Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Homage to the Beautiful Things of Bali

My heart goes out to the Balinese people who suffer the brunt of the recent terrorist attacks. Just as it appeared that the Balinese people and the island were recovering from its wounds from the Bali Bombing in 2002, another tragedy has struck. The tourism sector is the largest component of the Balinese economy and will inevitably reel from this recent incident. The Balinese people however have shown great resilience and will continue pick up the pieces (again) and to move on. Other than the recent tragedy, Bali still has much to offer, an island that is steeped in culture and mystic, sandy beaches with surfer’s waves and food that will make it a destination for dining.

Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud 80571
Bali, Indonesia
Tel: (62) 361-975768
Website: http://www.mozaic-bali.com

Salmon Tartare

After a visit to the national park where I scaled various flights of stairs to get up close and personal with the huge garuda statue, I was ready to plant myself in the car and head off the dinner. The drive to Ubud took an entire hour during which I enjoyed the sunset and scenes of bali from the car. It drizzled and stop while we fast approached our dining destination. I was growing hungry from the walk around the garuda park and nearly let out a squeal of delight, when I saw the sign “Mozaic”. Unlike my dining counterpart who is now a regular at Mozaic, I was almost giddy from my hungry and excitement. We were greeted from the moment we stepped out of the car and ushered through the homeware shoppe and along the pathway lined with tikki torches to the beautiful garden setting.

“Your timing is perfect, we just opened the garden dining area because we weren’t sure of the weather, but it looks good now. Please …” and the sommelier tucked me into my seat.

The garden setting is romantic – the dim candlelight, the faint music of a lady crooning (from a cd) and the towering trees that form a canopy over your dining area – think dining in secret garden. The serenity is only broken by the distant noises constant ringing of the service bell and of the chef ordering his kitchen troops. The menus are set before us and there are 2 choices – 3 courses or 6 courses. My gracious host said, “Your choice, I’ve been here so many time, the choice doesn't matter, it is always good.” I was there to eat, there was no chance of suppressing the greedy, and so my only choice was to act with elegance in this beautiful restaurant.

“I think I’ll have the 6 courses, I’ll leave myself in the good hands of Chef Chris, surprise me” with that I handed the menu to the sommelier, and he asked a few more questions, “Is there anything you not eat anything? Cheese? Foie Gras?”
“No, no, I eat everything. Cheese and foie gras, I love it!” I responded and thought about the wonderful foie gras and cheese course that awaited me.
“Wonderful”, the sommelier nodded and whizzed away with the menus to work on our wine pairings for the night.

The dinner was spectacular: there was nothing on the plate that was left unfinished or less than amazing. Dining here was special, because over the course of dinner, I discovered that my dining host has become such a regular that they served us numerous complimentary items that our six course dinner stretched to a ten course dinner with a small visit from chef Chris.

Dinner started off with an array of amuse bouché: the first which was a cheese puff – cloudlike in texture with a light savoury cheese flavour, following which was an asparagus emulsion with white truffle crème and a salmon tartar. The asparagus emulsion tasted very neutral and slightly earthy – something like a mushroom soup, which will appeal to almost everyone in the very easy taste. Despite the casual nature of the emulsion, the truffle crème injected a depth of richness to the soup. The salmon tartare tasted like summer – sunny and bright, with a faint nutty flavour from the olive oil. I smiled to myself and knew I was in a good place.

For our first course, we were served the veal tenderloin carparccio with juniper dessing and white truffle oil and the Mozaic ‘Ceasar’ salad (polenta coated soft shell crab, romaine lettuce, garlic crouton and parmesan crisp). The veal tenderloin, was mellow and milky with gentle earth tones and the crab was the crispiest one I have ever eaten, was all in all crunchy dish with the lettuce, croutons and parmesan crisp, where you kept having the sound of the crunch resonant in your ear.

Next up was our fish and seafood course where we were presented with a balsamic glazed salmon serve with black olives and marjoram and a plate of pan seared scallop skewer on local “keladi” rhubarb and bouillabaisse emulsion. The balsamic glaze was complex, slightly sweet and tart, paired with the bitter vegetables were a great combination with the oily and crispy salmon. The seared scallops were sweet with a burst of saltiness from sea salt crystals. The first bite was good, but taken with the wine, it was heavenly; the sweetness of the wine was echoed in the scallops brought the flavour of the scallop back to life in my mouth.

For the foie gras course, they served us the pan seared fried foie gras on bitter cocoa and chocolate emulsion with a beet root sorbet and fresh boneless quail ‘pastilla’ baked with a touch of foie gras, Moroccan spices and cinnamon in filo pastry. The pan seared foie gras was marvelous. The crispy and luxurious foie gras and cold sweet beet sorbet melted and slid down my throat causing a slight tingling sensation. The chocolate sauce was slightly bitter rather than sweet, if not it might have tasted like a dessert. The pastille was intriguing, sounded and tasted exotic – the crackling thin pastry encased a hot spicy and piquant filling.

The meat course was roasted suckling pig with a blackcurrant sauce on a bed of red cabbage served with toasted spices and roasted veal tenderloin with a red wine infused sauce, artichoke sauce and mushrooms. The suckling pig was succulent and tender with the layers of fat sandwiched between layers of meat, and the toasted spices looked like grit, but possessed intense flavours similar to a strong gingerbread crumble, where it was both crunchy and had a spicy bite. The veal was nothing too adventurous, but very well executed. The meat got it spice and heat from the pepper and it was mellowed down by the deeper and more intense flavoured red wine sauce and cepe mushrooms.

After the intense meat course, chef Salans brings its down to a cheese course where he served us a goat's cheese mousse, walnut sablé, sour cherries and balsamic vinegar and a warm blue cheese toast with beets ( I missed the waiter’s explanation). I love cheese, and I love cheese courses – light, airy and milky with the sour, sweet and tart condiments or warm, oozy and pungent, I like them all.

With the taste of cheese still lingering on my tongue, chef Salans sends us a fruit course that is nectarous and cold – fresh mandarin sorbet on mint jelly and yellow watermelon sorbet on coconut and mint jelly. A great play on textures, where the jelly adds some bite and the pieces of fresh fruit add a feel of tropical freshness.

Dessert is on its way and I’m already really full from the six courses that have come before and the copious amount of wine I had already consumed. When it arrived, my fullness melted away after the waitresses described what lay before us, warm dark valrona chocolate moelleux, gorgonzola ice cream and sautéed strawberries with rosemary and fresh passion fruit cream baked in filo pastry with caramelized mango, milk agar agar and cardamom. I’m not a big dessert person, and the only sweets that really get me excited are chocolates and ice cream, so I have ordered a lot of chocolate soufflés/melting chocolate cakes/molten chocolate cakes/decadent chocolate cakes; this valrona chocolate moelleux, this is the mother of all cakes. I loved the combination of gorgonzola ice cream and chocolate, this plate had my name written all over it, I only eat ice cream and chocolate desserts, and often I prefer a cheese platter to a sweet plate. This is my playground – a warm oozy chocolate cake and cheese flavoured ice cream, it was a great ménage trio for me. It was at this point when I stuck the spoon of ice cream and cake into my mouth that chef Salans chose to come over and to greet us and all my poise escaped me - with food stuffed in my mouth, I tried to thank him for the wonderful dinner and to tell him about the state of bliss that I was in with the chocolate and gorgonzola ice cream streaming down my throat – I like to think that he left out table happy that I was happy. I’m more than content ending my meal at this point, but Chef Salan’s quickly informs us, “one more course.”

As the plates are being cleared and I emptied my glass of the remaining Riesling, I’m half sloshed and very full, I wait the final plate. Petit fours – pumpkin custard and a pressed pineapple with an orange peel – sweetly ushered us to the end our subliminal culinary journey.



Blogger slurp! said...

This is beautifully written.
Is it possible to findout how much the damage for 3 & 6 course meals?

Bombing or not, Bali is definitely on my travel list :)

10:40 PM  
Blogger Amanduh said...

I heard rave reviews for Mozaic too! Maybe we'll pay a visit!

2:29 PM  
Blogger joone! said...

6-course tasting menu for Rp395,000 and a 3-course set menu for Rp350,000 per person.

Or a vegetarian 6-course tasting menu for Rp295,000 or 3-course for Rp250,000

I can't remember how much the wine was, perhaps something around Rp200,000.

Conversion Rate - Rp10,000 = $1 USD

amanduh: Yes you should, it is perhaps one of the best meals i have ever had!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Watergirl said...

Does that mean that the 6 course dinner you superbly wrote about cost less than US$50 per person? Oh my god, I need to get back to Bali now!

3:15 PM  

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