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SpiceTravel: On Bali, Surf’s Up–And So Is the Food

 Learning to surf at Padang Padang on Bali. Image: www.balisurfingcamp.com/surf_school.htm

Learning to surf at Padang Padang on Bali. Image: www.balisurfingcamp.com/surf_school.htm

August is high season in Bali, especially for surfers. I’m newly addicted to Bali Surf Report which has live web cams at Uluwatu (“Indonesia’s first surf mecca…a sight you’ll remember forever…especially if a solid 10-foot swell is peeling off for hundreds of metres…”) and Canggu (“the main escape route for Kuta beach breaks, best surfed early morning before trade winds…”). Right now a lone SUV is pulled up to the water’s edge at Canggu and a blurry figure with surfboard is checking out the swells. (Remember the 12-hour Bali-EST time difference—when it’s 6:48 PM Monday here, it’s 6:48 AM Tuesday there.)

An international banker just back to Singapore after surf classes at Kuta Beach with his teenage daugher reports: “Surfing is cool until you cartwheel down the beach, dislocate your toe and smash up ribs on the left side.” Happily, that left him lots of time to enjoy this beautiful island’s resurgence after the 2002 and 2005 bombings: “It’s grown tremendously modern, but the spirituality is still there under all the trendy glitz and Euro-glitter.” New restaurants in Seminyak, a chic enclave north of Kuta, are “amazing if you want European food.” Three he liked:

Ku De Ta:
This “chill out Australian beach bar restaurant” is the hub of expat activity in Seminyak. On the web, view menus (“wild salmon carpaccio, mushroom gruyere soufflé, black truffle vinaigrette”), listen to ultra-laid-back lounge music by Australian DJ Donni 1 and check out the summer party scene.

9 Jalan Laksama. Telephone: 62.361.736969. Fax: 62.361.736767. Web: www.kudeta.net

Kafe Warisan: French-Mediterranean cuisine, open air terrace overlooks rice paddy fields. “Saturday night there wasn’t a free table. Dinner for seven including wine was USD $414.” Website has snaps of elegantly prepared dishes and menus featuring the likes of “Grilled Tasmanian Salmon, Basil and Corn Veloute, Citrus Soy Sauces, Baked Capsicums.”

Jalan Raya Kerobokan No. 58. Telephone and fax: 62.361.731175. Web: www.kafewarisan.com

La Lucciola: A top Italian beachfront restaurant. “You even needed reservations on Monday evening or you had to wait.” So cool, according to The New York Times, that “no signs advertise its presence.”

At the end of Jalan Oberoi. Telephone: 62.361.730838.

Our correspondent reports that “all of the top foreign restaurants have private security forces which check vehicles and customers very thoroughty, including patrolling the beachfront. Otherwise they would be empty.”

The dining room at the Amandari overlooks the Ayung River Gorge. Image: www.amanresorts.com

The dining room at the Amandari overlooks the Ayung River Gorge. Image: www.amanresorts.com

But what about authentic Indonesian food? For good food in a luxurious setting, he advises that “the Amandari’s lunch menu selections are probably the best local flavors on the island—and the priciest.” Winning dishes included “mie goreng (stir fried egg noodles); nasi goreng (fried rice with prawns); babi bakar (spiced Balinese pork tenderloin); kalio ayam (chicken curry with lemon grass and lime); and gulai nangka (jackfruit curry) like you’ve never had before—or after. Lunch for four without drinks or dessert was USD 87 and worth it for the food and the view of the gorge.” To see current menus, see the extended entry below.

All this has reminded me of a long ago magical evening at the Amandari: armloads of tuberoses perfuming the night air, steamed rice served in an intricately woven conical basket, the infinity pool stretching into the darkness over the Ayung river gorge. Bliss, then and now.

Amandari Hotel, Kedeyawan, Ubud. Telephone: 62.361.975333. Fax: 62.361.975.325. Web: www.amanresorts.com/dari/home.htm

The Indonesian Lunch Menu at the Amandari:
STARTERS
SOTO KAMBING
lightly spiced lamb shank & glass noodle broth
Rp. 85.000

LUMPIA JAWA
bamboo shoots & prawn spring rolls, sweet chili-
ginger sauce
Rp. 90.000

GADO – GADO
mixed vegetable salad with peanut dressing
Rp. 75.000

SALADA AYAM PANGGANG
char-grilled chicken salad with shallot, torch ginger & lemon basil
Rp. 95.000

RICE, NOODLES, & VEGETARIAN
NASI SELA CAMPUR
steamed rice & sweet potato, mixed Indonesian specialties
Rp. 155.000

NASI GORENG AMANDARI
stir fried rice, prawn, chicken egg
Rp 130.000

MIE GORENG
stir fried egg noodles, choice of chicken, pork or prawn
Rp. 130.000

GULAI NANGKA
young jackfruit mixed vegetable, coconut milk curry
Rp. 125.000

CHICKEN, LAMB & PORK
KALIO AYAM
aromatic chicken curry with lemongrass & lime
Rp. 155.000

SAMBAL GORENG UDANG
stir-fried prawns in spiced tomato sauce
Rp. 160.000

BABI BAKAR BUMBU BALI
balinese spiced grilled pork tenderloin, sayur urap
Rp. 150.000

SATE CAMPUR DENGAN NASI LONTONG
sate (chicken, lamb, pork), rice in banana leaf
Rp. 150.000

service charge & government tax to be added

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