Thursday, October 2, 2014

Celuk, Gianyar

What better way is there to start your birthday (Thursday) than with some jewellery shopping! Us five girls headed out to our old friend and silversmith I Ketut Pasta in the nearby craft village of Celuk (Jl. Jagaraga 27), while the boys did some of their own sightseeing in Ubud.

After some hours and quite a few hundreds of dollars spent collectively we’d judged the morning a success while the boys had a few stories to tell about the fun they’d had watching the antics in the sacred monkey forest.

Fiona and I enjoyed a late lunch together at the ARMA cafĂ© in nearby Pengosekan before visiting the beautiful Agung Rai Museum of Art to see the prince’s extensive collection of Balinese art including a very small exhibition of some work by Walter Spies.

I enjoyed visiting the beautiful ARMA again after many years absence and managed to find a few minutes to show Fiona the beautiful Kokohan Hotel that is in the grounds of ARMA – another part of the prince’s empire!

We’d booked ourselves a tour of the Gianyar Night Markets on Thursday evening with the Casa Luna Cooking School. We were all in high spirits by 6.00pm, at pick up time, after the fine champagne (no G & Ts that night) we’d drunk that was generously provided by Judy and Jurgen in celebration of my birthday (thank you J & J).

Gianyar is a fairly charmless town in central Bali (second biggest city after Denpasar). It is an administrative centre for the region and the night market is for locals – not tourists.

I thought our crew was amazingly adventurous trying the rustic gado gado, prepared right in front of us by this older lady (who looked to me like she’d done this at least a thousand times before).

The “pressed rice” she cut up and mixed into the gado gado came from these little palm leaf boxes. It looked like they had been steamed in them in the initial cooking process.

The next stall produced our favourite dish of the night – “martabak”. It involved a lot of technique….a very fine rice dough, rolled out very thin, filled with egg and a tomato and meat sauce and then deep fried in a very exacting process….and surprisingly light and delicious to eat.

We saw lots of people carrying little bamboo boxes of brightly coloured baby chicks around the market – obviously from this stall.

Our main meal was produced at this stall. Roast suckling pig, and lots of other things made from the inner bits of the pork and fiery sauces to accompany them. The last time I’d been to the Gianyar night markets I hadn’t sat this close to all the action. It was steamy hot, the fat was glistening, a lot of the bits and pieces were very unfamiliar looking and it was “all hands in” and “very hands on”.  In the end it took some determination to show the necessary respect for the dish presented to us – but we did!

It was much easier to cope with dessert – lots of variations on rice, freshly grated coconut, and palm sugar syrups - quite yummy actually. Dessert was served in the familiar cone of brown paper with a banana leaf spoon, all very sustainable.

I admired my travelling companions (including the young ones) for their good grace in coping with the experience of the night market, after all the fine dining and indulgence we’ve enjoyed in Ubud. We finished off another big day with a drink and some more great live music at the cp lounge bar.

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