Travel magazine

A new Lebanese restaurant opens in Sonoma

From Balinese Babi guling to Toum on za’atar fries in Sonoma, here’s what our editor has been enjoying lately.

Dining in Bali is not that far from home

Standing in the middle of a rice paddy outside of Ubud, Bali, chef Putu Ambara of restaurant Nusantara pulls a yellow flower from the lush vegetation. “Taste it; it numbs your tongue,” he says. A small bite of the plant, also known as Szechuan buds, instantly creates a tingling sensation that lasts for several minutes. many edible herbs and flowers used in Indonesia as a tonic and flavoring for thousands of years.

Bali is an edible wonderland and a forager’s dream, filled with edible greenery, seafood, fruits, vegetables, meat and native wildlife like no other place on earth, and I came to taste everything.

More than 8,300 miles from San Francisco, Bali is part of the Indonesian archipelago that straddles the Indian and Pacific oceans. More like its Southeast Asian neighbors than Pacific Islanders, Bali is an island jungle just 8 degrees south of the equator. The town of Ubud is a cultural hub of dance, art and food that rose to fame as a destination in Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 travel memoir “Eat, Pray, Love”.

On a whirlwind seven-day trip this month, I ate at as many restaurants, warungs (the Balinese name for laid-back cafes), upscale venues, and food markets as possible. What I take away is how similar the culinary philosophies of Sonoma County and Bali are – using organic and local ingredients; eliminate food waste wherever possible; in search of unique flavors; nose-to-tail feeding that utilizes every part of the animal and plant; and honoring culinary traditions while adding new twists.

And while a week is barely enough time to scratch the surface of the fascinating food culture of just one little corner of Bali, here are some favorite restaurants in and around Ubud, if you have the chance to visit. to go.

Locavore: Repeatedly named Best Restaurant in Indonesia and one of Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants, this sustainability-focused fine dining restaurant is as much a philosophy as it is a meal. Chefs Eelke Plasmeijer (a Dutchman who moved to Indonesia in 2008) and Ray Adriansyah staged playful cooking scenes with unexpected ingredients like overripe bananas, nutmeg fruit and bok choy stalks to demonstrate how food “waste” can be turned into Michelin-worthy dishes. It’s best to experience the nine-course menu with a sense of wonder and intrigue rather than expecting a traditional meal. And don’t flinch when raw goat meat is served in foil. This is delicious. Jl. Dewisita No. 10, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia,

Nusantara: This sister restaurant of Locavore focuses more on traditional home cooking inspired by local ingredients. Chef Putu’s Saturday cooking class includes a visit to the traditional food market, breakfast at a street-side warung for roast pig (Babi guling), a foraging tour through a local rice cake and a Restaurant cooking class using local herbs, spices and meats prepared for a private lunch. Jl. Dewisita No. 09C, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia,

Desserts in room 4: Dessert is the main event at chef Will Goldfarb’s groundbreaking cafe. Enter through a culinary garden where many evening dishes find inspiration. The full 21-course tasting menu with small savory dishes, cocktails, and 14 bites of dessert can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re jet lagged. We recommend a light dinner and the seven-course dessert menu. Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia,

Hanging gardens: Hidden deep in the jungle just north of Ubud, this ultra-luxurious resort is built at a 45-degree angle overlooking the Ayung River and the ancient Dalem Segara temple. Embraced by a verdant and wild landscape, the restaurant, the swimming pool and the villas seem suspended in the air with a breathtaking view of the plunging hill. For a minimum of 300,000 rupees (about $20) per person, you can ride the two-person funicular from the open-air lobby to the restaurant overlooking a double infinity pool. It truly is one of the most spectacular sights in the world (and awarded by travel magazines accordingly). Enjoy a few drinks on the terrace and a snack while basking in the sun like a tycoon. Buahan, Payangan, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80571, Indonesia,

IbuSusu: In the heart of downtown Ubud, it can be difficult to find restaurants that don’t fully cater to Western tastes. This small cafe is clearly frequented by foreigners but serves authentic Balinese and Pan-Asian dishes as well as great cocktails. Take advantage of happy hour from 5-7 p.m. for drink deals. Favorite dishes include beef rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk), fresh betel leaf with salmon and tuna tartare, or lemongrass chicken with papaya salad. Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia,

Alila Hotel: A training ground for many local chefs, this hotel and resort typically offers upscale dining, but has yet to reopen post-pandemic. Guests are treated to authentic breakfast dishes – rice porridge, nasi goring and gado gado and jamu (a herb and spice tonic). The poolside cafe also serves Western and Balinese dishes. Desa, Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80572, Indonesia,

Pyramids of Chi: Cleanse your soul and stomach at this vegan wellness retreat and mystical energy garden. Centered around two soaring pyramids built to the scale of one-sixteenth of the pyramids of Giza, this place offers visitors sound and light healing classes inside energy channeling buildings. While it’s easy to be skeptical, it’s hard to deny the feeling of mind and body renewal after an hour of meditation on ancient gongs and drums, especially for around $18 per person. The cafe offers organic, plant-based Western cuisine with fresh juices, pastries, salads, and even cocktails and wine. Jalan Kelebang Moding No. 22 Banjar Bentuyung Ubud, Tegallalang, Kec. Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia,

A note: Bali tourism has been ravaged by the pandemic. The country has been closed to outside visitors for nearly two and a half years, collapsing much of the economy and closing many great restaurants and tourist sites. If you go, check if the businesses have reopened.

Lebanese kitchen opens in Sonoma

There’s hummus among us with the opening of Spread Kitchen in Boyes Hot Springs.

The former Sonoma Eats (18375 Sonoma Highway) is the first traditional restaurant of chef/owner Cristina Topham, best known for her food and farmer’s market offerings. Executive chef Nick Urban runs the kitchen, serving fresh pitas with hummus, beef and chicken shawarma, chickpea and black bean falafel, and beef and lamb kefta.

All proteins (including vegetarian jackfruit shawarma) are available with pita, in a bowl with tabbouleh and a fresh “grain of the day”, in a salad or in “dirty fries” with pickled onions, herbs and sauce with yogurt.

Don’t miss the Toum, a creamy whipped garlic sauce that’s irresistible over za’atar fries (and available for takeout). A large outdoor patio is perfect for summer dining.

Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Monday., 707-934-7559.

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes