Bali

Now con­nected to the UK by a non­stop flight, this trop­i­cal is­land of­fers a rain­bow of Asian flavours, cook­ery cour­ses, and ac­cess to In­done­sia’s most in­ven­tive chefs

BBC Good Food Magazine - - Eat Like A Local - Words SARAH BAR­RELL

The film Eat Pray Love put Bali on the map as the place to seek spir­i­tual awak­en­ing, but it missed a trick – the is­land should have starred as the ‘eat’ el­e­ment. Chi­nese, In­dian and Malay cuisines un­der­pin the food her­itage of this trop­i­cal idyll, but it also has a unique Hindu culi­nary tra­di­tion that sets it apart from wider In­done­sia. For a tiny is­land, Bali punches above its weight with its ar­ray of dis­tinc­tive dishes. So, it’s no won­der, then, that there’s an on­go­ing in­flux of in­ter­na­tional chefs here, all keen to riff on tra­di­tional recipes and re­joice in the is­land’s pro­duce, from trop­i­cal fruit and sashimi­grade fish to a huge va­ri­ety of na­tive herbs and spices, in­clud­ing lemon­grass, torch gin­ger, golden turmeric and lush pan­dan leaves. The din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Bali runs the gamut, from rus­tic road­side warungs (small, fam­i­ly­op­er­ated cafés), to restau­rants of­fer­ing re­fined, ex­per­i­men­tal tast­ing menus. The is­land has also be­come a re­gional hub for top-notch cook­ery cour­ses, and a long-stand­ing leader of the pack, Jala Cook­ing Academy at the Four Sea­sons Jim­baran Bay ( foursea­sons.com/jim­baran­bay), was a pi­o­neer of Bali’s luxe ho­tel food scene. Fash­ioned like a tra­di­tional stone-built Ba­li­nese vil­lage, the ho­tel has been work­ing with lo­cal farm­ers for decades on projects de­signed to help re­vi­talise dy­ing trades, such as small-yield rice pro­duc­tion and bee­keep­ing. Academy head chef Kris acts as a guide for lo­cal mar­ket tours, where you can choose the pro­duce – per­haps a lo­cal ‘sexy’ lime (small but uniquely juicy), or a freshly caught red snap­per – that you’ll use to make a multi-course menu, com­plete with sam­bals and bumbu sauces. Mean­while, in the east of the is­land where few tourists ven­ture, you can cook in the smoul­der­ing shadow of Mount Agung’s vol­canic peak at Bali Asli restau­rant (baliasli.com.au). Chef-founder Pene­lope Wil­liams, an Aus­tralian ex­pat with 25 years on the is­land, of­fers not so much cook­ery classes as com­plete im­mer­sions in Bali’s unique food cul­ture. You could choose a walk­ing tour through the rice pad­dies, a mar­ket ex­cur­sion,

or a hands-on les­son in how to make a lo­cal sa­tay, tipat can­tok (peanut sauce with steamed veg and rice noo­dles) or jamu (cit­rus juice flavoured with gin­ger and turmeric). Cook­ing on the restau­rant’s wrap­around ter­race while sur­rounded by lush rice pad­dies is a real treat. There’s even the chance to learn how to use an ulekan (a pes­tle and mor­tar made from vol­canic stone), and sim­ple, wood-fired grills.

These cook­ery cour­ses, along with more must-do food ex­pe­ri­ences across the is­land, are avail­able to book through UK op­er­a­tor Car­rier (car­rier.co.uk). You can choose from spe­cial­ist mar­ket tours, rice paddy treks and chef’s table din­ners as part of Car­rier’s pack­ages to Bali.

How to do it

Car­rier of­fers 10 nights in Bali at Capella Ubud and Four Sea­sons Jim­baran Bay from £4,505 per per­son, in­clud­ing break­fast, cook­ery classes at Jala Cook­ing Academy and Bali Asli, re­turn flights, fast-track air­port as­sis­tance and pri­vate trans­fers. Visit car­rier.co.uk for more de­tails. As­sis­tance for this fea­ture was pro­vided by Bali Asli, Capella Ubud, Car­rier, and Four Sea­sons.

Mount Agung is the back­drop to Bali’s foodie ex­pe­ri­ences

Join Jala Cook­ing Academy head chef Kris on mar­ket tours

The Four Sea­sons Jim­baran Bay’s luxe rooms

Learn to use a tra­di­tional ulekan at Bali Asli

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