Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crisp Crunchy Piggy & Cat Poo Coffee Anyone?

PICT0123 Apologies for the photo – it’s pretty hard to see that it’s a roasted suckling pig. We sampled this twice and have to say the crackling was the crispest I’ve ever had. This wurrung, Babi Guling, Ibu Oka Ubud, is known Bali wide for it’s pig. In fact Rick Stein featured it on his shows about Asian cuisine. The King and politicians from Indonesia often pop in when they’re in town.


You can even order take away and it comes in a cardboard box with spicy rice, vegetables lowar, a piece of blood sausage and the pork with crackling. They very thoughtfully put the hottest green chillies on the side, so they’re easily removed by those who wish to keep their taste buds alive! All for 30,000 rupiahs which is about $3.75!

We searched out the “cat-poo” coffee and on the Friday before we left we got lucky. A small demitasse cup of this special coffee cost 60,000 rupiahs, double that of the pork meal! This coffee was also featured by Rick Stein and is meant to be the most expensive coffee in the world. Apparently civet cats are very discerning and only eat the best coffee beans. The next morning the farmers search for the scats and the beans which aren’t digested, only the husks, and process the beans. It was a very smooth and lingering taste without bitterness and definitely no other pooey type of taste either! We didn’t have the camera that day so I’m sorry there aren’t any photo’s. The wurrung was opposite a motor bike hire place and we sat and watched various tourists going in to hire a motor bike and then finally try and get out into the traffic! Almost a third of the population ride motor bikes and there doesn’t seem to be too many road rules, except to drive slowly and give way to everything!


Our hosts had a motor bike that the whole family used, and M was taken out on the back of it the day before we left. He now says that he has the traffic worked out and next time we’ll hire a car. Next time – yay….. At least he’s thinking about going back sometime!

And why wouldn’t you want to with views like this?



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chook Gender Crisis?

P1010027 This is Ron the rooster pretending to lay an egg!

Well, I’m not sure, but he continues to sit on the only nest that the girls like to use to lay their eggs. You can see Lulu looking for a spot nearby. I stayed and watched for a while and there were the two of them crooning away, like they do prior to laying. Then Lulu decided that enough was enough and trampled over Ron to get comfortable in the nest to lay.


But why is Ron even interested in the nest? There’s plenty of other spots in the shed, I only cleaned it out yesterday and put new straw down for them. Is he jealous? Does he want to be a girl? I just haven’t seen him do this before.


This is how it should be, Lulu on the nest and Ron protecting (standing over her sulking?).

I’ll have to go and check after the laying of the egg. I don’t want Ron going all broody on me………..


Update - just been out there and blow me the egg was on the shed floor not the nest - what's going on?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Darwin was right – The apes taught us everything!

PICT0146  Check out the monkey having a good long swig from the can of beer! This photo was taken in one of the monkey forests at Sanjur. There were lots of them around but having been warned that they are the absolute in pick-pocketing, not to mention the rabies epidemic on Bali, I kept my distance. Naturally, M had them climbing up his legs and the guide automatically assumed that I was a scaredy-cat girlie! I informed him that I wasn’t scared of monkeys just cautious. He smiled in the most patronising way, hmmmmm.

Once you have wandered through the gardens and admired all the temples and monkeys the only way to exit is through the usual market of stalls, selling all sorts of “stuff”. Tee-shirts with “I love Bali” emblazoned on the front, bags with “I love Bali” and of course sarongs after sarongs.  I don’t like shopping – never have – so it was easy to just keep walking and smiling “no thank you”.

We then went on to Goa Gajah, the elephant cave. At the entrance M was asked to wear a sarong, even though he had below the knee shorts on. Apparently my trousers were appropriate to wear at this temple. Once M was wearing the sarong we started down the steps. There seems to be a multitude of steps wherever you go in Bali. I suddenly noticed that a little Balinese man had attached himself to us and was mumbling away and pointing to various trees etc. So, how dumb can you be, it took me five minutes before I realised that he had become “our official guide” and that he would expect a tip at the end.



We couldn’t hear what he was saying most of the time and once I had seen that all the fingernails on his left hand were so long that they curled towards the palm of his hand – a lot – I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying anyway! So after we had been in the sacred cave we thanked him and tipped him 20,000 rupiahs (about $2.50) and he happily wandered off to catch the next lot of tourists! And wouldn’t you know it, despite all my eye movement and silent body language at M to check out the fingernails – he never noticed! Men!

PICT0074 Our guide for the day, Uncle Rojan then took us off for a trip to Amed, where the salt is distilled from the sea – but that’s another post.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fruit for every occasion

P1010014 We loved the fruit, especially the bananas, which of course are not in the picture. These tiny, round bananas tasted like banana sandwiches they were so rich and buttery. We ate them as quickly as we bought them.
We also ate a lot of the fried bananas that you can buy at street stalls for less than a dollar. And I mean a lot of bananas.

But in the picture above there is dragon fruit, paw paw, snakeskin fruit, longan berries and star fruit. Previously we had mangoes, water melon, rock melon and pineapple and they just tasted divine. M isn’t that keen on paw paw but he loves the Balinese version. It’s all so sweet and always bought that day for eating, so it’s always fresh.

One of the locals who was working nearby climbed up and picked a coconut so M could try the fresh milk from the fruit. There was so much, it easily filled a jug for the fridge. The man wouldn’t take any money as he said that he had too many coconuts!


You can see the trees at the side here. At the rear of the photo is a new villa being built and every day we would see the women walking along the track with the baskets of building materials on their heads. They always started early in the day, before it got too hot for them and the kids came home from school (1.30pm).


I wish that we could get the real bananas here – they may be small but the taste is to die for……..


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bali Pictorial


The view from the terrace outside the rear of the villa. The view I looked at every day.


Cloves drying on the side of the road. When you opened the car windows the smell was wonderful.


Spinning the gold thread that was woven into ceremonial cloth. Check out the bicycle wheels – recycling in action.


Distilling salt from the sea – the original sea salt at Amed on the East Coast.


The most amazing rice terraces in the Central Highlands of Bali.

There’s so much more but I’ll write some more too.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pass the chillies please

This is a bit of a cheat as this isn't our cooking lesson but we all had aprons like this and it seemed like they were learning the same recipes.

We were dropped off at Bumi Bali at 9am sharp for our cooking lesson and we joined about eighteen other people of many different nationalities. There was a French couple with their three children and the two older boys got right into the lesson, trying everything and volunteering to mix etc. I was sitting next to two Canadian guys and there were a few Dutch and Korean couples as well as another couple of Aussie women.

The first thing that the chef did was to herd us all out of the restaurant and off we all walked to the local market. A bit like a school trip but we didn't have to hold hands! We trooped downstairs to the food market and were introduced to all the different fresh spices, vegetables and fruit. This was followed by a visit to the stall that had all the dried goods, rices and spices. We didn't buy any of the ingredients, it was more a "show and tell" part of the lesson.

Then we all marched back to the restaurant. By this time we're all sweating madly as it's pretty hot over there and crowded. We were all given a small bottle of water, an apron and a recipe book before the lesson began. The chef then insisted that we taste the difference between galangal and lesser galangal, kafir lime and Tahitian lime etc. And then the lesson proper began.

The first thing was to mix all the ingredients for the Basa Gede (Basic Spice Paste). There are sixteen (16) ingredients that must be ground together and then fried quickly in a very hot wok in coconut oil. These included;- 25 shallots (much smaller than ours) so you can use 12 onions instead; 8 or 9 cloves of oz garlic; 7 large red chillies, seeded and chopped; 5cm galangal chopped; 5cm lesser galangal or ginger chopped; 10cm fresh turmeric chopped or 2tbsps dried; 1 tbsp coriander seeds; 6 candlenuts (macadamias or almonds); 2 tspns shrimp paste; half teaspoon each of black and white peppercorns; 1 pinch of grated fresh nutmeg; 3 cloves; 1 pinch of cumin; 1 quarter tspn sesame seeds and 1 – 3 tablespoons salt (to taste).

Naturally, this is all best if a pestle and mortar are used but the chef said that he uses a blender because of the quantity that he has to make – much to his mother's disgust. So if you are going to use a food processor, add one half cup of water to start with. It should be a lovely red and thick paste after processing.

Heat about 10 tablespoons of coconut oil in the wok until "smoking" (he tested the heat with a wooden spoon – it's hot enough if the spoon sizzles). Add the spice mix and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes until the mix turns a golden brown. Cool before using.

This mix should make about 6 cups and when using it with either meat, fish or vegetables the ratio is about 1 to 4. So if there's four cups of veggies you add 1 cup of spice mix. If you want a sour taste add lime juice at the end, for sweeter add palm sugar. This mix can be frozen and will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

After the spice mix was made we went on to cook Sayur Urab (Mixed Vegetable with Coconut); Tuna Sambal Matah (Raw Tuna); Tempe Manis (Tempe fried with peanuts); Opor Ayam (Chicken Curry); and finally a hands-on experience with Bali Sate Lillit (Chicken Sate with the meat wrapped around the sate stick or a piece of lemongrass). Luckily we all managed to successfully wind our meat mix around the sticks and lemongrass, cook them and eat them without too many disasters in the kitchen. Apparently this is a Balinese speciality.

To treat us all for being such good students we were then treated to a bowl of Bubur Injin (black rice pudding) with coconut cream and bananas on the top. Then it was time to say thanks and head back to the market to see what might tempt us to cook back at the villa. It was great fun and I did learn a lot about alternatives for food and spices that I might not be able to find in Tassie. So if you get the chance to try a cooking lesson, don't be shy, you'll learn a lot, eat heaps of great food and end up with one of those most attractive black and white aprons to take home and show off!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

I've got the Bali Blues

The photo on the left shows the beautiful swimming pool and the surrounding countryside. I swam every day, sometimes two or three times. This was one of the best parts of our holiday as I haven't swum in Tassie waters for about seven years, it's just too cold! The last time I was in the sea was an accident too, I fell off the rubber duckie. So I was fully clothed and had to drip across the road to home, freezing.
But back to Bali. The first few days we took it easy and revelled in the warmth and hospitality shown to us. M organised to have a massage at the villa and I took myself off to read inside. He told me later that he had "been massaged in places he'd never been massaged before!" All very professional of course but also very thorough. He thoroughly enjoyed it and after scrubbing the oil off his body he went for a swim to be followed by a little lie down. Perfect, I could see his blood pressure dropping day by day.
We did take a trip into Ubud to check out the market and book shops in the first couple of days. It was very hot and incredibly busy. So many French tourists taking up the pavements. We later learned that it's best to go before 11am or after 4pm as the tourist buses have gone by then.
We bought some beautiful books about Ubud and Bali and I was also lucky to spy the three books in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series second-hand. I had read two and one half of them before we returned home! (We have since been to see the film this week).
We went out for dinner to the "Dirty Duck" restaurant; it's Bali name is Bebek Bali. This restaurant specialises in Crispy skinned Duck so I had to try it. I wasn't disappointed, but of course we didn't have the camera with us! However, a large table of Javanese people did have cameras and one young Muslim woman took great delight in taking my photo a number of times. I think it was because I had my longish hair loose as she kept touching it and saying "beautiful". Now that is NOT a word I would use about my greying blonde hair which was frizzing up in the humidity!
In Ubud, at 6pm every night, you can see flocks of white herons and egrets all flying to one particular area, Petulu. There are various trees along this particular street and by 6.30pm they all look totally white with hundreds/thousands of birds roosting in them. It's always best not to walk under the trees at that stage! The following morning at daybreak, they all fly off again and I used to see them flying over the villa to sit in the coconut trees during the day.
So why have I got the Bali blues? Well, I think the realisation of holiday over has finally sunk in. I can't keep boring my friends and somebody has to cook, clean, garden, shop and go out to work, sigh (big sigh).
I've spent all my savings and it's a bit scary but I'll have to start again. Because I'm going back, again and again.......
* tomorrow our lesson at the cooking school at Bumi Bali restaurant

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bali, I think I love You

Yes, it's raining - in the "Dry Season". It's still hot but there are many newspaper articles saying that because of climate change there may not be a definitive difference in the dry and the wet seasons anymore.
In fact, it just about rained every evening whilst we were there. Sometimes it was most welcome but it did cause a couple of blisters on feet because of slipping sandals!
I have never experienced an island where a third of the population ride motorbikes - in thongs, high heels, no helmets, sitting sidesaddle with three kids and mum and dad. The young pillion riders are all busy texting their mobiles and I even saw one guy smoking a cigarette whilst steering himself in and out of the traffic. There is beeping all the time but it's not road rage, it's a courtesy. They're telling you that they are coming alongside to overtake - even though they may well be on your inside lane - and usually are. One way of describing it is organised chaos. I never saw an accident and everyone seemed to get to where they wanted to be. At the beginning of the holiday I was nervous about crossing the road but by the end I seemed to have worked it all out.
The pavements are atrocious, bumpy and rough with holes (large ones) everywhere. The step up to them is usually quite high and there's only room for two so there can be quite a lot of side-stepping. But that's okay, we're all operating on Bali time now. We'll get there eventually.
We didn't stay in the town of Ubud, we stayed at Bentuyung where Julia Roberts filmed the Bali section of the movie "Eat, pray love". This area is still quite rural and there are rice paddies everywhere. In fact, we had to walk the last five minutes to the villa as the lane way was only large enough for two walking people - or a motorbike. Hence, the villa was private and quiet. Just us, the swimming pool, the lovely host family and gorgeous views.
Anyway, I'm off to an election night party with my Balinese food we made. I'll talk more about the cooking class that we did later.....
Go the Greens.......

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm Back (sob)

The rice paddies in Bali are a lush green and the work that goes into them make me ashamed of the moaning that I have done in the past about "hard work" in the garden. These fields are a seven days a week job, from morning until night. It doesn't matter how old or what gender you are, if you own the fields, you work, hard.
The photo above was taken in the highlands but we had rice paddies surrounding the villa where we stayed near Ubud. Every morning, at 7.30am I would watch the old man walking down to his chook shed to feed his chooks. And only then would his rooster stop crowing! Yes, there was a rooster opposite the villa; and one further down the paddies, and another after that!
Then the old man would start work in the fields, along with other family members. Sometimes they would send a coconut along to the villa for us to try and other times they would wave and smile and say "Where you from?"
We had the best holiday, ever. This is just the beginning of an ongoing relationship with Bali - and the first of many posts and photos of this beautiful island and its people.
I didn't want to leave.