Hooray, we’re back – bronzed, rejuvenated and significantly heavier! A six week break for the Club staff was the perfect opportunity to do some foodie research all over the world – and we’ve all thrown ourselves into the task with gusto. Lucy and Simon headed to southern France and Spain, and their findings have influenced our autumn and winter menu (have you called in to try our new additions yet?).
I’m Kerry, and I made the most of our luxurious break by heading across the globe to Bali. I’ve wanted to visit this part of the world for a long time to experience the tropical climate, colourful and spiritual culture and the fresh, exciting food scene. I wasn’t disappointed! My travels took me around the southern and central parts of Bali where I climbed an active volcano, met some rather aggressive monkeys and indulged in a spot of yoga, some serious sun worshipping, hostelling, bar-hopping and a good deal of eating.
Traditional local food is in plentiful supply, and you can easily pick up a generous meal and a cold beer for around £2 at a warung, a local restaurant. If you’re craving a western foodie fix you’re catered for too – fresh fruit and veg and amazing seafood complete the picture. Here are my top five picks of foodie heaven in Bali.
Probably the most Instagrammable breakfast ever? Everywhere you go in Bali, you’ll find gorgeous smoothie bowls of virtue and vitamins topped with colourful tropical fruit, served in a wooden bowl or even a coconut shell if you’re lucky. Chia seeds, shaved coconut, sliced fuchsia dragon fruit, golden mango and the sweetest tiny bananas feature heavily in various combinations. I found in Bali’s humid heat I didn’t have a huge appetite in the morning but this is the perfect fresh, uplifting breakfast to get you set up for a day of doing not-very-much.
Sate(satay) is an Indonesian staple. Meat (usually lovely, fatty pork or lean chicken), tofu or fish is marinated in a peanut and soy sauce, then skewered and seared over a hot, smoky griddle. Sate lilitis a variation where the meat is ground and combined with coconut, lemon juice and shallots, and served on a ‘skewer’ of lemongrass for an extra punch of citrus flavour. Wow! My favourite sate memory is a paper-wrapped, steaming bundle purchased from a roadside stall in Sanur and carried a short walk to the beach for sunset.
If you’re in need of a health kick after all that indulgence, head to coastal Canggu, a surfer haven that’s known across Bali for its amazing vegetarian and vegan foodie options. Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong is the main strip that leads to Batu Bolong beach, and surfers and beach babes alike are catered for by a huge range of hip bars and eateries. Betelnut Cafe, Cafe Organic, Avocado Factory, Crate, Green Spot and In The Raw are just a few places that kept me fed and watered in between arduous sunbathing sessions. This lively spot is perfect for getting your fix of traditional veggie food like tofu and tempeh, as well as inventive contemporary options. I was lucky enough to experience the vegan food festival in Canggu when I first arrived – evidence of the burgeoning vegan scene here.
The Balinese are very much into the concept of nose-to-tail eating, and babi guling (translation: turning pig) is a great example of this. A whole, spice-stuffed suckling pig is roasted over several hours, occasionally basted with coconut oil, turmeric and garlic until the skin is glossy, golden and snappy, and the pork inside is tender and juicy. At Warung Ibu Oka in Ubud, the meat was served with crackling in several formats, a blood sausage cased in intestine, and sauteed vegetables mixed in with the offal. The bones are used to make a deliciously fragrant and fatty broth, so hardly anything is wasted. Babi guling is the perfect accompaniment for your essential lunchtime Bintang beer.
Seafood, eat it!
Fishing is a huge industry in Bali and I was lucky enough to sample some of the best seafood I’ve ever had during my time here. It’s popular for a whole fish to be coated in a thick layer of spices and simply char-grilled, which lends an amazing smoky flavour. My favourite Balinese fish dish still has me reminiscing regularly: pepes ikan, chunks of fresh or saltwater fish steamed then grilled with various curry spices inside a banana leaf. Tamarind, turmeric, garlic, tomatoes and chilli penetrate deep into the meat and create a rich, hearty and fragrant dish that I just couldn’t get enough of.
… And I can’t miss the opportunity for the smallest of boasts. After a 2am start and a 1770m climb to the top of Mount Batur, an active volcano in northern Bali, this hard-boiled egg was one of the most satisfying snacks I’ve ever eaten. The sunrise views across to Mount Agung and Lake Batur were an added bonus – just watch out for the cheeky monkeys who will seize the opportunity to steal your breakfast.