Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Balinese Feast

Food is a major part of ceremonies and festivals throughout Indonesia (I’m not sure we’ll make it to Thailand after all!). The size of the feast depends on the importance of the ceremony. In Bali, at smaller ceremonies, the Balinese will smoke a duck or chicken to accompany a range of delicious spicy salads. Whereas at larger celebrations, no expense is spared and families will also enjoy a spit roast pig (babi guling, my favourite! and a local delicacy – more on this later!).
Several restaurants in Ubud offer these feasts to tourists on a regular basis. Bighead and I have already par-taken in several (surprise!).

Ketut’s Place on Jl Suweta provides these feasts on Sun, Wed and Fri. It costs 135,000Rp per person (about NZ$20) and you can eat as much as you can squeeze in! Drinks are extra and there may be a service charge (Ketut took ours off after asking where we stayed! Go figure).

Before the meal Ketut welcomes all guests into his family compound and shares some interesting info about Balinese culture. Each guest is poured a glass of Balinese rice wine (not unlike dessert wine from home, although unfortunately only 1% alcohol) and a cup of ginger tea. The feast is laid out in buffet style and contains about 15 or so different dishes. Various spicy salads, tofu satay, coconut satay, chicken curry, smoked duck, peanut crisps, fried tempeh, prawn crackers, the list goes on. Samesame’s eyes are bulging as she tries to play it cool. Waiting patiently as the guests before her seem to take an eternity to fill their banana leave baskets… oh so tasty!

However, a better bargain waits at Rumah Roda’s Guesthouse and Restaurant on Jl Kajeng, where a very similar feast can be had for just 30,000Rp (about $4!). The environment isn’t quite so up market but is lovely just the same, which is more our speed anyway. Roda's serves up a delectable array of dishes, where the main item that’s missing is the ubiquitous smoked duck.

The other thing I love about Roda’s, is that he refills water bottles for 20c a pop. Anything to help decrease the ever increasing plastic problem in Bali, is all good as far as I'm concerned!