JEWELS FROM THE ROVING STOVE

From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron

  • Julie Anne Rhodes

A Perfect Day To Remember

It is hard to surprise Tatjana, but with the help of Head Butler Carlos and his crew here at the St. Regis Hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali – I pulled it off! I sent the “blue cake” recipe ahead (rather cheeky since they have one of the best pastry chefs in the world, but it had to be our traditional cake), smuggled in a banner, streamers, birthday glasses and balloons, then made sure Tatjana and I were well occupied shopping and having dinner with a friend in Seminyak on the 22nd. She might expect something was up on the 23rd, but not the 22nd, GOTCHA!

Unfortunately I did not have a camera ready to capture the look on her face when we arrived home to all this, but suffice it to say she was gob smacked. Thank you Carlos, Chef and the whole butler team! Tatjana will not forget this birthday. BTW, the bunnies with the sunglasses are my favorite touch – you outdid yourself Suwiyasa!

The next morning (her real birthday) we woke to a Champagne breakfast (I had sparkling water) and birthday cake – another family tradition – it just tastes better for breakfast! Then off for a little more shopping (we managed to do major damage in just half an hour), lunch, and a girlie spa afternoon with a Javanese lurlur body scrub, Balinese massage, flower bath, seaweed facial, manicure and pedicure.

Yasa, the sweetest taxi driver on the planet who made it his duty to look after us while we’re here, waited four hours while we were in the spa to whisk us back to the hotel in time to get gussied up for a magnificent dinner.

Voted one of the top ten restaurants in all of Asia, and well deserving of the honor, Kayuputi means “white wood” in Balinese – which the stunning restaurant has plenty of, as well as a lot of glass, high pitched ceilings, modern decor with Balinese influences (including the stepping stone to our table – not to be missed or you’ll fall into a pond, Miss Grace here almost did), and a dramatic open air kitchen over looking the Indian ocean.

Warm tropical breezes swirled round us in the elegant outdoor booth as we sipped our exotic drinks – Tatjana had the Passiflora Mojito made with passion fruit, rose syrup, and rum while I savored the ultra divine Lemongrass Colada Mocktail. The view beyond spectacular with the beach and waves rolling in just feet away.

Birthday girl got the royal treatment with both maitre’d and chef helping her make her selections. I, of course, opted for the exquisite (yet not so over indulgent you feel weighted down) tasting menu.

The contrasting textures of the cool tiny cubes of yellow fin tuna tartar, so smooth on the tongue with a fresh burst of yuzu sorbet to brighten the dish, and the delightful crunch of the wasabi nut crumble announced I was in for an exceptional dinner. I am not a fan of tuna tartar, yet relished every morsel of this one.

The delicate Asian crab filled tomato maki roll in chilled tomatillo consomme with white tomato foam and basil oil made for a clean and ultra light transition to the…

… uber succulent slow braised pork belly in sweet soy ginger liquid that melted in my mouth and paired so perfectly with the baby butter glazed root vegetables and cilantro leaves.

Just when I thought it would be impossible to top the previous courses, a perfectly pan seared sweet deep sea scallop arrived floating on a cloud of rich carrot mousseline with lemongrass foam and lemon oil. Sheer heaven on a plate!

Then came the tantalizing free-range chicken breast with medallion of own leg confit, vegetables fondue and natural meat jus – moist and lucious with every bite. The black current fruit paste and yoghurt mousse fresh with raspberry and mascarpone ice cream that followed was spectacular, but I’m afraid the pomp of Tatjana’s

chocolate dessert slightly upstaged it. The entire restaurant staff delivered it while serenading her with a beautiful rendition of happy birthday!

Indulgence is a beautiful thing when it comes with this kind of mastery of chocolate. Contrasting textures ranging from chocolate whiskey biscuits to milk chocolate mousse enclosed in dark chocolate slices and white chocolate sorbet – sheer decadence befitting a 25th birthday celebration.

I think we did a great job of celebrating the first quarter century, and welcoming in the second quarter century of your life, Tatjana. Here’s to the fabulous life experiences you have ahead of you! I look forward to watching your career grow from strength to strength, your falling in love with a kind and generous man, and one or two grandchildren eventually would be much appreciated! The best is yet to come. I love you.

PS. Just as I was about to publish this – Tatjana surprised me with a bathing suit cover-up I’d lusted after. A thank you from her for the trip. I guess she got the last GOTCHA, and I have one amazing daughter.

PPS. What does your perfect day to remember look like?

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© 2019 Julie Anne Rhodes