The sky was blue, sun shone bright. Sound of lively cock-a-doodle-doo and splashed of water was all I could heard, so deep into nature. It was a peaceful morning when I arrived at the newly destination in Northern Ubud, called Desa Visesa. I was going to spend two days in a row down as part of this village, doing all of daily activities that the locals done. I challenged my self to do so, part of me felt that it must be adventurous, something I’ve never done before. But, imagined that I’m going to dig into rice field, picking vegetables, even getting my morning yoga inside mud were something indescribable.
Fact that it wasn’t my first time visiting a ‘real’ village suddenly threw me back to past. Desa Visesa was an artificial village, so well-maintained without decreasing it’s sign of nature. The resort surrounded by hectares of rice-field and farm. My favourite view was Parma Culture area where the sea of rice paddies completed with clear blue sky, view of Balinese temple from distance, small fish pond and traditional hut so called ‘saung‘ was all you wished for a scenic gateway view in your life. It’s totally refresh your mind.
I started my day from the South, exploring the farm and picking up vegetables. A Balinese girl named Lupita accompanied me the whole way. Wearing Balinese traditional attire from head to toe, she hold a woven bamboo trey and introduced the varieties of vegetables they have on the farm, from red spinach, tomatoes, beans, eggplants, lemongrass and cabbage. The experience was real. My father used to have a small farm when I was a child and it was great to down back the memories, picked all the harvest.
Couple steps from the farm, a group of breeder were sitting beside small cowshed, enjoying their brunch and coffee. We went down greeting them and they said, they just finished ploughing up the rice field. It’s a routine activities couple times in months before planting in the rice. Yet, they didn’t use newly technology but keep in the tradition of using animal-power. A plough made of wood with attached stick hanged to the ox’s neck and as they get into the mud, the breeder will give a sign to drawn the plough. After this tiring activities, the ox will get hungry and seek something to eat. There I was a the moment, giving my time to feed the hungry ox.
Done exploring the farm and feeding, Lupita lead me to their traditional kitchen and restaurant, Warung Tani. When I said ‘traditional’, it really was. The kitchen was paved in ground. You won’t find any gas stoves or even an aluminium pan, instead a traditional setting of bone-fire with a clay pot and pan will be those who cook your dishes. Executive Chef Eka Arsana handed in three traditional Balinese dishes for short cooking course that afternoon, the famous Balinese skewers Sate Lilit, Indonesian traditional fish wrapped in banana leaf or known as Pepes Ikan, and traditional authentic Balinese dessert made from steamed pumpkin, Sumping Wuluh.
The main secret that lead to Balinese sensation in your dishes is nothing than Bumbu Base Genep or simply known as Balinese common seasoning. This authentic seasoning become the basic seasoning of all Balinese notable dishes from Ayam Betutu, Lawar, Urutan, til what we’re making at that time. Breaking down the recipes, the seasoning would need garlic, onion, chili, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, galangal, nutmeg, cloves, shrimp paste, and other additional spices. All of those raw ingredients manually crushed down by using pestle and mortar into light paste which then sauteed to darker colour.
Mahi-mahi is the most well-used fish for Balinese cuisine and we’re using this fish as well for two of our dishes. For Sate Lilit, the ground mahi-mahi fish mixed in with Bumbu Base Genep and light seasoning before rolled into lemongrass as skewers. While Pepes Ikan needed two fillet of mahi-mahi, layered with the Bumbu Base Genep, slices tomatoes, and thai basil before wrapped with banana leaves. Two of them then traditional grilled with charcoal.
Waiting for the fish in grill, we moved to make Balinese side dishes and sweets. Essential Balinese side dish Sambal Matah were hardy dominant by onion, chili, and lemon grass. Other important herbs and spices needed to shape the taste were garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, shrimp paste, oil, and light seasoning. Aside Sambal Matah, the traditional salad popular across country called Urap also become one who accompanied our course. Steamed grated coconut mixed with Bumbu Base Bali was the key, it has to be tasteful and strong. Blanched in some of our harvest in the farm before, the fresh veges then mixed with steamed grated coconut and set aside.
Sumping Waluh was the only unfamiliar dish among all. I’m a bit out of the idea both for the shape and taste but it’s apparently quite easy to make. You’ll just need to heat coconut milk, mixed it up with rice flour, sugar, and grated pumpkin then viola, the dough is ready to be wrapped and steamed.
We didn’t noticed the time flies, two and a half hours has passed by for cooking course. Chef Eka handed in the presentation of all the plates and within five minutes I could already get the whole beautiful plates on my table, this was where the lunch began. Dig in the plates, smoky and authentic taste, with a view of organic farm ahead has become a remarkable lunch at the moment.
It’s around 3pm when I finished my lunch and back to the North. Sound of laughing and traditional Balinese instrument reverberated in the air. Sooner I found that rice-field in the North already fulled of people which mostly were part of the village.
“It’s our daily routines. We ended our office hour at 3pm to get our selves taken a part in Visesa’s cultural heritage. Male in charged for agriculture while female more to religious activities such as preparing the offerings, you’ll experience it tomorrow”, said Ms. Yanti who is the Public Relation manager of the village.
Cheerful and joy lighting up the friendly atmosphere, remarking my last activity that day. Even though I haven’t meet them before but culture has reunite us, I felt more then welcomed to Visesa’s family. Spoiler of the next day activities has been given and I’ve been thinking how interesting it would be all way home.
DESA VISESA UBUD
Banjar Bentuyung Sakti,
Jalan Suweta, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571
Instagram : @desavisesa
Facebook : Desa Visesa Ubud
Tripadvisor : Desa Visesa