So, one bright early Thursday morning, off I tottered to Casa Luna, a well reknowned Restaurant, Guest House and Cookery school. The owner, Janet DeNeefe being the author of Fragrant Rice, swanky eh? I thought so 🙂
I was instructed to be there at 8am sharp. After a brief introduction to the guide we were brought to central Ubud’s food and all round every thing market. Our very charming guide, who’s name I don’t quite remember brought us around to all the lovely stalls showing us traditional foods and drinks that were sold at the market from 5am onwards, being there at 8:30, all of the yummies were gone. Not to worry, there was more back at the ranch. We ploughed through the market stalls like an awkward bunch of tourists, oohing and aaahing at all the odd looking pieces of fruits and veg, the mounds of spices and the stall holders, which were my particular favourite. Some of these women walked over 10km to come to the market in the morning, carrying their laden down baskets with all kinds of nibbles for the hungry people.
We got a chance to pick up some trinkets and goodies for ourselves. Up to this point all I had really spent my sheckles on was yoga and food. So, market time was bananas time. I managed to pick up a very swanky cleaver, known as the man’s knife in Bali and a rather vicious smaller knife, used for killings little piggies, my trusted guide informed me. I will not be killing any little piggies I can safely say. Eat them, yes.
A mortar and pestle was calling to me out of the corner of my eye. ‘I would look so pretty in your new kitchen, try me out’. Walk away Carol-Anne. No, I bought it. A heavy little devil but it had to run away with me and all for 4 AUD. Nifty, if I do say so myself.
Also, on my scavenging through the spice stalls I found a rather juicy looking bag of vanilla pods with oh I’d say about 40 pods in it for say 15 AUD(13ish Euros) so you can imagine my delight at picking up this swanky little bargain and some cinnamon sticks, because I could. To add even further delight to my find, one of the cookery classers was Aussie and informed that I could most likely get away with bringing Vanilla to Oz 🙂 yay….for the moment!
So off I went, cleaver and spices ahoy. Back to the cookery school for some learnin’.
This time we headed back to the Honeymoon Guesthouse (sister of Casa Luna) and sat down to a very different take on breakfast. We were presented with some sweet and savoury dishes. Our meals were presented to us on banana leaves, the eastern version of take away plates and they’re friendly to the environment too! We ate rice cakes that were packed with enough spice to make a small group of big men go teary eyed and pancakes with so much palm sugar syrup that I could fill my teeth dissolving with every sticky mouthful. As we were eating our breakfast, our lovely, well rehearsed chef for the day showed us how to make hibiscus juice. I may have drank well over a litre of the stuff after the spicy rice cakes but it was so refershing, especially in the humidity in the late morning.
After sampling all of the tasty breakfast treats, it was all cleaned up and we were presented with our aprons and told to get down to work. First of all we were walked through all of the preparation that had been done. What ingredients were going into each dish and they would each be prepared.
We were presented with 3 massive pestle and mortars, no food blenders in Bali. We had to take turns mixing up all of the spices and getting them into a really nice, juicy paste. We had spices for chicken curry, tofu fritters and sambal. The aromas were so exotic and when they threw the chilis and shrimp paste into a steaming hot pan, everyone suddenly became teary eyed and choked up. It was this overpowering sting at the back of my throat but smelled so good at the same time.
We watched and listened as our 3 chefs demonstrated how they cooked up Chicken Curry, Tofu Fritters, Anchovy and Coconut Sambal, Bean and Coconut Salad, Wok-Fried Eggplant. It was one of the best meals I had in Bali and I loved that I could watch to see what exactly was put in and how it was cooked and whilst we were seating down gobbling up all of the treats, the chef was making sago pudding. using fresh sago, coloured with pink and flavoured with coconut milk and palm sugar. It was served with vanilla ice-cream and went down a treat after all of the exotic spices.