Posts for the 'Bali' Category


Ketut’s Place: The Lonely Planet Effect

Throughout the years, I have always used the Lonely Planet travel guides. My loyalty had developed in part probably due to my familiarity with the format of the books and knowing exactly where to locate the information I needed. Not having used other guides, I can’t compare Lonely Planet to any others, but for my purposes they have served me just fine.

However there is this phenomenon I called the Lonely Planet effect. Whenever a restaurant (or a hotel) scores an entry in Lonely Planet, it obviously increases the exposure of that particular institution, and as a consequence usually increases tourist traffic. All things being equal, this sometimes has the effect of pushing prices up and possibly altering the dynamics of both the service offered and some of the original reasons the restaurant (or hotel) may have warranted a mention in Lonely Planet in the first place.

Take for instance Ketut’s Place, mentioned in Lonely Planet for its Balinese buffet which is served on select nights of the week. Last night being one of those nights, I went along to take a look at Ketut’s Place. Ketut, the owner, greeted all the diners with a speech which was wonderfully welcoming and informative. He talked of the typical layout of a Balinese home and of certain Balinese customs. Ketut’s command of English was excellent, and as he was a wonderfully charismatic and charming man one would be hard pushed not to have felt welcomed by him. However, in the end I declined to take the buffet.

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Rumah Roda Homestay & Restaurant: Ubud, Bali

There have been many husband and wife teams from years past that have worked well together. One couple that comes to mind was Marie and Pierre Curie. Although not Nobel winning, perhaps another couple might be that of Darta and Suti, the friendly husband and wife team who have turned their family home at 24 Jalan Kajeng (Kajeng Street) into both a guesthouse and a restaurant known as Rumah Roda.

Darta and Suti

Darta and Suti

Suti – wife, mother and chef – began her cooking career elsewhere. For about eight years she was the cook at Han Snel’s Bungalows, a slightly more upmarket tourist accommodation spot with individual bungalows in Ubud, Bali. After leaving Han Snel’s, Suti turned her attention to cooking a limited range menu for tourists at the family home in Ubud, Rumah Roda, where guests would sit at the one table for four placed right next to the family kitchen. About three years ago, the family decided to expand, and the current restaurant was built as an open air dining area overlooking the street, right above the family bedrooms. The extension provides a much larger seating capacity, about 20-25 rather than just four, and gives customers the option of either sitting at dining tables or on the elevated cushioned platforms.

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How to be a coconut for a day in Ubud

Coconut permeates daily live in Bali. It is shredded fresh daily by the locals for use in cooking, and no part of the coconut is left to waste, including the shell. So if you’ve ever wanted to be a coconut for a day, Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali is perhaps your chance. You could perhaps start your day off with banana pancakes dressed with shredded sweet coconut, followed by a lunch with coconut as a base ingredient. If you’re feeling like some relaxation, there’s a plethora of massage parlours which will rub you down with coconut oil, and when the afternoon heat gets too much, you could cool down with some coconut juice. Finally after a long hot day of sight seeing, you could finish off with a refreshing ice-cold cocktail… made with coconut!

Coconut juice

Coconut juice


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Bumbu Bali: A Taste of Bali

Curious to discover more about Balinese cooking techniques and the varied ingredients that make up the various flavours, I signed up for a cooking course. A number of restaurants in Ubud offer such courses, but I chose Bumbu Bali, a Balinese restaurant where I’d had dinner a few nights ago. Having eaten there, I knew the food was good and I’d therefore concluded that the course would probably be good too.

Ubud market

Ubud market

My day began with a visit to the markets to wade through the different types of local produce. Shopping at the markets for food has been a long standing tradition in my family. I prefer it to picking out packages of homogeneously sized vegetables at a supermarket. Chances are the produce has been produced nearby rather than shipped from afar, and I also prefer it for the fact that you also get to touch and smell the produce.

Back at the restaurant, we ran through the ingredients typically used in Balinese food including the many varieties of green and red chillies which I declined to taste test (ouch!). I was to cover six different dishes, but first and foremost, we covered in detail the base gede which is the true heart and soul of many Balinese dishes. This mixed spice paste consists of a large number of different spices including the most obvious ones such as ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric.

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Warung Bodag Maliah Cafe (Sari Organic)

The rice fields around Ubud

Rice fields around Ubud

One of the wonderful things about Bali is that despite having all the trappings of a modern tourist spot, in about a five minute walk it’s also possible to find yourself submerged in luscious green rice fields that spread on for miles. In the midst of one of these rice fields was Sari Organic, an organic farming venture that started about five years ago to service the needs of both local businesses and individuals. Its farming concept was based on ‘family-size’ farms, which consequently meant its business philosophy also provided jobs to local families. Over the years, Sari discovered that there was a genuine demand for organic produce in and around Ubud, and it now recruits and provides incomes to some 15 families.

Inside Sari Organic which looks out onto lush rice fields

Inside Sari Organic which looks out onto lush rice fields

For more immediate eating needs, there is also their organic restaurant, Warung Bodag Maliah. The restaurant is a two storey building, with the ground floor serving as the kitchen and the first floor as the dining area to allow you a wonderful elevated perspective of the rice fields. It’s an incredibly relaxed setting. The restaurant is windowless to allow in a gentle cool breeze and there are a range of seating choices; tables as well as cushioned platform seating areas. However if your fancy was to simply stretch out and snuggle up with a book on one of their benches as I saw one couple doing, this was also possible.

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Babi Guling Ibu Oka: The roasting of a suckling pig

After breakfast, I set off in search of the Babi Guling roasting house. Yesterday, Agun had pointed to a sign about 100m down the road from the restaurant, whereupon I was to turn right. I located the spot and made my way in. Typical of Balinese housing there were a string of buildings surrounding a central courtyard. Designed to accommodate a number of families, this compound was also designed to house noisy chickens and carpenters. I was directed to the far left corner of the compound. Eventually I spotted the pigs on open spits. My first reaction as I approached was “yum”! The second was shock at the almost intolerable searing heat, like a hot burn against my face. How some of the men roasting managed barefoot I knew not. Agun wasn’t there but with typical Balinese hospitality, I was made to feel welcome, even being permitted to turn the handle on the pigs as well as indulge in some taste testing, hot off the spit! Fresh and sizzling, it tasted even better than yesterday; the meat succulent and juicy, the crackling so crisp it could easily have snapped in two. Here are some memories that I’d like to share.

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And some videos that I have posted on YouTube:

Roasting the suckling pig at Babi Guling
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VKk6TVmLpR8

Removing the spit from the roast suckling pig
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Us4jb7nXnKI

Pork Crackling for me
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=U_UQOiN6NrE

Piggy off to market
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RjJAV8An4q8


Another Related Story



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Babi Guling Ibu Oka: Roast suckling pig

Babi guling Ibu Oka

Babi guling Ibu Oka

After doing the boat crossing from Java to Bali late yesterday afternoon, I headed straight for the heart of its cultural pulse, a town called Ubud. I liked it immediately. I slept in a quaintly decorated Balinese room with a four-poster bed (under the mandatory mosquito net) and showered in an open air bathroom with the sun streaming on my face. I was then served breakfast on my own little front porch by a man in traditional dress. What was there not to like?

Despite having had breakfast, by 11.30 I was hungry again. Must be all the fresh air, and although it was still hot, the temperatures were tempered by a nice cool breeze. I placated my grumbling stomach with a short-term fix of an ice-cream cone and headed off in the direction of the markets to look for lunch, whereupon I stumbled upon Babi Guling Ibu Oka. Babi guling translates as roast suckling pig, a Balinese specialty, which from my reading of Bali was a must try. This and the fact that it was barely 11.45 and the place was virtually packed with a throng of people queuing to be served told me I was onto a winner. I spotted a seat and settled in. It was a simple place; communal seating, plastic chairs, cutlery in “serve yourself” plastic containers, but buzzy with the hum of the crowd.

Inside Babi Guling Ibu Oka

Inside Babi Guling Ibu Oka

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