Bali Memories: 15 of My Favorite Food Moments in Ubud


Oh, I'm sorry, did I forget to mention that I spent 6 weeks in Bali earlier this year? Well, if I hadn't mentioned it, there you go. I'll give you a moment or two to be jealous.

Done being jealous? Good. Because I want to make you jealous again, with this collection of what I am going to deem the 15 tastiest experiences I had in Bali. Doesn't it make you long to be on a faraway Southeast Asian island? 

Strawberry cake, Seeds of Life (pictured top)

Believe it or not, I didn't even have the whole slice. Just a few bites from my friend Deborah's plate. But it made a lasting impression. It was raw, vegan, all of that stuff. I don't know how they made this cake happen, but it was delicious and extremely beautiful. I wish I could be there right now so I could have my own full slice.


Dosha balancing drink, Bali Buda

I would like to introduce you to the magic that is the Dosha balancing drink from Bali Buda. Bananas, dates, and almonds. I don't even know what a dosha is, but I felt supremely balanced after drinking this delicious and refreshing milkshake-y beverage. 

Bali buda

Fruit and granola, Bali Buda

Yes, this is the second time this establishment is on the list, because I became thoroughly obsessed during the course of my stay. I was a regular yoga student across the side street at Radiantly Alive Yoga, and Bali Buda was the choice place to hang out after class and refuel. I have never been one to order fruit with yogurt or yogurt and granola, but this place changed my mind about it. Just look at that thing: packed with fruit so fresh it could practically sing folk songs to you (I don't even know what that means), and granola with fresh coconut, crispy oats, and crunchy peanuts. It was so, so, so good. 

Deconstructed tiramisu from Caramel Patisserie

Look at that thing. Isn't it a work of art? Well, it was also edible, and tasted just as exquisite as it looks. This bakery was somewhat unlikely in that it was Frenchy as can be, with macarons, Napoleons, and other sweet treats including cupcakes and fancy desserts like the one pictured above...but it was located in Ubud, Bali. The tiramisu included a coffee-scented mascarpone cream, jellied coffee cubes, and crushed ladyfingers. Nom.


Cardamom chocolate from Kué

This was one of the most unassuming items on the menu at this full-service bakery, which had everything from fresh croissants to layer cakes, cookies, tarts, and bread. But the cardomom chocolate is the thing that remains crisp in my memory: dark as night chocolate, just this side of bitter in a good way. But no ordinary dark chocolate. This had been, not even kissed, more like posessed with a soul of cardamom. Slightly gritty (again, in a good way) and warmly spicy, I did not want this flavor to fade from my tongue. It was exquisite. 


"Cloud 9" cake, Alchemy

This raw cake or, as I would call it, pie, was a most interesting specimen. Made from cashews, irish sea moss, and citrus, it had a lovely berry topping. The taste wasn’t what I expected, which was cheesecake-esque, but once my taste buds acclimated it was quite a subtle and lovely cake. Read more here.


Rujak, Atman Kafe

This is another food that sounds way healthy, and it actually might be, but most importantly, it's way, way delicious. It's a weird but wonderful little fruit and vegetable salad which will differ depending on who makes it, but ingredients at Atman included apple, cucumber, papaya, pineapple, chili-tamarind dressing, and crushed peanuts on top. This was a perfect sweet-savory breakfast dish.

Brown rice ice cream, warung igelanca

Brown rice soy ice cream, Warung Igelanca

When I saw a sign advertising "homemade brown rice soy ice cream", I was...intrigued. But when I ordered it and had a taste, I instantly became obsessed. Good gravy, did they secretly hide crack in it? Apparently no, only pumpkin (other options included ginger and green tea). It was definitely not ice cream--it melted differently, and had a texture more like a paleta, but wow, whatever it was, it was very good.

Seniman coffee, Bali

Coconut pancake, Seniman Coffee

Listen, it is no secret at all that I instantly fell in love with the fantastic even-better-than-a-cookie upgrade that you receive when you order a latte at Seniman. But it bears repeating. A coconut pancake sweetened with palm sugar. You are winning at life with this experience. It is an experience I have had in life, people!

Corn from a street vendor

I realize that corn is considered savory, and that makes it not-completely-eligible for full feature on this site. But you know, this bears mentioning. 

Every so often you have a taste experience which, even as you're experiencing it, you realize is profound. When I tasted this corn from a street vendor parked outside of Radiantly Alive Yoga, I instantly felt a sense of place, and a sense of the amazingness of the fact that I was eating corn from a street vendor in Bali. How many people can say they've done that?? I'm pretty sure the corn, slathered with butter, squeezed with lime and seasoned with spices, was delicious. But it was largely the experience that made it memorable.

Mint chocolate spirulina slice

Mint spirulina bar, Kafe

Nope, that is not a Nanaimo bar. And on top of was a hippie dessert! But in spite of the odds against it, this spirulina bar from Kafe was highly memorable and delicious. Rich as all get-out, nutty, minty, and chocolaty, it was a cooling dessert which made me feel like I was on a 2-minute vacation (because even going slow, that's how long it took to eat) from the sweltering sweet heat of Bali.

Black rice pudding

Black rice pudding, Casa Luna

This is a famous restaurant in Bali, the cornerstone of an empire of restaurants, cooking schools, and hotels. And it's famous for a reason: everything is really, really good. My favorite dish was the traditional black rice pudding, lightly salted and served with coconut cream and dense, super-sweet banana slices. So simple; so good. Here's how to make black rice pudding at home.

Kopi desa latte

Lattes with cookies, multiple locations.

I'm not going to say Bali is the only place you'll get a cookie with your latte. But so MANY places did it there, and I loved every moment of it. Click on the link above to read much more about my love.


Chocolate citrus tart, SOMA

You probably won't believe it, but this dessert was raw and vegan. I don't even care. Because most importantly, it was a delicious and decadent taste experience. Normally not a huge fan of the choco-citrus combo, this one was so delicate, and balanced with the nuttiness of coconut citrus cream and a nutty base, that I could at least see how I might someday become a believer. Read about more chilly desserts I ate in Bali here.

Uluwatu and Padang Padang

Magnum gold bar, by the beach in Uluwatu

Listen, I realize that it seems like a total cop-out to list an internationally available, commercially produced treat. But I am telling you, people, this is a taste experience that cannot be missed. Read more about my experience with the Magnum gold bar here. 


BONUS: Cookies I made with my students! 

You knew I was in Bali as a kindergarten teacher volunteer, right? On my last day, we decorated cookies with confectioners' sugar icing, candies, and sprinkles--and the kids were ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED. I felt like I brought a bit of CakeSpy to Bali! This was a sweet experience indeed, and one that I won't forget soon. 


Places mentioned:

Seeds of Life

Bali Buda

Caramel Patisserie



Atman Kafe

Seniman Coffee


Casa Luna


Bali Diary: Dosha Balancing Drink Inspired by Bali Buda


In case you've been living under a rock and didn't know I spent an extended time in Bali, well, let me tell you.

Bali was great. It was magical. I eat pray LOVED every minute of it. 

One thing that was especially eye opening to me was the fact that Health Food Can Be Delicious. For instance, one day I am at a cafe called Bali Buda (yes, that's how it's spelled). They have something on the menu called a "Dosha Balancing Drink". I had no idea what a dosha was, but I know that the items that were in it according to the menu, which included banana, dates, and almonds, all sounded quite to my liking.


I took one sip and said to my companion, "I have no idea what a doshi is but mine feel so balanced right now!". You see, I'd already forgotten what this beverage was balancing. But what I still don't forget is the taste. It was perfect. Very mellow and subtle, but so calming. Even though it was a chilled drink, it tasted like a comfort food, with the sweetness of the banana and dates working in sweet harmony with the almonds. You could not be in a bad mood while drinking this thing. 

I blinked out of my reverie as my companion spoke up.

"Dosha," she gently chided, and I received the reader's digest version of the dosha story. Basically, doshas (is it doshi, plural?), according to Ayurvedic medicine, are "each of three energies believed to circulate in the body and covern physiological activity."

Anyway, if you want to know more about the doshas in your particular life, there's a quiz on the Deepak Chopra site. I can't believe I just linked to Deepak Chopra on CakeSpy. 

Unicorn eating a banana

Anyhow, once you forgive me for linking to the Chops, do give this recipe a try. Even though it's health food, it's awfully good food. The sweetness of the bananas and dates work beautifully with the richness of the almonds; even though it has no dairy, it's amazingly creamy. I'm never going to tell you it could stand in for dessert, but it's very acceptable as a snack or breakfast. 

Dosha Balancing Drink (AKA banana date almond smoothie)

Inspired by Bali Budha; adapted from Deliciously Ella

Makes 2 delicate servings, or one very large one

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups very cold almond milk
  • 8 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon


  1. If your blender is not incredibly strong, go ahead and coarsely chop the almonds to start. I don't really care if they have skins on or not.
  2. Undress the bananas and remove the pits from your dates.
  3. Now, combine all of the ingredients in your blender. Blend for, I don't know, 1 minute or so, until it has reached your desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky, so I can use a spoon toward the end to snack on the lumps of almond and date bits. 

Enjoy in good health and highly balanced doshas. 

Bali Diary: How to Make Black Rice Pudding

Homemade black rice pudding

During my time in Bali, it didn't take too long for me to become obsessed with black rice pudding.

So you can bet your bottom donut that as soon as I got back stateside, I set forth to recreating this bali magic in my own kitchen.

As it turned out, the most difficult part was sourcing the ingredients. I assumed (with a typical American sense of entitlement, I suppose!) that I could get all of the typical Balinese ingredients at my local grocery store or Asian grocer. Ultimately, I was able to find almost everything, but it took a number of stops.

Homemade black rice pudding

The coconut cream was easy; that was in the grocery store. The black rice, in theory, shouldn't have been difficult to locate, but they happened to be out of it at the Asian grocer, so I had to buy it at Whole Foods for a slightly more premium price. As for the bananas, I sought out firm, ripe ones that I felt could best replicate the dense and super-sweet variety I tasted in Bali. 

Homemade black rice pudding

The two hardest ingredients to find were the palm sugar and panadus. After searching a number of stores for dark palm sugar I still came up dry, so finally I settled on this more honey-toned version, which did work just fine. But keep in mind that if you shave it, don't shave too much, as the sugar will harden in a couple of hours. If you couldn't find palm sugar or just can't be bothered to go and seek it out, brown sugar would do.

The panadus leaves, often used as a flavoring, were tougher to source. After scouring the web for possible substitutes I couldn't find any that quite sounded right, so I just used vanilla extract for flavoring. Maybe not traditional, but highly delicious. 

Homemade black rice pudding

Whew! That having been said, this recipe is worth seeking out the ingredients. This lovely morning porridge is almost caramelly when the sugar meets the rich coconut cream; the bananas bring all of the flavors together into an earthy, creamy, caramelly form of edible bliss.

Here's how you make this traditional Balinese treat. 

Black Rice Pudding (printable version here)

adapted from Indonesian Cakes and Desserts, a Periplus Mini Cookbook

6 servings


  • 1 3/4 cups uncooked black glutinous rice (or Asian black rice)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 panadus leaves, tied into a knot (I used 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 cup (or more, to taste) shaved palm sugar
  • 1 can coconut cream (14 ounces or so) 
  • pinch of salt


  1. Rinse the rice in two to three changes of water, or until the water runs clear. Once clear, place the rice in a bowl and cover with clean water. Let it soak overnight (I did this on the countertop).
  2. Homemade black rice pudding
  3. In a saucepan, bring the rice, along with 6 cups of water and the panadus leaves (if using vanilla extract don't add it yet, though), to a boil over medium heat, and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is softened to a slightly al dente consistency. Discard the panadus leaves, if using. Add the sugar and vanilla (if using) and let the mixture continue to simmer on low heat for about 5 more minutes. 
  4. Homemade black rice pudding
  5. Remove from heat. Set to the side for the moment.
  6. In a bowl, combine the coconut cream with a pinch of salt and mix well.
  7. Homemade black rice pudding
  8. To serve, place a healthy spoonful of the rice mixture into a bowl. Homemade black rice pudding
  9. Spoon coconut cream on top to taste. Enjoy immediately. 
  10. Homemade black rice pudding

If storing, keep the coconut cream and the rice separate, and combine before serving.

Have you ever tried black rice?

Bali Diary: What is Palm Sugar?


When you go to Bali, you'll probably notice pretty quickly that the sugar is different there. 

Personally, I noticed it the first time that I was brought a coffee in a cafe. They delivered it with a small dish of what looked like the darkest brown sugar I'd ever seen. 

As I was looking at it, fascinated and slightly confused, someone who had been in Bali longer than me looked over knowingly. "Palm sugar," she said. "I never use refined sugar at home, but this doesn't seem to affect my blood sugar as much." (People in Bali, usually tourists, talk like this).

Palm sugar. Interesting. I started to notice that it was everywhere. See it behind that lovely (cookie-included) latte?


At some cafes, palm sugar was served as a simple syrup, which resembled pancake syrup. At others, in a dish, like my first experience. Interestingly, in stores and at open air markets, it was sold in thick, fat little cakes, sometimes dome-shaped, sometimes in cones. It was shaved or cut into portions, which reminded me of a story I'd heard about the early United States, wherein Colonial ladies of the house would have special shears specifically designed to cut sugar, which was at the time purchased as large cones. 

So what is palm sugar, exactly?

Palm sugar is derived from the palmyra or sugar palm (and has a relative, coconut palm sugar, which is made from the coconut palm--so if you look it up, you may come across this term, too). Once cut, the flower buds produce a sweet yet very liquid sap; this sap is collected and boiled until it has reduced to a sticky sugar consistency. From that point, it can be either bottled as a liquid, or whipped and then dropped into molds so that it will solidify. Sound familiar? In my opinion, this process has quite a similarity to the process of making maple syrup or sugar.

Taste-wise, palm sugar is slightly mellower than granulated sugar, and in my opinion, has a flavor that is like molasses-meets-honey. It's very flavorful, and is a singular flavor when used simply, as in the coconut pancakes served at Seniman Coffee, where only a few ingredients allow every flavor to shine.

Photo via Wikipedia commons

Why are there so many variances in color?

Another thing I noticed is that palm sugar can have quite a large variance in color, from honey yellow to a deep, dark brown. Basically, this boils down to (ha ha) how long and how high the temperature was when the sap was reduced. As I observed, even the same brand or vendor would have no two portions of sugar that were completely "cookie cutter"--because this isn't a highly processed sugar, there is a little bit more variation from batch to batch. 

At home, I found it easier to find the lighter colored palm sugar. Personally, I found the difference in flavor subtle; when using it in a dish that employs the sugar for sweetness in addition to other flavors, the type wasn't important. However, when using it in coffee or in a recipe where it is a primary flavor, the difference from light to dark palm sugar would be like the difference between light and dark brown sugar; the darker the sugar, the more caramelly and intense the flavor. 

Seniman coffee, Bali

How to use palm sugar

To the best of my research, you can swap equal amounts of palm sugar for granulated or brown sugar. Because of its different density, however, for best results you will probably want to weigh your ingredients rather than packing in a cup. This is for baking, however; if you're using the palm sugar in coffee or to sweeten your oatmeal, say, just use to taste. Consider the recipe you're using, as the palm sugar will impart a flavor. 

Is palm sugar healthier?

In Bali, a whole lot of people seemed to think so. Here's an article about it, if it interests you. I'll be honest, it only interests me marginally, as I don't necessarily think people eat sugar of any sort for its health benefits, anyway!

Have you ever used palm sugar in baking? I'd love to hear what you made and how it came out. 

Love from Bali, 


Bali Diary: This is Not a Nanaimo Bar

This is not a Nanaimo bar. I’m not messing with you. It’s really not.

It’s part of a strange phenomenon which has haunted me in Bali: I keep on finding Nanaimo bar lookalikes which are not actually Nanaimo bars.

These lookalikes are three layer bars with a crust, soft and custardy midsection, and a chocolate topping. But in spite of these compelling attributes, they are not Nanaimo bars. 

I realize that I probably sound crazy, or at least you think that I am having a mirage of sorts because I’ve been in Bali too long and all of the coconut juice is going to my head. But this is seriously happening. 

To illustrate with an example, take a look at this. Looks like tray of Nanaimo bars, right?


BUT THEY ARE NOT NANAIMO BARS. They are actually a raw food sweet, made with cashew and honey, coconut butter, cacao, coconut oil, and dates. You can get them at the hyper-stylish health food cafe Clear Cafe in Ubud.

Raw chocolate bliss bar

Weirdest of all? They taste nothing like Nanaimo bars. Not a nanaimo bar

This made for a very strange experience. I mean, imagine biting into what looked like a bar of chocolate and it tasting like an apple. That would be weird, right? Well, it was weird biting into something that looked so much like a Nanaimo bar that tasted nothing like it. 

Not a nanaimo bar

Initially, it tasted "wrong" to me--but not because it was not a well made treat. It was more a matter of shock, which made it difficult to determine at first if it was actually good. But don’t worry, I rallied. And a few bites in, once I had talked myself out of expecting the taste of Nanaimo bars, I realized that it was actually quite good. The dates and cashew coconut flavors came together in a naturally sweet treat with just a bit of bitterness (good bitterness) from the cacao to cut through the sweet and rich flavors.

But, you know, not a Nanaimo bar. 

Mint chocolate spirulina slice

The second one somewhat resembled a top heavy chocolate mint Nanaimo bar. But once wasn’t a Nanaimo bar. 

It was a raw chocolate mint spiralina slice from Kafe, another healthy restaurant. Yup. Once again, hippie food. The crust was not as firm as a Nanaimo bar, and the fillings were quite soft. The chocolate in particular was mousse-like. It was a lovely dessert, and raw to boot. It was a highly pleasant dessert… 

Mint chocolate spirulina slice

but NOT a Nanaimo bar!

I don't know quite what to make of this phenomenon, my sweet friends. What can I say other than traveling is weird and wonderful? I can say resoundingly, though that it was an overall delightful and wonderful experience to encounter a whole new world of Nanaimo bar lookalikes so far away from home.

Love from Bali,
- - -
Places mentioned:
Clear Cafe, Hanoman Street, Ubud.
Kafe, Hanoman Street, Ubud.

Bali Diary: Seniman Coffee is Amazing

Seniman coffee, Bali

I really need to tell you about this experience I had in Bali. I mean, I've had a lot of experiences that have been great here, but one of my favorite things day to day has been the fact that they give you cookies with your lattes. It starts every day out right.

Of course, that was until now. Seniman Coffee has raised the bar, and I don't know if cookies will be enough anymore. Because they give you the thing pictured above with your coffee. Please, allow me to explain.

Seniman coffee, Bali

So, I go to Seniman Coffee, a popular spot with expats and a place that every person in Portland would probably faint from happiness if they saw it, and order a latte.

A few minutes later, a little tray is delivered to me with three separate segments. One contains a latte (duh). One contains a cup of water (nice touch). The third contains what looks like a cigar or thin, mini burrito. I'm intrigued.

Seniman coffee, Bali

What's this? I wonder.

Seniman coffee, Bali

I take a bite.

Seniman coffee, Bali

Holy crap! It's delicious! It's like a pancake, wrapped burrito style, and it contains a coconutty mixture. Oh my god! I love this thing. I actually had the willpower to put it back on its tray so that I could take a photo to show you all.

Seniman coffee, Bali

I grab the closest server. "What is this?" I ask.

As it turns out, it's a traditional sweet called jaje dadar, which is said to be frequently doled out with coffee (though this was the first I'd ever seen it).

It's simply a crepe-like pancake prettily wrapped around a mix of coconut and palm sugar. But it is so, so good. I want this experience to happen every time I order coffee. Also every time I visit an ATM. Actually, I would like someone to follow me around and dole these out at regular intervals.

Seniman coffee, Bali

It's a fantastic two-bite treat, and I am so delighted that I've had it. This is definitely the best coffee accessory sweet that has been delivered to me in Bali. 

Seniman coffee, Bali

Oh, and the latte was pretty good, too. The theme at Seniman is "Imagine you know what you are doing", and when I'm there, I don't imagine, I know--I'm eating something awesome.

Love from Bali,


Mentioned: Seniman Coffee, Ubud. Online here.


Bali Diary: Black Rice Pudding is a Thing Here

Black rice pudding

I'll be straight up with you: I'm not really a cereal person. On a restaurant menu, I totally glaze over the cereal or grain section in favor of more exciting choices such as pancakes or eggs or French toast. Or a vanilla kreme filled donut. You know.

But I have discovered a treat in Bali that really revs my engine in the morning (yes, I just said that), and its name is Black Rice Pudding. It's wonderful, sweet, and provides me with ample energy for doing tons of yoga. This is actually me:

Yoga in bali


I know, I totally rule, right??

But back to the rice pudding. Actually, it doesn’t have to be a beginning of the day treat. The pudding can be eaten as a porridge-like morning food, or as a more rice pudding-y dessert. Black rice sweetened with palm sugar and wrapped in banana leaves can also be found at the markets for a traditional treat.

But to keep things fairly simple, I'm going to stick with the breakfast version, because it's my favorite time to enjoy this sweet treat. Plus, if it's technically breakfast, then it's ok to order dessert, too.

Black rice pudding

So what should you expect when you order black rice pudding?

The black rice is lightly boiled and then served in any number of slight variations on this basic method: with palm sugar-soaked coconut milk and bananas on top. I don't know how these fairly virtuous ingredients do it, but when they come together, they will make you want to keep eating until you burst open in some sort of carbohydratey explosion.

Black rice pudding

One of my favorites so far was from famed restaurant Casa Luna (home of a literary festival and a bakery--I felt very at home), where they serve it in a big bowl, made in the exact way detailed above. The rice itself is sort of al dente textured, but it softens as you eat it--almost like how Grape Nuts start out gravelly but then turn nice and soft in the milk. As the rice became soaked with the sweet coconut sugar mixture, each kernel became a vessel for transporting a mini burst of awesome in my mouth. There were just enough bananas to keep things interesting, but not too many so as to be distracting. This was a thoroughly happy food to eat. 

But you don't have to limit yourself to Casa Luna for consuming this delicious treat. It's a common item on menus, and can typically be made any time of day. 

Black rice pudding

I found a good-looking black rice pudding recipe in case you're intrigued. And I found another one that is like a tricked out version. It sounds about right to me, and I am going to give it a try when I am back home. Although more and more, Bali is starting to seem like home!

Love from Bali,


Mentioned: Casa Luna, Jalan Raya Ubud, Bali. Online here.

Bali Diary: There Are No Ovens Here

Bali oven

In just about every way, Bali is heaven on earth. They have gelato-filled chocolate shells, fresh fruit everywhere, $5 an hour massages. Adorable kids to work with (here's a pic of me and my kindergarteners decorating cookies, btw).


But I think I’ve found the chink in its armor of heavenly perfection: people in Bali don’t have ovens. 

It’s true, people. Upon arriving in Bali, my volunteer group had a Balinese cultural orientation, which included a simple cooking lesson by the volunteer house cooks. Something prominent was not in the kitchen: an oven.

When I asked where the oven was, the response was surprise:  “we don’t have that. Only businesses.” 

Wh-WHAT? I must have looked aghast, because they went on to say that in Bali, an oven isn’t a typical home amenity. Most cooking is done on a stovetop—in fact, from my observation, on a heated coil surface. 


In  turn, they  were absolutely gobsmacked when I said that in America—and many other western countries, for that matter—an oven is not only standard, but a given—like, of course your apartment or home has an oven. It would be deeply strange to rent an apartment in the US that didn’t have an oven. 

I thought initially maybe they were pulling my leg, and that most people actually did secretly have ovens but just didn't talk about it. But it's seriously not a thing to have an oven here. It would be the exception rather than the rule, and is considered a luxury item, as opposed to the absolute necessity it is in the United States.


It's not something that I feel I need to revolutionize, but it is a cultural difference that seriously amazed me.


Considering the lack of ovens, it makes the country’s cuisine even more incredible, and it explains why many places offer flatbreads such as tortillas or roti: they’re made on the griddle and don’t require an oven to cook. It also explains why most Balinese desserts are puddings, ice creams, or cakes or pancakes cooked on a hot surface or griddle. In general, they are not baked in the oven.

Of course, this is not to say that having an oven in Bali is out of the question, but as previously mentioned, it’s not a standard part of the deal. 

But what if you want cake?


Don't panic: baking does happen in Bali, where you can find delightful baked goods…but it's mostly done at commercial locations. Restaurants and bakeries will have ovens, which they use to make anything from pizza to banana bread to American style and French style pastries. In fact, an adorable cafe called Kué is so Frenchy it seems out of place in Bali, but adorably so.


At home, sweets like black rice pudding with shredded coconut or fresh fruit with yogurt or dessert pancakes with ice cream will be favored. Hey, as long as there's dessert, I'm happy.

Love from Bali,


Bali Diary: Chilly and Raw Desserts


Listen. Teaching kindergarten in Bali is tough work. It's very rewarding, but it's also exhausting--you have to be "on" the entire time, and you definitely have language barriers. But it is so special when you can break through, and I have found that the best way (for me) is through visual arts.

But don't worry about my work load too much, because my life is also punctuated by dessert after delicious dessert. I guess now would be a good time to tell you about a few of the desserts I’ve been eating in Bali. Today I’ll focus on a couple chilled, and a couple of raw desserts. No particular order: you’re just freewheeling, Bali-style, with me.


First up, we will talk about the “Cloud 9” from Alchemy (remember, I told you about them last week). That's the pretty bit pictured at the top of the post. This raw cake or, as I would call it, pie, was a most interesting specimen. Made from cashews, irish sea moss, and citrus, it had a lovely berry topping. The taste wasn’t what I expected, which was cheesecake-esque, but once my taste buds acclimated it was quite a subtle and lovely cake. 


We’ll take a break from raw and talk about a chilly dessert I had, from Funny Monkey (an outpost of Clear Cafe). Bali It was a kind of milkshake-y smoothie thing. I’d been passing this place every day for a week or so and was oddly fascinated by their vacuum-packed sweets (containing healthy and/or raw desserts of every type, packed as if they were salami in the refrigerated aisle) in their "to go" section.

But when push came to shove I settled for the free samples of the vacuum packed stuff and invested in the “Coconut Dream” which had coconut cream, frozen yogurt, and pineapple. I know—it really sounds like health food. But the coconut was creamy and rich enough that it passed for a really pleasant (if somewhat healthy) dessert. Plus, it was cooling on a very balmy bali evening. 


Back to raw. I need to tell you about this choco-citrus tart I had at SOMA. I had ended up here after an event called “Ecstatic Dance”, which is basically a yoga dance party at the nearby Yoga Barn, where I have been spending a fair amount of time in Bali. My friend got flatbread or something boring, and I got this splendid thing.


It made me reconsider my personal dislike of chocolate and citrus, because it was like a fancier, more refined version of lemon meringue pie in a chocolate crust. 


OK, now, back to chilly. Gelato Secrets was certainly part of my destiny—I knew it from the moment I saw the cute pink sign. When I went, they had a lovely selection of little chilled pastries, including mini baked alaskas and gelato sandwiched between gingerbread men cookies. Of course, they also gelato and sorbetto, including the prettiest of the batch, the rich purple dragonfruit. Did I go for the prettiest? No, I went for the creamiest. I got the panna cotta flavor, because I have fond memories of just such a flavor from Bottega Italiano in Seattle. This was just as good—so creamy. No gritty texture, no milky or low-fat flavor. This tasted like licking sweet caramelly cream. 


On a return trip to Gelato Secrets, I got their gelato cupcake, which was chocolate and vanilla gelato in an edible chocolate cup. I didn't realize the cup was chocolate until they gave it to me in a container. I loved life, and Bali, so much at that moment.

I don’t know if this one was raw, but I do know it was vegan. It was a sorbet from Atman, a cafe with a couple of gelato/sorbetto stands flanking the main restaurant, where they serve their lattes with tiny heart-shaped cookies.


The girl behind the counter saw me looking at her display and drew me in. I opted for the soursop, which I was told was made like so: mash the fruit, add a little sugar, and chill it. That’s it. It tasted way better than the hippie food it sounds like. It tasted like eating the sweet essence of fresh fruit. 


OK, that’s it for now. If it’s cold where you are, then maybe the desserts matched your weather; if it’s hot, I hope reading about them refreshed you.

Places mentioned:



Gelato Secrets

Clear Cafe

Atman Kafe

Love from Bali,


Bali Diary: The Lattes Come With Cookies Here

Kopi desa latte

I have a latte love for a nice cup of coffee. And in Bali, they really take the cake. Well, more like the cookie.

Because, friends, I have something so wonderful to tell you. And it's not that I made a traditional flower offering, although I did do that, too: Bali

The thing I have to tell you is this: In Bali, they give you a cookie with your coffee. Coffee and cookies

It’s seriously the cutest and best thing ever.

I’ve had a latte almost every day I have been here; I’m not typically a latte drinker, but these small ones are more like a cafe au lait in New Orleans, and they’re really nice. And not every location does it, but certainly enough times that I have taken note, the latte has come with a cookie. Some other types of coffee too, but once again, inconsistent. The latte seems to reliably come with a cookie as opposed to a Bali coffee or espresso. 

Here are some of my favorites so far. 

Atman Kafe, Bali

At Atman Kafe, they deliver your latte with a cute little heart shaped cookie.

Cookie with latte, atman

It’s a crumbly, shortbread-y cookie with a salty-sweet flavor that crumbles in your mouth and makes you want to eat many, many more. 

At Kué, the cookies are tiny anisette biscotti. 


They’ll give you two of them.


Their crispy nature makes them well-suited to dipping in the pretty tricolor coffee (which mixes slowly as you drink it; it's quite amazing), or I like to use them like a chip and treat the foam on the latte as dip. It pleases me to do so and I will continue, no matter what you say. 

Kue, bali

At Kopi Desa, they give you a miniature crispy chocolate chip cookie. You can also note how prettily they wrap the napkin around the spoon. This also happens a lot here. Kopi desa latte

Once again, it’s a dipper, and turns the perfect texture for putting in your mouth when gently dipped in your latte. 

I know this is just a few samples, but I just need to tell you, I love that this is a thing in Bali.

Listen, USA. If Bali can make cookies with lattes a thing, can’t we? I hope that every coffee shop owner in the nation (and perhaps world) will view this post and take note.  

F.r.e.a.k. coffee

Places mentioned:

Atman Kafe


Kopi Desa

Latte love from Bali,


Bali Diary: Kopi Desa and Cafe Vespa


Helloooooo from Bali, everyone!

I have been having a wonderful time so far volunteering teaching kindergarten. But don't worry, I have still been eating, and I even had a chance to create a batik painting (above, you're welcome).

I'm staying in an area of Bali called Penestanan, which is a stone's throw from the now-famous Ubud, which was prominently featured in the novel Eat, Pray, Love. The novel's presence is evident in the town, with cocktails named in its honor and even an ice cream place called Eat Soft Love. I assure you I am not kidding.

But I digress. As a volunteer, we are located between two coffee shops: one called Kopi Desa, and one called Cafe Vespa. Both are adorable, and may be of interest to sweets lovers who find themselves in Bali. Since I've visited both a fair amount of times to use their wifi, I think I will tell you about them.

At Kopi Desa, they will fill basic foodie needs with sandwiches and noodles at extremely cheap prices. But happily, they also have ice cream, so they will make sweet beverages. They also make sweet banana pancakes, which you can pair with ice cream for tasty results. You can eat well here for under $3 US.

And they have young coconuts, which they serve like this. OMG CUTE!

But I guess while I'm cute overloading you, I shouldn't forget to show you how they make a latte. OMG! Cute! Cutest latte ever. Kopi Desa, bali

Down the street, you'll find Cafe Vespa, which is a little fancier, and the food follows suit in caliber and prices.Bali

They have beautiful fresh fruit, and a tantalizing bakery case.

Photo via Trip Advisor

Everything is very well executed, from the homemade banana bread and daily muffin specials to the decadent cream cheese frosting topped carrot cake. Carrot cake from Cafe vespa, bali

This is a typical Balinese thing, I have noticed: everything has a wonderful attention to detail. Everything is good. How do they do it for crying out loud?

And the brown sugar is SO dark brown! Bali

They also make a very pretty latte.

Latte from cafe vespa

Perhaps most importantly, they serve scoops of an ice cream called Sacred Scoops, which is made locally and boasts this roster of ingredients: 

Yes, you read that right. Blessings. What does ice cream made with blessings taste like, you wonder? Don't worry, I found out.

Honestly, my only complaint is that the cone was so small, but it was quite nice. It was completely gluten-free and vegan, with a "rice cone" and a surprisingly creamy ice cream with absolutely no grittiness, just smooth strawberry flavor. It was slow to melt, which made it perfect for a hot day, and tasted so fresh that I could practically feel the fruit smiling at me. I am pretty sure I could taste the blessings. The love frequencies too, now that you mention it.

So far it's been a pretty sweet 2 weeks in Bali, and I am discovering more great places to tell you about every day. Stay tuned, sweeties.

Places mentioned: 

Kopi Desa

Cafe Vespa

Sacred Scoops (purchased at Cafe Vespa)

Sweet Find: Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali

Photo via Alchemy Bali

I have a confession to make: in Bali, I've been eating...

health food.

You heard me right, but I want to assure you that everything is OK. I haven't abandoned you. Because as it turns out, even health food can be naughty every now and again.

I'm talking raw desserts. They have no leavening, so they're usually nice and dense, often luxuriant with coconut oil as a key ingredient.

And--I know, you wouldn't expect this from me--fresh fruit is amazing here. Stay with me.

The establishment which has inspired my healthy kick is none other than Alchemy, a raw and vegan cafe in Penestanan, a neighboring area to the more famous Ubud. Seriously, everything here is so good.

Alchemy, bali

We'll start with their breakfast parfait bar, OK? You start by picking a type of yogurt or milk, and then get to add on five toppings (you can get more for an up-charge). Alchemy, bali

Choosing is difficult with a rainbow of fruits fresher than I've ever tasted, nuts, muesli, dried fruits, and--my favorite--the raw coconut whipped cream. I don't know how they make that stuff, but I don't care if it's vegan or gluten free or raw: I could eat it by the bucket. 

Alchemy, bali

So here's what you might get after you choose.

Alchemy, bali

Afternoons, they have a full menu and juice bar. Everything is made to order, and incredibly fresh - like, you can taste the trees the fruit came from, and the sweet air of Bali. 

Alchemy, bali

But most importantly, they have a generous case of raw desserts. They are all delightfully dense. This makes me happy, especially when the dessert in question is a smoothly luxuriant chocolate mousse cake or a cacao truffle or even a spirulina slice which looks surprisingly like a Nanaimo bar. 

Here are just a few (photos from their website). All of these desserts are raw.

It's all good, too. The only problem is that they don't do espresso here and gosh that would be nice with these sweet treats. Guess we'll have to leave that to Kué up the street--more on that later. 

And--how cute is this--if you get something small to go, they will wrap it in a banana leaf. It's a good reminder: OMG! You're in Bali! Awesome!

Alchemy, bali

If you don't think you'll be making it to Bali anytime soon, they do have a number of recipes on their site!

Alchemy, Penestanan, Bali. Online here.