Ubud Food Festival

June 5: Indonesian food for the masses

Today marked the first day of Ubud’s Food Festival!

After a quick (and hard, but not as hard as last week’s sprint-themed workout) Wild Health class in the morning, I quickly showered and headed to the Arma Gallery and Resort where the first Food Festival event I was attending was being held.

Arma is beautiful. No idea how much it costs to stay here, but you get your own private villa tucked away in a private, wondrous, secret garden, that feels as large as central Ubud.

Just walking to the Food Festival event was stellar:

Arma Walk1 Arma Walk2
Arma Walk3 Arma Walk4

After arriving (on time at 12) to the event: No Discount on Local Taste, we were told that lunch would be served at 1 and first we had to sit through a talk:

Talk Space1 Talk Space2

Needless to say I was not pleased. Joel seemed a little upset too that we had to wait for food and listen to a talk in the overpowering midday sun of Ubud.

BUT, to (at least) my surprise, the talk was excellent:

Cuca Talk

Kevin Cherkas, the head chef and owner of Cuca in Ubud AND a former chef of several well-known Michelin-starred restaurants (e.g., Spain’s El Bulli and Daniel in NYC), spoke about his passion for local cooking and how he developed Cuca, a high-end restaurant in Bali that only uses locally sourced ingredients. He also makes his own salts (aka my favorite food for those that know me well):


Anyway, by the time Kevin was done talking, we were ready to eat some all-local cuisine. Here was the space:


And menu:


I took pictures of all the dishes except the pork, which was my favorite of all the dishes. I’m sorry, but I just got too excited when that was put in front of Joel and me.

Corn Pumpkin

We also met a nice couple who moved to Indonesia from Santa Monica ~3 years ago. They had some great tips for things to explore in the country. Joel also mentioned afterwards he might be excited to stay in Bali / Indonesia longer (SCORE, will continue to work on this now that I know this is a possibility muwahahaha).

After lunch we decided to explore the gardens and the art museum (which would normally cost money to view, but we were in the area already for the event). There was some really cool stuff:

Arma Art1
Arma Art2
Arma Art3 Arma Art4

There was even a picture of Goku going Super Saiyen:

Arma Art5


There was a cool night market that night, but I was in the writer’s flow and didn’t want to stop (killed off my first character — well sort-of).

June 6: Friends and daddy issues

Okay, I am done with bananas for breakfast. Banana Homestay has been really stretching with their recipes lately and today was the final straw.

Let me recap the evolution of breakfast at Banana:

    • + Banana pancakes (okay, seems like a clear thing to do)


    • + Banana crepe (okay, again, I can dig)


    • + Banana grilled cheese sandwich (yeah that was weird)


    • + Banana butter sandwich (uh ….)


    + Banana-stuffed rice rolls, unsweetened (and I’m done)

So today, I went to Bali Buda for breakfast and got their Breakfast Monster (eggs, bagel, baked beans, sausage, beef bacon, tomato, kombucha – 61.000 IDR or ~$4.88 — yes, please).

I had intended to peacefully work and watch the morning rain (mind you, that I had walked through to get to Bali Buda), but, after I sat down in the lounge area, a bunch of Kuta surfer dudes took over the seating and started talking about “all the shrooms they did last night,” “swappin’ chicks,” and “finding mute ladies to mack on.” At best it was distracting, at worst it was disgusting. Even some of the staff seemed bothered. Sigh.

Went home to finish working and napped instead. Woke up a few hours later (after some pretty vivid dreams…), got a some writing done, and then walked to the Food Festival’s Night Market.

Walk took me longer than expected (~1 hour), but saw some cool sights:


AND didn’t get lost:

UBF Signs

The market had a pretty packed entertainment schedule:

UBF Schedule

And overall was very cool. When I arrived a DJ was playing. Literally everyone was just chilling on bean bags watching the poor guy play some club sets. Weird, but certainly my type of people:


Then a seemingly well known acoustic guitarist named Nanoe Biroe took over the stage:


He was actually pretty good I thought! I meant to video one of his songs, but didn’t actually press record (oops :/). So here is a song of his from YouTube instead:

Joel arrived and we went through the food-part of the market:

Food place

He ended up finding a pretty decent rice dish for 15.000 IDR (~$1.20) that was good but spicy. I had to wash it down with tons of milk tea.

We then found another one of our new friends, Lisa, in the film screening area of the festival. The festival was screening a new Indonesian film called Filosofi Kopi. The movie is about a coffee shop owned by two best friends, one who is more focused on the business side of the store (and getting themselves out of debt) and one who is more focused on the art of making coffee (and won’t sacrifice integrity for profit).

The star of the film was there to introduce the movie (and was also not bad to look at):

Movie Star

He said the movie was about “friendship and daddy issues.” Boy, was he not lying. The first half of the movie was good, but then, somewhere in the middle, all the characters meet at a coffee plantation and share some crazy left-field family drama stories that come out of nowhere. Hmmmm … let’s recap:

    • + Character 1: Dad died leaving him responsible for millions of rupiahs worth of debt


    • + Character 2: Dad may or may not be responsible for killing his mother, but either way becomes abusive after mom dies


    • + Character 3: Dad ignored her her whole life, doesn’t show up to her 18th birthday party, she yells at him, he immediately dies in a plane crash


    + Characters 4/5: Couple who had a daughter that asked them not to move to the coffee plantation, they do anyway, she catches disease there and dies

Yeah. So that was a bit of a downer and felt really random. Movie took a bit of a turn from there and probably was 30m – 60m too long.

Here’s the trailer though:

Trailer has no subtitles, but the movie did …. Don’t know what to tell you!

Anyway, afterwards, it was late and dark and I really didn’t want to walk home. So I hitched a ride with Joel who had rented a scooter bike for the festival. He is really good on a bike! Totally lane-splitting like a champ! At one point, I even pretended I had some sort of nun-chuck weaponry and we were in a biker gang. A+ riding! And those things are small (even for two people). Record we’ve seen so far is four on one.

Although, I am glad he waited until we got to Banana to tell me he was really worried about the drive home once I asked to hitch a ride (he’d never biked with two on a scooter). Next up, I’ll need to learn to motor bike!

Day 13 / June 7: Oh God Essays

Stayed up late last night finishing a Neil Gaiman book (“The Ocean at the End of the Lane”) so ended up sleeping in.

Decided to skip breakfast and write instead (I have a new favorite character!) and then headed to Semestra for lunch (except they still had the breakfast menu available so I got an omelette).

While there, I had a brilliant idea. Oh Sydney, feeling good? No stress? Now is probably a great time to start thinking about applying to graduate school and looking up what materials are needed to apply, right? Ugh. Not surprisingly, now I am super stressed about applying to grad school. I guess the good news there is I spent the afternoon writing out my first essay and redoing my resume (so actually making some progress?). I’m such a loser.

But then of course I had another Ubud Food Festival event (my last one) – The Mad Hatter Tea Party

Mad Hatter

Janice Wong is a dessert beast (and she was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef by San Pellgrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 AND 2014):


The event was awesome! Tons of dessert, sandwich, and quiche finger food (all top-notch) and bottomless champagne. PLUS, because Joel didn’t come with me, I was forced to make new friends, which I did! Great company, great food, great setup!


The best item was the Pandan icecream (which I did not take a picture of — my new friends mentioned early how “uncool” it is to take pictures of food, hence the sparce photos — AH! Peer pressure!). But actually that was the best icecream I’ve ever had.

Now I am horribly full though and think I will skip the party tonight (unless Joel says it’s good) and instead go home to edit what I wrote this morning and pack. Tomorrow we move into the villa!

  1. Paula said:

    Keep looking – I’ve seen five on a scooter – dad taking kids to school!!
    Love the life you are living!!

  2. Ruth Rossman said:

    It sounds delicious and beautiful and so off the grid, yet not completely. Enjoy. Keep blogging. Love you.

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