Helloooooo from Bali, everyone!
I have been having a wonderful time so far volunteering teaching kindergarten. But don't worry, I have still been eating, and I even had a chance to create a batik painting (above, you're welcome).
I'm staying in an area of Bali called Penestanan, which is a stone's throw from the now-famous Ubud, which was prominently featured in the novel Eat, Pray, Love. The novel's presence is evident in the town, with cocktails named in its honor and even an ice cream place called Eat Soft Love. I assure you I am not kidding.
But I digress. As a volunteer, we are located between two coffee shops: one called Kopi Desa, and one called Cafe Vespa. Both are adorable, and may be of interest to sweets lovers who find themselves in Bali. Since I've visited both a fair amount of times to use their wifi, I think I will tell you about them.
At Kopi Desa, they will fill basic foodie needs with sandwiches and noodles at extremely cheap prices. But happily, they also have ice cream, so they will make sweet beverages. They also make sweet banana pancakes, which you can pair with ice cream for tasty results. You can eat well here for under $3 US.
And they have young coconuts, which they serve like this. OMG CUTE!
Down the street, you'll find Cafe Vespa, which is a little fancier, and the food follows suit in caliber and prices.
They have beautiful fresh fruit, and a tantalizing bakery case.
Photo via Trip Advisor
This is a typical Balinese thing, I have noticed: everything has a wonderful attention to detail. Everything is good. How do they do it for crying out loud?
They also make a very pretty latte.
Perhaps most importantly, they serve scoops of an ice cream called Sacred Scoops, which is made locally and boasts this roster of ingredients:
Yes, you read that right. Blessings. What does ice cream made with blessings taste like, you wonder? Don't worry, I found out.
Honestly, my only complaint is that the cone was so small, but it was quite nice. It was completely gluten-free and vegan, with a "rice cone" and a surprisingly creamy ice cream with absolutely no grittiness, just smooth strawberry flavor. It was slow to melt, which made it perfect for a hot day, and tasted so fresh that I could practically feel the fruit smiling at me. I am pretty sure I could taste the blessings. The love frequencies too, now that you mention it.
So far it's been a pretty sweet 2 weeks in Bali, and I am discovering more great places to tell you about every day. Stay tuned, sweeties.
Sacred Scoops (purchased at Cafe Vespa)
Did you know that you can make your own sweetened condensed milk?
It's true. Provided you have milk, butter, sugar, and a little time, you can make sweetened condensed milk at home. It will not only give you a super sense of accomplishment and a serious something to brag about to your friends, but it also tastes amazing. That means that this homemade sweetened condensed milk will make all manner of recipes sing, from flan to Vietnamese coffee to magic cookie bars. Or, just use it as a particularly decadent dessert topping. Go ahead, you deserve it.
Homemade sweetened condensed milk also means you have control over your ingredients. Not to show off, BUT, I made mine with home-ground confectioners' sugar, homemade butter, and a great local dairy brand. Trust me, it made a difference. We couldn't stop eating this stuff.
Yes, the recipe requires quite a bit of time. But it's relatively passive time--you can keep the burner on low, and be working on something else nearby. As long as you can check and stir occasionally, you're good to go. It's a great project for while you're playing Scrabble (you can check the milk when it's not your turn!) or while reading a book on a rainy day.
How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 cups milk (whole will yield the richest and best flavor, in my opinion)
- 2/3 cup homemade confectioners' sugar (the store bought kind may have cornstarch, which might not incorporate properly) or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Step 1: Place the sugar and milk in a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan. Whisk to combine. Apply medium heat, and stir frequently until the sugar has completely combined and the mixture comes to a low boil.
Step 2: Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting on your stovetop. Add the butter; it should melt fairly rapidly.
Step 3: Now comes the waiting game. Let the mixture hover over this very low heat until it has reduced to a sweetened condensed milk type of syrupy thickness. Check it out every 10 minutes or so to monitor things. Listen--this can take up to 4 hours.
Either way, you've got yourself an impressive finished product on your hands. You made sweetened condensed milk! You officially win.
What's your favorite recipe with sweetened condensed milk?
Photo via Alchemy Bali
I have a confession to make: in Bali, I've been eating...
You heard me right, but I want to assure you that everything is OK. I haven't abandoned you. Because as it turns out, even health food can be naughty every now and again.
I'm talking raw desserts. They have no leavening, so they're usually nice and dense, often luxuriant with coconut oil as a key ingredient.
And--I know, you wouldn't expect this from me--fresh fruit is amazing here. Stay with me.
The establishment which has inspired my healthy kick is none other than Alchemy, a raw and vegan cafe in Penestanan, a neighboring area to the more famous Ubud. Seriously, everything here is so good.
Choosing is difficult with a rainbow of fruits fresher than I've ever tasted, nuts, muesli, dried fruits, and--my favorite--the raw coconut whipped cream. I don't know how they make that stuff, but I don't care if it's vegan or gluten free or raw: I could eat it by the bucket.
So here's what you might get after you choose.
Afternoons, they have a full menu and juice bar. Everything is made to order, and incredibly fresh - like, you can taste the trees the fruit came from, and the sweet air of Bali.
But most importantly, they have a generous case of raw desserts. They are all delightfully dense. This makes me happy, especially when the dessert in question is a smoothly luxuriant chocolate mousse cake or a cacao truffle or even a spirulina slice which looks surprisingly like a Nanaimo bar.
Here are just a few (photos from their website). All of these desserts are raw.
It's all good, too. The only problem is that they don't do espresso here and gosh that would be nice with these sweet treats. Guess we'll have to leave that to Kué up the street--more on that later.
And--how cute is this--if you get something small to go, they will wrap it in a banana leaf. It's a good reminder: OMG! You're in Bali! Awesome!
If you don't think you'll be making it to Bali anytime soon, they do have a number of recipes on their site!
Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali. Online here.
Dear, sweet readers,
Not to get all Eat, Pray, Love on you, but by the time you read this, I will be in Bali! I have decided to do a month-long volunteer project with a group called IVHQ wherein I will be acting as a kindergarten teaching assistant. I think I'll do OK--I mean, kids everywhere love art, sweets, and writing, right?
I decided to stay a few weeks beyond the volunteering to explore, do yoga, and immerse myself in the culinary culture of Indonesia.
How this affects you.
I'll have Wifi though, so while my posting may not be as regular, it will happen.
So that's where you come in, sweeties. Have you ever been to Bali? Do you have any regional specialty food suggestions for me? Cool cooking class suggestions? Or perhaps bakeries or sweet shops which can't be missed?
Or, maybe you could weigh in by telling me the stuff you're curious about in Bali. Do you want me to write about the unique fruits I find? What the experience of ordering in a bakery is in Bali? Et cetera?
Let me know, sweeties, because you're coming with me and I want to share the adventure with you.