June 23, 2012

Destination wedding Bali day 1: welcome to Bali!

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I'm in Bali this weekend for another wedding.  Bali sure has become a popular choice for destination weddings particularly among those of us in Asia.  It's an easy location to get to - with direct flights from many Asian cities - and the beauty of the island of the gods is indisputable.  I'm happy to be back after a 3-year absence.

After finally collecting my checked in luggage and suffering from anxiety about having it picked up by someone else from the carousel, I took a taxi to Alila Villas Uluwatu, where some of us are staying for the weekend.  The villas here are a little too modern for my taste - mostly straight lines at 90 degrees with sharp corners.  Too much concrete and cement, and virtually no Balinese or Indonesian architectural elements.  Having said that, the villas are very spacious - both indoors and outdoors.  I look forward to dipping in the pool.

This is the first time I'm in Bali by myself, and with just a few hours until the welcome dinner, I decided to spend some time in my villa.  The sky is a beautiful hue of blue, and the temperature is a relatively cool 27°C with a nice breeze.  I hook up to the hotel wifi and sit under the shade of the cabana, enjoying the view out to the distant ocean.  No, I did not come to Bali to surf the waves.  I'm surfing the net.

Dinner is at the Sangkar Restaurant in Bulgari Resort nearby.  We are seated at long tables and I'm relieved to find a few familiar faces.  There are performers banging out some traditional music to go along with the barong dance, and I would be glad to sit at the far end of the table as the evening progressed.

We're going local tonight, with a menu designed to show off the best of Bali.

Ayam sambal matah: shredded chicken, lime, kaffir & bean sprouts - very nice shredded chicken, with green beans, bean sprouts and that wonderful flavor that can only come from kaffir lime leaves.

Seared ocean scallops, turmeric & serai scented rice - nicely flavored with turmeric.  The rice was ever-so-slightly flavored with lemongrass, and I thought it may have been cooked risotto-style but was slightly overcooked for my taste.

Soto udang pesmol: tiger prawns in coconut & turmeric broth - the prawns were skewered through lemongrass, and the broth was simply wonderful.  I couldn't resist sending spoonful after spoonful of it into my mouth.

Passion fruit sorbet, salak fruit - interesting to have candied salak, since it's normally too sour for my taste.

Bebek betutu: Bali's festive spiced duck - coated in aromatic spices, cooked in young banana leaves, red rice, lawar Bali and acar - this was the dish I've been waiting for.  For all the times I've been to Bali, I don't recall ever having the famous bebek betutu.  I've had the bebek goreng at Bebek Bengil that was just too dry…  Anyway, the duck was lovely and moist, and I just loooove the flavors of lawar Bali.  Yum.

Biji salak, palm sugar & rich coconut cream - I just can't resist palm sugar, and quickly gobbled this up.


There is of course plenty of wine, and I had the privilege to drink the following both during the dinner and after:

1996 Bruno Paillard en magnum - a little yeasty, but a very lovely wine.  I can drink this all day.

2004 Henri Boillot Chevalier-Montrachet en magnum - lots of toasty corn, a little oaky.  Very nice.

2008 Château Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes en magnum - this wine has surprised me on the upside in the past, and it was drinking very well tonight.  After warming up the glass a little with my hands, the floral nose came out and was very refreshing, with a little tropical and marzipan nose along with minerals and a hint of oak.  Ripe on the palate but there's enough acidity to balance it out.

2008 Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin - nose of forest, plum, and almost a little like plum jam that has been cooked.  Palate was a little weak and not as enjoyable.  Sealed with the synthetic cork that Laurent Ponsot showed us when we visited him.

2009 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett Alte Reben - made from very old vines.  Intense petrol and flint in the nose, with a little manuka honey and orange blossom.  A little sweet on the palate and really nice.

1992 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses en magnum - nose of sugar cane and straw, a little lemon.  Ripe on the nose and the palate.  Lovely.

A very good evening, and I'm certainly looking forward to the actual wedding celebrations tomorrow!

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