Raw food Bali

IMG_7727 Raw food is all the rage these days, especially in the holistic heart of Ubud, and we find Living Food Lab right alongside Hubud (a collaborative working space and business network.) Surrounded by a pretty garden with colourful bean bags on one side, and glistening rice fields on the other, the airy bamboo building creates a casual, comfortable setting for light and nutritious food.

An experiment in conscious eating, Living Food Lab also celebrates the notion of food as an art form, and meals are beautifully served on wicker plates lined with ornamentally-cut banana leafs. With the exception of chick peas, beans and quinoa (options in the salad bar,) everything on the menu is raw, and sourced locally to ensure absolute freshness. The use of a dehydrator slowly and gently heats food to 43 degrees, which keeps all the nutrients and enzymes intact, and creates crispy flax seed crackers, kale chips and tostadas.

Early risers can hit the breakfast bar and start the day with an organic cold pressed FREAK coffee, and load up at the granola station packed with seeds, nuts, oats, fruit, coconut or cashew milk. Lunch choices include a daily specials board and a salad bar, filled with all manner of sprouts, vegetables, legumes, greens and a good choice of dressings, such as beet vinaigrette, citrus avocado, pesto, and tahini with a kick. Organic cashews, sourced from the fabulous East Bali Cashew Company, located in the north of the island make a highly versatile raw food ingredient and can be churned into tasty cheese, whipped into a smooth filling for cheesecakes and pies, and crushed into a crunchy base.

We have a Corn Tostada, with a crispy corn and sesame cracker topped with a sunflower seed pate, spicy marinated vegetables, cashew cheddar and cashew sour cream. Generous amounts of cilantro, cumin and lime create an authentic Mexican flavour. The towering Zoom Burger has dark zucchini and mushroom crackers layered with sundried tomato paste, tomatoes and cashew mason – which tastes like a crunchy parmesan cracker.

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Raw food really comes into its own in the dessert arena, granting the sweet taste you crave, minus the guilt factor, and the deli counter is filled with all kinds of enticing delights, from Bliss Balls, to Silky Truffles, to Mulberry Cheesecake and richly smooth Chocolate salted Caramel Cups. I devour an entire slice of fragrant Strawberry Cheesecake and feel wonderfully light (and not at all remorseful) afterwards.

 

Living Food Lab started at the Green School, where kids, teachers, and visitors on daily tours can stop by for a healthy bite. Known as the ‘greenest school on earth,’ this is probably also the only school in world with a raw food café, and you can join introductory raw food courses on Saturday mornings at 9am.

Living Food Lab

Jalan Monkey Forest 88x Monkey Forest Road,

Open 7am-7pm

 

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Kayun restaurant: Heart Touch

Translating into something akin to ‘heart touch’ the founding philosophy of Kayun is that “Anything created with a heart will bring happiness, inner peace and positive energy.”

Unless you are lucky enough to be invited to a ceremonial meal in a village, finding a traditional Balinese dining experience can be surprisingly difficult. A visit to the Kayun Restaurant and Lounge in Mas gives a rare insight into the relationship between food and the divine. The setting is utterly enchanting, thatched berugas and a main dining pavilion set amidst a natural garden. Many of the products used at Kayun are homemade, from the brem (rice wine) to coconut oil to soy sauce, and you can watch women at work in the traditional open air kitchen fuelled by a log fire.

Our welcome drink is a rather potent Brem Mojito and we follow with some traditional jamus, including a Loloh Kayun Turmeric, a dark orange concoction made with turmeric, ginger and lemon, and a grassy green Loloh Kayun Saraswati sweetened with honey from Singaraja.

Food is beautifully presented, the Nasi Saraswati comes on a lotus leaf, topped with eight dishes woven from banana leaf. Each is an offering and pays tribute to the ocean, the river, trees, earth and sky, with turmeric rice, dry salty fish, river shrimp, grated coconut, crunchy soya beans, sambal and spicy chicken. The Lotus Rice is decoratively wrapped in a lotus leaf tied in a bundle. It’s a little like opening a birthday present to reveal rice that is slightly sweet and just a little spicy rice with pumpkin, carrot and tossed in coconut oil. The Vegetable Bamboo comes packed into a bamboo stem, blending the earthy goodness of cassava leaf with tofu and tempe and Balinese spice. While the Yuyu Crab is a fresh river crab soup beautifully served in a coconut. Other traditional dishes include Crispy Duck, Soto Ayam and Bubur Rempah, herb porridge made with red rice, star anise, sweet corn, cinnamon and chicken stock, and a Natural Daluman Pudding that takes its green colour from the dalaman leaf.

Mas is famed across Indonesia for its wood carving. As legend has it, in the 16th century, a monk named Danhyannirarta placed a wooden twig in the ground, which miraculously became a living tree filled with golden flowers. He took this as a sign that the people should put down their roots in this place, and call it Mas, meaning gold; and declared that the people who settled here would create their life from wood. As well as a restaurant, Kayun creates stunning works of art and sculptures lovingly carved from single tree trunks, so make sure to take a peek in the Bidadari Gallery at the entrance to the restaurant.

Little Green

In the three years that it has been open The Little Green Cafe has built a loyal following thanks to a fresh salad bar, friendly vibe, and delicious healthy desserts. With its relocation last year to a bigger space (just across the road from the original spot,) Little Green has blossomed –  quite literally – into the cafe it was always meant to be. Vines dangle in the vibrant garden, aloe vera spills out of  terracotta pots; basil and coriander thrive amidst the Buddha statues, and there are colourful garlands of flowers everywhere. Simple outdoor furniture is punctuated by sunbrellas, heart-shaped napkin holders and woven placemats.

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Little Green has always been a  gathering place, somewhere to sit down with friends and enjoy a good healthy meal in atmospheric, welcoming  surrounds.  Now there is room to breath, and the garden creates a true sanctuary –  its hard to believe we are just meters  from busy Jalan Mertanadi.  The concept remains the  same – home style whole foods, with daily changing salads and bakes, vegan burgers, healthy juicy elixirs. However, the menu, like the premises has expanded, with a recent shift  towards more raw vegan foods – including a huge range of delicious and nutritious desserts.  

 

We start with a Raw Mexican Platter, a new addition featuring  crunchy, locally made tortilla chips, home baked chilli beans, a sharp, piquant tomato sambal, fresh salsa and a creamy tahina and peanut sauce. I follow with the bake of the day – a light and tasty vegan Vegetable Lasagne made with eggless pasta, lashings of fresh vegetables and spinach. The rich creaminess coming from a cashew nut cheese and totally renders béchamel sauce obsolete!  I choose two side salads, Pumpkin & Pineapple, with rucola, lemongrass, cranberries and a hint of chilli, and Fennel, Beetroot Coleslaw, a bright, cheery and very red salad madewith lots of peppers, cabbage and beetroot.

 

I really enjoy the desserts which have a natural and earthy goodness. The moist and sticky Vegan Chocolate Cake is textured and flavoured with organic raw cacao and cashews, and sweetened with dates. While the Raw Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake is made with creamed cashews, vanilla, honey, almonds and dates set in a macadamia nut crust.  

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Drinks range from Young Coconut, to Aloe Vera, Orange and Apple and Green Juice, and there is also a small selection of nuts and pulses, teas and organic products for sale in the shop front. For those looking for a healthy kick start to the day The Little Green breakfast beckons with Cranberry Almond Porridge,  Apple, Date and Cinnamon Porridge.

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The Little Green Café  Jl Bidadari No 1. (off Jalan Mertanadi)

 

P +62 361  2752125  Open 9am – 6pm

 

Kopi Kultur

A number of charismatic warungs and cafes have sprung up in Kerobokan lately.  Kopi Kultur is one of them, and turns out to be the most wonderful of discoveries.

 

The rustic cafe is housed in a sloping bamboo structure and is part of the Wisnu Open Space which incorporates a gallery, a library and  headquarters for the Wisnu foundation. Set up to empower local communities, the Balinese foundation has a  range of initiatives including eco tourism that promotes traditional villages and their natural attractions, such as rice fields, organic coffee plantations and customary rituals.

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Ayip Budiman a communications expert, and one of the founders of Kopi Kultur explains that, “The cafe is a showcase, but the real story is what lies behind.” This is the perfect example of a group of  people with very different backgrounds but similar social values who ar. The four include Ayip, along with  I Made Suarnatha who created the Wisnu foundation, Dicky Lopulalan – a facilitations expert, and Rai Bangsawan of ‘Bali Exotic Beans’ a farming and agricultural consultant who works directly with farmers to implement sustainable, fair trade practices.

 

While coffee is a specialty, there is also  Indonesian food, homemade cakes, pies, baguettes and a range of products on sale such as organic coffee, palm sugar and 9 grain rice – all supplied directly from small local businesses. Rai expertly prepares us Bali Arabica coffee in an elegant glass siphon right at the table, and we sip the resulting smooth rich brew from dainty glasses. He makes a great Cappuccino too, and there is also coffee from Ache, Timor and Papua, as well as  Bali Rustica and Bali Peabody, all of which can be spiced up with the addition of cloves, cinnamon, ginger or cardamom.  

 

The menu offers Indonesian favourites such as Campur and Rendang as well as grills and a couple of pasta dishes. The Nasi Bamboo Kopi Kultur is impressive – rice and vegetables steamed in a piece of bamboo more than a meter long. The bamboo is split open at the table releasing a wonderful aroma. Half is filled with nutty nine grain rice, the other a light and fragrant mix of colourful vegetables, fish and chicken. The pies are also good – especially the Apple with lots of cinnamon.  

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The gallery currently has an interesting exhibition by the Eco defenders #Kudamacan, a local cyclist group who are passionate about protecting the environment, while the library shelves are filled with titles in Bahasa Indonesian, English and other languages. Set up as a space for the community, Wisnu Open Space has developed into quite a gathering place, a true melting pot of musicians and artists including locals, expats, and increasing numbers of tourists who are looking for cultural insight. We are also in luck as the Black Valentine community events gets underway just after sunset and some great local bands take to the outdoor stage to belt out some good old fashioned rock n roll.

 

What started as a simple restaurant review turned into an inspirational experience, marked by excellent coffee, interesting people, good music and a genuine sense of community.

 

Kopi Kultur   Jalan Pengubengan Kauh 94    P +62 361 798 3222

 

Kreole Kitchen

 

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The food alone is enough of a reason to stop at Kreole Kitchen, but the retro ‘old school’ Melbourne vibe creates a wonderful sense of nostalgia that has me  reminiscing about the carefree days of my childhood in Australia.

Lime green Tupperware, pots shaped like pineapples, vinyl album art and lamp shades made from tea towels printed with kangaroos and kookaburras evoke the 70’s.  A black board lists homemade pies, and a glass cabinet is filled with the kind of sweets I used to bake with my mum – like peppermint slices, crumbly short bread and chocolate crackles, while I could swear the vintage crockery and framed teaspoon collection came from my grandma. However the rice field views from the breakfast counter at the back don’t let me forget that I am in Bali.

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Annick,who formerly worked in the design industry started the cafe in 2012 and  now spends her days cooking and playing gracious host to her many regular guests. “I am living my dream,” she says with a smile, “I feel blessed.”  While her heritage is Mauritian Creole, she grew up in Melbourne, and the menu and the paraphernalia reflect both.The space is nurturing and comforting, heavy on the human touch, with a dose of spirituality thrown into the mix. Paintings of three female deities preside over the open  kitchen to “bless the food,” and the counter has wooden  boxes marked with ‘magic bits’ and ‘fairy dust.’ “We sprinkle it on all the food,” she tells me with a smile. Whether its magic or just good old-fashioned home-style cooking techniques,  the food is delicious.

The popular Kreole Platter releases a fragrant aroma as it is set on the table – a thali tray with a thick yellow dhal; a light, yet fully flavoured okra and vegetable curry, creamy raita; tasty Mauritian-inspired coconut chutney, chapati and a mix of red and white rice. Aussie-style pies are also a crowd favourite and include Chunky Beef Pie  encased in golden pastry, a hearty mashed potato-topped Shepherd’s Pie and real, homemade Sausage Rolls,soft flaky pastry filled with chicken, beef, carrot and just a hint of apple. The mini Spinach and Feta Borek are excellent – I cook good borek myself – and although it kills me to admit it,these are better.

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There are no sugary soft drinks on the menu, instead  fresh juices, young coconut, herbal teas and homemade cordials like Rosella and Vanilla Bean and Ginger and Lime mixed with soda water. Annick also stocks the rather  hard-to-find, but very good Bali Cider and organic F.R.E.A.K(Fresh Roasted Enak  Arabica from Kintamani) coffee  which is cold-pressed, smooth and full bodied. It is  the perfect accompaniment to Chocolate and Peanut Hedgehog a crunchy chocolate nutty slice, a Lemon Slice and  a Melting Moment – shortbread that really does melt in the mouth.

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Kreole Kitchen

JalanDrupardi 11 no.56

P +62 361 738514

Bungalow

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Bungalow

Just minutes from Seminyak, the pretty seaside village of Berawa is developing quite a cafe scene.  Bungalow is the newest addition, combining  gorgeous homeware with a tasty home-style menu. Balinese-born musician Donald, and his Australian wife Giovanna, have drawn inspiration from their global travels to bring a touch of the exotic to this charming store/cafe, where everything has been hand-picked to create a wonderful homey atmosphere.  “We wanted to make a cosy sanctuary with good music…..a place to smell the flowers, the coffee and the incense, ”says Donald. 

A colonial-style wooden bungalow with distressed timber, exposed brick walls and quaint shutters sets the scene. Ornate bird cages dangle above the shady terrace where shelves are stacked with hand painted watering cans and fresh potted herbs (for sale) in bright flower pots. The air-conditioned interior is brimming with retro style furnishings and antiques, many in soft hues of green – chosen, says Donald, “To create a soothing, natural ambience.” All homewares are for sale, from four poster bed, to chunky dining table, brass hurricane lamps, woven place mats, crocheted quilts and floral cushions. A veritable treasure trove, Bungalow is ideal for gift shopping with its own line of bath products and candles, antique toys and inspirational books, with titles like ‘Thank you’ ‘I Believe’ ‘Joy’ and ‘Love.’  Cafe tables are scattered amidst the antiques and there is a lovely cushion filled alcove under a wall of clocks.  

A cabinet displays an enticing arrange of cakes, big glass jars are filled with cookies and fresh herbs, and baskets are piled with almond croissants, blueberry muffins, and French apple pie. The menu is listed on blackboards and includes a healthy range of juices, smoothies, baguettes, open sandwiches on sourdough, and salads. Tofu is blended with red peppers and walnuts, flavoured with herbs and mustard then baked into patties and served in a sesame seed bun with rocket, tomato, cheese, and homemade mayo to create a wholesome and tasty Tofu Burger. The Daily Salad is a fresh and springy mix of rocket, mixed leaves, pumpkin and fetta, while Baguettes come with a selection of fillings, like smoked salmon, rocket and cream cheese. Refreshing drinks include an invigorating Ginger Lime Cooler blending crushed ginger root with Bali lime, fresh-picked mint and ginger ale, while the Berry Delight is a luscious, dark pink  treat of mixed berries.

A good range of coffees make a perfect accompaniment to rich Chocolate Cake, Blueberry Cheese Cake,Carrot and Walnut Cake and my choice – Italian Meringue Pie a creamy, lemony concoction with the softest sweetest meringue.

 Bungalow home/books/music/coffee 

Jalan Pantai Berawa

T+62 361 8446567

Open 8.30am – 6pm  Mon – Sat

Food of the gods on the island of the gods

The magical world of raw chocolate

Legend has it that the first cacao beans came from paradise and lent wisdom and power to the person that ate them.  Deep in the tropical rainforests of central America, ancient Mayans  used ground cocoa beans in wedding rituals and for healing magic. To the Aztecs it was known as the food of the gods; and it is said that the  god Quetzalcoatl, was  kicked out of paradise for giving chocolate to the human race.

Most of us have experienced the ‘feel good factor’ of chocolate, its smooth exotic taste known to induce feelings of euphoria, even its aroma is enough to promote feelings of well being and happiness.  But if you are reading this while munching on a Mars Bar, its time to think again. While mass produced store bought confectionery might taste good and have a small amount of nutritional benefits,  this is sadly outweighed by vast amounts of chemicals, refined fats and sugars.

Raw chocolate, on the other hand provides a dose of pure natural goodness and is packed with magnesium, antioxidants and  a taste far superior to anything you will find on a supermarket shelf. In its purest form chocolate contains  an abundance of Tryptophan, a substance which triggers a reaction in the brain and creates a feeling of elation and giddiness. It is also packed with  Anandamide a name derived from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. Also known as the love chemical, Anandamide induces feelings of euphoria…. just like falling in love. While cooking and processing chocolate destroys much of its natural goodness, raw chocolate is healthy for the mind, body and soul.

A number of places in Bali are now making raw chocolate, but Alchemy, a quirky health cafe in Ubud has the best,  with its  gleaming refrigerator shelves stocked with a dazzling display of cakes, candy and chocolates that don’t just taste good, they are good for you. The slabs of dense chewy chocolate bars are seriously ‘to die for’ (or at least to ‘drive to Ubud for….’) I also love the homemade bounty bars filled with fresh shredded coconut, the dark peppermint infused Stevia Mint Drops and the coconut dusted truffles. Bali Buddha also has a good selection, including lovely heart-shaped chocolate truffles, while Desa Seni serves up a tasty range of energy balls – just the thing after a yoga session. The raw chocolate dream pie at Clear Cafe in Ubud also deserves a mention – it is positively dreamy! It is also worth paying a visit to Five Elements in Mambal, a divine eco retreat offering gourmet raw cusisine that provides one of the most profound dining experiences on the island. Actually, the first time I tried raw chocolate was here and it was a moment I will never forget.

One of the newest venues on Bali’s raw chocolate scene is the inspiring Bamboo Chocolate Factory, also in Mambal (just near the Green School.) The soaring bamboo building rises from a sea of tropical forests and has been created by Big Tree farms who work with local farmers to produce organic ingredients such as salt and pepper, vanilla, cashews and honey.  You can join a tour of the factory, which starts with  a cup of thick and creamy organic hot chocolate to get you in the mood. A guide will then lead you along the labyrinth of bamboo hallways and cavernous rooms, following the trail of the humble cacao bean as it is transformed into a delicious chocolate bar. If images of oompa loompas and rivers of chocolate are flowing through your mind, think again; but if you are remembering the movie ‘Chocolate’, with the beautiful Vianne sensually grinding beans on a stone you are a little closer, but still not thinking big enough.  Actually, the six tonne, 70-year-old Mélangeur is so big it has its own room – with two giant granite rollers that crush the cacao beans (fermented, not roasted) into a thick paste.  Twelve hours later the paste is ready for the conche which turns it into a smooth liquid, while a cold press separates the butter. In the cashew sorting room, nuts are hand selected and trimmed, before making their way into chocolate bars.  Back in the tasting room you can try the fresh slabs of 70% bitter chocolate, which is also on sale, along with cold processed cacao powder, and cashew chocolate nibs. Chocolate-making workshops are planned to start from August so you will be able to create your own sublime concoctions.

photographs courtesy of Suki Zoe/Alchemy www.alchemybali.com