Feeding The Nation
Never before has the word ‘organic’ been more powerful in Ubud. Now a raw, vegan, fresh food destination, Ubud is spearheading the global ‘green’ phenomenon with world-class establishments dishing up their own versions of all that is healthy, chemical-free and locally grown.
Bali Buda have been serving vegetarian food for as long as I remember and have been a force behind the island-wide organic movement. They have so many tasty favourites, a range of gluten-free, raw cakes, breadsand a health-food store alongside. If you are seeking anything organic, this is where you will find it.
Established in 2011, Alchemy is one of Bali’s first raw, vegan cafés. Salad bowls are the mainstay and are piled high with generous mountains of goodness alongside other hearty raw fare and smoothies in every colour. But one of their greatest attractions, well for me anyway, are their creamy, dreamy, delicious raw desserts. “We created Alchemy with the intention of bringing inner healing and transformation to Ubud’s visitors and residents. Our products and menu promote consciousness and wellbeing for all of Earth’s inhabitants,” state the glowing owners, Shanti and Elena.
Sari Organik is an Ubud institution and is located down a winding path in the middle of the rice ﬁelds behind the Pura Dalem. Fruits and vegetables are grown on-site and dished up in all sorts of vegetarian ways; in fact, you can even pick them yourself. Lounge on comfy cushions, munch on organic nasi campur and enjoy an expansive view over the Tjampuhan ridge and a never-ending sea of green.
The new Clear Cafe is now sitting pretty in a bamboo treehouse-chic river-view abode in Tjampuhan. Sit back, relax, sip on kombucha and eat raw pad Thai while overlooking the ancient temple, Pura Gunung Lebah, which lies below. Their philosophy is ‘eat the food you wish to be’ and,if you can’t decide on that one, they will certainly lead you to a path of good, clean health. Their creative menu includes Raw and Macro, World Flavours and Tonics and Elixirs.
The Elephant in Sanggingan is a relatively new organic kid on the block but already has an enthusiastic following. Brandishing ‘earth-friendly’ food, they serve elegant, beautifully colourful renditions of classics, such as home-made potato gnocchi, alongside crisp Vietnamese pancakes and many new creations in a breezy eco-bohemian space on the edge of a tropical jungle.
Moksa is another newbie, located near Sayan. Led by chef extraordinaire Made Runatha, they serve just about the finest raw, organic, plant-based food this side of the equator. Produce from their extensive on-site permaculture garden is hand-picked and beautifully presented in soups, salads, desserts and more. If you’re spoilt for choice, you can graze on a Moksa sampler plate. And speaking of plates, theirs are straight from the nearby Gaya ceramics kiln.
Taksu is another organic eatery, led by chef Arif Springs. “Healthy eating isn’t about discipline, it’s about celebrating life. The flavour and freshness of in-season produce is a joy for the cook and for his guest,” says Springs. Taksu grow most of their produce in their aquaponic gardens that surround the café, and guests are invited to wander through this living wonderland before tucking into a raw feast.
Locavore is considered Ubud’s most exciting dining establishment. Run by Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah, who are fierce advocates of seasonal, local produce, their mantra is ‘go local or go home’. The meat they use is only from ethically fed animals, with much of their organic and chemical-free produce coming from their own farm. Each course (you can choose five or seven) is a finely handcrafted work of art, and you can taste their integrity with every outstanding bite. By the way, don’t forget to try their cocktails!
Bambu Indah is a sustainable boutique hotel with charming teak grass-roofed cabins set in a lush Tarzan-meets-Jane garden, complete with swinging tree rope and a breathtaking view across the Ayung valley. Their lofty bamboo restaurant serves organic Indonesian food par excellence with an ever-changing seasonal menu, and the ingredients are plucked straight from their sprawling garden.
The Fivelements wellness retreat is one of Bali’s award-winning eco-friendly bamboo spa resorts, with an acclaimed riverside café that presents innovative, organic, raw food with a focus on Indonesian flavours. The chef at Bisma Eight’s restaurant, Copper, believes in ‘waste not, want not’ and creates soulful, organic artisan food using produce from their garden with a low-waste philosophy. Quail with puffed rice and hand-picked rosella, pumpkin with bocconcini and local purslane and fresh herb-based drinks are some of their highlights.
Wander down Ubud’s laneways and you will ﬁnd many more organic eateries. Cashew milk, wheatgrass shots, green coconut juice, tempeh, kombucha, smoothie bowls and organic rice are on nearly every menu in town. Even Casa Luna has its fair share of organic meals together with health tonics that are guaranteed to ﬁne-tune the mind, body and soul. And then there are the dedicated producers who are creating all this world-class organic food. That’s a whole other story, and you can meet these maestros at the 2016 Ubud Food Festival. With a heightened fervour for chemical-free, non-GMO produce, the hope is that maybe Bali will once again return to being a fully organic island. This is our mantra and it’s not such an impossible dream because these days, anything can happen. And does.
The founder and director of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival and Ubud Food Festival is a Melbourne-born author and restaurateur who has lived in Bali for three decades. Her memoir Fragrant Rice charts her love affair with Balinese food, culture and traditions. Bali: Food of My Island Home is her recently published cookbook. She is also the owner of Casa Luna restaurant and cooking school, Indus, Bar Luna and Honeymoon Guesthouse in Ubud.