Locavore restaurant might be just eight months old, but it’s already not just a famous restaurant – it’s become the latest foodie destination of the whole island. Masha Larkin takes a trip into the world of brand new gastronomy in Ubud.
Sitting at the Locavore bar during lunch time is so much fun. First, as there is only about 30 seats and they are all full and the passersby are constantly sneaking in and asking in a low pitch if there is a table available, you can feel like you’re the chosen one. Second – and exactly why I’m sitting where I am – it’s impossible to take your eyes off the action behind the bar. The concept of an open kitchen is still not so common in Bali. You can find it in the restaurants of some grand hotels and some free-standing restaurants, but not very many. At Locavore there is nothing between the diner and the kitchen crew, not even a glass window. And there is some magic happening in there; octopus terrine, pickled fennel, shiitake cream, caviar made of seaweed, compressed watermelon, coffee gel – all being squeezed, poured, stirred and stacked. You can watch the process of crafting what is going to become one of your most memorable meals ever in every small detail – and it makes you more excited than a kid watching candy floss being made.
“We buy one whole, organically fed pig every week from our trusted supplier, Pak Parsa, and we use everything we can, so on Monday we’ll be serving, say, crispy fried ears and on Friday there will be homemade sausages,” says chef Ray. This is an original concept of ‘nose to tail eating’, as sustainable and ‘green’ as Ubud requires. Same is the fact that 95% of products used here are local: even the goat’s cheese is from Sumatra and oysters come from Sumbawa. That’s exactly what the word locavore means. First coined in San Francisco in 2005 and creating a massive movement, it means a person who chooses to eat locally. “We work with independent farmers and constantly search for the products no one else seems to be using – like this yellow beetroot we’ve just got,” chef Eelke adds. They have been customizing their farmers’ production for years. After his move to Bali, Eelke brought some seeds from Holland he couldn’t find here and since then his farmers have been growing plants such as various edible flowers. So don’t be surprised if you find a delicate elderflower in your cocktail.Click to view slideshow.
It all started very quietly. Two chefs with extensive experience – Ma Joly, Alila Ubud to name a couple – but they got a bit tired of the ‘same-day-to-day-stuff’ and decided to get really, really creative. And as the hotel kitchen is not a dream playground for fun seekers they quickly realized they needed their own food lab. Dutchman Eelke Plasmeijer and Indonesian Ray Adriansyah have been partners for a while, chopping and blanching shoulder to shoulder first in Jakarta and then in Bali. So the decision was easy, with two inventive minds colliding into one and a loyal team ready to follow, it was just a matter of time. And when the time was right, the partners collected the money they needed for their dream project with crowd funding. ‘Uncles and aunts, friends and old-faithful clients – as many as 12 people were involved, insane!’ laughs Eelke. Well, with Locavore being fully booked for both seatings almost every day, weeks in advance, I bet each of the dozen must be laughing, too – with happiness.