Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Balinese Cooking Class at Lobong

This is totally out of chronological order, but it is the basis for a couple posts on my other blog that I want to post!:

Based on the travel websites, it seems that these days, no trip to Bali (particularly Ubud) is complete without a cultural or culinary class of some sort... cooking, batik, art, gamelan... they've got it all.

In order to complete our Balinese experience, Liz, Meghan and I opted for a cooking class.  After poking around a bit on ye olde interwebs, we stumbled across the Lobong Culinary Experience, which had rave reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere, and, more importantly, had space for us to join their class last minute.

Run by a lovely Balinese family out of their family home, the Lobong class was awesome.  We were picked up at our hotel by Sang Made, the owner (who we jokingly refer to as our Indonesian boyfriend because he is a) cute b) tall and c) responsive to emails... I'm pretty sure every bule who's taken the class [including me, see below] has a photo of Sang and his "long beans," if you know what I mean....), and then brought to a local morning market for a grand tour and ingredient explanation.

While the chicks and fish we saw at the entrance to the market were not ingredients (yet), they were pretty amusing, so I thought I'd snap a few photos... we thought the dyed chicks we'd seen running amok on Fish Market Street in Jakarta were a one-off Easter thing, Sang informed us that this is a new toy for kids in Indonesia- a brightly colored chick that the kid can play with, later to be used by the family for food or set free when it grows up and loses its pastel shade.  Please notice how high the chick crates are stacked on top of that motorbike.  Indonesian people's ability to drive motorbikes with towering heaps of random stuff will never cease to amaze me:

Goldfish for sale!

Pre-made offerings for sale at the market... I'd read that in the past, people traditionally made their own canangsari for looking after good spirits and warding off evil spirits- they wove the little baskets and put together the key ingredients, etc., but now, as the Jakarta Post puts it, "small offerings are big business." 

Bules masuk the market and see piles upon piles of fresh greens, including ferns picked daily from the sides of rivers for making the ubiquitous and delicious Balinese fern tip and coconut salad

 A vendor selling all sorts of little fishes- some looked salted or preserved, some were fresh.

 Lots of fruits, veggies and palm baskets.  Bananas for pisang goreng (friend bananas, served with palm sugar syrup).

This lady looked happy on market day... maybe she was selling lots of her lemongrass and canangsari?

Little brightly colored baked goods.... Sang Made (our host) and his kacang panjang (long beans).

 Lots and lots of varieties of jeruk!

A chicken (perhaps formerly a dyed chick?) making his escape!!

He was immediately reprimanded and thrown back in with the masses, though.

Cucumbers (which I just learned, after Mr. Ben tried unsuccessfully to order gin and tonic with cucumber at least 3 separate times, is called timun in Bahasa Indonesia) and flowers for the canangsari.

Marigolds often adorn statues of the gods all around Bali- they're strung into necklaces and put over the heads of the statues, or piled high on plates, etc.

Bawang putih, bawang merah and cabe all stacked up, waiting to be made in base gede!

I love the old-school scales they are still using!

The market's resident tailor, using a vintage machine that is probably making Martha jealous right now.

View from a market stand from above:

Lots and lots of brightly colored rice crackers of various sorts, some with intricate designs... I can never tell which ones just taste crispy and which ones will taste like a shrimp died in your mouth.

More woven palm baskets and banana leaf containers:

The unsavory meat counter... Sang assured us quite emphatically that his family did not buy the meat for the cooking class from this type of place.  He knows his bules.

Oodles of fancy fabrics for the various Balinese ceremonial garb and costumes, as well as for dressing up statues:


 Delicious, delicious babi guling, a Balinese culinary delight that Meghan, Liz and I try later in the trip.  Mmmmmm... pig stuffed with spices and roasted until the skin is caramelized and crackly....  Sang Mede called it "Balinese fast food."

After our market trip, we headed back to the Lobong family compound, where we were greeted with tasty pisang goreng and coffee or tea, and given an explanation of how the typical Balinese family compound is arranged.  At first the arrangement seems somewhat haphazard to unknowing Western eyes, but each building and statue is placed according to a very specific set of principles, according to where the volcano is relative to the compound, where the temple is relative to the main house, house where guests are recieved, the kitchen, the bathrooms, etc.  Sang explained how the Balinese culture is paternalistic, so daughters leave the compound when they marry and sons stay on... he said that as the family grows (especially a family with many sons), the sons can choose whether to leave and start their own compound.  The compound in which our class was held was started by Sang's grandparents, but still has a connection to the original compound/home.

Terrible photo, I wish I captured her face, but this is Sang's mother making the coconut oil as she does, daily... we were lucky enough to take a small bottle of it home with us after the class.

Liz, Meghan, and our Australian friend chopping mis en place at the Lobong prep kitchens.

Our chicken satay, peanut sauce, and rice with sweet potato:

The fern tip and coconut salad we made (sayur pakis):

Ikan bakar sambal matah: seared tuna in a long bean and cabbage salad with lemongrass, chili and kaffir lime:

Ayam bakar bumbu Bali: this chicken was grilled first, then braised in a spicy coconut milk sauce.

Chef Dewa (Sang's brother-in-law), talking us through the final dishes: 

All sarong-ed up, ready to witness the pre-meal offerings by Sang Made's mother:

An offering to the souls of the ancestors: 


Photos of the food we made, all plated up restaurant-style, complete with super cute banana leaf containers:

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