BALI UPDATE #446 - 28 March 2005
Gary Rosen: In Praise of Slow Food
Balidiscovery.com Talks to the Conrad Bali Resort's Chief of Culinary Operations A Man Who Likes His Food Slow, Easy and True to its Roots.
On a recent extended visit to Bali's luxurious 313-room Conrad Bali Resort and Spa, balidiscovery.com's Editor managed to personally sample each of the resort's main restaurants and also catch up with the man who's turning heads among Bali diners Gray Rosen, Director of Culinary Operations and the Resort's Executive Chef.
With nearly 30 years of professional kitchen experience acquired in locales as gastronmically diverse as Israel, Australia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Guatemala, South Korea and Bali Chef Gary Rosen has prepared food for kings and commoners alike and along the way has come to know and understand what he believes works and what doesn't in pleasing the discerning palate.
In Praise of Slow Food
An enthusiastic proponent of the Slow Food movement Gary Rosen counts himself a member of that large and increasing organized group that opposes the globalization of foods and tastes by defending the need for consumer information, organic ingredients, the cultivation of distinctive culture identities in food and gastronomic traditions, and animal and plant biodiversity worldwide.
Fusion is Confusion - Anyone For a Double Patty, Extra Cheese, Tempe Burger?
In Rosen's view, modern efforts to "fuse" differing food traditions into new taste sensations often result in "confusion"- typically stacked precariously atop a plate in montages of colorful and competing varying "edible" layers of eclecticism.
"Fusion is confusion," says Rosen, preferring instead a Zen approach to food preparation.
Hearing the often-used and much-abused "Zen" word, we asked increduously, "A Zen approach to food?" Rosen defended his stance, explaining that to his view what's not on a plate is sometimes equally important as what's on the plate. Good food, insists Rosen, should be simple, honest and useful a pleasurable reward for the senses capable of instilling a feeling of overall well-being. Like those dishes fondly remembered from our childhood years, good food - modern or otherwise, should invariably follow the example set by our mothers' kitchens which always strove to please and nourish, giving food's ability to dazzle and impress a factor of much lesser importance.
Chefs as Artists
In a comment with the potential to bruise the well-fed egos of any kitchen prima donna, Rosen claims that good chefs are artisans and not artists. Artists, he contends, make items of absolute beauty but of no practical value while, on the other hand, artisans face the double challenge of creating items of practical value that are also aesthetically pleasing.
Following his Zen-like philosophy, Chef Rosen educates his kitchen brigade to always try to limit each dish to 3 or 4 main ingredients, allowing the very highest quality of produce, meat, seafood and poultry available prepared to perfection to speak for themselves.
Dining at the Conrad
Those seeking to put Chef Rosen's philosophy to the test need look no further than the Resorts three main dining outlets - Spice, 8 Degrees South, and Suku.
The Resort's premier dining venue Spice is, by its very nature, sensual in its setting, seductive in its service, passionate in what it does, and eclectically exciting in its concept.
But, hold on a moment. How can a restaurant so attached to slow food and culinary verite be labeled eclectic and still remain true to its pledge of ethnic purity?
The answer is found in Spice's focused commitment to culinary consistency to each separate menu item it presents. While the entire memnu may represent a tour de force of global cuisine, each individual item on the menu, however, has its own separate ethnic identity drawn from the rich culinary traditions of North Africa, Middle East, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, or Australia.
Thus, while the entire course-to-course experience at Spice may have a wide raging and widely-traveled overall effect, each individual course represents a loyal rendering of a specific local gastronomic tradition. The results are stunning; comfort food able to reawaken culinary memories long lost to the well-traveled palates that frequent this restaurant.
Our favorite: a 7-Spice Quail Coriander marinated in coriander, star anisette, cinnamon, smoked paprika, raz el hanout, mace, and ginger. The many spices comprising the marinade are combined with wine and crushed garlic before being pan-fried and finished off in an oven before arriving at the table in an understated presentation accompanied by lentils.
Now, after 9 months operations and firmly established as a "happening" venue on the local food scene, Spice is aiming to further cement its glowing reputation by inviting visiting celebrity chefs representing specific ethnic traditions to display their skills in combination with specially selected wines from the world's best vineyards.
8 Degrees South
Located in what is arguably Bali's most dramatic sea-side dining setting, 8 Degrees South is described by Rosen as an "in your face Mediterranean seafood" restaurant. Oysters, mussels, crabs and other delicious sea bounty - all imported from the Pacific northwest are used to create menu selections such a local bouillabaisse, bowls of black mussels, and paella - each keeping amiable good company with wines from the Chef's personal sub-list of recommended wines drawn from the hotel extensive cellar.
Suku - Indonesian for tribe is the name adopted for the Conrad Resort's casual all-day dining venue. And, like its two sister outlets, Suku has the same commitment to slow food emphasizing dishes drawn from a variety of cultural traditions to be enjoyed slowly with the friendly members of your tribe.
Whichever venue you select, be assured that looming somewhere nearby, is that full-ranking officer in the local slow food police: Chef Gary Rosen, providing the insights and orchestration that has made the Conrad Bali Resort and Spa's restaurants the talk of the Island.
New York Time: The Rebirth of Bali
March 27, 2005 Edition of New York Times Revisits A Bali on a Strong Rebound.
New York Times correspondent Denny Lee and photographer Ting-Li Wang recently paid a series of visits to Bali to gauge the fortune of Bali's tourism industry three years after the tragic bombing of a Bali night spot in 2002.
Their report and photos are featured in the March 27, 2005 edition of the paper and on-line at nytimes.com.
Traveling the length and breadth of the Island, they discovered a Bali rebuilding, revitalizing itself, and hosting visitor numbers harking back to levels achieved 4 or 5 years ago but still lacking the presence of high spenders from European and American markets.
Including a number of interviews with local tourism figures in Bali, the New York Times' coverage includes comments from Robert Kelsall - Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association; Monty Brown - Manager of Amanresorts; David Wilson General Manager of the Ritz Carlton Bali Resort and Spa; Jamal Hussain General Manager of Hard Rock Hotels; and J.M. Daniels editor of Bali Update and President Director of balidiscovery.com.
The article also provides an overview of new tourism developments in Bali intorduced over the past several years.
Follow the link provided to view the entire article in the New York Times.(subscription required).
Bali Fashion Week June 5-8, 2005
Bali's 6th Annual International Fashion Week Now a Fixture on the International Fashion Calendar.
What has now become an annual "must do" for fashion buyers and retailers from around the world, Bali Fashion Week VI set for June 5-8, 2005, has been expanded to include a number of supporting public entertainment events in addition to the already exciting program of fashion shows and extravaganzas.
Some of the program highlights from the 6th Bali Fashion Week include:
3 days of non-stop art, cultural and fashion exhibitions centered at Bali's Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel.
Daily evening sunset fashion shows held at an open electro-stage at the beach amphitheatre of the Discovery Shopping Mall.
A Fashion Week Opening at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 5, 2005, aiming to create a world-record breaking 300 meter long piece of batik created by a line up of fashion, textile and graphic designers all coordinated by Afif Syakur, a leading Batik Designer from Yogyakarta.
At 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, 2005, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism will officially open the Bali Fashion Week Street Carnival - a 2.5 hour long street parade of music, dance, fashion and commerce expected to involve more than 1,000 street performers, all ending in a sunset beach party.
Special fashion seminars featuring fashion marketing experts and fashion forecasters.
On Wednesday, June 8, 2005, the fashion trade show will open its doors to the public. This is a change from previous year's shows in order to allow the public to see work by Indonesia's top fashion designers and manufacturers and to purchase items on display during the show at special prices.
Liver Experts to Meet in Bali
15th Asian Pacific Association for Study of the Liver in Bali August 18-21, 2005.
The 15th Asian Pacific Association Conference for the Study of the Liver (APASL) will be held in Bali August 15-18, 2005, at the Bali International Conference Center (BICC) in Nusa Dua.
Organized by the Indonesian Association for the Study of the Liver in collaboration with the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL), the meeting has adopted "New Challenges and Recent Advances in Hepatology" as its central theme.
Leading researchers and medical experts from across the Asia Pacific, where liver disease has now become a major health issue, are expected to attend to participate in a comprehensive scientific program involving a review of current management techniques in treating diseases of the liver.
Special seminar sessions will be offered in the form of short post graduate courses, together with workshops on the use of endoscopy and ultra sound.
The Bali meeting is the first annual gathering of the Association in 28 years with past conferences alwasy being held on a biennial basis.
Information on the submission of abstracts and registration for the conference are available via the web-link provided.
More information: APASL Website
A Most Remarkable Piano Man
Revolutionary Music Educator Set to Open ANTIM Piano School in Bali.
Born in Indonesia in 1948, Wei Tsin-Fu, who is also know by the name Jonathan Gunawan, was a precociously talented child musician who went on to perform on a number of international stages and is, today, perhaps the only Asian to have successfully establish a leading music academy in Europe.
An educator, who for time taught not only music but physics, chemistry and math, Wei eventually obtained an understanding on the interaction between the brain and the nervous system leading him to a revolutionary method of music education that engages both the right and left brain, the cerebellum, the bone marrow and the nervous system as a means of increasing human potential for thinking and learning.
The results of Wei's technique, now in use by students in over 30 countries worldwide and the cornerstone of his world-renowned Music Academy in Tόbingen, Germany, are amazing. Students who practice for just 20-60 minutes a day using Wei's method are able to masterfully play Bach's "Prelude in C-Major" or complex jazz numbers after only 4 months of lessons. Students of tens years of age of younger are able to play from memory piano concertos by Beethoven, Grieg, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and Rachmaninoff after just 3 weeks of practice. One of his Jakarta students a 10 year old boy performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" from memory after only 2 days practice before a mesmerized crowd at a Bali Concert (see accompanying picture on balidiscovery.com) on Saturday, March 19, 2005 at the Discovery Mall.
No less remarkable, scores of students who have undergone the Wei method of piano study who entered the program at near-failure levels in their academic careers, very often undergo a complete transformation into "straight A" students just months after commencing this revolutionary music education program. According to Wei, by intensifying the physical cooperation between the right and left side of the brain, the right brain responsible for musical cognition benefits from and also supports the left side of the brain responsible for logical thinking.
Those with tortuous memories of the drudgery of force-fed piano lessons as a child take faith: Wei insists that whenever one of his students fails to enjoy and fully involve themselves in the learning process he considers it a failure of the teacher and not the student, causing the school to re-evaluate its teaching approach for that particular pupil. Even more heartening to those of us with latent musical tendencies is the news that Wei's oldest student is an 80 year-old former Minister of State said to be making rapid strides in his desire to master the piano.
Perhaps the best news is that Bali will soon join 15 Academies of Networked Thinking in Music (ANTIM) now in operation on four Continents. The Bali academy will also be offering scholarships to deserving Balinese children in order to spread the benefits of his revolutionary music training technique.
North Bali Reef Project A Real Winner!
Pemuteran's Taman Sari Karang Lestari Project Wins PATA Gold and ASEANTA Awards for Environmental Excellence.
Led by Bali Tourism legend, Agung Prana who owns Taman Sari Resort at North Bali's Pemuteran Beach, the Karang Lestari Pemuteran Project is gaining increasingly international recognition as a model of community-based coral reef restoration and conservation.
The object of much positive media coverage, including the Associated Press and the BBC, the Karang Lestari Pemuteran Project also recently won much-deserved further recognition with awards for Conservation Excellence from ASEAN Travel Association (ASEANTA) and a Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award in the environmental category.
The Project has successfully constructed a "win-win" scenario in which local fishermen are increasing their catches while the reefs surrounding the Pemuteran area are becoming one of Indonesia's main diving destinations. The villagers in the region have been quick to grasp the value of their eco-tourism incomes, the long-term benefits to the local environment, and the improved living standards of their families. Led and inspired by local community leaders, daily marine patrols with Pecalang Laut, or local marine guards, have largely eliminated detrimental bombing and cyanide poisoning methods for harvesting reef and aquarium fish.
Over a five year period from 199-2004, a stretch of barren coral reef has been transformed in a living reef system full of dense underwater populations of diverse marine organisms. The reefs have been brought back to life using "Biorock" artificial reef frames that stimulate rapid reef growth 3 to 5 times faster than normal and increase coral survival by a factor of 16 to 50 times.
A Community Effort
The Karang Lestari Pemturean Project has local hotels, dive shops, village fisher folk, scientists and conservationists all working together under the sponsorship and guidance of Taman Sari Resort. With coral regeneration and fishing bans now in effect in the Bay, spinner dolphins have returned in significant numbers. As a result, local villagers now take visitors on dolphin-watching tours. Under the terms of a cooperative agreement, the local village retains rights to all snorkeling income from tourists. These lucrative income alternatives for the traditional fishing community reinforce a basic understanding that each fish has more value in the sea than in a net or on the end of a fishing line. And, with alternative income avenues available, former environmental destroyers have become avid proponents of conservation and eco-tourism, for economic and environmental benefit.
Yayasan Karang Lestari Pemuteran
Yayasan Karang Lestari Pemuteran is a local non-government-organization founded by the owner of Taman Sari Resort in Pemuteran Bali, Mr. Agung Prana. Prana, who also owns a local travel company, is a traditional Balinese leader widely respected for his many contributions to Bali tourism. He is the past-chairman of the Bali Chapter of Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA) and the recipient of many national and international awards.
The Yayasan works together with the Global Coral Reef Alliance (GCRA) a non-profit organization based in Cambridge Massachusetts, USA, that pioneers modern coral reef restoration methods, conservation and sustainable management.
These two NGO's are dynamic and complementary. The award-winning community-based coral restoration project in Pemuteran Bali is becoming one of the world's major educational and experimental facilities to further coral reef regeneration, coastal protection and socialization of sustainable management of coral reef ecosystems for conservation and tourism development.
Shown on balidiscovery.com is the Karang Lestari Project's Founder - Agung Prana.
Nirwana Golf Club Voted Asia's Best Again!
Asian Golf Monthly Selects Bali Course as Asia's Very Best for Fifth Consecutive Year.
For the fifth consecutive year, Asian Golf Monthly has named Nirwana Bali Golf Club and Le Méridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort among Asia's Best.
This year a panel of 12 regional golf experts named Le Méridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort as the "Best Golf Resort in Asia" and Nirwana Bali Golf Club as "Best Course in Asia."
"We are delighted to have received such prestigious awards and recognition. It is a wonderful testament that the golfing community see our resort as a jewel in Asia," said Dietmar Kielnhofer, General Manager, Le Méridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort.
The 18-hole Greg Norman designed golf course is among Asia's most visually spectacular courses. The 72-par course features holes carved through terraced rice paddies and winding creeks. The site's natural features are preserved while creating some of golf's most dramatic holes and breathtaking vistas along the shoreline of the Indian Ocean and, in the distance, Bali's fabled Pura Tanah Lot.
The courses 7th hole is particularly challenging, requiring the golfer to hit a middle iron from the cliff side tee across an ocean inlet, to a well-guarded green.
A word to the wise: bring extra balls when you play this hole!
Inbound Chinese Tourism Market to Be Deregulated?
Government Set to Abandon Special Designation for Agencies Entitled to Handle Visiting PRC Visitors.
Labeling current practices limiting which Indonesian agencies are entitled to handle the inbound Chinese market as "semi-monopolistic," Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism has pledge to review those regulations and open the Chinese market to service by all licensed Indonesian tour and travel agents in Indonesia.
As quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Minister said, "We are going to re-evaluate the selection process for travel agents permitted to work with China, so that soon there will be no more limits - any agent can work with Chinese tourists."
The Minister was responding to comments by the Head of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA) for West Java, Yachya Machmoed, who said the earlier security rationales for "specialized" agents was no longer relevant and contributed to the very poor arrival numbers from the Chinese market for Indonesia. Currently, some 28 million Chinese people travel abroad from China every year, but only about 80,000 visit Indonesia.
Limitations Due to Regulations Imposed by Chinese Government
Meanwhile, Thamrin B. Bachri, the Deputy Minister for Capacity Building and International Cooperation from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, explained that current limits placed on travel agents wanting to work with Chinese tourists are based on Chinese regulations.
Countries visited by their citizens must qualify for "approved destination status," and travel agents that enter the Chinese market must fulfill certain criteria including, collaboration with a Chinese travel agent, employment of Mandarin-speaking guides, and cooperation only with certified souvenir shops. "Because the Chinese market is regulated in this way, it means that any changes must be made via government-to-government initiatives, and the travel agents that want to work in that market must have the required permits. Right now 89 travel agents nationally are permitted, and this can hardly be called a monopoly," he added, apparently disagreeing in part with the Minister's assesment.
He also said that his department would be meeting again with the China National Tourism Association, "because there are a lot more travel agents which could qualify to work with the Chinese market."
Regarding requirements that travel agents pay a hefty deposit before being allowed to serve the Chinese market, Thamrin further explained that these deposits represent an internal rule of the ICTC - the national consortium of travel agents for the Chinese market.
Protection That Simply Doesn't Work
Many travel industry experts see the current regulations imposed on travel agents as counter-productive, monopolistic and the source of the abuse and poor service many Chinese travelers complain of when visiting Indonesia.
Although relatively small in number, the inbound PRC market is reportedly rife with "head selling" - a practice in which visiting tourist are "auctioned off" to the highert bidder who then regains his investment by lowering tour quality and dealing only with establishments prepared to pay high commissions from all revenues generated by Chinese customers.
Out of Africa
Indonesia Eyes Tourists from South Africa by Launching a Heritage Link with Capetown.
Indonesia's Department of Culture and Tourism is trying to strengthen cultural ties with Africa in an effort to attract more tourists from that continent, particularly from South Africa.
As reported in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has set the 2005 target for tourists from Africa at 35,000 estimated able to generate some US$ 31.5 million in foreign exchange. By the year 2009, Indonesia's tourism ministry expects 73,000 tourists from Africa spending upwards of US$ 65.7 million will visit Indonesia every year.
Claiming that Indonesia's promotion in the South African market has never been optimized, Minister Wacik has called for a new commitment from the Indonesian tourism industry to promote travel from that Country.
In 2004, tourists from all of Africa to Indonesia totaled 31,000, down from a 2002 total of 36,000.
Pushing a Common Heritage Theme
According to the Minister, Indonesia is particularly seeking to attract visits by those African nationals with ethnic and heritage links to Indonesia dating back many generations when Javanese slaves were brought to South Africa to harvest sugar cane. The Minister claims there are about 700,000 people of the Malay race living in Cape Town, South Africa, in an area known as Macassar Faure, with about 60% of these people of Indonesian descent.
While current visitors from South Africa are drawn from people overwhelmingly with European or African ancestry, the Minister believes that the region's Malay-stock represents a potentially substantial source of tourists to Indonesia. Minister Wacik said, "Unfortunately, these Indonesian descendants in South Africa have never been very oriented towards Indonesia. For vacations, they tend to choose Malaysia which is more familiar to them." Minister Wacik views it as a new strategic challenge to entice this group to look to Indonesia for holidays, as one step to boost Indonesia's national tourism industry.
Cape Town Easter Festival
In order to raise Indonesia's visibility in the South African travel market, Department of Culture and Tourism, the Provincial Government of South Sulawesi, and members of the Indonesian tourism industry are participated in the Easter Festival in Cape Town, March 24-27, 2005 2005. The Indonesian delegation, comprising 99 people, included a cultural performance team, chefs, and historians, and 13 travel companies from Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and South Sulawesi.
Bali Hospital Opens HIV/AID Clinic
HIV/AIDS Counseling, Testing and Treatment Offered to Public to Counteract Growing Epidemic.
Bali's Badung regional government has opened an HIV/AIDS clinic at the Badung Public Hospital (RSUD Bandung), near Kapal.
Inaugurated on Tuesday, March 23, 2005, the Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) Center located in a separate facility within the Hospital is seen as playing a key role in the coordinated efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in Bali.
Local estimates now put the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Bali at more than 3,000. Experts believe infection rates may even higher given the lack of testing centers and the fear of possible discrimination against sufferers.
The newly opened voluntary counseling and testing center at the Kapal Public Hospital is intended to allow anonymous HIV testing to take place as the necessary first step to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing medical assistance to those stricken by the disease.
Bali's Coming Water Crisis
Japanese Researchers in Bali Warn of the Need for Sustainable Development and Wise Management of Bali's Water Resources
At a recent seminar held in Bali on the development and management of water resources it was concluded that unless water conservation becomes a top priority in Bali, the island would face a serious water crisis within 20 years.
The seminar, sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), presented the findings of a team of water experts from JICA, including:
That by 2025, Bali's population will grow from its estimated 3.147 million people in 2000 to 4.139 million - an increase of 132%.
Similarly, foreign tourist visitors arrival currently standing at 1.458 million can be expected to increase 253% to 3.690 million in 20 years time.
Pointing to the growing demand for water in all areas of Bali, a JICA expert, Masatomo Watanabe, called for the identification of new water resources and greater control on the over-exploitation of ground water in order to avoid the intrusion of salt water into the Island's fresh water supplies.
Mr. Watanabe estimates Bali entire water consumption now stands at 3,504 cubic meters per day - equivalent to 40.7 tons of water every second of every day.
Bali Needs its Own Airline
Local ASITA Chairman, Bagus Sudibya, Underlines Bali's Need for its Own Airline.
Bali's Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour Agents (ASITA), Bagus Sudibya recently told the Indonesian-language Bali Post that Bali as a major international destination needs its own air carrier.
According to Sudibya, in order to preserve its share Bali needs its own airline capable of carrying tourists directly from strategic markets, such as Europe. While foreign carriers waste no time in curtailing flight frequencies whenever a problem, such a bird flu, emerges, the ASITA Chairman believe that a Bali-owned airline would have greater staying power in the face of events that cause other airlines to think only of profit and loss in deciding whether or not to maintain flight frequency levels.
Citing Singapore and Thailand as positive examples of how locally-owned carriers increase European tourist markets, Sudibya said that following the cessation of Garuda's European services Bali has become increasingly dependent on foreign carriers.
At present, Air Paradise International, owned by Balinese businessman, I Madι Kadek Wiranantha, is the only "Balinese owned" airline operating international passenger services. Air Paradise operates a number of services in the Asia Pacific region but has yet to add any European destinations to its schedule.