Friday 28 September 2012

It "wood" matter

After countless visits to our favorite wood shop in Bali selecting furniture for our new home, we have come to establish a lovely relationship with the family who runs it.

A beautiful rocking chair this shop made for us

We absolutely love their end-product so we made up our mind and today we took a step further… We had a long and intense meeting where we revealed to them our ideas for Cuca’s chairs and tables. They always show a deep knowledge of both the properties of the wood and the functionality of the furniture and on top of it during our meeting today they seemed infected with our enthusiasm so we feel in the right hands sharing our ideas. Now it all depends on their quotation but hopefully we just sowed a seed for the growth of Cuca. Will keep you updated!

The whole family participating in the meeting

Factory at the back of their shop

Thursday 27 September 2012

Sanur Village Festival 2012

Sanur is a stretch of beach in southeast Bali, about 30 minutes drive from the airport, which has grown into a little town in its own right. It contains quite number of hotels and resorts and it is the type of place where hip Europeans who have outgrown the party scene go to recharge. 

It is also one of the most popular beaches among the Balinese and home to the annual Sanur Village Festival. This year’s event kicked off yesterday and we were there to check out the food bazaar as well as to support The Gangsa, an exclusive villa resort part of Kayumanis family.

Ibu Agustini, the GM of The Gangsa 

The evening was clearly a success and apart from trying the tasty pork ribs by The Gangsa, we found out about a local company which produces great liqueurs. This was quite a finding as “local” is one of Cuca’s mottos. 

If you are in Bali, we recommend you to drop by Sanur, the festival lasts until Sunday!

Great evening atmosphere

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Green? Orange? Blue? Yellow?

Question mark

These days we are going through a crucial point in our adventure… We are now designing Cuca logo and it is being so intense that all I see is colors when I close my eyes… Our graphic designer is great and we are progressing quite a lot but after seeing dozens of options and getting closer to our preferred ones, it gets more and more difficult. Kevin likes this, I would rather have that… The designer always seems to agree with Kevin so we take breaks to fight. Every now and then we get to conclusions and move forward. There are so many decisions to be made: the font, the size, the logotype, the sub-identities, the colors, the spacing… All under the pressure to know that once concluded, there is no way back. Aaaarrrggghhh!!!

I will keep you informed and you will be the first to see our final design. Promised!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Please don't!

To save your time and mistakes when you come to try Cuca, I compile a list of what you should not do here in Bali:

  • Don’t give or receive anything with your left hand (it is considered unclean).
  • Don’t point with your fingers or feet (you better start practicing pointing with your thumb, it will take you time to get used to it, I haven’t managed to do it yet…).
  • Don’t stand with your hands on your hips or crossing your arms over your chest (or people will believe you are angry at them).
  • Don’t dare to touch anyone’s head!  It is considered the seat of the soul and sacred.
  • Don’t walk with your shoes on when entering a home.
  • Don’t visit a temple when menstruating or having open cuts and wounds.
  • Don’t honk when being stuck behind a procession.
  • Don’t take it personal when being asked about your age and marital status by the cashier in the supermarket. And I am afraid you should not take it as a pick up attempt, Balinese love small talk (“obrol” in Indonesian).
  • And finally, don’t ever get angry in Bali… you would be wasting your time and probably getting nowhere.

Well, now you are a step closer to be ready to visit us!

Sunday 23 September 2012

Heavenly Babi Guling...

As days pass by we are getting to try different Balinese dishes. So far there is a stand out winner, one of the most popular delicacies in the island. The succulent Babi Guling is a stuffed suckling pig slowly roasted on a spit. “Guiling” means “to turn” and such the cooking methods involves a constant turning of the pig. A well-made babi guling requires a lot of skill and patience as the heat should be concentrated on the head and tail and not in the middle so as not to crack the skin of the stomach.

There is much controversy on who serves the best babi guling in Bali but for us it is difficult to believe that it can get any better than in Bapak Dobiel. This is undoubtedly a favourite among the locals (our friend Nyoman strongly recommended it to us) and it is still Pak Dobiel himself who cooks and serves the meal. The pigs are roasted early every morning on the back of the dining-room. 
As in most warungs (local restaurants), the dish is served as a bed of rice topped with different parts of the pig adding an array of exciting textures (crispy skin, slow roasted lean meat, cartilage, fried liver, cracklings, etc. ) and with some of the spiced veggies used to stuff the pig. 

One of the highlights of this dish is the soup... a broth made from the roasted flavorful bones left over from cleaning the pork meat. I have never tried anything so rich and tasty...

I am getting dizzy just from writing this post... I need to go... Guess where? J

Thursday 20 September 2012

Bahasa Indonesia

This is the official language in Indonesia, derived from Malay but with Javanese and Dutch influences. Although I had heard English was widely spoken in Bali, we have encountered many, many people we cannot communicate with, specially outside the tourist industry. They speak either Balinese (supposedly a language quite difficult to learn) or Bahasa as they come from other parts in Indonesia. I am ashamed to admit that after living for 9 years in Malaysia, I never put too much effort to learn Malay. I took a few courses but everyone spoke to me in English and furthermore I never consciously planned to stay in Malaysia for that long (let alone to move to Indonesia!) so my Malay is pretty basic. 

This time I am determined to not repeat the same mistake and I am everyday putting a bit of time to learn Bahasa. Being quite obsessed with linguistics, I find extremely interesting the logic behind this language… These are some examples that amuse me:

• Apa kabar? 

It is used as “How are you?” but literally means something like “What are the news?” The answer is "Kabar Baik", literally “The news are good”. It makes me smile every time I here it...

• Plurales

Guess how is the plural make? Overwhelming logic…

Anak = child Anak anak = children
Buku = book Buku buku = books

• Tenses

The Indonesian tenses make anyone learning a language like Spanish depressed… Look at their simplicity…

             Saya makan ayam (= I eat chicken)

       PRESENT PERFECT: with sudah
             Saya sudah makan ayam (= I ate or have eaten chicken)

I absolutely love the use of this “sudah”… They apply it whenever they find that something must undoubtedly  happen. For example, every day I get a “Sudah kawin?” = "Are you married yet?" Or a “Sudah punya anak?” = "Do you have children yet?" . The answers consider satisfactory are amazing: you either answer “Sudah” ("Already) or “belum” ("Not yet…").

      FUTURE TENSE: with akan
            Saya akan makan ayam (= I will eat chicken)

      PRESENT CONTINUOUS: with sedang
            Saya sedang makan ayam (= I am eating chicken)

      PAST TENSE: with kemarin
            Saya makan ayam kemarin (= I ate chicken yesterday)

Verbs do not have conjugations (persons), tenses, modes... and they are still effective!

I will tell you more about Bahasa in posts to come!

Wednesday 19 September 2012

The winner

Today this post is dedicated to Chee, the hero of the day. Chee is Kevin’s right hand and has been with him for 5 years, first in Malaysia and later in Singapore. He also followed us to Madrid when Kevin participated in Madrid Fusion 2011 and did a great job cooking under the pressure of being observed by some of the most famous chefs in the world.

Last year Kevin heard of the program “ICEX Training of Young Professionals in Spanish Gastronomy” (a scholarship to live in Spain for 9 months learning about Spanish foods and cuisine and working at Michelin Restaurants) and did what he could to get Chee selected to participate: he nominated him, filled up all the paperwork required, even took him to the Embassy of Spain to submit it. Kevin always thought Chee deserved this opportunity and was delighted when he got chosen to represent Singapore.

For these last 9 months Chee has studied Spanish (in Salamanca!!!) and has traveled everywhere in Spain to learn about Spanish gastronomy. Last night took place the final competition among the 11 participating young chefs from around the world in which they had to create a dish that captures the taste of Spain. Chee’s dish was called “Sobre de Mar” (Envelop of the Sea) and consisted of a whole, deboned salmorete (fish) stuffed with baby squid, almonds, pickled onions and served on a bed of ajoblanco.

Probably by now you have guessed that Chee won the competition and Kevin is now a proud mentor, smiling while reading about the judges praise for his protégé. Congratulations, Chee!

Tuesday 18 September 2012


Bali is definitely a special place. I have been here many times since 2000 and every trip has made me fall deeper in love with it. I recently read that the longer one stays on the island, the more one is impressed by it and I am so ready to take it all in! From time to time I will share here with you what makes Bali magic as I discover it for myself. 

Bali is one of the 18,307 islands that comprise Indonesia and it lies 8 and 9 degrees south of the equator so it enjoys a tropical climate. It has a total area of 5,633 km² and a population of 3 million people and increasing.  Denpasar is the capital and Bali's main industries are agriculture, fishing and tourism. 

View Larger Map

The island presents an enriching paradox: it embraces and accepts foreign and innovative elements (brought by its many visitors) and simultaneously enjoys an ancient, traditional society that is still incredibly alive and vital. To top it all, these elements coexist in Bali blessed by an extraordinary nature. 

Bali es definitivamente un lugar sumamente especial. Lo he visitado muchas veces desde el año 2000 y en cada viaje me he enamorado más de él. He leído hace poco que cuanto más tiempo uno pasa en esta isla, más te impresiona ¡y tengo los brazos abiertos! De vez en cuando compartiré aquí con vosotros lo que hace de Bali un lugar mágico a medida que yo misma lo vaya descubriendo.

Bali es una de las 18.307 islas que componen Indonesia y se encuentra a 8 y 9 grados al sur del ecuador por lo que su clima es tropical. Tiene un área total de 5.633 km² y una población en crecimiento de 3 millones de habitantes. Denpasar es su capital y sus industrias principales la agricultura, la pesca y el turismo.

La isla presenta una enriquecedora paradoja: absorbe encantada los elementos extranjeros e innovadores importados por sus muchos visitantes y al mismo tiempo conserva una sociedad antigua y tradicional increíblemente llena de vida. Para colmo, estos elementos conviven en Bali bendecidos por una extraordinaria naturaleza. 

Friday 14 September 2012

About Us

Cuca is the name of a dream, our own restaurant.

The reason for this blog is to share the many unique experiences we are bound to encounter on our journey to open up Cuca in Bali.

We are a couple who met in Malaysia and are now sharing a dream. My husband is a Canadian born Chef and I am a Spaniard with experience in business management and in many other odd little jobs. I always wanted to have my own business and Kevin his own restaurant so we were thrilled to come upon the amazing opportunity of starting something together in this paradise island.

We are above all passionate about what we do and ready to embrace, every step of the way, whatever is lying ahead of us. You are more than welcome to follow us on this exciting venture!

En español...

Thursday 13 September 2012

More meetings

We had a very productive day today spent at Kayumanis Jimbaran. Our first meeting was to plan something great! We are thinking of recording a sort of documentary to be able to capture this adventure and to show how Cuca is being built from a dream to a reality. The team had many interesting ideas and we are extremely excited with this project. 

The second meeting was with Radit, the graphic designer. We briefed him about our concept and he is now working on our logo... Can't wait to see his creations!

And last but not least, we met Pak Yudi. He was kind enough to share with us his view on the marketing options we have for our restaurant. He knows everything about marketing in Bali and we are very glad to be able to count on him.

Wednesday 12 September 2012


Time flew today meeting Kayumanis Food and Beverage team. We had dozens of questions for them and their answers were extremely helpful. Counting on such a strong support with a deep knowledge of the F&B industry in Bali is without any doubt a great advantage for us. Thank you guys for sharing a glimpse of your knowledge! 

Tuesday 11 September 2012

"The Internet saga"

It is amazing to think that only 15 years ago we all lived without Internet…  We have been 10 days without it and we are absolutely lost not being able to connect from home: we can’t check in Google the list of wine producers in Bali, the phone number of the pizza delivery, where to buy a printer, etc. It was evident that Internet was a priority in our “to do” list. 

After many enquiries to everyone we know, calls and frustrating conversations trying to explain where we live (in the middle of nowhere), mysterious surveys and unfruitful visits… we hoped we would get Internet today. Early in the morning the Internet guys arrived. After seeing their promising skills we nicknamed them ‘Batman and Robin´. Look at the photos and you would understand why! After hours climbing to all climbable areas in our house… we received a phone call from their company saying they have to re-schedule the installation for next week because some trees are blocking the signal every time there is a gust of wind… We first asked politely to continue trying, we explained then our desperate situation, then we started to cry and shortly after we went into begging… After a few shameful minutes, they told us they would try again. We finally got Internet, now let’s hope for the wind to blow on the right direction…

Monday 10 September 2012


First time ever we have a garden… We practically thought grass appeared magically so you can imagine how steep is being the learning curve. First the garden seemed dead but then the angel gardener promised to rescue us. He has spent a few days working and every day has been such a surprise. One day we suddenly had flowers everywhere; the next day trees were planted, etc. 

But as fast as he came he left leaving us only with instructions to water everything twice a day for a month. How difficult can it be, right? Well, the first day we spent hours!!! Then Kevin had a genius idea that I am sure it is obvious to most: a sprinkler! The installation was the highlight of the week…  thank God Dada (one of the workers) was here to help.

Saturday 8 September 2012

"Rumput Laut"

Exploring our neighborhood today we found "Secret Beach" (not so secret because we followed signs to reach it...). From far away we noticed something suspicious in the water. Can you guess what is it?

Explorando nuestro barrio hoy encontramos la "Playa Secreta" (no tan secreta porque la encontramos siguiendo carteles...). Desde lejos notamos algo sospechoso en el agua. ¿Adivinais qué es?

 To solve the mystery, we approached one of the boatmen and were shocked when seeing his catch:

Para resolver el misterio, nos acercamos a uno de los barqueros y nos quedamos helados al ver lo que tenía:

Rumput Laut = Seaweed (algas)
Kevin immediately started to eat it and began to imagine the possibilities... :) Walking along the beach, we saw how the seaweed was dried and one of the workers explained that it is used to make Agar-agar and once dried and powdered they export it to Japan.

Kevin inmediatamente se metió un poco en la boca y empezó a imaginar las posibilidades... :) Caminando por la plaza vimos cómo secaban las algas y nos dijeron que las usaban para hacer Agar agar y que una vez secas y pulverizadas las exportan a Japón.

The circle was clompleted when we finished our day in a coffee-shop where we order...
El círculo se cerró al terminar nuestro día en un bar en el que pedimos...

It was delicious!

¡Estaban deliciosas!


This is how our swimming-pool has looked like since we arrived...

Este es el aspecto de nuestra piscina desde que llegamos...

And this is what we were met with when we arrived today! We are progressing little by little.

 ¡Y esto es con lo que nos encontramos hoy! Poco a poco vamos avanzando.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Designing the kitchen

Our main objective today was to meet the kitchen designers to discuss the changes from their first proposal. The meeting had to cover the layout of the front and back of house, the list of all equipment we require and specs of each piece. We were discussing for hours and there were a couple of moments when we had to be creative to solve unusual obstacles... A very interesting experience for me and a dream for Kevin!

Kitchen Drawings

Kevin squeezing his brain...

Hands-on decisions