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We have an interest in cooking although we don’t cook a lot. When I saw culinary lessons being highly recommended in Ubud, I suggested it to the husband. My husband’s great! He’s always game for anything!

So I arranged for us to attend the cooking class at Lobong after reading rave reviews of this establishment. What clinched the deal was the prompt response of the person-in-charge and the fact that we were assured of hands on time for the most part of the class.

So we were supposed to be ready to be picked up at 8am. Which was very very early. When we are on vacations, we normally would wake up at 9plus! 😳 So we were late!! We were about 15 minutes late. 😯

I felt bad about being late as presumably we would not be the only ones being picked up as the class was full in numbers. Lobong has a limit of 8 persons per class.

IMG_9622So we were to pick up two other participants before heading to a local market. Our classmates are from Germany. The local market we were brought to was Payangan Market which, we were told, no tourists go to. So at Payangan, we met up with 4 other participants and our in-charge for the day was Sang De. He is an easy-going guy and told us to call him Sunday, for ease of remembering.

The first stall we came across was a stall selling fishes, ornamental fishes.

1st stall in the market The next stall was a stall selling stuff for religious offerings.

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Offerings

IMG_9563These offerings are a daily way of life for the Hindus in Ubud. FYI, the majority of Balinese in Ubud are Hindus, hence the popularity of Babi Guling. The Hindu Balinese are very religious and they can present several offerings a day, especially at meal times (as we learnt later).

The next stall we were introduced to was a gado-gado stall. Gado-Gado is a traditional Indonesian food and this version is different from the Singapore version.

Gado Gado stallWell, hygiene is not of the utmost priority here. Sang De also made sure to explain that generally, foreigners would not be able to tolerate the market food and if we insist on trying, we’ll end up with Bali Belly. No one tried the gado-gado.

So we went on a tour around the market. Sang De introduced the local vegetables and fruits, most of which we are familiar with, although the sizes and appearances might differ quite a bit. The two items we learnt is important in Balinese cooking is galangal and lesser galangal. They are roots and belong to the ginger family.

Bitter Gourd

Cucumber - 'mutant'

Ketupat

King of fruits - Durian

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Mini Cabbages

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Long Beans

After finishing our tour of the market on the ground floor, we were brought up to the second floor where dry goods were being sold.

IMG_9613The picture above shows some of the items used for weddings and celebratory events. Expect lots of colours in such events.

After our tour, we were brought to the cars in which we had travelled in earlier. And then, we were presented with chilled towels!!! That was a great touch of service! Its very warm and humid in Bali and to have an chilled towel to refresh ourselves was awesome! Needless to say, our host made sure we stayed hydrated too! 😀

Then it was a 10 minutes ride to Sang De’s house. His house and the accompanying compound are below ground level. Hence the name ‘Lobong’ which means something to that effect.

We were seated in various pavilions in the compound. While we were served tea and fried banana, Sang De explained various aspects of the Balinese culture to us. Its actually during this cooking class that we fully appreciated and understood better the Balinese culture and way of life.

First of all, all members of the family stay together. And within the neighbourhood, they are all part of a community which of course is headed by a leader. I think they take turns in being the leader.

Each sub-family within this large family, would have a space of their own within the compound. In doing so, they are able to lead their own lives and yet constantly being in touch with their family.

A hut n the compound

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The direction of the compounds are important too. I forgot which direction is most important though. 😳

Sang De also mentioned about Balinese being very religious people. They will pray throughout the day, especially before mealtimes. Offerings for meals would include a tiny portion of the food cooked. This is mainly to give thanks and also to hope that the lives sacrificed for a particular meal would have a better life in the next life.

So after a long but interesting and informative introduction, we were shown the area where coconut oil is made. Apparently, coconut oil is the healthiest oil in the world. The coconut oil made fresh that day was to be used for our class.

Just next to the area where coconut oil was made, we spotted a couple of pigs. Sang de said they will sell the pigs when they are old enough. Pigs are cute. Its times like these when I want to turn vegetarian.

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So one of the first things we learnt was to cook rice sans the rice cooker, meaning the traditional way – over fire. While we have the convenience of rice cooker, a fire is still the preferred way in Bali. The rice turned out to be real fluffy and delicious, good enough to be eaten on its own!

Then we were instructed to chop and slice a variety of spices.

For reference

All along I thought I was good in chopping but it turned out that I have been holding knives the wrong way!! 😮 Well, at least I know now the right way to hold a knife. And I had been chopping wrongly too!! 😳

So we chopped and sliced. And soon, it was time to start cooking. We started with making the peanut sauce for the satay, or sate (Balinese). First the peanuts were fried in coconut oil. The aroma from using the coconut for frying was heavenly!!

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We also made the salad which was to go with the tuna.

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Our lunch cooking

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The most delicious peanut sauce!

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Keeps the flies out effectively

Fluffiest rice!

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Most tantalising tuna salad

And then after being shown how the food we all had a hand in preparing were presented, we removed our sarong and proceeded to observe Sang de’s mother to pray and make offerings.

IMG_9675A strong reminder to be always thankful for food and to honor the lives sacrificed in the making of each meal. To appreciate all that made a meal possible; the poultry that was used, water that was purified, and even the knife that was used.

By this time, we were starving and eager to taste the food.

Starter

Starter

So the starter was tuna salad. I had never had fresh tuna in such chunks before. The taste was very refreshing and made me hunger for more. I could eat this for days on end!

Main course

Main course

And the main course: Fluffiest rice with grilled chicken, mildly spicy vegetables and satay accompanied by the best peanut sauce I ever had. I literally flew to heaven and back. My husband fell out of love with me and flew straight into the arms of the peanut sauce. :shy: It was soooooooooo good!

Sauce

Sauce

This sauce was a mixture of chili and tomatoes. It was a bit spicy but it went very well with the rice.

Dessert

Dessert

And for dessert was black glutinous rice, also called bubur hitam. I love the cute spoon made out of leaves. Most environment friendly! And the glutinous rice were very good too!

We were all so satisfied with the meal and everyone was all praises for the food!

So good! I even enquired if the menu changes frequently so that we can always return to try new recipes. Unfortunately, there are only two different menus available. Guess that means we can return only one more time?

And we were even given farewell gifts! Each of us were presented with a recipe book of the food prepared and a small bottle of coconut oil, in 100ml, so that we can bring it onto the airplane with no trouble. How thoughtful the people at Lobong are!

It was mid afternoon and after saying our thank and goodbyes, we were sent back to our villa. After such a fulfilling day, we were more than ready for our massage. I had arranged for masseuse from Jaen Spa to come to our villa as part of their spa mobile service. We were late from the cooking class and the masseuse were waiting for us.

Poor them had to carry the heavy mobile massage beds and it was with a lot of hand motioning here and there for the resort staff to understand that we requested for a trolley for the masseuse to pile their heavy loads on.

While the masseuse were setting up the massage beds, we quickly took a shower.

We had decided to have our massage outdoors. Luckily, there was sufficient shaded areas for two massage beds. It was very nice to have a massage outdoors especially when there’s a breeze. And the masseuse I had was excellent! She hit all the right spots! I should have arranged for this spa mobile earlier in our trip!

Massage in villa

After the spa mobile, we decided to rest for a short while. This meant we had to postpone the pick up time for the romantic dinner arranged at Kupu Kupu Barong. So the pickup was arranged to be at around 6.30 pm instead of 6 pm.

The sun was setting when we made our way to Kupu Kupu Barong. It was a real pity we didn’t reach Kupu Kupu Barong earlier because the sunset would be spectacular there. The location of our romantic dinner is indeed very romantic.

The Bird's nest

The Bird’s nest

How sweet!

How sweet!

Villa above the Birds' Nest

Villa above the Birds’ Nest

Fantastic views!

Fantastic views!

View of stream below

View of stream below

Our romantic dinner

Our romantic dinner

While the settings were fabulous, unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the food. Especially when we still had very fresh memories of the meal at Lobong. The food wasn’t too bad but the price tag wasn’t quite justified. Although the location could well be the justification for the price.

All in all, it was a fabulous day we had in Bali. Too much activities for us to enjoy the villa. So when we next go to Phuket, I’ll know to restrict my planning so we get time to enjoy the villa more. 😀