Bali, the “Island of the Gods.” Most people who visit fall madly in love with the warm people, the lush landscape, the almost otherworldly spirituality and the exotically-spiced food. Bali’s agricultural bounty is a treasure, and if you are passionate about cooking, this little Indonesian island is heaven on Earth. Make sure to leave room in your suitcase for treasures like coconut palm sugar, hand-harvested sea salt, pure coconut oil, vanilla pods, rich cacao powder and beans, coffee, tea, cashews, tamarind, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and the unusual Balinese long pepper. The most impassioned cooking fanatics will want to spend time in a kitchen on the island learning family recipes and techniques from the locals. These are Taste of Adventure’s top three options in Ubud.
PAON BALI You will start your day at the bustling Ubud market. Meandering among the vendors, you will be given a full tutorial on all the produce and spices this little island has to offer, with plenty of chances to taste exotic fruit like the rare mangosteen. Once fresh herbs, chiles, spices and vegetables are selected, you will be whisked away to the rice paddies for a brief overview of the painstaking process of growing and harvesting rice, carried on by Balinese families for generations. From there you will be taken to nearby Laplapan Village, the family compound of your host, Puspa, who will welcome you with an energizing drink. The afternoon cooking lesson, which takes place in the outdoor family kitchen overlooking a deep gorge filled with palm trees, is a carefully orchestrated procession of nine traditional Balinese recipes, including Base Gede (the foundation of Balinese cooking) and chicken with fresh coconut cream curry. Sit back, relax and enjoy the feast with your new friends and adoptive Balinese family.
LEBONG CULINARY EXPERIENCE The chance to spend the afternoon in a spectacular Balinese compound would be enough for most people, but food and culture enthusiasts will be spoiled by Sang Made and his family. After a brief tour of the local food market, you will be transported to Lebong, where four generations work together to provide an unforgettable experience. While enjoying rich Balinese coffee and golden banana fritters, you will learn about the compound, the shrines and other cultural tid-bits about Balinese life. The cooking experience takes place in a beautiful outdoor pavilion. The air quickly fills with aromatics like shallots, garlic, kaffir lime and lemongrass, as you work your way through the seven-course menu while sipping on refreshing Jamu Kunyit. There are a few more surprises after lunch that make the Lebong experience extraordinary. You will cherish every drop of the thoughtful departing gift of fresh coconut oil made in the Lebong kitchen over a wood-burning fire from coconuts gathered from the grounds.
CASA LUNA: SUNDAY TWILIGHT SMOKED DUCK CLASS Although Casa Luna offers a number of cooking classes throughout the week, the Sunday Twilight Smoked Duck Class is a special opportunity to prepare, and devour, the ceremonial Bebek Betutu in the stunning Honeymoon Guesthouse. This is a dish not easily replicated at home (as it entails wrapping a spice-smothered duck in Betel tree bark and smoking it over fiery rice husks), but cooks will quickly find themselves dreaming of inventive hacks to recreate the dish in their own kitchen. You will depart stuffed and inspired.
– Taste of Adventure