Oh Bali. Was I really there last week, or was it just a lovely warm dream? If I really was there, why did I come home? If I really wasn’t there, why didn’t someone wake me up if I was sleeping for 5 days?
Last Wednesday night my soon-to-be-married friend C and I jetted our way to Bali, leaving behind everything we’d been stressing over for the last few weeks and months and letting out a sigh of relief as we stepped out into the balmy Bali night awaiting us. It was after midnight by the time we arrived at our villa and had checked ourselves in, and luckily we’re very good friends because (of course) they had stuffed up the booking and given us a romantic queen size bed instead of the two beds we’d requested. Too late in the night to fix the mistake, we tucked ourselves in and rested up for the fun we knew was ahead in the next few days.
The following day was C’s birthday, and after sitting down at breakfast she was greeted with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and a mini chocolate mud cake which looked quite nice but then proceeded to slowly melt into the plate as we ate our breakfast. Although it is perfectly acceptable and indeed encouraged to eat cake for breakfast on your birthday, it was wrapped up and taken to the cool safety of our villa’s fridge for consumption later that night.
Breakfast was slightly different each day, and this was part of what I had on my plate this morning…
Later in the morning we were picked up by C’s friend Ch who took us to La Lucciola, Seminyak, for a relaxing birthday lunch. The setting here is beautiful, overlooking the beach, and the service couldn’t be faulted. The menu offers modern Italian dishes, with daily specials, and C ordered the entrée dish of “fried zucchini flowers field (perhaps they mean “filled”) with roast pumpkin, gorgonzola and pinenuts” (62 000 Rp), Ch chose the entree dish of “toasted panini of goats cheese, marinated eggplant, cherry tomatoes and almond pesto” (75 000 Rp) and I chose the main dish of “angel hair pasta with baby octopus, calamari, cherry tomatoes and pinot grigio” (96 000 Rp). Ch then ordered a lychee and lime juice (30 000 Rp), and after hearing that both C and I couldn’t help but copy her.
I was lucky enough to taste all dishes, and enjoyed them all. The zucchini flowers tasted really fresh, having obviously been fried in very clean oil. The panini was nice and crunchy on the outside with a soft centre. My pasta was cooked very well, had a generous amount of seafood, and the sauce was nice and light. The juices were also super fresh and exactly what we needed to help acclimatise!
Next stop on our journey was Bali Catering Company (bcco) where we needed to pick up two pumpkin pies that had been ordered by Ch. She used to live in Bali, and remembers these pies so fondly that she had to share the magic with us. You’re probably thinking what I was thinking – “pumpkin pie? In Bali?” but I really need no excuse to enjoy pie, and Thursday was Thanksgiving after all. I was far less sceptical about the promised quality of this pie once we arrived at bcco, and I got to have a nosy around. They had macarons! And cannelés! And Illy coffee! And beef sausage buns!
Beef sausage buns aside, the pumpkin pie was as good as promised. Beautiful short pastry and a rich gingery pumpkin filling. Perfect to enjoy after a leisurely swim in the pool.
After a lazy afternoon we headed up to Ku De Ta in Seminyak, which was ranked #9 in the Miele Guide of Asia’s Finest Restaurants, and really is a cool place to hang out. It spans two levels, with plenty of barstools, sofas and daybeds to recline on and watch the ocean while enjoying a cocktail or some food. We certainly enjoyed a cocktail or two (the passionfruit and vanilla mojito was divine) and found ourselves a comfortable spot to watch the sun go down. The perfect way to farewell our first sunny day in Bali.
After checking out the front page of their menu, I could see that they really did cater for everyone. Be you a greasy drug dealer, a brainy doctor, a debonair dandy, trapped in the 80s, Paul Hogan, a very short woman or a hairy-chested computer geek, you will be welcomed with open arms. We left the ordering to Ch, and all ended up with various versions of Nasi Campur Special (55 000 Rp).
This was my favourite meal of the whole trip, and was an adventure on a plate. Nasi Campur means “mixed rice” and is basically a serve of steamed white rice and lots of tasty stuff (such as sambals, tuna, chicken, curries, tempeh, tofu, cucumber, beans). I actually couldn’t tell you what all the components of this particular version of Nasi Campur Special were, but I can say that it was incredibly, wonderfully flavoursome. The hot sambal (sitting on some cucumber in the top left) was really spicy, even for this chilli lover, and was about the only thing that I couldn’t completely finish on the plate as by the time I’d made my way to it I didn’t have enough non-spicy components left to cut through the mouth singeing heat. Luckily I had a delicious fresh pineapple and banana juice handy to put out the fire.
After getting back to our villa, C was kind enough to share her little birthday cake with me, and thus we concluded our first day in Bali how I intended to continue – with a big smile and a full belly.