Our first collaborative guest story comes from Marta Mauri and Diego Arenas of Kema Food Culture, Barcelona.
A passionate and creative duo specialising in food photography & styling as well as hosting regular workshops in and around the Catalan capital city.
At this point in life, we know the great experience of traveling, but it is even more so when you travel to countries where the culture is totally different from ours. We had been to many Southeast Asian countries previously and were just missing Indonesia to tick off our list. Convinced through travel literature that it would be a country that we would love and so we wanted to visit at the perfect time and what better time than spending the festive season of Christmas and New Year in a tropical country?
Dedicated farmers in the foothills of Mount Agung
Our pasty skin needed quite a bit of sun and relaxation from the daily grind of Catalunya and our first stop to get that fix in the Indonesian archipelago was Lombok - a small island neighbouring the island of the Gods, Bali.
Daun Jambu Biji (Guava Leaves)
Lombok is a fascinating and beautiful island - practically untouched and its small size allows you to travel around the island by motorbike at ease, as we did and immerse oneself in the nature in all its splendour.
With a gentle and refreshing breeze whilst scootering around, stopping at your own will to get the camera out and capture the beauty around you – is undoubtedly on of the best experiences for us.
Coffee Fruit (Buah Kopi)
After three wonderful days in Lombok surrounded by nature, Indian ocean and the wonderful locals (tirelessly sporting big smiles on their faces) - it was our turn to visit Bali.
Electric Daisy (Jotang)
Our destination and operations centre was Ubud, we had 10 days ahead and we knew it was not a long time to visit Bali, so we focused on visiting the UBUD area, we also made a route to the south of the island, but we wanted to go through the centre better, of course to return on another occasion to explore more parts of this wonderful island.
As we had only ten days planned for the island – we opted for our logistical base to be located in the beautiful village of Ubud, in the very heart of the island – famed for its rich culture, traditions, climate and more recently cuisine!
Cocoa Bean (Buah Coklat)
As soon as we got ourselves to Ubud - we could not stop marvelling at every corner, we felt like we wanted to stay here forever. We were yet to get out of the taxi and to arrive at our final destination and were already planning when to return to Ubud.
Ubud is extremely beautiful and breathes art and spirituality at every corner. We were anxious to get to the hotel, drop our luggage, grab the cameras and get out to discover the local area, and of course...eat something!
One of our main passions is gastronomy, and there is no better way to get to know a country other than trying its cuisine and mingling with the local people. And it didn’t take us long to discover that Indonesian cuisine is extremely delicious, its dishes are full of spices and fresh herbs – they are exciting, it truly is a festival of flavour and culture.
We had a fairly large list of dishes that we had to try and restaurants we wanted to visit. As it was an odd hour to eat - we decided to grab a small snack and visit Bebek Bengil, a renowned local restaurant which opened in 1990 and served up a delicious crispy duck and other typical Indonesian specialties.
"Is it really stinky bean?"
For the following days we had plans for visiting several restaurants in Ubud, including Restaurant Locavore and its younger little sister – Restaurant Nusantara. Being huge fans of artisan ceramics, we wanted to visit Gaya Ceramic as well – regarded as one of the best potters in the world.
Months before visiting Indonesia we dropped a quick line to the team at Vivid Cuisine whom we did not know previously and were only connected by Instagram, but it was evident that there were many synergies in common, so we set off to write to them and seek some recommendations, we love Vivid Cuisine!
Their response was immediate & informative - they recommend a list of must-visit places, restaurants and gourmet destinations... as well as putting us in touch with Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer of Locavore and Michaela and Marcello of Gaya Ceramic.
For us it has been a great opportunity to meet the entire Locavore team and really see the great work that they do, day in and day out – specialising in innovative European cuisine with exclusively local ingredients.
As soon as you enter through the doors of Locavore you know that you will be treated to a great experience. In Locavore you have the option of ordering two tasting menus - the Locavore Menu and the Herbivore Menu. For both menus you have the option of 5 or 7 dishes and a drink pairing and we personally couldn’t recommend highly enough the 7-course menu with the drinks pairing, for the ultimate experience.
Hibiscus flower, dehydrated dragon fruit, hibiscus tea
The taste here predominates in every detail and it’s the exquisite combination of fresh local products, flavours, modern culinary techniques and organic tableware with its unique design - that makes it for us, a truly inspiring cuisine.
Compressed pineapple with coconut yoghurt and curry leaves
The aforementioned qualities surely attribute to being awarded the prize for the best restaurant in Indonesia by the prestigious Asia's 50 Best Restaurants guide, as well as firmly placing them at 21st spot in the whole of Asia. We spent an unforgettable day in Locavore, definitely a must-see in Ubud.
One of the drink pairings - homemade limoncello & spiced bitters
The next day Chef’s Ray (@pakray_locavore) and Eelke invited us to explore and experience their jungle orchards where they grow all of their ingredients in a natural way and without any chemicals.
"Go Local or Go Home" - Chef Ray Adriansyah in action
They have an incredible variety of ingredients that we have never seen in their natural state and the immense knowledge that Kasida (one of the members of the Locavore team) has on all of the crops that they grow. Kasida was our guide and a great teacher for us to discover the many spices that we did not know previously and we were now lucky to see in their natural habitat.
natural ingredients such as rice husk are used for achieving earthy surface textures
Another of our great experiences in Bali and which was also one of our priorities of things to do whilst in Indonesia, was to get to know the gastronomy scene in greater detail.
unique shapes awaiting their final touches at the workshop
The pleasant surprise came when we visited Restaurant Nusantara, also in Ubud - a new restaurant of the Locavore family where different dishes of the archipelago are presented to the diner, using only seasonal and fresh products – a more traditional and authentic culinary journey through local cuisine then the bigger brother – the eco, modern and refined Locavore, yet it is an experience which is truly sublime and unsurpassable.
highly-skilled local craftsman creating another unique peace
The dishes here breathe authenticity and emotions and is definitely another place to visit if you want to know traditional Indonesian cuisine on another level, which has been timelessly researched and immaculately prepared.
just some of the beautiful shapes, patterns and sizes created at Gaya
Almost all of the dishes in which these wonderful recipes are served in restaurants Locavore and Nusantara – is the work of Gaya Ceramic, created by Italian expatriates Marcello and Michaela.
a sneak preview of of Gaya's most recent tableware series
The two creative minds behind the ceramic and pottery who have developed the local team to be producing some of the finest and most creative ceramics in the world, with some of the world’s best Chefs flying across the globe to collaborate and develop their unique range of plates for their culinary establishments.
inside display of previous works and experimentations at Gaya Design Studio
An incredible & inspiring couple - whose creativity and humility flows in equal parts. It was wonderful to be able to visit this shop, studio and the ceramics school – where they regularly host masterclasses of their own and with world class sculptors.
organic contrasts of nature and ceramic inside the Design Studio
Marcello and Michaela treated us with a warm family welcome - taking us on a tour of their huge workshop & to meet the greet their Gaya family – a humble collective of around a hundred or so local Indonesian craftsmen who are behind creating the masterpieces.
highlights of signature masterpieces from Gaya
And when things are done with love – you can sense it right away, at first sight - with that feeling of comfort and the beautiful smiles the craftsmen had, it was hard to miss!
time-honoured methods and techniques from around the archipelago
We were amazed to see that absolutely everything was made by hand and with great care and precision - using techniques that we had never witnessed or heard of before – which produced incredible results.
the vast array of authentic dishes at restaurant Nusantara
They are in constant process of innovation through experimentation and as they say in Gaya Ceramic 'we do not produce, we create', and all of this is achieved whilst always respecting the local culture and its environment.
desserts such as this Klappertart - using only the best of local & organic ingredients
All of the beautiful pieces at Gaya - give off a strong sense of passion and direct connection with nature. We could not be happier with our first ever visit to Indonesia, especially to Bali and Ubud.
the humble entrance sign to restaurant Nusantara
We have spent the best Christmas and New Years of our lives and this festive season would not have been the same without the help and welcome from Vivid Cuisine, Restaurant Locavore and Gaya Ceramic teams. We promise to return soon, we have been wanting more!
Come and immerse yourself in the culinary epicenter of Ubud on your next visit to the Island of the Gods.
Learn more about Kema Food Culture by visiting the links below and explore their world of gastronomic photography and food styling.