Bali Asli is the dream of Penelope Williams – the Executive Chef and Director of the establishment. You’ll understand why when you arrive at the eco-friendly restaurant and cooking school, hidden amidst the foothill folds of Mount Agung, just outside Amlapura.
Between sampling some of the freshest and most authentic Balinese cuisine on the island, you’ll get to soak up one of Bali’s best views – that of the sacred volcano. Food is served to you on communal platters, the way the King’s soldiers of Karangasem would feast during the 17th century.
Termed the ‘megibung’ style, food and drinks are served in a way that’s suitable for easy sharing. The unique tapestry of flavours is sourced locally, and cooking is done via deliberate, traditional methods, such as using mortar and pestles, steaming baskets and wood-fire mud brick stoves.
Join the cooking class and you could add a new life experience to your Bali bucket list, because you will not only learn about Balinese cooking but also about the local way of life that makes Bali so special. Plus the view from the restaurant is simply stunning.
The journey begins when you drive to Bali Asli and follow the gently winding road to the foothills of Mount Agung. From the restaurant you have an amazing view over the valleys and Bali’s highest and most sacred mountain. Here the members of the cooking class gather at eight o’clock in the morning. This is the best time to catch the great mountain in full glory in a clear blue sky.
To introduce the participants of the cooking class to Balinese vegetables and spices, Penny takes them to the local market in nearby Amlapura. She’s been a regular visitor there for more than 3 years so everyone at the market knows her. She talks to the Balinese women in Bahasa Indonesia and lets her customers taste and smell the local specialties.
Some people think it’s odd to learn to cook Balinese food from an English-born Australian lady, especially considering Bali Asli means ‘authentic Bali’. But what is authentic about Bali Asli? ‘My cooks are from Karangasem but they were never trained before. Actually, one of them worked as a dive instructor. I learned from their home cooking traditions and adjusted the spicy flavours to what people from abroad can take in.’
From about the age of 18 Penny started to get interested in cooking. From her early childhood memories of England, she remembers running around in fields and trying to catch insects. Later, when she went back to the UK to work as an apprentice at the Savoy Hotel in London, she was introduced to Gordon Ramsey, one of the most famous master chefs on TV worldwide. And so Penny became familiar with the habit of cursing, shouting and throwing a plate to someone’s head to get things done!
Never present a dish to your guests without tasting it first,’ is Penny’s important motto, plus ‘think outside the box.’ So after each round of tasting, the class decides what to add to make it tastier. When all the food is prepared and Penny has demonstrated how to serve it, it’s time to sit down together and eat the prepared meal. Everyone who completes the cooking class receives a certificate and the recipes from Penny to try at home. Also each participant gets a Bali Asli apron which they can keep as a souvenir.
You won’t find a single electrical cooking appliance on the premises!
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