguel (then we called him Miguel the cousin or Miguel number two).
The next day, after we had finished with wedding rehearsal at Cathedral Vila Verde where Migui and Bebe would tie the knot, we went to Bebe’s favourite place to brunch in Dili,“Padaria Brasao.” This place served traditional Portuguese flat bread. The original one was the plain one, just using melted cheese. I had two breads; the savory and sweet ones.
The place was quite small and pleasant. When I walked in Padaria, I felt like walked in to a café next door in my neighbourhood. I love the atmosphere inside. Some people were having coffee, and talking business, and other things. And the ladies behind the counter were pretty friendly as well. We love that place. We stayed there for almost an hour or so. Bebe’s favourite’s place then becomes ours too.
Then, we headed directly to Area Branca. Bebe would leave us there because she still needed to take care some of the wedding things. Oh, she’s a pretty cool bride to-be.
So, it was Friday. Bebe let us to enjoy the day in Area Branca beach. Nobody was there… Only four of us – and sometimes some men would pop up to sell fresh tangerines. We really indulged our time. We owned the beach that day. We did not need to worry about being hungry. Because, we had “Beachside Restaurant” just across the street. We definitely had nothing to do. Just relaxing all day, hahahaha. What we did was only going into the saltwater, eating, sunbathing, and snoozing. We ordered huge food that day that cost us more than $100.
Ah, they had a delicious Panini. I had my eggplant and pumpkin Panini, while Yoko had chicken one. They’re just delicious. We’re stuff. Before we headed home, I had orange polenta cake. Oh Gosh… it was too much for one day.
When the clock showed 5 pm, we started to see some people came to the beach because they have finished working, and it was Friday afternoon. It was quite normal for people in Dili to kill the time in Area Branca during the weekend. We saw two ladies got seat next to our place. They opened a glass of champagne whilst the sun’s starting to sink. It was not the best sunset I’ve ever seen since it was a little bit cloudy that day. But it’s still a great time though.
Food in Dili was divine. But the prices were pretty expensive. It ranges from $7-25/meal. I may guess, it’s because the use “bule price” aka expat price. From what I’ve seen there, several restaurants we’re going, were owned by non-local. For example the Beachside Restaurant is owned by an Australian.
Last but not least, the best food in Dili was those which were served at the wedding. All foods were traditional East Timorese and some Portuguese. But I really did not remember their name. Nadia told us, that her family and Migui’s families prepared all those foods. So yum… Food in Dili just made me forgetting all the diet rules I’ve set. Geez, I needed a week to cleanse after I got back, lol. I love food in Dili, and I will definitely come back for friends and food there.