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Chocolate Heaven in Bali

in Culture/Dining/Tips by

It’s Easter this Sunday, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to get your hands on the most delicious chocolates to celebrate the holiday. Chocolates are definitely a “Bali thing,” as evidenced from the number of shops that offer them. The chocolate industry in Bali boomed in the early 1990’s. You’ll find everything from local convenience-store varieties to high-end imported brands. The most flavorful ones we’ve tried here, however, are both homegrown and posh. They’re also all organic and ethically-sourced. From vegan to creamy-smooth varieties, here are the top four.

1) Pod

Easter Chocolate - Pod

Known as one of Indonesia’s best chocolate brands, Pod is the creation of Toby Garritt, who hails from Adelaide, Australia. During his studies in the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Garritt met his future wife Inda, an Indonesian princess. Fast forward several years and the couple have made Bali their home. It was here that Garritt first thought of creating a chocolate that could rival European ones in flavor and quality. In 2013, the first Pod chocolate was created using Balinese cacao and European machines and processes.

Pod is proud of using locally-and-ethically-sourced ingredients that are sustainable. The brand helps local communities remain relevant in the making of high-quality, delicious chocolates.

Our analysis? The Café Mocha variety gives off a pleasant coffee smell. The chocolate itself has a perfect creamy texture and an excellent sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor. An added bonus is a coffee-bean crunch with each bite.

The Michelin Guide has hailed Pod “a small band of chocolate makers turning the $100 billion chocolate industry on its head.”

2) Elevated Cacao

Easter Chocolate - Elevated Cacao

Like it’s name suggests, Elevated Cacao goes above and beyond your typical chocolate brand. The label, which hails from Ubud, has a deep appreciation for chocolate, which it claims lifts moods, makes people feel better and, simply, “smile.” Raw, vegan and absolutely ethically-sourced, Elevated Cacao is the brainchild of foreigners Amanda and Paul, who met in Yoga Teacher Training in 2015. Paul was an experienced chocolatier and taught Amanda the business of raw chocolate-making. The two focus their time on creating only the healthiest and purest forms of chocolates.

One of the brands initiatives?

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Did You Know? Songkran Is All About Traditions

in Culture by

The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions.

Mornings begin with merry-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is a common practice. Water is poured on Buddha statues and the young and the elderly. This is a traditional ritual during Songrkan. It represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck.

As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved-ones and elders. Giving reverence to ancestors is also an important part of the Songkran tradition.

The Elite Havens Phuket office celebrated Songkran with Country Manager Femke Beekers and General Manager Andy Parkhouse being blessed by the office’s Chief Engineer, Jook. The entire Elite Havens Phuket 30-member team was blessed one by one, for about a minute each. 

Songkran is known for its water festival. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues a “Miss Songkran,” where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress, is crowned. 

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Chef du Jour: Villa 1880

in Dining by

Entering Villa 1880, you are transported back in time. Set on a lot in Bali surrounded by palm trees large enough to cover its 8-foot high surrounding fence, Villa 1880 is reminiscent of a colonial plantation. Owned by an interior designer and a vintage store owner, the tastefully decorated villa includes among its decor a large boulder on sand, a giant stuffed peacock, and china from a shipwreck. Other modern touches are seen in upholstery from Hermès and clusters of modern hanging lamps. Whimsical and unique, Villa 1880 is full of little details.

You may not want to leave the 5-bedroom  (including an 8-kids-bunk-bedroom) villa, what with its impeccable service and design. But if you feel like taking a stroll, Batu Belig Beach is only 500 metres away. The villa is also a close drive to Seminyak and Canggu. This is Bali at its best, with food that lives up to expectations.

We interviewed Chef Adi Sutrisna, who shared with us his recipe for Lemon Butter Salmon with Couscous. Simple but flavorful, the dish was made with fresh vegetables and salmon. The couscous was freely dribbled with lemon butter sauce and vegetable stock. It had just the right mix of gritiness and mushiness.

Why do you like this dish? Why do you make this dish?

I like everything. I like making this dish because there are many Asian flavors and I like them all.

Ah, the different flavors. Why do you like them?

I think all food is essentially the same. There is no good food or bad food. Italian, Asian, they are all good.

Do your guests at the villa agree?

In the villa, we have guests from all over the world. They all like my flavours because I use all kinds, especially Asian.

What’s your main dish usually made of? Beef, pork, seafood?

I like salmon. Salmon is a nice fish.

How long have you been cooking?

I studied hospitality decades ago and I’ve been cooking since 2000.

What’s your favorite thing about being a chef?

I like to experiment with flavors. Western with Asian.

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Chef du Jour: Villa Pangi Gita

in Destinations/Dining by

Villa Pangi Gita sits in the heart of Canggu but might as well be nestled in the middle of the jungle. That’s what it feels like in the verdant areas filled with little houses designed to look like Balinese huts.

Each space – including the open-sided living room, the study and the bedrooms – is topped by iron-wood shingle roofs. In tandem with water features scattered throughout, you feel the traditional Bali vibe.

The food in this 3-bedroom villa complements its decor and architecture. Scrumptious with a clean flavor, it’s cooked up by Chef Gus, who’s skilled in Asian and European cuisine.

Chef, please tell me your name and what you do in the villa.

My name is Ida Bagus Adhi Kusuma. People call me Gus. I’ve been working in Pangi Gita since 2012. I started around 2005. 

What do you cook? Did you study cooking before?

Actually, I graduated from a tourism hospitality university. Diploma 1.  And then I worked in a big hotel.  

What is Diploma 1?

Diploma 1 is the one year program to go in University after senior year of high school. So I took a one-year program in the hospitality industry in food and beverage products. Then I worked in one of the biggest hotels in Bali. And then in the airport, in a catering company, and then some other villas. The latest is here. I’ve been here for about 9 years.

What kind of cuisine do you make?

I am able to cook Balinese food, Indonesian food and even European food. I can also make cakes. I used to work as a pastry chef in a hotel. We had a special request for carrot cake for one of our retreat guests and I made a special one.

How would you describe what you cook?

Cooking is an art. Cooking is also an hobby.  So if you have patience in cooking, you’ll able to deliver an excellent dish to your guests.

What are you making us tonight? What are you cooking tonight?

For starters, we will serve a salad, the prawn tuna salad.

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Through The Keyhole: Villa Sepoi Sepoi

in Destinations by

If you are seeking a truly unique and quintessentially tropical backdrop for a special event, be it a destination wedding, significant birthday or large family reunion, Villa Sepoi Sepoi situated on Sira Beach in Lombok is the perfect venue.  Nestled between coconut plantations and sleepy villages this villa offers size coupled with a charming warmth. 

The lush green lawns meet a private white sandy beach, providing picture perfect views of Mount Rinjani, the Gili Islands and Bali’s Mount Agung.  Active guests can access a wide range of water or lawn sports provided in the villa or play a round at the immaculately maintained golf course located a short distance away.  Day trips to Gili Islands and local land attractions are personally curated by the Villa Manager providing guests with insider knowledge and truly special holiday memories.

Villa Sepoi Sepoi reflects traditional Indonesian architecture, paying homage to local Lombok culture and design, while maintaining an air of sophistication. Designed around a central courtyard, Villa Sepoi Sepoi includes 3 garden bedrooms and an expansive living pavilion all overlooking a magnificent in-ground pool. The villa has its own orchard which grows many of the ingredients used by the Villa Chef. 

We interviewed Villa Sepoi Sepoi Villa Manager Akmal Tubagus to find out what else makes the place unique.

 
Hi, Akmal. What can you tell us about Villa Sepoi Sepoi?

Villa Sepoi Sepoi is quite large.  With 6 bedrooms, it can accommodate from 12 -16 people. With Sira Beach House, just next door a large group of up to 28 people can be housed. It’s right on the beach and you can see the Gili Islands and also Agung mountain in Bali. That is the view of our villa. There is always a very beautiful sunset. Our difference is because we face the Gilis, we can see the sunset in front of us, not like the other villas. We have lots of gardens, coconut trees. Our villa is exclusive and far from the normal crowds.

Can you tell us more about the villas in Lombok?

Every villa is unique. The villa staff love to take selfies here. Also you can see comments from our guests. Their comments about Lombok are excellent. Good food, good staff, good ambiance. 

Can you tell us more about yourself?

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