It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of this blog. Being a spiritual blog though, it is being reborn over at www.cheskiesgaplife.com.
Thanks for three lovely blogging years. Onwards and upwards...
|Aside from being the location for the romantic part of 'Eat, Pray, Love', Ubud is probably most famous for it's Sacred Monkey Forest.|
|The perfect tree for monkey-ing around|
Set around a temple the Macacque monkey's run free stopping only to steal bananas from unsuspecting tourists.
|Monkey see monkey do|
Obviopusly this was a very good opportunity to test out my camera. It felt more like photographing naughty children who wouldn't sit still.
|Eating a banana that I strongly suspect had been stolen|
Their eyes and hands are so human. When they stare at you it's very obviously that someone is home. You can almost see their brains ticking over, wondering when the opportunity to thrive will come.
|A very regal monkey|
|Dot makes some new monkey friends|
|These guys looked like they were plotting something|
I left my bag alone for one second and instantly had a cheeky chap rifling through my things. Thanlfully someone much braver than me shooed it away. I'd just had a rather scary experience (more on that another time) with one and didn't fancy provoking my little artful dodger into violence.
|This fellow had been for a dip prompting an American tourist to exclaim that she didn't know monkey's could swim.|
Hurrah for the US education system!
|Someone was hungry|
The various temples are also a major draw, however after my aforementioned monkey incident I was rather keen to hurry off and get a bintang to calm my nerves. Next time!
|Coy for the camera|
The macaques were a joy to take pictures of and, not for the first time, I wished that I knew even one thing about how to take decent pictures!
|What a chubster|
|Ouch! I bet all mum's are flinching at this picture|
|My favourite photograph. His eyes look so wise.|
Many people are put off by the touristy nature of Moneky forest. Ignore the nay sayers! Most of the time a popular activity or location is such a draw to many because it's so good. Stop being a tourist snob and enjoy yourself!
|Monkey hairdressers maybe?|
|I can't think of a better way to end this post than with a monkey willy|
Disclaimer: If it really fucks you off when people take pictures of food then I'd go and see what 90's throwback Buzzfeed has for you today.
Ditto if you're reading this on an empty stomach.
Ah, Balinese food. There's a reason I gained about 10kg in 10 days (slight exaggeration...slight) and it wasn't just the Bintang calories.
My friend Beck has spent lots of time in Indo and her immediate reaction to my Bali trip was "Oh my God YOU WILL EAT ALL OF THE SATAY". When I informed her of my intention to try out a cookery school I was made to promise that I'd bring back an authentic recipe.
How could I not? Satay was immediately added to our list of requirements. As the Lobong cookery school had it on their menu along with 4 free spots on the day we needed and a hefty (HAHAHAHAHAHA) $37 price we signed up immediately.
I've already discussed the other aspects of the class, but now it's time for the main event. THE FOOD. All. Of. The. Food.
|Mum getting stuck right in|
First up was the most important thing (no, not the meat. But I got that wrong too so don't feel bad). Every household eats on average 2kg of rice every day and cooking it is a serious and time consuming business.
Every day someone gets up at 5am to prepare the days rice. It has to be washed, boiled and then steamed. It's a process that takes nearly 2 hours!
My rice cooker back home made me feel more than a little bit lazy.
After making sure the rice was on it's way we started our preparations. Although it should be noted that we checked on the rice no less than four times during the class. Now that's dedication.
Naturally our tools were fantastic. I was obsessed with these chopping boards. If I'd had even a sneaking suspicion that the Australian government would have let me through customs with wood I would have bought one and treated it like my first born child.
We were each given an apron and assigned a station. Mum being the whizz that she is instantly earned the title of teachers pet prepping her food insantly and immediately became the recipient of all the bits we hadn't finished.
Of course not all of us were quite as proficient with our knife and couldn't pretend to be lest we end up with essence of fingertip flavouring the days dishes.
I love the below picture! In Australia we have a very popular cooking show called My Kitchen Rules (or MKR if you know the lingo). It has teams of two cooks battling it out and Mum and I think that if we cruelly cropped Dot and Nicole out it would look as though were were posing for a team press picture.
When all the prep was done and diced it was time for the thing we'd been waiting for...satay.
The peanuts were fried to perfection...
...and then pestled to a paste.
The actual chicken bit was a bit weird. It's mashed up and then you have to mould the chicken mixture around skewers.
It didn't look terribly appetising (but I'm not sure raw, mashed chicken ever could) and forming the chicken bites was harder than it looked.
We each made a skewer or two and then rolled them in coconut oil, something that is used in all the dishes in Bali. It's a product that currently having a bit of a 'moment' in the health food world (sorry Quinoa, you're so 2013) but is as normal here in cooking as olive oil in Italy.
Of course between checking on the rice we had to attend to all of the other dishes that would be making up our lunch.
I perfected my best Jamie Oliver 'bosh!' face with the Sambal Ulek (tomato and chilli Sambal).
And of course my best 'mmm this smells rather nice' face.
Everyone got a turn at the stove and slowly all the elements came together.
I was very taken with the way the chills were browned, I certainly never thought to do this at home. I'm sure I'd set the fire alarms off...
The Kare Ayam (basically coconut chicken curry) smelt absolutely incredible. Seriously, I was practically swooning over the scent.
Dot, despite being a massive food fan (well she is my best friend!), was very nervous when it came to her turn helping out.
I don't know why though, her jakut urab turned out perfectly.
Mum certainly seemed to think so!
While our mains were being served we got down to the business of the dessert. On the menu we had Gardar Guland, Balinese coconut crepes.
The batter was coloured with a green liquid that had been made by steeping a leaf in water. As my tooth is anything but sweet and I rarely cook sweets my crepe was slightly less successful than others...*ahem*. Oh well, it tastes the same regardless of the look!
After the dishes had been ever so slightly dimished by the requirement of offerings it was, finally, time to try out what our efforts had created.
And, by the God's, it was good.
It somehow managed to taste even better than it looked!
I was amazing that so much effort had gone in to creating dishes that, on the surface, looked so simple.
Unsurprisingly I enjoyed my meal immsneseley.
Now you see it...
...now you don't.
I even, somehow, found room for my dessert.
Our day at the Lobong Cooking School was one of the highlights of our trip to Bali. At the cost of just a few pints back in Aussie land it's not only a hugely enriching experience but also dammed good value for money.
Next time you're in Ubud tear yourselves away from the healthy Yoga places and get stuck in!