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.

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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

A walk in the rice fields

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Bali Herbal Walks

I drive up to Ubud early in the morning, dark ominous clouds hang over the hills creating a moody backdrop. I hope the rain will hold off for the next few hours as I have signed up for a herbal walk, and trudging through rice fields in torrential rain isn’t quite what I have in mind. I meet my guide, Westi, a wise and gentle soul with an innate knowledge of all things herbal. He and his wife Lilir have been leading guests on walks through the ravines and rice fields of Ubud for twelve years. Their extensive knowledge of herbalism gained from their families, working in the field, and from years of studying with traditional healers.

The use of natural medicines, known as Usada, is a strong custom in Bali, as traditionally the only medicines that people had access to were those provided by nature. Most Balinese have some knowledge of natural cures and many families keep an apotek hidup (living drugstore), a small garden of herbs with medicinal properties in their yard. The edges of Bali’s fertile rice fields also host a plethora of herbs, fruit and trees that have therapeutic and health enhancing properties.

We head down a walled path way that edges along a steep ravine. Westi points out a magnolia tree, its leaves can be steeped in hot water and the resulting brew creates calm and balance. He adds that many Balinese women can’t afford perfume, instead enjoy the scent of fresh cut flowers such as magnolia, tied into their hair.

We wander through dense foliage, thick with trees, shrubs, and fernery that grows with untamed abandon. He tells me that unlike the heavily landscaped gardens that are popular in the island’s holiday resorts, a traditional Balinese garden is more wild and artistic. We come to a ylang ylang tree, with a solid trunk leading to a mass of leaves high above. He says the Japanese use it as ‘honeymoon oil’ which I guess makes it an aphrodisiac. Here in Bali, the flowers are considered holy and are used in offerings, but, “You have to be feeling strong to climb,” he says, “because it’s a tall tree and if you fall off, it’s all over.” Nearby, an avocado tree is sprouting with tiny green fruit; when ripe these can be used as a natural colouring and women blend the creamy flesh into a body mask which is highly moisturizing.

The path winds around the river and leads us up a gentle slope. We pass back yards where women are busy preparing morning offerings. Roosters crow, dogs bark and the air is fragrant with frangipani.

We find the dark red Indian long pepper growing on a climbing vine that clings to a stone wall. It is hard and shriveled and, as I discover when I taste a tiny sliver, very very hot. “The heat creates power,” Westi says, and is chewed by men as an aphrodisiac. I ask if women can chew it too, and he replies, “Yes, women are more equal now.” It is also one of the ingredients in boreh, a traditional body mask that relaxes the muscles and helps prevent rheumatism.

We head into a more open area, resplendent with the verdant green rice fields (sawahs) that Bali is so famous for. As with so much in Bali, the growing of rice is approached with an artist’s eye; just because something is practical, doesn’t mean that it can not also be beautiful. Palms line the path, butterflies flitter by and the sound of trickling water is ever present. We come across a couple of water snakes but they are timid and quickly slither away.  Westi points out the Balinese rice crops which are tall and stately and tells me that this is the best quality rice, as it is high in vitamins and nutrients, but only yields two crops a year. Nearby we see the Philippine variety which is more common, it is shorter, thicker and less aesthetic, but produces three crops a year and needs less attention.

I have never really given the rice paddies much thought beyond admiring them, taking numerous photos and regularly tucking into nasi goring. I learn that all farmers must be part of a rice co op a system known as Subak. There are 200 Subaks in Bali, seven of which are in Ubud. The one we are walking through is called Juwukmanis (Sweet orange organization of rice fields.) Water is set into irrigation channels to which everyone has equal access and although fields are individually owned, all members work together for the prosperity of all.

A few farmers are at work in the fields and a man in a rattan hat walks by with a stick over his shoulder laden with bushels of rice that have just been harvested.  A couple of small fires are burning which Westi tells me is sometimes necessary to rejuvenate the soil, the farmers decide what is needed. Natural insecticide is provided by a gaggle of ducks that are busy pecking away.

Small temples are scattered over the fields, and offerings are made to ensure good harvests.I notice a doll like figure dangling from a large bamboo stick and Westi tells me that this is a representation of the Rice Goddess Dewi Sri. It has been made from harvested rice husks, and is an offering of thanks to Ibu Purtiwi (earth mother.) He adds that after the rice has been planted, it is deemed  pregnant, and in the early growing stage, offerings such as sour fruit, which control nausea, are made to the rice goddess to prevent morning sickness.

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Although Balinese practice Hinduism, the more ancient practice of Animism imbues much of the spiritual side of life. The earth is considered female and the sky is male – when the two meet, as in human relationships, there is power. The wet season is considered particularly powerful as the continual rain from the sky pounds the earth nurturing everything that grows with in it.  Nature’s bounty is powerful, because it has been created by the union of earth and sky. The reason that there are so many problems in Denpasar he explains, is that there is too much cement and the gods are angry because the sky and earth never meet, there is a block.

“When we eat, we absorb the character of the food,” he tells me. “Holy men eat only duck which is a symbol of wisdom, roosters are no good to eat because they like fighting.” I ask about ritualistic animal sacrifice and he tells me that, “Whatever we need, we offer the gods, blood sacrifice symbolizes fertility and may be necessary to ensure a good harvest.” But before killing an animal a ceremony is held to bless it, so that the animal will come back to a better and higher life.

We come to the temple compound of the Subak, it is late morning and the clouds have dispersed revealing the sun in all its scorching glory. We sit in the shade, enjoying the rest and the peaceful rural scene that surrounds us. A farmer brings me a fresh coconut to drink, skillfully opening it with a long curved knife.

We continue on our way, stopping to crush Citronella leaves which release a strong aroma that repels mosquitoes. We inhale the scent of Melaleuka leaves which are also used as an insect repellant, and pick stalks of lemongrass which are good for colds.Outside a temple Westi points out a tiny little plant not much bigger than my hand, it’s a banyan, one of the most sacred of all trees, it seems hard to imagine that this scrawny  little thing will one day be a magnificent sprawling mass of branches and vines.

Westi and Lilir are both keen to revive and preserve the natural heritage of herbalism, for the sake of the young generation of Balinese, and for the tourists who flock to the island. With the help of Melanie Templar from the UK, they established Utama Spice in 1997 which produces a range of high quality herbal beauty products, including lotions, oils and soaps. Westi tells me that some of their clients were interested to know more about the natural substances they used, which gave them the idea of taking guests on  guided walks. He says that there goal is sustainable tourism “You must have an income, but it should be a positive income, whereby you also look after the environment and share ancient knowledge.”

I meet Lilir back at their little shop on Sweta street in Ubud, she is tiny in stature, but big in spirit, and bubbles with enthusiasm. She tells me that her family had strong healing traditions and the brood of 11meant that there was no money for doctors, instead all ills were cured by trips to the living drugstore – the family garden.It has been a pleasure to meet this couple who are so passionate and dedicated, and I feel like I have learned more in these few hours than I have in years of living on the island. Lilir invites me to come another time and sample her special tumeric tonic and to join one of her Jamu classes, but that’s another trip, another story.

Book one day in advance.

www.baliherbalwalk.com

info@baliherbalwalk.com