|The Romance of Rice
October 15, 2013
It was a beautiful day in Kamandalu Ubud that afternoon. The sky was clear blue, the breeze softly lulled its lullaby and the rice paddies in Kamandalu was as green as the emerald. It was a fine day and the perfect surrounding for Romance of Rice, one of Ubud Writer Reader Festival 2013 Special Event.
The six panelist for this special event were experts on rice, the most important element on any of Balinese (and Indonesian) meals. Janet DeNeefe, the Founder & Director of the annual Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is also a writer, with her latest book: Bali: Food of My Island Home; William Wongso, Indonesia's most famous culinary expert; Farah Quin, an Indonesian celebrity chef and currently hosts Indonesia's 'Top Chef'; Ian Burnet whose books, such as Spice Island, have received critical acclaim for telling the history and adventure of spice trade over 2000 years ago from the East Indies to Europe; J Steven Lansing, a professor in anthropology with a life-long passion for Bali's majestic rice paddies and took part in creating Jati Luwih to be a UNESCO world-heritage.
While each expert was explaining his/her own specialized topics, the guests at this special event were enjoying lunch that was served by Kamandalu Ubud. The special 3 course Indonesian menu represents how diversified Indonesian culinary is, from one region to another region, across the Indonesian archipelago. In just one lunch, guests were able to taste seven different Indonesian dishes from the archipelago. The Soup Jagaq consisted of native couscous vegetables soup was a dish from Kutai, a region deep in Eastern Kalimantan. The main ingredient of this soup was specially brought to Kamandalu Ubud for this special lunch. The exciting main course truly exemplified of how rich Indonesian dishes are. Each guest was served a plate that consisted of a coned Nasi Liwet (Central Javanese fragrant coconut rice) served with Rendang Padang (Western Sumatra caramelized beef curry) and Ayam Bumbu Rujak (Eastern Java grilled chicken in mild chili coconut sauce) and Arsik Ikan Batak (Northern Sumatra Fish Simmered in Torch Ginger Flower, Lemon Grass, Szechuan Pepper) and Urap Pakis (Balinese Spiced Ferns)and Kering Tempe Kacang (crispy spiced caramelized fermented soybean). This colorful main course was a surprising delight to everyone as each guests, mainly foreigners, was able to see and taste few samples of various Indonesian dishes.
The highlight of the lunch was when each guest was served three types of Indonesian dessert in one plate. The colorful dessert was definitely tantalizing the taste bud and each was very different in texture, showcasing the various traditional Indonesian sweets.
The most common of dessert all around Indonesia, though having different version from one region to another, is the Kolak Pisang (Simmered Banana served in Coconut Milk and Palm Sugar) and Kue Lumpur (Pumpkin Souffle Pan Cake served with Coconut Milk with Brown Sugar Sauce). The melt in your mouth, silky dessert was Sarikaya (Pandanous Coconut Creme Brulle)
Surrounded by Kamandalu's beautiful setting against the green rice paddies, the talks of Rice echoed in Petulu Restaurant that sunny day. The delectable 3 course Indonesian menu served by Kamandalu Ubud was wonderfully served and a great companion that ended this year Ubud Writer Reader Festival Special Event; a perfect ending.