Tejaprana resort and spa
With only a week to go before this years trip to Bali, I must admit that I cant wait to get into our Villa at Tejaprana resort and spa in Ubud, in fact I can barely wait to get to the airport. I thought it might be fun to relive last years trip to Bali, Ubud and restaurant Locavore as this was a magic trip and experience. The food the weather and the people made the experience one that will stay with me.
Having never been to Ubud or Bali before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I had planned for something along the lines of Phuket. Was I wrong, it was so much better. Tejaprana resort is an oasis, arriving at 11pm we turned off the street and down a long driveway. All the houses from Denpasar were shop fronts with Balinese dogs roaming the streets. I must admit I thought that we were heading to a bath of ice and a kidney removal but has fate turn out the driveway opened into a stunning arrival area. Shown to our room we slept deeply, awoken in the morning by cascading light and amazing views. More about this resort soon, however it was so good that we have booked the same room as last year.
Restaurant Locavore in Ubud, Bali is one of the most interesting food experiences that I have had in a recent time. By definition a locavore is "a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food" and as such the menu reflects this with food that is locally sourced, inspired and conceptualised. The recommendation though a work colleague failed to mention anything other than that I'd love it, and as such I only tried to book on a last minute whim and was surprised by the difficulty of securing a table. We needed up having the lunch offering as it was the last seat left during our stay in Ubud.
Locavore offers two differing tasting menus, one vegetarian and one meat/seafood. Both offerings are unusual, interesting and fascinating, as if Ubud, Bali and Indonesia has been distilled into every mouthful, every smell, every taste and every texture.
The restaurant itself is muted tones of stone and wood, local stone and ceramic flatware (I think from Kervala) complete the look. The large wood tables are well spaced and comfortable. Masterfully the drink list is heavy with what are essentially cocktails, and which are a perfect foil for the flavours and texture of the food. I feel that wine would have been left wallowing in the background with far too much acidity to be put against this food. We began with a “Beet me” loaded with fabulous Tanquary gin, triple sec, mint and beet juice, the dark side of the healthy, cleansing, wellness movement.
The menu comes as a seven course or five course tasting menu presented as a brilliant cartoonish ransom note style slip of card board. We chose a five course tasting one meat and one vegetarian. The meal was preluded with a series of snacks, the black rice blini with smoked egg yolk and purslane and turmeric emulsion pillow a true standout. The following amuse bouche of warm tomato consomme with a Bloody Mary sorbet at first could almost seem clichéd if not handled with such skill it was anything but, almost the dish of the day.
The vegetarian menu.
As I chef I cook a considerable amount of plant based dishes I was excited about trying the vegetarian food at Locavore. With no expectations I was surprised, confronted and amazed by this very local food. Bali is nasi (rice) So “A bowl of rice & some leaves” was delicate with subtle nutty rice flavours cut with miso pickles and cured egg yolk and leaves from the rice fields. An almost refined version of steamed, but at the same time so much more. A nod to great produce, tradition and sublime simply, yet handled with such subtle complexity. This dish was as much cerebral as it was physical.
“Alliums & sorghum” was a gently sweet sorghum porridge hidden under a delicate blanket of cooked onion petals. Sweet yet savoury yet earthy and gentle.
“Selat solo” the Javanese salad of braised beef usually tendon in a watery sauce is altered here with baby potatoes, green beans, Brags aminos and a soft centred quail egg was light yet rich with the egg yolk, crunchy with the beans and salty with the aminos. This dish was light and rich with saltiness from the Braggs and richness from the quail egg.
The “banana blossom bragoule” was an interesting starter yet for my tastes a little bitter with a lack of balance.
The dessert “sago and fruit” was a round plate with little puddles of fruit and sago mixed. This was a journey of flavours with subtle than finishing with pandan. This was preluded with a mulberry sorbet with tropical fruit.
The meat menu
This menu began with a delicious ceviche of fish with coconut, ferment sambal matah, kalamansi and cem cem leaves. This was delicious, light, fragrant, cold, salty and a perfect start. Next a steak tartar. This was not not the traditional tartar with the meat as a light pink almost puree. Texturally it wasn’t pureed still having a bit of texture. It was however very light, almost airy and possibly the craziest tartare Ive had. Local catfish and pork shoulder rounded out the meat menu.
We finished with a series of traditional little cakes and pastry. All in all the food here was great, so great I have already booked again for this trip. I still couldn’t secure a dinner booking so it looks like a it’’s lunch again.