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Ragusa – understated nostalgia

It’s been so long since I updated!

And I don’t think I can even put up a decent one now to make up for it. Job shifts, journeys and emotions have recently been draining my energy. They’re all appreciated, though.

Alrighty, so this time it will only be a short story about a journey I recently made to a noteworthy ice cream shop.

I am fond of ice cream, and ice cream places has been a fascination for me since childhood. Its that scooping into cups, the pretty colors, and the cuteness of sitting face to face with a friend in a lovely little cafe while gobbling it all up.

That being said, I guess I am less fond of mass-marketed ice cream. Vienetta? err..I’d look up other options available.

What I went to was a place that might well be a culinary land mark in the city. It’s called Ragusa and it’s been around since 1932. Of course Jakarta has been no stranger to foreign influences since centuries ago, being a trading hub and of course one of the cities that fell under colonialism. Nevertheless, this is probably one of the oldest eatery I have seen in here.

I expected the place to be full of nostalgic charms, perhaps some cute lamps, curtains, or even dim lighting at the very least. But Ragusa featured white tile walls and no-nonsense furniture. I mean, it could do with a bit of frills, but on with the flavors.

There were no long, overwhelming list of options. It was still difficult to pick one, though. A banana split? a cassata? or should we just go with single scoops?

I decided to pick out the specialty: Spaghetti Ice Cream.

My dining partner winced at the name, and you probably did too. Relax, no real pasta involved here. the ‘spaghetti’ is in fact ice cream made into spaghetti-like strings. We picked pistachio as the flavor.

It took some time to come, but I was content to eat some asinan (traditional salad with hot and sour sauce and crackers) in the mean time. The asinan came from the vendor outside the place. Unlikely combination you say? a killer one on a hot day is what I think of it. All right, it was night time when we were there but still a killer combination.

When the spaghetti arrived, I was a tad disappointed. I read somewhere that it was topped with fruit, so I thought it was actual fresh fruits instead of bits of candied fruit essence, which is what we got.

It was great in other ways though. the ice cream melted quickly, which is always a good sign. The flavor was delicate and the texture was creamy but not too rich. The pistachio flavor melted nicely with the chocolate syrup and, well, the “fruits”, although I still think it would be better with real ones.

A charming, humble place. the street also housed several other lovely places to eat and history lessons to offer. It is separated from the Istiqlal mosque, which is the largest in South East Asia and was designed by a Christian architect in the 1950s. A few buildings away is Newseum-a venue for rent, which used to be the home of alleged World War I double spy Mata Hari.

Sadly, few actually takes care to preserve many of Jakarta’s historical land marks-and I dare say that for a city of over 500 years of age there must be a good deal of that lying around- and some of them have been stampeded over by the monster of modernity.

I do hope, by some kind of miracle that monster will actually prefer Ragusa over starbucks and leave the place be.

A photo inside the restaurant. Apologies for the lack of clarity (hey, it was installed way to high up on the wall), but it actually depicts a place called 'Ragusa', only much bigger, and definitely taken a long, long time ago. I failed to ask whether this was actually the photo of Ragusa taken in the past or another Ragusa somewhere else.

Ragusa Es Italia

Jl Veteran No 1

Jakarta Pusat

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About thoughtsthatdance

I am not much of a dancer. I take wrong steps every now and then, but the mistakes can lead to laughter or lessons.

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