Day 6 - My belly gets distended
Its the half way point in our trip. We've been quite active considering this was meant to be a trip about de-stressing, and relaxing. So today, its all about food and flopping about.
I had planned a couple of things in secret the previous days, as a surprise and a thank you to everyone for putting up with me. Doing all this research for a trip makes you antsy when you get here and realise you will only manage to do 20% of what you have planned. Bali is not going to let you stick to an itinerary my good friend, she will side track you, and take you off on a tangent. I get a little frustrated when I find this out, and I think its time to pay back our good friends and my long suffering spouse for their patience.
We all managed to sleep in to between 6.30am and 7.00am. Considering our villa is 100m off a main road, the rural noises are now just background to us all. You really have to focus a little more to hear the roosters, chickens and cows in the front yard. Maybe we are 'acclimatising' ?
Andrew was up first. He generally always has a bowl of cereal before we have breakfast. When he went to pour himself a bowl of milo cereal he noticed a couple of ants, then noticed the whole box was full of ants. Bali ants LOVE Milo for everyones info. To this point, we really had not understood why the staff had put any kind of opened food in the fridge, even the sugar ? Now we know. Tupperware doesnt seem to be a standard issue kitchen implement in the villas.
I woke up to a myriad of messages on facebook and even text messages from friends asking why I hadnt posted my Blog already ? What the ? I am supposed to be on holidays people! OK, so I get up and hop straight onto the computer ready to write whilst the info is sort of fresh in my mind. You may have noticed I got some names of places wrong yesterday (for those who have been here before) and I put that down to writing whilst still asleep.
Breakky made again in house. This time we went the Nasi Goreng option again. Still impressed that I am liking rice for breakfast occasionally.
Our morning plans had flip flopped back and forth, but now the cloud cover had burnt off a bit and the sun was out, we all just sat around the pool. I still had to help blow up the final lilo though, a job I had casually avoided for 2 days. Now, if like me, you like a cigarette, are closing on middle age, eat too much, the effect of exhaling large amounts of air at a rapid rate, can be quite euphoric. Best do this sitting down is my suggestion, as I got a massive case of the headspins. Litsa now had a bed to float on. The thing is kind of cantilevered in middle, so when she lies on it, her backside falls falls into the crack. the 3 of us watching her trying to adjust to a comfortable position we afforded our first good laugh of the day. Andrew was also spending more time rolling out of his donut than in it as well. Ahhhhh the serenity.
I am not much for sitting around. Ask the wife. In fact they had all taken bets on how long "Mr fiddgety bum" would be able to just "sit". I cracked a new record of 15mins. I did manage to read my book for a while, hop in and out of the pool, get beers etc etc.
We sat around until around noon, then by 12.30 we were off for the first installment of our day of indulgence.
I had booked "Sardine" at Kerokaban. This was a place that no one I knew had been too. It had superb writeups on TA, but other food blogs from around the world also mentioned it in hushed tones. The location, away from the main food area of Seminyak, can be tricky to find. I managed to find a taxi driver who thought he knew where it was, so thats a start. Upon arrival, you are shown through a stone gateway and into an undercover Bali hut. Its huge of course to accomodate probably 80-90 guests at a sitting. The decore is gorgeous, with a lot of rice paddy type themes and of course " Sardines". The rear of the property is all rice paddy. There wasnt any growing when we were there, and they were basically duck filled ponds, but many surrounding properties had been seeded, so we got the general idea. When the rice is ripe and yellow, this place would be stunning. The menu is "modern fusion" there were representations from around the world, from Japanese to French, all bought together for a Bali holiday palate. I won't keep going on and on about how delicious the food is, because I will bore even myself. La Luciolla was great, this was better in my own opinion. We each had 3 courses (for lunch). Litsa and I both had the scallops on the half shell, flash grilled and then covered in an asian dressing, these were cooked to perfection. Andrew had the duck terrine, a generous portion indeed, and very flavoursome. Kathrine had the prawn cocktail. Not just any ordinary prawn cocktail either. Full of plump prawns on crisp lettuce, the dressing was out of this world. The girls had a cocktail each, and Andrew and I had Bintangs (They were $4 here). Mains included Mahi Mahi (Andrew), Seafood salad (Litsa), confit duck leg (Kathrine) and I had a whole fish grilled "Jimbaran style" with sambal. All of the mains impressed. I don't eat a lot of fish, but the way they butterflied mine and charcoal grilled it, was simply the best way you can ever order it. At this point, we were all smiling, happy and ready to look at the dessert menu. To be honest, we were all full, and could have probably stopped eating, but when the entree and mains are this good, you are always going to wonder whats for pudding, right ? Litsa ordered a ginger creme brulee. Whilst perfect in its execution, a nice crisp top shell, and luscious custard underneath, we all agreed the ginger overpowered. Andrew, simply ordered some of their home made vanilla icecream and a shot of espresso to design his own Affigato (he likes a caffiene hit). Kathrine had the most amazing chocolate fondant, with the gooiest centre imaginable. It was not overly rich, and I managed to get the final mouthfuls, as she was full by now. My apple tarte tartin was simply one of the best 'puddings' I have ever eaten. A crisp shortbread base was layered with stewed marinated apples all caramalised into a 'cake' of immeasurable delight. The vanilla icecream included with it was also brilliant. Do you think I like good food or what?
Total including drinks........3 courses ...... this amazing setting...........just on AUS$40 each. Are you kidding me ? This lunch would easily top $300 at home. Sure, there are cheaper places to eat in Bali, and next time, my hunt for those will continue, but this time, I believe I ate at one of the best, before it got really famous and becomes just another place to eat on the tourist trail.
Heading back to Chez Bintang, I had planned for us all to get massages at Nirvana Spa up the road from us. When we did get back, everyone just went into an absolute food coma. We all headed to bed for a siesta. It was around 5.30 that Litsa and I got up to go. Kathrine was still dozing, so the 2 of us went alone. They caught up with us about 30 mins later. Litsa and I booked into Nirvana Spa for a 60 min body massage each AUS$8 (after 10% discount). This great Aussie run spa is actually above the Nirvana restaurant on Eat Street (opposite Ultimo). I havent had a massage since the ones on the beach in Phuket. I really enjoyed those, lying looking at the ocean and strong hands just the right amount of pressure. This one at Nirvana for me, was dissapointing. It was more an oil rub than anything. Sure it was relaxing, side by side with spouse whilst she had one too, but didnt satisfy me. Litsa loved hers, and Andrew also liked his. Kathrine had a foot massage and half back one, and she too enjoyed that. I must be hard to please, or I just got a trainee therapist ?
With the time overlap, we got seperated, and as I was all oily, I wanted to get back and shower. Kathrine went back to "the kitchen" and risked another Long Island Ice tea. This time she said it was great and they even used garnish. She didnt even have to have it topped up with COKE (ahhhh fooled ya) this time to make it palatable.
OK, all non foodies, log off now, this is going to go back down that old track again...........
I did mention around day 2 or 3 that I rate a country on their ability to produce good Tex Mex, even Asian ones. Thailand for instance, is up there, Hong Kong is a fail, China needs to pickup its game and Vietnam is still on my to-do list. Why am I so obsessed with Tacos ? because I still rate the street food I got in Guadalajara a few years back as some of the best anywhere in the world. I get a glassy eyed stare going when I remember the stall vendors handing me soft tacos filled with all sorts of cuts of meat, lightly garnished, and ever so tasty. I am a simple man with simple tastes.
I had read, that somewhere in the backstreets of Seminyak, lay a small 'cantina' of sorts run by an American expat called 'Bob'. Taco beach grill is busy, very busy. In fact, after a small mixup in the booking, we still didnt get to sit down till 9pm. Bob setup hoping to sell 30-40 burritos a day. He sells that in 2 hours some nights. In fact, we could only order one of the burritos, as they had run out of their 3rd run for the day of home made tortillas. Upon arrival and Bintang in hand (AUS$2.50) we are offered a small plate of pickled whole jalapenos, and some californian pickled carrots and veges. I love the chilis, and grab a whole green goodie to chew on whilst the Binnie keeps the heat toned down. We ordered a few plates of mixed tacos in the home made corn soft shells. Beef, duck, Babi Guling (spiced pork) and a chicken burrito with refried beans. A small plate of guacamole also came out, but it was very small, but very tasty. Every plate also holds 2-3 home made salsas. Bob said they make 9 fresh daily. Every one was tasty and unique. My favourite was the spicy chipotle that had heat but bags of flavour. The home made corn chips leave your Doritos looking like plastic bags flash fried in beef lard. do you think I like this place enough yet ?
We ate our fill, drank more Bintangs, chatted to Bob about business and life as an expat in Bali and wobbled home. Total for 4 of us inc drinks was just on AUS$14 each. best bang for buck non Bali food we have had so far.
Once we got back to the Villa, food coma struck again. I have never eaten so much good food in one day - EVER. Sleep was going to come easily tonight.
Before closing down for the day, I do want to mention an aspect of Bali that annoys and yet amuses me as well. I have a fond love, whilst in a foreign country, of just getting to a main road, and walking.... walking in one direction..and keeping going till I can walk no more. A taxi ride home and I am satisfied. On that walk, you see so much, you smell so much, you get to know the people who work on the streets and get a feel for what your holiday will end up like. Its so invigorating. Bali doesnt really afford me the opportunity to do that ! I am forever looking down at the pavement, or lack thereof, and trying not to break an ankle. Potholes in pavments lead to the centre of the earth here. So on that note, before I drift off to bed, to the gorgeous Aussie family PUSHING A STROLLER on the footpath in Seminyak yesterday, I offer you a medal of bravery. Good luck with THAT !