Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lobong Culinary Experience, Part 4 an Offering before we eat

When all the food had been cooked and laid out, Made’s mother reappeared with baskets full of flowers and incense so as to make an offering before we ate.  We were dressed in sarongs and then Made gave us a very thorough explanation of the offering.  Known as canang sari, each offering includes a small portion of the food we had prepared for the day, some flowers and decorations crafted from pandan leaves and three important components being the dried betel leaf, ground betel nut and limestone.  The betel leaf is coated with the grounded paste of betel nut and limestone and folded into an arrow shape, this is then place into the centre of the offering, and without this an offering is not complete.

Once each canang sari had been completed, we were invited to follow Mum to the temple, where she visited each shrine individually placing the offerings, lighting incense and purifying everything with water distributed by dunking a frangipani flower in a bowl of water then flicking it from between two fingers.  I love watching this ceremony, it is as if the woman when making the offering goes into a trance, such is their concentration and they are so calm, it is beautiful.

With the offerings at the temple complete, Mrs Sang continued her way through the complex to deliver the offering to the other places, Made then announce it was time for us to eat and we were led back to the outdoors dining area.  Once seated, the waitress offered us drinks, and like music to my ears “Bintangs” was the hearty response and before you know it a long cold glass with a beautiful head sat there waiting for me to greet it, cheers!

1st Course
JUKUT GEDANG MEKUAH, Green papaya, mince chicken soup with crispy shallot.
No sooner we wet our tonsils and the soup was brought to the table, I love this soup, it is so simple, yet soooo tasty and made with the freshest of ingredients it truly was YUM, the spiciness of the paste we made was awesome.

2nd Course
IKAN BAKAR SAMBAL MATAH, Pan seared yellow fin tuna, lemon grass, chilli, kaffir lime
This is the salad dish I cooked the tuna for, again the vegetables and herbs were crispy fresh and the tuna was so good, the green chillies in the dish gave it a wonderful spicy finish, the salad was served on a crispy wafer a bit like a pappadum, the whole dish was so delicious, my mouth is watering right now thinking about it, I want so bad to go back and do this all over again!

3rd Course
AYAM BAKAR BUMBU BALI, BBQ marinated chicken in spicy coconut sauce
SATE TUSUK AYAM, Marinated chicken breast with Balinese spices and peanut sauce
SAYUR PAKIS, Fern tip salad, grated coconut, red bean with garlic chilli dressing
NASI SELA, Sweet potato rice
SAMBAL ULEK, Tomato and chilli sambal, served in homemade dishes crafted from Pandanus leaves
WOW if we did not know we were in Bali we knew it now, this was Bali on a plate, I tried so hard to eat this slowly so it would last longer, every mouthful was fantastic, the satays sauce was the best I have ever tasted and the tomato sambal was to die for, it really was one of those meals you just never want to end, it was the best.  As we were tucking into our main course, there was a little bit of commotion coming from outside of the pavilion above us, we had been talking about snakes in the rice fields and as if on cue a snake slivered its way towards us, with a couple of young lads with pole trying to guide it away, it found its way into a drain hole and disappeared, unfortunately the other end of the drain came out right beside our table, so things were a little tense thereafter, more so for the ladies, they were not happy at all.

Black rice porridge with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup, also served in dishes crafted from Pandanus leaves
I was dead sure I was not going to like this dessert, it did not appeal to me at all looking at it, but I tried it and to my surprise I liked it, the flavour was very nice and the rice had a really nice bite to eat that made it enjoyable to eat.

Once we had completed our meal, Made reappeared to present us all with a parting gift of a bottle of their coconut oil and a recipe book with step by step instructions to recreate the beautiful meal we had shared, it also had alternative ingredients for the times when you cannot find the right ones, which has already proofed very helpful.
The next generation of the Sang Family

I could have stayed there for the rest of our holiday, it was so nice, as were the people we had met and spent our day with, but all good things come to an end and we were  escorted back up them bug steps and ushered into our ride home just as the rain started to come down, it did not dampen our spirits though, we had had a great day, one that I rate as the best experience I have had whilst travelling overseas, it really was that good, I cannot wait to go back to Bali, I will be booking to do this again without doubt!

If you are going to Bali, book this day with them, you will not regret it even if you hate cooking, will still be the best day!

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