Bali's diverse market

While Bali's hotels are a smart place to stock up on seafood, the local markets are useful for just about everything else.

A breakfast at Villa Sungai Made presented me with three perfect mangosteen specimens which I gratefully and happily gobbled down (I did give one to Mr NQN). He also gave me a tip about mangosteen and how to buy them since I seem to have rotten luck with buying them in Sydney. Choose the mangosteen with a lighter colour as the darker black ones are older ones. Choose ones that are spongy to the touch and not hard-and very cutely, at the bottom of a mangosteen is a star shape. The number of points in the star reflects the number of segments that there are in the fruit inside! How cool is nature?

Mr NQN and I splashed a little in the pool. Many years ago he bet me that if I could swim 50 metres then I would receive the Prada bag that I had been lusting after. I tried and tried but the most I could swim was 12 metres and the bag became something that was a "never discussed” item. And then my friend Teena bought the same bag and that pretty much killed the urge to get it (you can’t have two friends with the same bag right?). But here I manage to swim laps! Sadly the Prada bag offer is no longer…

At 12:30pm we had lunch. As we had a big dinner that night we’ve been asking for salads for lunch. Now one of the best things about Bali is if you’re a seafood fiend like me, you can easily get seafood. Items like beef and lamb are expensive but seafood, chicken and duck are easy to get and half the price. So I did what any food miles aware person might and ordered the seafood (haha and because I am a seafood monster, who am I kidding?). We start with the betel leaves with moist cooked salmon, galangal which is like a citrusy ginger and little pearls of salmon roe. You roll up the sides of the betel leaf and pop it in your mouth. A betel leaf is a tiny bit spicy and with an earthiness to it and an almost medicinal quality but mild enough so that it doesn’t offend at all and just adds a hint of flavour.

The lime and chilli chicken dumplings were quite different to what we were expecting as we were expecting a traditional dumpling skin. These were chicken mince with lime and chilli specks rolled up and deep fried. Not bad at all but not quite what we were expecting.

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What we’re learning is that the Thai food served at Villa Sungai is excellent and as good as the best Thai meals you’ll find in Sydney or Thailand and you would think that there’s a top Thai chef working there in the kitchen. This generous serve of twelve juicy scallops is divine and it comes with a kaffir lime, coriander, lemongrass and spanish onion sauce that makes you want to lick the plate. I don’t. Just in case…

Our last dish for lunch is the spicy beef salad which comes with thick, tender slices of beef on a salad of sweet and crunchy yellow and red capsicum, soft lettuce leaves and mint and coriander giving it a freshness to the pungent, welcome spiciness.

Our day’s activity was a last minute request made with Made. He was kind enough to take us to a local market which is where most Balinese would buy the food. For hygiene reasons the food for the villa isn’t purchased here, but we were eager to have a look and see how a Balinese family shops and eats.

We make our way to the nearby market which is about five minute’s drive from the villa. There are numerous food stalls on our way to the market that dot the main road, some even selling fresh meat. Made doesn’t recommend that we eat from here so we refrain although the food does look very tasty.

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If you’ve ever walked down the streets of Bali you will, apart from dodging large crater sized holes in the street, you will also have stepped over small, colourful squares with flowers and small biscuits in them. These are offerings to the gods. One member of a family will buy an offering for the whole family and get it blessed by the gods at a temple and then bring it home as nothing is wasted. A simple four component offering typically costs 1000 rupiah (about 10 cents).

There are huge baskets full of snakefruit (salak) which is a tree that is close to the ground. The fruit comes as large clusters which are sold as whole clusters or broken down into single pieces. Items are bought by the kilo using old fashioned scales.

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