Getting schooled

Today was all about learning.

Per my usual routine, the day started with coffee at Seniman. After enjoying a delightful cappuccino, I walked back up to the villa to have breakfast with the crew. With breakfast devoured, I headed back out and back down to Seniman, this time however to take part in a coffee workshop.

I had expected to be one of several people in the workshop, but it turned out to only be me. So I got a two hour, one-on-one class, which was a dream come true.

I can be described as a coffee snob by some, but this workshop put me squarely in my place. Turns out I really knew nothing. My teacher, Alec, walked me through everything there is to know about coffee, always with a smile and a laugh.

We covered everything from the differences between Robusta and Arabica, processing methods and roasting times, to brewing methods and how the differences in grind, water temperature, filtration and brewing duration all effect the final result.

Over the course of two hours Alec and I brewed over 10 cups of coffee, where he showed me proper techniques in blooming, pouring and sampling. Alec was masterful at helping me recognize how acidity, body and origin flavor all work together to produce the taste in the cup.

Completely caffeinated and thoroughly educated, the class came to a close, where I was then requested to choose my complimentary coffee beverage. I sat at the coffee bar, sipping my delictable iced latte, with my head still spinning as I reviewed everything I had just learned. I cannot recommend this workshop highly enough! With 10 more days to go on this trip, I’m already pretty certain this will be THE highlight for me!

Eventually I headed back to the villa for a relaxing swim in the pool, as I tried to work through all the caffeine in my system. After a period of relaxation, it was on to the next lesson for the day.

Our driver picked us up, and we headed for Ubad Ubud Balinese Cooking Class. As we weaved our way through the hectic streets of Ubud, we chatted with our driver about what was in store. He gave us a run down of the nine (NINE!) dishes we would soon be cooking.

As we approached the village of Tengkulak, the driver offered to show us the family rice fields. We quickly accepted and upon arrival spent some time walking through the fields as he described the different type of rice grown in the fields.

Rice fields of Tengkulak

A quick two minutes through the village and we arrived at the family compound where the class would take place. We were greeted by our host, Ayu who gave us a profoundly insightful glimpse inside a traditional Balinese Hindu family compound, and the traditions and customs of the Balinese people.

We then set about making the food, starting with “the magic yellow” sauce, which Ayu explained is used in almost all of the Balinese dishes. The making of the sauce is labor intensive, as we found out, and she said she makes it in large quantity, about once a week.

Making the “magic sauce” with Ayu

The next several hours were spent preparing traditional Balinese dishes like Minced Chicken Sate, Steamed Tuna Wrapped in Banana Leaves, Gado Gado (mixed veggies in peanut sauce) and Deep Fried Tempe & Tofu in Sweet Soy Sauce.

After guiding our group of ten through the meal preparation, we all sat down together to enjoy the meal, serve buffet style. As we dined, we engaged in wonderful conversation with a new friends from Germany, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. We talked about each other Balinese highlights, where everyone had traveled or was looking to travel to, and whether surfing was scary.

Entrance to the family compound

Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and we said goodbye to Ayu and her family. We all sat in near silence on the ride back to the villa, full of delicious Balinese cuisine of our own making and a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about the people of this island.

A day that will long be remembered.