Sunsets are something that Bali does particularly well. And the beach at Jimbaran Bay is the place that those in the know gather to enjoy them. Which is why, at sundown, we find ourselves sipping a leisurely Bintang on the bustling beachfront as our kids stalk, with serious intent, a guy selling balloons.
Only the emergency purchase of a duck and an Angry Bird wheelie balloon (don’t even ask) allows the poor guy to escape without having to have an AVO taken out on a particularly obsessive Sugarpuff.
It proves an astute purchase as the tow-along balloon thingy proves to have true pulling power and my little cougar kitten is soon enjoying her first holiday romance with a younger Balinese man she picks up on the beach.
As the two tiny tots cuddle and play together, Raffles frolics merrily by the water’s edge with some older local kids and their ball, connected only by a shared language of play. It is a beautiful thing! When our kids engage with other children on our travels, it not only strengthens their experience and creates a world of connections for them (and their parents) but also teaches my wee but worldly little lovelies to appreciate both the similarities and differences of those from other cultures.
We fill their happy little bellies with fresh fish from one of the seafood shacks that line the beach and watch as they feast on freshly barbecued corn from a cart that’s sitting quite randomly on the sand.
But mum and dad are fasting in preparation for a rare night out together at Ayana’s Dava Restaurant. Sans enfants. Gasp!
To be honest, we’re a tad nervous as it isn’t often Mama and Papa Eats World get to eat out without lugging a truck load of baby wipes or having to nag someone to finish their vegies. And babysitters are a rarity. But we’re biting the bullet! Well, we’re actually biting succulent chunks of crayfish, slivers of rare wagyu beef, freshly shaved truffles and a perfect baked chocolate fondant.
Alongside a pretty terraced lily pond.
Yep, it’s a little bit special. And by little bit I mean it is freaking amazeballs!
And while our meal and the time alone is all kinds of awesome, the biggest surprise of the evening is returning to our villa to discover that the ever hungry Raffles and Sugarpuff haven’t eaten their babysitter and are, in fact, fast asleep.
Food is an integral part of what makes the Ayana Resort & Spa experience so special. Besides fine diner Dava, the resort offers a huge choice of dining from fresh seafood on the beach and trattoria-style Italian to a melting-pot of pan-asian cuisine and traditional Indonesian market fare, which rocks.
Speaking of rocks, we can’t miss a visit to the resort’s famous Rock Bar but this time Mr Eats World and I take the kids as chaperones, lest we actually start getting used to uninterrupted conversation.
Accessed by inclinator, the split-level bar merges almost organically into the cliff face. It is Bali’s hippest bar and the queue to get in is long but as guests of the resort, we’re whisked through VIP style, the kids welcomed with crayons and colouring books and a bowl of the fanciest chips I’ve ever seen.
Mr Eats World & I surreptitiously steal a few and toast another beautiful day in Bali as waves break below us and traditional fishing boats sail past into yet another postcard perfect sunset.
But the most special dining experience of all is a quite simple one that we enjoy on our last day after an eye-opening tour Raffles and I enjoy of the local fish market.
We’re the only tourists and my beautiful boy is as intriguing to the lovely locals as their fishy wares are to him.
He is warmly welcomed to see, touch and taste the freshest of fresh fish.
And to view the bizarre array of unrecognisable seafood as it is sorted and unloaded straight from brightly-painted fishing boats on the busy beachfront.
As excited as Raffles is about seeing where his food comes from and playing in the fishing boats, once we return to Ayana for lunch his excitement goes turbo as we enjoy a very special meal of seafood nasi goreng (Indonesian style fried rice made with a spicy tomato sambal), and tum bebek (tasty minced duck with a spicy bumbu genep paste and lime leaves steamed in banana leaves).
A meal that a beaming Raffles – chef’s hat firmly in place – presents proudly to us after his first ever official cooking class with the lovely chefs at Ayana’s Padi Restaurant.
And it is as delicious as he is.
Seafood Nasi Goreng
4 tbs Vegetable Oil
2 cups cooked white rice (best prepared the day before)
1 cup of chinese cabbage, julienned
1 cup of bok choy, julienned
1 cup of leek, finely sliced
1 long red chilli finely diced
2 shallots diced
4 garlic cloves finely diced
100 gm firm white fish (we used snapper fillet) cut into cubes.
100 gm prawns peeled and diced
50 gm of calamari, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 egg, whole.
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs Sambal Tomat (recipe below)
1 tbs mushroom soy sauce
1 tbs fried shallots.
Heat 2 tbs oil in a wok or heavy fry pan.
Add shallots and garlic and fry for a minute.
Add the beaten eggs and fry, stirring.
Add chilli and add fish and calamari, stir fry for one minute then add prawns and fry until seafood is almost cooked.
Add a tbs oil, fish sauce and sambal.
Add vegetables and cooked rice, stirring gently.
In a separate pan fry an egg sunny side up and put aside.
Add mushroom sauce and white pepper to taste.
Serve with fried shallots, and fried egg.
Sambal Tomat (for nasi goreng)
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
3 shallots, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
4 large chillies, seeds removed and roughly chopped
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbs lime juice
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a heavy based frypan or wok.
Add shallots, garlic and chillies and fry for about 4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and shrimp paste and fry until soft.
Take off heat and add blend ingredients in a food processor to a coarse paste.
Season with salt and lime juice.
Cool before use.
- Bali blinder (boyeatsworld.com.au)