Here’s a little introduction to our kitchen which is in the volcanic highlands of Bali, a world away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak on the coast. These highlands, in central Bali, are about 1000m above sea level; the climate is cooler, especially at night in the summer months. We are in the village of Luwus, which is part of the regency (a bit like a province or county) of Tabanan. We built our kitchen in the grounds of a little mixed farm, typical of a Balinese smallholding where fruit and vegetables are cultivated to feed an extended family, alongside rearing a few pigs, cows and chickens.
Our kitchen is a converted “wantilan” which traditionally in Bali is an open pavilion where community members congregate. We added brick, glass and wood to create a working space that is simple and harmonises with our environment, to create our tropical fruit jams and marmalades. We love our place of work and visitors who come to see us are also pleasantly surprised that we are not confined indoors; on the contrary, our first task each day is throw open our doors and windows. We are very much connected to our natural environment. The smallholding is cultivated by Pak Mendi who lives across the road and has been working this land for decades. Wander over to his hut and there will undoubtedly be freshly harvested fruit in season, whether papayas, pineapples, durians (highly pungent and known as the King of tropical fruit), mangosteens (the Queen) and the strangely patterned salak, also known as snake fruit.
Pak Mendi will use his well worn knife to slice into these precious jewels and it is always a joy to taste the wonderful and varied flavours from the land. We also see stray coffee bushes, jackfruit and cacao. And of course there is no shortage of coconut trees. A few years ago, there were several vanilla plants but sadly, these had to be cut down because of disease. Sometimes our staff will go in search of new fruit and extraordinarily find specimens that no one is able to identify. Currently, we are in search of a banana that has a seed at its core that Ketut, who heads up our kitchen operations told us about. Naturally, at the back of our minds, is always the question: can we make it into jam!