12 Breakfast Bowls of Bali

12 Breakfast Bowls of Bali

Leagan Gaeilge anseo/Irish version here

Although there would be more than enough public houses and restaurants with bars around the main areas of Bali to allow for a kind of makeshift ’12 pubs’ and drunken fulfillment of the Irish reputation for being fond of alcohol, this year my gaze has been less-hazily drawn towards the woolly-jumper clad throngs of merry-makers congregated expectantly outside the various pubs that no longer let them in, but towards something else entirely. It’s the one part of any day in Bali that gets massively overlooked and deserves a whole lot more attention, purely because the breadth of possibilities and flavours it encapsulates is so vast I get excited just thinking about the options and places I’ve yet to try and discover.

I’m an early-riser anyway, and it’s no secret how fond I am of my porridge, but the expanse of healthy and delicious breakfast-food options available in Bali has taken things to another level entirely.

Aside from the fact that I’ve never actually successfully completed a real 12 pubs let alone attempted explaining the concept of it to a Balinese locaility where a Bintang with dinner is considered a luxury, I’ve decided this year to take my proximity to all of these delicious menus to my advantage. The sheer amount of health-food cafés and restaurants along almost every street boasting organic and fresh ingredients and original recipies with bowls of fruity, nutty, and tasty goodness have led me to compile this list of 12 of the most impressive and delicious “Breakfast Bowls” I’ve encountered thus far – ‘Breakfast Bowl’ in this sense being used to describe the coconut-bowl-servings available in nearly all of these establishments of varying mixes of fresh fruits, granola, nuts, berries, seeds, muesli, oats, yoghurt, nut butters, chia and acai blends, coconut milk, water and juice mixes and spinach infused with yet more fresh fruit on top….the list of deliciousness goes on.

 While I’m aware I’ve probably only barely touched the tip of the mint and lime-infused iceberg of breakfast bliss, and that there are still (hopefully) many many mornings I’ve yet to wake up to these bowls of happiness, my festive countdown this year has come in the form of these brightly coloured and elaborately decorated bowls of fruit and health foods, as follows (in no particular order)…

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12. Nagu Bomb – Betelnut Café, Canggu

-Dragon fruit, mixed berries, coconut milk, granola, strawberries, banana, grated coconut

You only have to glance at the menu in Betelnut Café, Canggu to understand the hype and reputation it has built up for itself among tourists and locals alike!

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11. Shelter Super Crumble with Organic Chia Seeds –Shelter Café, Seminyak

-coconut, chia seeds, banana, oats, strawberries, granola, nuts, vanilla yoghurt, stewed apple, and almond butter

Shelter Café is a hidden gem situated on a rooftop above the Seminyak branch of Nalu Bowls, looking out over a local football pitch and catering to every kind of palate imaginable when it comes to breakfast!

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10. The ‘Teahupp’O’ –Nalu Bowls,Canggu, Seminyak, Uluwatu

-spinach, green apple, granola, chia seeds, ginger, orange, pineapple, mango, banana, mixed berries, almonds, coconut water, coconut milk

The first stop on the list of Nalu Bowls, and my favourite until now! Nalu Bowls currently have 3 locations around Bali and again it’s worth the searching for this small, bright counter – everything healthy, organic, and put together right in front of your face!

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                              9. Raw Vegan Grain-free Porridge Bowl- Atman’s Kafe, Ubud

-coconut, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, pumkin seeds, dried fruits, raisins, bananas, palm sugar, coconut water

Easily my favourite bowl on the list! I returned to Atman’s Kafe a few days in a row but wasn’t able to make myself order anything else! Perfect hearty fuel to get you through a power yoga class at the Yogabarn!

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8. ‘The Breakfast Bomb’-Crate Café, Canggu

– Banana, almond milk, muesli, cashew nuts, strawberries, extra banana and dragon fruit on top!

You will feel cool and like part of the gang just sitting at this café. Trust me. Endless breakfast options, all written on the wall in permanent marker because, yknow, that’s hip and stuff…

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7. ‘The Hulk’- Eden Café, Canggu

-spinach, cashew milk, banana, avocado, green apple, bee pollen, granola, strawberries

Easily the most affordable option on this list, Eden Café is an extremely friendly and health-orientated little place, every option packed to the brim with nutrients and hidden healthy boosters. (I added in a scoop of my own peanut butter, but shhhh).

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                                     6. Chia and Mixed Berry Bowl –Avocado Café, Canggu

– chia seeds, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, banana, cashew milk, strawberries, muesli, coconut, coconut milk

Another to add to the list of amazing Canggu cafés is Avocado Café. I especially liked the decor in this place and it was really usefully situated right at the top of my road!

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5. ‘Super Tropical Bowl’- Garden Kafé,The Yogabarn, Ubud

– seasonal fresh fruit with lime, raw muesli and live probiotic yoghurt

The Yogabarn’s very own café is an amazing place to refuel after a tough Power or Bikram yoga session, and with wholesome, organic and freshly prepared juices, you’ve no excuse not to pack the fruit and veg along with your yoga mat.

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                                 4. ‘Uluwatu’ – Nalu Bowls, Canggu/Seminyak/Uluwatu

 dragon fruit, banana, papaya, coconut milk or apple juice, strawberries, coconut, raspberries, granola

Back to Nalu bowls again for this one, the ‘Uluwatu’! You can’t see it in this picture underneath all the extra granola but the smoothie blend is a deep beautiful shade of purple from the dragon fruit…unbelievable!

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3. Vanilla Almond Quinoa Porridge – Shelter Café, Seminyak

– Organic quinoa, vanilla, coconut milk, cinnamon, banana, berries, mixed nuts, almond butter, fresh almond milk

This was just as delicious as it sounds. Absolutely every ingredient alone is mouth-wateringly tasty and so combined it made for pure porridge heaven. I’d absolutely love if the Builín Blásta started doing dishes like this….

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                                              2. ‘Tropical Bowl’- Betelnut Café, Canggu

-dragon fruit, cashew milk, pineapple, watermelon, mango, grated coconut, chia seeds, granola, cashew butter, coconut water

Betelnut delivers yet again with another bowl of deliciousness, the addition of cashew milk to this one and a heap more fruit on top making it almost preferable to the famous Nagu Bomb Betelnut has become famous for. Almost.

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                  1. ‘Maverick’s’ – Nalu Bowls, Canggu/Seminyak/Uluwatu

-acai blend, mixed berries, mango, banana, almond milk, chia seeds, strawberries, coconut water, shredded coconut meat, granola

Our last stop is back in Nalu Bowls again, for a taste of their own special secret acai blend. I’m still not entirely sure what exactly it contains but it’s purple, super tasty and incredibly healthy!

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The Secret of 61 – Dublin’s Stop on the Subway

Foodswings Reviews

Platform 61 – South William Street

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Barely a subway stop away from St. Stephen’s Green, your ticket to Platform 61 is finally here as the newly-opened underground kitchen cooks up some of the tastiest grub South of the city, providing a service worthy of the VIPs catered for at the elusive ‘Platform 61’ on the New York subway for which it is named. They don’t take Leap Cards, but you’re sure to be warmly welcomed on arrival!

Reserved for presidents and art-enthusiasts lucky enough to be on the guestlist for one of Andy Warhol’s famous ‘underground parties’, the story of the secret platform beneath New York’s  Waldorf Astoria Hotel is a treat in itself to listen to, the various Warhol quotes around the walls and abstract banana signposts in the bathroom reminding you at regular intervals that there is more to this restaurant than meets the eye.

 As you enter through golden doors reminiscent of 1960s New York elevators and decor Don Draper (Mad Men) would be proud of, you can’t help but feel slightly disorientated as the black marble walls mirror one another, making great use of a small space yet still succeeding in coming across extremely classy.

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Only in it’s third week of business here in Dublin, there was no sign of any maintenance work or staff ‘only learning’ the ropes, and the service ran smooth and punctual from one course to the next. A mixture of options on the menu caught my eye as we debated over what direction to take, eventually settling on the ‘Italian Mozzarella and Tomato’ dish and the ‘Shrimp Gambas’ to start. I’m a fan of small menus as it minimalises decisions, but to be fair everything looked very good and we weren’t disappointed, each dish being served promptly and proving realistic portion-sizes, unlike many of the new food-stops that have sprung up recently around Dublin.

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 The steak was sampled, as was the Superfood Salad with added chicken, and although prices slightly outreached that of the average commuter dinner it was made up for in taste and quality, the sweet potato fries on the side adding a delicious kick and nice reminder that eating out doesn’t always have to mean greasy, unhealthy & unnecessary indulgence.

 Our munching on the shrimp and subsequent pomegranate seeds in my Superfood Salad was accompanied by an absolutely killer playlist in the background, the likes of Alt-J and Foals providing the icing on top of the dessert that we were too full to order, though in hindsight I would have liked to try the Flourless Nut Brownie.

The lunch and brunch menus also looked incredible, the ‘Stun Bun’ in particular catching my eye, a ‘grilled chicken fillet on a brioche bun with guacamole, tomato, onion, baby gem and homemade tomato relish served with spicy potato wedges’. Due to it being still in the early stages of the restaurant opening, however, the waiter informed me that they had yet to start serving this menu, instead focusing for now on the dinner options. I will definitely be back to sample a Stun Bun when they do!!

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A glass or two of Chilean White wine and a house speciality beer cocktail later (a delicious concoction of Luxembourg-brewed beer, lime and apple juice) the whole experience was over too soon as we had to leave to catch the next train home.

Navigating our way out to the world back above ground it was easy to see how Platform 61 would go unnotticed, a haven glowing golden down below one of the busiest streets for bars and restaurants in the city.

Overall we were extremely pleased with the experience, and will definitely be recommending the service for anyone wishing to be transported back in time as they chow down on great food, the journey from starters right through to a final farewell complimentary glass of wine proving comfortable and enjoyable, in a stimulating and artistic environment.

 ‘Mind the Gap’ and be wary of the steep steps on the way out of the platform – especially if you’ve sampled some of the beer cocktails!!

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Useful links:

Platform 61 on Facebook
Platform 61 on Twitter (@Platform61)
Platform 61 website

My Dad Grew Grapes in Ireland….

….And we made wine. What other way would there be to celebrate this extraordinary feat of cultivation??

Summer 2014 was in many ways and for many people an extremely fruitful season, and we’re still almost unknowingly reaping the benefits.
My father’s early retirement sparked a number of temporary and occasionally irrational notions to which he would dedicate entire days of unwavering attention. Things like the learning of a language, an instrument, or DIY project in the house he would undertake passionately for hours at a time, only to give up and abandon the project before nearing any sort of satisfactory mastery of the craft. Patience and rationality were never strong points of his – nor are they mine, for that matter.

One venture which served as cathartic as it was time-consuming was his expansion into the realm of gardening and home-grown produce. Up until last year, his success was measured on the size of the courgettes which appeared almost overnight (to my untrained and disinterested eyes) within the small space of overcrowded and sweaty condensation, among the dependable crowds of cherry tomatoes and carrot leaves all jostling for space and a sliver of the ever-evasive Irish sunshine. The nature of gardening left room for the sporadic lapses of attention in his greenhouse, meaning that the few days my Dad’s attention got caught up in installing another new boiler, re-painting a perfectly finished room, or searching the web for old census-clippings actually added to the cultivation of the young shoots, giving them the breathing space necessary to acclimatize to their unusally contrasting environment.

The grapes began as one such notion, a day spent wandering the garden centre fertilizing and giving strength to the idea that the growth of anything is possible if the conditions are correctly met and enough space given to acclimatize. And so the guts of one weekend was spent planting grapes in a greenhouse in the back garden of a run-of-the-mill suburban housing estate in Leixlip, and ensuring everybody within earshot knew he was doing so. What could go wrong?

To be honest we all forgot about the mini-vineyard growing in the back garden, not expecting anything to come of the notion and instead adapting to his erratic ideas and shifting our attention to encourage his next venture. It was only as the Summer wore on and he began to notice the small green spheres appearing on the twigs that it began to actually become a source of interest again. I began to receive weekly updates on their progress, which turned to daily phonecalls as my job in Galway kept me from witnessing the miracle for myself.
On returning home I was greeted with a smile and a proud bucket full of genuine grapes as green as they were homegrown and one of the proudest achievements of my father to date.

The very fact that they existed was proof that anything can be cultivated within the confines of an unlikely environment, if the right factors are present, and so his next announcement that he intended to experiment with wine-making was hardly surprising. Again, we left him to it, happily ensuring he had a store of empty wine bottles in which to ferment his concoction at hand and ready to fill should he succeed.

Which he did.
The wine which was ready by Easter was bitter, strong, and thinking back on it was definitely the product of an amateur attempting to fulfill some sort of self-validation by convincing himself it was possible to make his own, yet it did the job, and succeeded in getting myself and a friend slightly drunk at a party having been given the bottle leaving my house, unaware that it had come from the ‘home-brewed’ corner of the wine rack. How many people can say they have one of those? Especially in Ireland!

The greenhouse has since become a source of pride for him, and in a way has aided greatly in allowing himself and the rest of the family to come to terms with the fact that with retirement comes a certain slowing-down of many things, patience now being an easier value to tap into when the need presents itself. He still gets irrational notions and spends days on end obsessing over minor details of the floor tiles in the kitchen being off-center, but it’s almost as if the retreat of the greenhouse and the potential of the ever-encroaching Summer season gives him a new lease on life. It’s a kind of dependance which became particularly noticeable in his despondancy and detachment during the Winter months of frosty weather, the physical limitations of the cold preventing him from even visiting his glass house seemingly stunting any kind of positivity towards progression.

Now that the Summer is well on it’s way again, both the garden and my Dad have been filled with a new energy and positivity towards life, the successes of last Summer proving a positive foundation on which this year can be built.
While I hope we have a good Summer weather-wise for all the usual reasons – roadtrips, days on the beach and beer-garden Saturdays spent with friends and new freckles, there’s also the hope that my Dad will continue building upon his previous successes and maybe even begin to enjoy his retirement. And who knows, if that means more wine, all the better for everyone else!!

Socks in the City

Tourists look up. They stare around in wonder awe and try to take in all the nooks and crannies of the cities they do not live in. They see things that inhabitants of the city itself overlook in their day-to-day lives, things they consider irrelevant, unnoteable, non-important. Imagine working in an office down the road from the Colosseum. A very large and ancient example, but an example nonetheless.

One huge thing I have noticed from working a 9-5 job in the city is that every morning, in the bleary-eyed dawn rush over the same bridge and cobbled streets that lead up to my office, is that I never, ever, make the walk whilst looking up. My head is always down, bent in defence-mode as I battle through the crowds of suits and asics runners with tights in the daily struggle that is the 9am rush. One morning recently, whilst still feeling the effects of a few too many midweek cocktails, I noticed a man opening a window on one of the upper floors of the row of shops and cafés in Templebar. A simple, quick movement, meaningless to anyone catching the change out of the corner of their eye, yet it was enough to pull my gaze skyward, and I began noticing things about the buildings I pass every day that I hadn’t noticed before. Maybe I’m getting a bit Patrick Kavanagh-esque in these musings, noticing beauty in the mundane and all that, but it was interesting to cast fresh eyes on old surroundings, and it opened my mind and brightened up an otherwise uncomfortable and hungover commute.
I then turned my attention to the tourists around Dublin, with their maps and backpacks, stopping to take pictures of postboxes and shop windows and doors that I walk past daily without batting an eyelid at. Even in the depths of Winter, they find the beautiful and noteable things, making sure to snap an image so as to remember it clearly, whereas we barely notice them at all.
This is what there is to gain from travel. The constant exposure to new and exciting things – new and beautiful things, that we haven’t grown accustomed to and probably never will. It seems to me that in continuing to expose ourselves to new experiences, places, people and cultures, that life could be just…fresh. All the time. It would be filled with the feeling of new socks on your toes. But in your mind. Imagine!!
In all the times I have filled the role of a tourist in a place I haven’t been before, it’s the excitement and the newness of not knowing what’s literally around the next corner that keeps my attention and energizes me. It’s that fleeting moment of panic you feel when you think you’ve taken a wrong turn, and have managed to get completely lost in a city far away from home, only to retrace your steps and discover a new and more scenic route back to your hostel that makes my heart beat, and gives me a feeling of purpose and being alive. Here’s to more moments like this in 2015!