My 4 days in Ubud, solo – Day 1 (part 2) – start your engines – Paon’s cooking Class

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3.30pm I meet Made at the hotel lobby. He is my driver & is taking me to Paon’s Bali Cooking Class! I’m really excited to be doing this & at this point wonder if there will be anyone else in the class or if it will just be me. I’m really looking forward to taking the tour of the Village & making a sari canang more than the actual cooking!

Silly me, why would I ever think it would just be me in the class? Made & I pick up another 2 lots of couples before heading over to the Village called Laplapan. We are all Aussie & chat happily together. One couple is on their honeymoon, the other couple are two friends travelling together. I feel nervous being solo but happy to have made these friends for the class.

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We arrive & are ushered into the compound & given a refreshing lemon drink. I look around & note that there will be about 15-20 of us in the class. We all move from the entry part of the family compound & down to the lower kitchen. It’s a great set up & I’m really looking forward to this experience despite not really wanting to ‘cook’ on my trip – us Mum’s do enough of that at home don’t we!

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Wayan leads the class & is a true professional. I chat to her later. Actually she works 7 nights a week – I kid you not! She explains all the dishes we will be preparing & I have a slight panic at the work ahead of us! All the ingredients is explained & alternate options discussed for when we make this dish back home. Then we are all divided up & led to our work stations. I’m on the sate sauce making station & I smile with glee – yay! My daughter loves sate. I grind the peanuts, slice some shallots & fry the paste up.

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Next I’m shown how to fry the tempeh in coconut oil – the rest of the class starts to gather around as Wayan explains what’s happening. All I can do is tell myself to focus on not burning it as all these strangers watch on… But there was to be no chance of burning it under Wayan’s gentle supervision.

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Then we all move to the stove top stations – everyone with their partners, except little old me. Actually it seems I win a prize: Wayan will be my partner! “Start your engines” she says meaning to put the gas on the cook top & we are off. It’s a bit of a blur as we whip up so many dishes. The whole Paon team are really impressive to watch – pans are washed, re-oiled & placed down on our cooktops before we know it, little dishes of chopped ingredients place down as if by magic. It really is a great production.

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I’m really looked after by the couples either side of me as we chat & question if we are doing the right thing with our dishes.

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We learn about how to make yellow sauce – bumbu kuning – which is quite literally in every dish we cook bar one. We use a giant mortar & pestle Wayan lovingly calls a ‘Balinese blender’.

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We watch our handmade Sate Lilit Ayam – (minced chicken sate sticks) be cooked on the hot coals by Made & friend. Then we all sit down to enjoy the feast! The only thing missing? A Bintang!

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It’s all delicious but I adore the Kare Ayam – chicken & coconut curry & the Jukut Arab – coconut & snake bean salad & the Tempeh kering – fried tempeh. Yum, yum.

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I’m so weary now but enjoy chatting to a Canadian couple who are travelling the world for their honeymoon. We watch as dessert is made: Kolak pisang – boiled banana – people tell me it’s delicious but I am not the least bit fond of banana so pass, in hindsight I should have at least tried it.

Next we are whisked off into the night & I’m beyond tired I didn’t even realise we never got our tour of the village & temple nor made the sari cuning! Still it was a very rewarding, interesting & fun afternoon & evening.

Time for bed…zzz

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