Category Archives: Bali

Mozaic restaurant, Ubud, Bali

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Whilst we were enjoying our Christmas break in Bali, we went and ate at Mozaic restaurant in Ubud. Mozaic is set slightly out of Ubud, so it’s definitely a taxi ride to get there. Inside the decor is very modern, but with hints of Balinese. You can either sit indoors or outside in the gardens.

It’s supposed to be the best restaurant in Ubud, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. We had the special Christmas Chef’s Table menu, which was a 6 course tasting menu (and we also opted to do the wine pairing with each course). As we were having the chef’s table menu, we were led through the gardens to a private room at the back, with about 8 tables in it. The kitchen is here, as they often run cooking courses in this room. It’s all very sleek and slick looking, with enough beautiful kitchen gadgets to keep me fascinated, whilst we waited for our first course.

The chef cooking for us was a New Zealander called Blake Thornley. He was incredibly friendly and welcoming, saying from the outset that he wanted people to come up and see what he and his team were doing, as well as ask questions about each dish, and cooking techniques etc. It gave me free rein to ask all my geeky gastronomic questions! Ha!

We started off with a delicious amuse bouche of tuna, with a soy and ginger dressing. Delicious, and it really woke up your mouth, ready for all the other treats coming up.

The next course was ‘Fine de Claire’ oysters, with crushed raspberries and fresh black truffles. It’s here that I must confess that I don’t like oysters. I’ve tried them a couple of times and I just don’t enjoy the texture or taste. It seems a little pointless to gulp down something that you barely taste. My only concession to oysters is when they are cooked (reduces the chance of making you ill as well!). So Will enjoyed his oyster starter, but I had a beautiful alternative of lobster instead, which was perfectly sweet and soft,  complimented with salty vegetable crisps and sauce.

This indulgent fishy starter was followed by a fish course – confied coral trout with wild mushroom crumble, potato espuma and sticky Iberico jus.  I’d never heard of coral trout, nevermind eaten it before. Coral trout is actually a reef fish and found all around Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Blake explained how the coral trout had been confied – slowly oven cooked in a low heat oven in a pan filled with oil, flavoured with herbs, at a low heat, until the trout is perfect. The trout was beautiful – just the right side of cooked, and soft but with plenty of flavour. The potato espuma was potatoes aerated in the same way as whipped cream – a new way of having mashed potato – meaning that it was the perfect light accompaniment to the fish. The Iberico jus was made by boiling pigs heads and trotters to make a stock, which was then reduced down to a jus over 36 hours – that’s some commitment to creating this amazing nod to surf and turf! Gorgeous, and perfectly matched with a 2008 Australian Chardonnay.

Perhaps it is here that I should mention the sommelier. He took the time to come round and speak to all the diners, to talk to them about the meal and the wine pairings. He is Balinese, so becoming a sommelier is quite unusual, as most Balinese people don’t drink. However, he took tremendous pride in his work and was delighted that we were happy with his choices.

After the fish course, we had foie gras. I love foie gras; I know some people think its cruel but I think its delicious! Perhaps that comes of having a French mother, who knows?! We had foie gras two ways (hot & cold) served with a bitter cocoa sauce and poached cherries. I loved the hot foie gras, which was pan-fried. I think it’s the contrast of the crust that forms during the frying against the soft inside, that just melts in your mouth. The unusual combination with the bitterness of the cocoa and sweetly sharp cherries was just gorgeous. Paired with a 2008 Reisling (which I discovered I really, really like!).

After the foie gras, I was feeling rather full, and a little bit tipsy from the wine pairings! The meat course was up next: Australian lamb loin, served with pumpkin and lemon puree, sage, and spiced jus. The lamb was perfectly cooked – pink in the middle – and deliciously meaty next to the soft pumpkin and spicy sage jus. Unfortunately, much to Will’s amusement I was so enjoying the lamb and the Bordeaux that we had with it, that I completely forgot to take a photo …sorry about that folks, but take my word for it that it was divine!

Cheese course next: Vacherin Cheese with baked brioche, and warm mushroom and black truffle vierge. I have a photo of this one! The brioche was soft, sweet and buttery, next to the rich cheese. The mushroom and truffle vierge lifted the richness and stopped it becoming too cloying. I’m not a massive fan of strong cheeses, but this was good match with the sweetness of the brioche.

Finally, we had the dessert course. I was super full by this point, but when I saw what it was, I knew I’d make room, no matter what! Baked hazelnut chocolate fondant, with goat milk ice cream and Armangnac reduction. Died and officially gone to heaven. I was intrigued to find out how they did the fondants, as I’ve watched enough episodes of Masterchef and Come Dine with Me to know the route to being an amateur chef is littered with the graves of failed fondants. Blake was confident in his method – all down to the timing apparently, and the texture of the top as you take it out of the oven (better to err on the undercooked, squidgy side to ensure a fondant centre). We all watched with bated breath as Blake eased the first fondant out of the mould – success! We were all rather in awe. But then, rather embarrassingly, it all started to go wrong – the fondants coming out of the mould started to collapse in on themselves, much to his embarrassment. He brushed it off as not having brought them to room temperature before cooking (they’d been prepped earlier in the day and stored in the fridge) but it made me smile that even a chef who has made thousands of fondants, still finds them tricky!

But luckily, there were enough perfect ones for us to sit down with a plateful, a glass of Sauternes, and start tucking in. Oh wow! Rich oozing chocolate combined with tangy goats milk ice cream – sharp and surprising at first, then deliciously salty and sweet – all with a hit of Armagnac finishing things off. I’d never have thought of such a combination, but it was delicious and unexpected. I could have happily eaten it all over again!

We left Mozaic feeling fully, tipsy but delighted at the wonderful evening we’d had – it really made Christmas special. Thanks must go to Blake Thornley and his team of sous-chefs for all the wonderfully delicious food they created, and for answering all my questions about dish composition and cooking techniques whilst trying to plate up! Also the sommelier – we didn’t catch his name, but he did a wonderful job with the wine pairings – even managing to get me to enjoy a dessert wine for the first time ever! Highly recommended if you find yourself in Ubud and want to eat somewhere special.

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A very Bali Christmas

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Christmas 2011 was a series of firsts for Will & I. Despite having been together for more than 7 years, it was the first time we actually spent Christmas Day together. Usually, we spend it with our respective families, meeting up on Boxing Day. It was also the first time that either of us had spent Christmas anywhere other than in England, and the first time we’d ever had a ‘hot’ Christmas.

When we first arrived in Singapore, we decided almost instantly that we should go away for the festive season. We knew flying back to England wasn’t really an option – too far, not enough days holiday, expensive, and potentially rubbish timing as we would be trying to get settled in Singapore, and returning home so soon might have made us feel even more homesick. We did a little bit of Googling and looking on Skyscanner to find affordable flights, and Bali came up trumps. We’d been once before, back in 2009, and LOVED it, so we knew we’d have a great time. 4 nights booked in Ubud.

We left Singapore bright and early, and of course had a super easy time getting through Changi airport! Two hours later, we touched down in Denpasar to an absolutely torrential rainstorm! Not quite what we had expected, and we both looked at each other and wondered ‘is it going to be like this the whole time?’. Thankfully, as we made our way by car from the airport to Ubud, the skies clearer and soon the hot Bali sun had raised our spirits.

It was so wonderful being back in Ubud, just hanging out in the clear air by the paddy fields, and enjoying the sounds of all the wildlife, especially after being somewhere so urban like Singapore (and London of course!). Where we stayed is tucked away down the end of a long road, meaning it’s very peaceful.

We spent Christmas Eve walking around Ubud. We took the road that leads out of the main town, across the river. We walked past lots of interesting little shops selling arts and other craft works. Just as we were beginning to tire we found the Art Zoo run by an American artist called Symon. Its a huge studio on several levels, and we had a great time wandering around, cooling off in the breeze blowing through the big open windows. Symon is a bit of a character, and talked to us about his work, whilst reclining in a hammock, wearing little more than a sarong! But we liked him, and we liked some of his art (some of it is truly bizarre – like a naked man, with the head of a bird) so we ended up buying a painting off him. Hey, who comes to Ubud without buying art right?! After that, we walked back into Ubud, stopping to have a massage, before hiding on our balcony for the rest of the afternoon, due to a sudden tropical downpour.

That evening we had an amazing time, eating at Mozaic restaurant, which is claimed to be Ubud’s best restaurant. We ate a six course tasting menu, at the chef’s table, where you could watch the dishes being prepared, and ask the chef questions about each dish – its ingredients, cooking methods and composition. I think I can safely say its one of, if not the best, meal I’ve ever eaten (you can read my post all about it here). I had such a fabulous evening – fantastic food, delicious wine, and great company! We went to bed feeling sleepy, full and very content.

Christmas Day! It was wonderful to wake up with Will on Christmas morning, and sit in bed opening our stockings that we’d brought with us. Lots of little treats and tasty things, as well as a Singaporean cookbook for me, and a Paul Frank T-shirt for Will, amongst other things. We ate our breakfast in the sunshine, and read on the terrace for a bit. We then went walking around Ubud again, exploring some of the shops along Jalan Dewi Sita, and Jalan Hanoman. We stopped in a cafe for a long lunch, before walking back towards our hotel. We stopped at a spa across the road from where we were staying and then indulged in a massage and beauty treatment, where you get an hour-long massage, before a green tea scrub, being covered in yoghurt, and then soaking in a bath in a garden bathroom, overlooking the paddy fields. Bliss.

In the evening, we Skyped our families (which left me a big teary afterwards) and then walked down to a restaurant where we had ordered babi gulung, or roast suckling pig, to have as our Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I started to feel rather unwell, and had to leave Will to eat everything on his own, whilst I succumbed to the food poisoning curse. I haven’t felt that ill in quite some time, and needless to say it was an early and then rather sleepless night! However, Will reports that the babi gulung was delicious!

We spent Boxing Day just taking it easy, as I was finding it hard to eat much! Lots of sitting by the pool, reading, and relaxing. Later on in the afternoon, we took a trip to the village of Lodtundah, to visit the Semar Kuning artists co-operative that operates there. It’s basically a huge gallery, with every style of Balinese painting you can think of. The co-operative arrangement means that each artist benefits from any sales of art there, so you can invest in the whole community with your purchase. The artists show you around, and are happy to talk to you about each style and the artist who painted each piece. We had actually visited the co-operative before, when we came in 2009 but didn’t remember where it was or what it was called, so we were delighted that we had ended up there. Prices are very negotiable, so don’t be afraid to ask for a discount (we managed to pay a third of the price we were originally quoted!). We bought a beautiful painting of a pair of parrots, which I’ll put up here once we have had it re-stretched and framed.

Before too long, it was time to go home. It’s here that I must mention the only bad thing about our trip: the traffic in Ubud has become crazy. The roads are so congested with big tourist cars and motorbikes, that it took us over an hour to get out of Ubud centre! We just crawled along the streets. Despite the beauty and tranquility of Ubud, that has put me off returning somewhat, and I do think the Balinese need to take some serious steps to address it, as it won’t get any better on its own. Our driver drove like a demon to get us to the airport in time – we arrived 10 minutes before check-in closed! And then before too long we were up in the air again, saying goodbye to Bali, and on our way back home to Singapore.