Review: Bali bliss at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri

I haven’t included accommodation reviews here before , but I am making an exception to share the very special experience that we recently had at Turtle Bay Hideaway in Jasri, East Bali.

The trip  to Turtle Bay in Jasri, East Bali takes around 2.5 hours from Ubud.

Admittedly, we stopped on the way for delicious Kambing(goat) satays at a buzzing warung(local restaurant/food stall) called PakseBali Kebangankku just outside of the town of Klungkung. Our long time driver and friend Wayan Suta told us that the goat satays here are renowned throughout the island and they certainly were a tasty brunch feast, straight from the charcoal grill to the plate with a delicious homemade satay sauce. The accompanying soup was rich and filled with chunks of tender goat meat and spices.

The drive to Jasri is on good roads throughout and takes you through some stunning Bali vistasacross ricefields and plantations and out to the ocean.

Having done extensive research to find a small, quiet resort near the ocean, without the artificial trappings or sky high prices of the five star resorts in Bali, we had decided to try the Eco-hotel Turtle Bay Hideaway, created by US expat owner Emerald Starr who has lived in Bali for 30 years.

We were warmly welcomed at the reception area and escorted through a beautiful, lush garden to Villa Mandala which is situated in the lower half of one of the 3 joglo style tribal houses, brought by Emerald from Sulawesi, that are strategically placed along the property for optimal ocean views and maximum privacy.

We actually caught our breaths seeing the 180 degree view of the ocean from the front of the villa. The ocean is literally at the end of an expanse of lawn and you can even see it lying in the massive King size bed inside. The large oceanside infinity swimming pool is positioned between the 2 larger  villas, with the 3rd “honeymoon” villa featuring it’s own smaller, private pool by the ocean.Our villa was very tastefully decorated, with a beautiful indoor/outdoor bathroom and excellent shower, and surrounded on each side for privacy by the lush garden plantings.

Our  welcoming host explained the lie of the land to us, including the fact that there is no restaurant so all meals are served at the villa as room service, or at a choice of dining locations along the seafront or in the gardens. As the meals are prepared using freshly procured ingredients from local fishermen and Turtle Bay’s own organic garden, a few hours notice needs to be given for the preparation of meals and breakfast is ordered the night before. Unlike many “breakfast included” villas in Bali, there is a wide range of choices too.

For our first meal we chose papaya salad, fishcakes and a light coconut based fish curry. The menu includes Asian inspired and western favourites. Whilst not extensive there are more than enough choices to satisfy individual tastes.

Our breakfasts were filled with the best tasting tropical fruits, freshly made crepes and eggs or omelettes. A highlight for me was drinking the juice of a young coconut and then eating the sweet, soft flesh with a spoon!

The Thai Tom Yam Goong soup was very authentic with lots of fresh prawns as well as galangal and kaffir lime leaves. It was obvious that the deliciously flavoured clear broth had been made using homemade fish stock.

The Prawns with Balinese sauce, the Ayam Goreng nuggets made with chicken breast, and the Orange Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream were all great picks on the menu. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get to try the banana and chocolate pie for dessert.

We found with all the food we ordered that the freshness of the ingredients shone through.  It is organic, home style cooking that goes perfectly with the natural setting. Prices of food and drinks were extremely good value for money too.

There are a number of activities that can be organised from the resort, but we chose only to leave to explore the neighbouring village and to visit the Uforia organic chocolate factory next door.(of course,we taste tested about 12 different types and bought bars of all our favourites!) You cannot swim in the ocean at Turtle Bay, but the once undiscovered and now very popular, White Sand Beach is 10 minutes away drive and is a gorgeous swimming spot. We were just as happy lolling in the pool.

Turtle Bay only accommodates 12-14 guests in total so the experience is very personalised. The manager Made and his team are friendly, polite, caring and provide excellent service with all meals delivered right on time and the rooms kept spotlessly clean.

image
View of sunrise from Villa Mandala at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri, East Bali

Our days at Turtle Bay were totally relaxing – reading, swimming, yoga on the verandah overlooking the ocean, great massages and going to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing on the sea wall. We were lucky to get clear skies at night and be able to see the night sky fill up with brightly shining stars and to wake up to magnicent sunrises over the ocean.The immensity of the ocean and sky fill in the days much better than any manmade entertainment. Mind you, the WiFi service is good too.

I would highly recommend the beautiful Turtle Bay Hideaway if you are seeking a blissful Bali Oceanside retreat, without the hoopla of Seminyak or Nusa Dua, at a very affordable price.

 

 

Review: New Year’s Foodie Nirvana at Mozaic Restaurant Ubud, Bali

image
Tray of fresh herbs and spices featured in menu

Our special treat for New Year’s Eve 2015 was to book in to the acclaimed, award-winning Moziac Restaurant in Ubud for their special seven course degustation.

Chef Chris Salans opened Mozaic in 2001 bringing together the indigenous flavours of Indonesian herbs, spices and vegetables with first class imported ingredients such as wagyu beef, black truffles, foie gras all prepared with sophisticated French and European cooking techniques.

The resulting menus and dishes have earned Chris Salans and his team a list of awards as long as your arm, not to mention, calls for a Michelin Star from Mozaic’s international diners.

As you can imagine, our expectations were set very high as we stepped through the beautiful wooden doors into the Mozaic Lounge for a pre-dinner aperitif and complimentary appetiser. We were brought an appetiser of a light as air tiny profiterole filled with a luscious savoury, truffle infused custard.

Our host explained the wine pairing menu with dinner which we decided to go with, and we were very well rewarded , as each of the wines complimented the complex flavours of each of the courses perfectly.

We entered the atmospheric garden pavilion surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and festive new year decorations to be seated for dinner. Divine setting!

One of the best initiatives is the tray of fresh spices that is brought to each table and as each course is presented, the waiters explain which of the spices and herbs are used in each dish. With many of the ingredients unique to Indonesia, this is a great way for diners to touch and smell them and understand more about what they are about to enjoy.

Each course is inspired by a theme of the local flavour featured e.g torch ginger flower or kaffir lime.

Our seven course eating odyssey began with a complimentary amuse Bouche of sweet lobster with a light cucumber and lime foam. It was an delicious introduction to the greater things to come.

image

It would be too difficult to try to explain each of the courses in detail so instead all I will do is post my photographs with the menu titles and short descriptions.

I can only recommend that if you are going to Ubud that you visit Mozaic for a truly amazing dining experience. At $170-350 per head depending on your wine choices, it is by no means cheap but it is in comparison to what you would pay in any major city for the same quality of food, ambience and service.

Foodie Nirvana indeed!

For restaurant information visit http://www.mozaic-bali.com

Dabu Dabu (Indonesian sambal)
Fresh chilled oysters with Dabu Dabu Relish and Russian Sturgeon Caviar

Kecicang(Torch Ginger Flower)
Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

image
Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

Sereh(Lemongrass)
Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

image
Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

Tempe (Fermented soy bean)
Stockyard Wagyu Beef, Fermented soy bean and Fresh Winter Black Truffle Crumble

Kemangi (Lemon Basil)
Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

image
Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

Pala(Fresh Nutmeg)

A.O.C. Vacherin Cheese with Fresh nutmeg Pericarp and reduction

Jeruk Purut (Kaffir Lime)
Kaffir Lime Clay with Valrhona Chocolate and Kaffir Lime Sorbet

Review: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak.

Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier.

The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other.

The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food.

We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” to start with. Admittedly, this was probably a wrong combination as both dishes feature deep frying but the tomato chilli sambal, lemon, green chillies and aioli provide fresh,spicy flavours.

image
Crispy Pig’s Ears with crackling and sambal aioli

Our favourites were the corn fritters and fried tempeh with bites of fresh green chilli in-between which is as the locals do! The serving size of the starters is very generous and the Gorengan Platter which also features delicious lumpiah (Spring rolls) and average curry puffs could be further refined for a smaller and more focussed offering. I found the Pig’s Ears interesting but rather chewy and flavourless on their own but okay dipped in the aioli.

image
Gorengan platter with fresh green chillies and tomato chilli sambal

The mains we ordered, on the other hand, were really delicious! We had the Kari Kambing Aceh – slow cooked Sumatran Lamb Curry (with Australian lamb) with roti canai, the Karangasem Sambal Udang – prawn sambal and Pelecing Kunkung – stir fried water spinach.

The lamb cooked in a rich sauce with star anise, cardamom and  curry leaves was “melt in your mouth” perfect. The roti canai was not of the soft, fluffy variety that we are accustomed to but crispy, still providing a good medium to dip into the curry sauce.

The prawns are cooked with the heads off but shells and tails still on. The shells come off easily and are delicious to chew on, the prawns themselves are perfectly cooked, tender and sweet cooked protected in their shells but still redolent of the spicy sambal sauce.

The Pelecing Kankung, stir fried water spinach features spicy chilli and hints of sambal belacan(shrimp paste) with roasted peanuts scattered on top, is a perfect green accompaniment to the other two dishes.

The overall experience of Hujan Locale was very pleasant and a good way to get a sense of the smorgasbord of tastes available in Indonesian regional specialities. Once again we were too full to try the desserts.

Bali Review: A real Babi Guling experience at Warung Ibu Suna, Kedewatan

image
Campuhan Bridge from the river’s edge

Having set out at 7.30am to do the Campuhan Ridge walk in Ubud before the sun got too hot, we decided we would have breakfast/brunch on the way back to Penestanan. The walk starts from stairs near the Campuhan Bridge that take you down to the river bed where you negotiate crossing over rocks to more stairs that lead up to the impressive temple on the other side, and the actual start of the “trek” up the ridge.

We were lucky to have the aid of a makeshift bamboo “bridge” to get us across. The walk itself up the ridge affords stunning views across valleys on both sides.

After about 3km of rolling hill climbs, you reach the village of Tegallalang with it’s rice fields and then walk another 4kms or so through the village of Kedawatan towards Jalan Sangiangan, the main route into Ubud. This stretch involves very steep hill walks between Tegallalang and Kedwatan and we certainly worked up a sweat and an appetite!

Just as we leaving Kedawatan heading towards Ubud, we noticed a spotless Warung with a freshly delivered Babi Guling pig being chopped up for the day’s servings. We couldn’t resist knowing that most local warungs only serve Babi Guling fresh in the mornings and run out by midday. We were also keen to sample Babi Guling outside the now-world famous and tourist focussed Ibu Oka in Ubud central.

Having been to Ibu Oka many times in the last decade, from it’s original dirt floor premises opposite the Ubud Palace, to the now massive hall-like venue occupied by Ibu Oka 2, the sight of the small and spotlessly clean, local Warung Ibu Suna with locals tucking in, was very appealing. So, in we went and we were not to be disappointed.

The Babi Guling was served with rice, hot chilli sambal, a delicious spicy lawar (mixture of green ferns and finely chopped green/snake beans and porky bits, juicy pieces of pork, crispy innard bits and brilliantly crispy, “glassy” crackling. The soup accompanying the Babi Guling was one of the best we have ever tried and included pork pieces on the bone, cooked in the soup to a melt in your mouth texture. All this, and a bottle of Rasa Temulawak Beruap (see below for info)for only IR65,000 for the 2 of us!

Rasa Temulawak Beruap - sweet and gingery drink at Warung Ibu Suna
Rasa Temulawak Beruap – sweet and gingery drink at Warung Ibu Suna

Literally translated Rasa Temulawak Beruap means “ginger flavour steamy”, but tastewise it’s like a sharper, richer flavoured non-alcoholic ginger beer. According to an article in the Jakarta Post, Temulawak is Javanese turmeric which has excellent cholesterol reducing properties, even better than turmeric. We of course didn’t know all this at the time but the spicy sweetness of the icy cold drink certainly went very well with our Babi Guling. Here’s the link to The Jakarta Post article:
http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/11/25/‘temulawak’-another-wonder-healer.html

There are no menu choices here but they definitley do their speciality very well.

I have googled to find other reviews of Warung Ibu Suna and cannot find any mentions on Trip advisor or anywhere. I doubt very much that we are the first tourists to visit and enjoy Ibu Suna’s hospitality and delicious Babi Guling but I suspect they might not have wanted to share this very tasty secret with the world just as yet.

Ps. We then walked the rest of the 3.5km back to Penestanan energised by our power breakfast/brunch!

Javanese dining in Ubud – Warung Mendez Penestanan

image
Display of spices at Warung Mendez

After a wonderful Christmas eating lots of delicious traditional English and Australian food, we are now in Bali for a fortnight of feasting and relaxation up in the hills of Ubud. There won’t be too much cooking but certainly a lot of eating planned.

We have been regulars to Bali over the last ten years and can’t help but feel instantly relaxed when we get here through the combination of the warm Balinese hospitality, heat of the tropical sun and diversity and quality of the food.

This visit we are staying in the village of Penestanan on the edge of the rice fields, once quite a sleepy part of Ubud but which has now been populated with great cafes and restaurants, spas and villas.

We started our first day here lazing by our pool before choosing to lunch at Warung Mendez, a restaurant specialising in Javanese cuisine. From tempting appetisers and soups to specials such as slow cooked goat’s leg and Tempe fried in a special spring onion batter, deciding on what to eat is not an easy task so we immediately ordered Bintang beer to cool us down as we made the tough choices.

Adrian often talks about Rawon soup which he had previously enjoyed in Jakarta. The dark almost black, beef soup is made that colour and given it’s unique earthy flavour from the use of the kelucak seed. It is traditionally served with steamed rice and chilli sambal, which is known as Nasi Rawon. At Warung Mendez, we ordered it just as a soup to shar alongside our individual mains of Nasi Goreng and Rica Rica Mackerel.

Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez
Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez

Whilst the Rawon soup was delicious, it felt like it had been “toned down” to suit the largely tourist palate of the diners that frequent the restaurant. However the nutty taste of the ground kelucak seeds did shine through and with the addition of some of the tasty homemade chilli sambal we had certainly would get Warung Mendez at least 3.5 stars for their version.

Of course it is difficult to pass by a Nasi Goreng or the Balinese version known as Nasi Campur when in Bali. The Warung Mendez version comes with the traditional fried rice, freshly bed chicken satays, pickled carrot, crispy shredded cabbage, a perfectly fried egg and prawn crackers. Adrian’s verdict is that it was “very nice”. We could see, smell and hear the rice being wok tossed and the stays being barbecued!

My Rica Rica Mackerel was not quite as I expected having had the more “tomatoey” Chicken Rica-Rica before. The Warung Mendez Mackerel version omits the tomatoes but features delicious grilled and then shredded fish mixed with the spicy chilli and shallot Rica Rica spice paste. The inclusion of small pieces of tangy Balines lime and the accompaniments of the fern and coconut salad and turmeric rice made for a light and tasty lunch dish.

Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez
Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez

All in all we would recommend Warung Mendez if you’d like to get an authentic taste of Javanese food in Ubud at an extremely good price. Our lunch cost us less than AUD$20. We will definitely be returning for dinner to try the goat’s leg and tempeh, and some desserts.