The Four Season’s Bali cooking school opened in September, 2001 and several of my foodie friends confirm that it is not only the most gorgeous place on the planet but it was the first cooking vacation that they went on where they actually learned something.
First off, the island is out-and-out paradise with the combination of stunning beaches and perfect weather. People say that the Balinese people have arrived at self-content. It is not an exaggeration when a Balinese is asked what heaven is like and they say just like Bali! I can only imagine that the island advances a pretty low - stress lifestyle. After all, what is there to worry about in Bali?
The school offers three modules that will appeal to both an apprentice and accomplished cooks alike. These days, Balinese, Spa and Asian cuisine are on their teaching menus so you can select the type of cuisine that you are interested in learning more about although I have heard that many people take all three.
Classes start out with a trip to the local food markets. Since I love local markets and have photographed them for years, this would be the icing on the cake for me. Many Balinese don't have fridges so they shop every day. Are we the only culture that does not eat this way? I swear, it promotes the healthiest eating ever.
The school is housed in its own building and features a garden that welcomes you into the kitchen. The kitchen has state-of-the-art appliances and a large, black granite preparation unit with induction hot plates. Specialty equipment to sustain a wide-range of Asian cooking styles includes a tandoori oven, Asian cook range, noodle boiler, rice/vegetable steamer and duck roaster.
Students sample their own cooking in the dining area, on its teak table and chairs of modern Balinese design, or in the shady entry courtyard.
On any given Monday, Thursday and Saturday, the Balinese menu would consist of Chicken Satay, Acar Sayur or Pickeled Vegtables (which I can live on), Pepes Ikan Kakap which is Grilled Red Snapper wrapped in Banana Leaf, Sambal Matah (In Indonesia, when you ask for a sambal, you would have to specify which one. Sambal itself is actually a very broad term; any kind of spicy sauce basically could be called sambal. Sambal is made to match different dishes) and a Balinese Pumpkin desert called Kue Labu.
If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Wednesday, the Spa cuisine class starts out with an introduction to the taste and health benefits of Balinese jamu, locally prepared elixirs with a ginger base. This is followed by the preparation of delicious and health-conscious food including Jamu kunyit asam which is a local beverage made of turmeric and tamarind, Vietnamese Summer Rolls, Shredded Chicken Salad with Crispy Wonton Strips and Chilli Mint Dressing and the Grilled Catch of The Day on Watercress and Chickpea Salad with Cumin Broth . For dessert, it is a simple, creatively sliced tropical fruit dish with lime.
On Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, Asian takes front and center on the menu with Hot and Sour Prawn Broth with Lemon Grass and Thai Basil, Gyoza Wok-Seared and Steamed Chicken and Prawn Potstickers, and Soba Noodles with Wok-Fried Eggplant, Red Miso and Sesame Seed. Just listing out all of these fabulous cooking menu’s makes me hungry!
Many former students also reported that the cooking school set up is one of the best they have seen anywhere. Their recipes for Summer Rolls is listed below. If you want any of the other recipes that I mentioned, I have them all thanks to Putu so just email me. Remember, you can learn a lot from a recipe but to really perfect it, you need to go to the source.
A real bargain at US$90.00, you have 6 hours of cooking which includes the market tour, a cooking class with a very low participant/chef ratio and lunch with wine.
The resort itself offers unparalleled service. The 147 elegant Balinese-style villas have stone walls, thatched roofs, and marble floors; inside are separate sleeping, bathing, and living pavilions, private plunge pools with ocean views.
The magnificent spa offers treatments using sea-salt crystals, seaweed, and aromatics, as well as massage, scrubs, and wraps. The superb Lulur Jimbaran, based on a Javanese beauty ritual, includes exfoliation with sandalwood and gingerroot, and a soak in a bath infused with flowers from the spa's garden. I am pretty sure that is a recipe for beauty that will make you feel pretty amazing.
Beds on the Beach …
Go with your significant other because Thursdays and Saturdays are ” Beds on the Beach”. The hotel sets up beds on the beach, lights a million little candles and you get to take pleasure in eating your meal in a bed facing the ocean. Yes - I can do this!
Tuesdays is “Six on the Beach” where you get a table that’s dug into the sand with six food stations,six traditional Balinese dances and all at six in the evening.
Beds on the Beach and Six on the Beach are just a few of the special occasion pleasures that Four Season’s plans to make your Bali vacation unmatched.
Another great time to go to Bali is for the 4th Annual MRA Bali International Triathlon which will take place on June 20, 2010 at the Four Seasons. The Olympic distance event, the only triathlon ever to be held in Bali, is a unique destination race combining a luxurious race setting with a challenging course. Four Seasons has also offered a 6 day, 5 night package in a One Bedroom Villa to the first male and female athlete to finish the race.I loved the note I received from Race Director Brennan Lindner this past week:
There's no better way to do a food story than from an athlete's point of view. I think that's why 90% of us run/bike or swim, so we can eat more food. My Note: I so relate to this. I am pretty sure than I am in the 90% group!
The event has grown 10-20% over the past three years, and we expect to have close to 500 in 2010.
My Note: By U.S. standards this is small so all the more reason to go and place well in your age group!
The Four Seasons has been integral in the success of the event. From an athlete’s perspective, it's very unique. The Four Seasons is the 'base area' for the event, with a catered Pre-Event dinner done as only the Four Seasons can. Earlier in the day, there is a traditional Balinese Bike Blessing for the participants. And on race day, Four Seasons also provides delicious food for the post event festival and the signature cold towels to all the finishers. Believe me, there's nothing better than that after running 10k in the heat.”
My Note: Love the fact that there is a blessing of the Bikes and that the Four Season’s takes such extraordinary care of all of the participants...again.
For more information on The Cooking School at the Four Season’s Bali Resort, contact Putu Indrawati at Putu.Indrawati@fourseasons.com. The FOUR SEASONS RESORTS BALI is located at Jimbaran 80361, Bali, Indonesia. The phone is (62 361) 701010.
For outstanding travel packages to Bali or other out-of-the-way locations, contact travel expert Julia Frye at Time To Travel. You can email her at email@example.com or call (877) 507-0582. Julia puts together some of the most interesting and out of the ordinary destination packages.
For more information on the Bali Triathlon, contact Brennan Lindner at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 310.821.7898.
Put Bali on the top of your travel list for 2010 and if this weather keeps up,you may be taking that early retirement package sooner rather than later.
Recipe for Vietnamese Prawn Summer Rolls for Two
4 pcs. Rice paper
4 pcs. Prawn, blanched, cut in half
1 ounce Carrot, shredded
1 ounce Daikon, shredded
10 pcs. Mint leaves
10 pcs. Coriander leaves
1 tsp. Chives, chopped
½ ounce Bean sprouts
2 tbsp. Lime juice
1 tbsp. Fish sauce
2 tsp. White sugar
4 pcs. Butter lettuce
2 ounces Rice noodles
1)Marinate prawn, carrot, daikon, mint, coriander, chives, rice noodles,
mint leaves and bean sprouts with fish sauce, limejuice and sugar.
2)Soak the rice paper until soft and place on dry cloth. Arrange 2 pieces
coriander leaves first and following with 2 slice prawns, carrot-daikonand-
rice noodle mix. Add 1 piece butter lettuce and roll up.
3)Repeat process for each roll.
Recipe for Summer Rolls Dipping Sauce
3 tbsp. Palm sugar
4½ tbsp. Fresh lime juice
3 tsp. Fish sauce
2 ea. hot chili, finely sliced
3 ea. Small garlic clove, finely sliced
1)Dissolve the sugar in the fresh limejuice. Add the fish
sauce, sliced chili, sliced garlic and 2 tablespoons water.
2)Pour into small dipping bowls and let stand to develop the