Gourmet Travel: Mozaic, Bali

We head to the Balinese hills of Ubud for a dinner date at the only Indonesian choice on the San Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants list
Tuesday , 14 February 2012
Mozaic, Bali
Mozaic, Bali
Mozaic, Bali
Mozaic, Bali
Executive Chef Chris Salans
Executive Chef Chris Salans
Ginger flower sorbet with fresh strawberries and lime leaves
Ginger flower sorbet with fresh strawberries and lime leaves

As you enter the majestic wooden Balinese doorway, you’re faced with a bright and airy modern interior that makes up the Mozaic bar-cum-lounge. A walkway leads to a lush tropical garden with widely-spaced tables and thankfully, given that we were in the middle of the rainy season, a slightly elevated covered dining space.

French-American owner and Executive Chef Chris Salans, along with his British Chef de Cuisine James Ephraim have been dishing out modern French cuisine using Indonesian ingredients in the form of four six-course menus. Be warned there’s no a la carte in sight – unless you opt for the lounge’s tapas and appetiser menus.

• A Discovery Menu – French techniques work with fresh seasonal Indonesian ingredients to create exciting new flavours
• A Chef’s Tasting Menu – changes daily depending on market availability of ingredients
• A Surprise Menu – based on patrons’ personal likes and dislikes, using only the finest, rarest and most precious ingredients such as caviar, foie gras, truffles and baby lamb
• A Vegetarian Menu – fresh homemade pasta or gnocchi, baked filo pastry, truffles, wild mushrooms and fresh French cheeses

Diners may select from a vino list or consult with the sommelier to pair each menu with individual glasses of grape.

The quality of ingredients stands out through the sheer multitude of flavours, to the extent that the raw herbs and spices are presented on the table as a precursor to the feast. It certainly helps when most herbs come from the in-house garden. Our favourites from the Discovery menu included a coral trout cooked in fresh coconut oil and a Balinese spiced emulsion, slow-roasted French duck and foie gras in a chilled broth of local star fruit and a Valrhona dark chocolate fondant with fresh turmeric gelato and red wine. French St Vernier cheese with quince pudding and red wine reduction from the Chef’s Tasting Menu also impressed. At approximately Dhs260, the sixcourse Discovery menu is incredibly well priced too.

Mozaic also excels in its creative vegetarian offerings – not many fine dining restaurants around the world can stake claim to a multi-course veggie feast bursting with unusual flavours.

We loved the all-Indonesian waiting staff who are well-versed on every single dish and ingredient. Ask a question and you’ll get an immediate authoritative response and recommendation, with thankfully not an inch of submissiveness. There’s a faint hint of a buzz, and a little formality in the indoor-outdoor space, while diners natter away. If you ask, you will be taken on a tour of the cooking school, a few steps from the garden – complete with red-hot Miele fitted kitchen and chefs’ tables. Chris and James offer culinary classes for both amateurs and professionals. On the way back, take in the aroma of the herb garden and a peek into the restaurant’s tiny kitchen with its separate sous-vide (vacuum-sealed food cooking process) chamber.

Awards aside, ask anyone with a passion for food to recommend a restaurant in Bali and Mozaic is top of the list so we’re not surprised that it’s been operating to huge international acclaim for over a decade now. The innovative use of quality ingredients, creative menu engineering, seamless execution and sublime setting make for a perfect dining experience. Look out for a second Mozaic opening on Bali’s Seminyak beachfront this summer. We’ll be there.

Ginger flower sorbet with fresh strawberries and lime leaves
Marinated Strawberries
250g strawberries, hulled and cut into segments
2 large kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp sugar
350ml water
125g sugar
100g liquid glucose
1 medium ginger flower, finely sliced
1½ leaves gelatine, pre-soaked
150ml plain unsweetened yoghurt
2–3 tbsp lemon juice
10 kaffir lime leaves, whole
10 torch ginger petals
Special Equipment
Ice cream machine
Serves 10

1. Place the strawberries in a bowl and season with the sugar, lemon juice and lime leaves. Cover with cling film and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour and up to 24 hours.
2. Bring the water, glucose and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Add the ginger flower and simmer for one minute. Remove from the heat, cover and allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain. Add the gelatine, stir well and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and thicken to a soft set.
3. Whisk in the yoghurt and lemon juice (to taste, depending the level of acidity, but Chris suggests slightly more rather then less lemon juice for perfect results). Mix until smooth.
4. Chill the mixture. Churn the sorbet in an ice cream machine until it hardens. Transfer the sorbet to a plastic container, freeze for at least one hour.
5. Divide the marinated strawberries and liquid between 10 pre-chilled bowls. Place one scoop, or quenelle, of sorbet on top, garnish with a kaffir lime leaf and torch ginger petal.

Chris Salans’ Ginger Flower Sorbet Recipe
This is one of my favourite recipes as it embodies Mozaic’s philosophy of creating the unexpected by isolating an exotic local flavour. The first few years I lived in Bali, I ordered grilled prawns or fish from streetside vendors. These would be served with an ambrosial sambal kecicang (Balinese ginger flower relish). Discovering the ingredient torch ginger changed my life. If strawberries aren’t available, the recipe works with peaches or apricots.

INFO: Open daily for dinner. Mozaic, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 975 768, info@mozaic-bali.com, www.mozaic-bali.com.

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