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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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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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Romantic Seminyak: Rekindle Love in Bali

in Wellness by
The Layar Romantic Seminyak Villas

The number one place for a romantic getaway? The dream honeymoon destination? The primo anniversary escape?

It’s got to be the Bali, Indonesia. Beach lovers can’t resist the lure of this spiritual island, where tropical luxury is at its best (and lovers can’t resist each other). 

More specifically, it’s got to be Seminyak, where wining and dining is effortless and hideaways like The Layar are kitted out for high-end leisure.

The Layar Private Pool Villa in Seminyak

THE LAYAR DESIGNER VILLAS & SPA

Feel The Romance

First, get comfortable with cool spacious interiors, zillion thread count sheets and an open living area. Next, a private swimming pool and manicured tropical garden await nearby. A dramatic slanted ceiling overhead also makes your very private villa a personal theatre. Finally, display your affection. O Romeo! 

The Layar Seminyak One Bedroom Villa

THE LAYAR – PRIVATE LUXURY VILLA

If Shakespeare’s famed duo had dashed off to Bali, theirs would be a very different play with all the passion and none of the tragedy because this place is a romantic’s Heaven on Earth. Thus, thanks to the natural beauty and wealth of things to do, it’s the couple’s getaway of a lifetime. So forget R+J and take your cues for romance from this script instead.

The Layar Romantic Seminyak Villas

THE LAYAR – ROOM SERVICE

Act I. Scene I. Luxury one-bedroom villa. A warm welcome note and chilled champagne on the table.

To borrow a page from The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene, surprise is an easy road to romance. Being in a new place for the first time also serves up a bit of wonder, but a love of travel doesn’t necessarily bring people together. It’s the thoughtful surprises (and bold moves, says Greene) planned by one person for the other that bring back flutters of new love.

A simple request when booking is all it takes. Hence, set the scene for arrival however you’d like. Arrange special occasions and activities in advance. Also, leave the legwork to your hosts while you go barefoot. Enjoy your holiday worry free.

Seek Adventures in Sync

Act II. Scene II. The beach. Golden sand surrounds. Palm trees sway in the pleasant sea breeze.

Roses, chocolates and sweet surprises are strong symbols in the book of love.

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Best alcohol buys in Bali

in Tips by
Alcohols

It’s probably fair to say that most people enjoy a drink when they’re on holiday. Whatever your favourite tipple – an iced beer on the beach; an exotic cocktail at sunset, or a glass of chilled wine by the pool, read on to gain some insider’s info on the best places in town to buy beer, wine and spirits. And even better – how to have it delivered.

First, we’d recommend that you skip the duty-free shop at Bali Airport.  While the store may be called ‘Duty Free’, it’s not. All alcohol that comes into Indonesia is slapped with a heavy import tax. The only ways around paying the tax are by purchasing a bottle of duty free at a foreign airport en route to Indonesia, or buying domestic products once you’re here.

FOLLOW THE STAR

In Bali, Bintang (meaning ‘star’) is synonymous with beer. This popular lager has 4.7% alcohol content and a mild flavour that’s well suited for beach holidays. Brewed in Indonesia, Bintang is a Heineken brand, and both beers display red stars prominently on their labels.

Bintang Beer

Second to Bintang, the most widely available beer in Bali is San Miguel (and San Miguel Light, served with lime). You’ll see Bali Hai, Anker and Stark, too. Foreign beers are harder to find, but they are out there if you know where to look. Beer & Co have outlets in Canggu and Legian, and propose a satisfying range of imported big name and craft beers. 

For good prices on local beers, head to the (rather confusingly named) Bintang supermarket in the centre of Seminyak, Bali. The store’s logo is, you guessed it, a red star. They also sell wine and spirits here and, conveniently, you can pick up a bottle opener or corkscrew while you are there.

Beer & co.
Jl. Pantai Batubolong No 35A
+62 8113 886 658

Bintang Supermarket
Jl. Raya Seminyak No.17, Kuta Bali
+62 361 730 552

TOP TIP :

Absolutely do not drink from the Absolut vodka bottles you’ll see displayed on racks at the roadside all over Bali. These  glass bottles are re-used to sell petrol (who said Indonesia doesn’t recycle?).

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