Sunday 29 October 2017

Allergies? We've got you covered.

In the olden days no one had allergies to food and if someone died of peanuts… well, then lesson learned, but today things are different. Celiac, lactose intolerant, vegetarian, pescatarian, diabetic, allergic to garlic… and the list goes on and on. The theory is simple: with highly processed foods, genetically modified meat, the use of antibiotics on animals and the lack of old school farming, our diet has dramatically changed. It is either a religious choice to avoid certain foods or the body’s way of rejecting them that has caused today a massive increase in food allergies.

We clearly see this growing trend in Cuca and the question is now how to handle it. Allergies in restaurants often fall under the category of guests being hard to please and get dealt the card of a simple salad. The question is: should the poor customers, who in most cases are already ashamed to inform their waiter, be punished further for their real inability to eat something? Do these unfortunate people with food restrictions deserve something delicious or are they just considered lucky enough to get anything at all?

The reality is that training an entire service and kitchen team to be knowledgeable about these dietary restrictions is a mammoth task. It is also true that preparing and organizing a kitchen so to eliminate any risk that a customer with an allergy consumes the very ingredients that will harm him/her, is an absolutely nightmare.  But it is also true that we are in hospitality and that the effort made to make people happy is kind of what it’s all about. With this in mind, we have spent the last few months in Cuca not only re-organizing our preparation areas and developing delicious alternatives to all possible allergies, but going as far as to create entire Chef Tasting Menus that rival any other dish we have ever served.

The reception could not have been better and our efforts are greatly paying back. There is nothing like serving an exceptional meal to those often punished with rabbit food. 

Saturday 30 September 2017

The spirit of the volcano

Every week has its challenges and running a restaurant comes with its own unique set. Bali teaches you to “roll with the punches” so to speak and both Kevin and I have learned a lot through the last 5 years about keeping a balance to avoid a nervous breakdown. Things move at an island beat and through experience we have learned that, sometimes, the more you push, the less you get so a good massage or a brilliant sunset reminds you that if it doesn’t all get done today, the world will still turn in the same direction tomorrow. With that in mind last week had us dealing with a new situation that left us once again bewildered. Apparently our beloved and majestic Mount Agung, which stands 3,014m tall and completely dominates the mountainous landscape of the island, is reminding us all that apart from beautiful it is also an actual volcano, now threatening to erupt. Obviously this latest challenge is a little out of the ordinary.

Cuca is 70 km away from the volcano so we are very much safe and sound as an eruption would affect realistically just a 15km radius, but nevertheless it is difficult to ignore and simply carry on with business as usual. The most intriguing part of all that is happening is not following up closely the constant and dramatically inflated updates on the volcanic tremors or the travel warnings that have begun to cripple the island tourism leaving it without travellers. The most fascinating part for us is to witness how the Balinese are dealing with a situation so foreign to us.

Mt Agung is so sacred to the locals that instead of them talking about north, south, east or west, the Balinese set their orientation depending on where you stand in relation to Mt Agung. The direction facing it is called “kaja” (if you live in the south, kaja is northeast) and this is the most sacred and pure point on the compass.

Although the closest villages have been evacuated, many refuse to live their lives behind and still go back to attend their daily tasks; others have sold their livestock at half price. Here in the south Balinese are keeping a close eye on their holiest mountain, showing overwhelming support to those evacuated by bringing funds and provisions to their camps and embarking on a #prayforBali crusade in hopes to soothe the nervous fury of the volcano. And all this while being more grateful than ever to those of you who continue to come to Bali and bring a very much needed sense of normality to the island.

We are in awe at the natural kindness of the Balinese and their deep tights with Mother Nature. We have a lot to learn. So we take it day by day and hope the mighty volcano goes back to sleep so we can too.

Friday 25 August 2017

Happy Hour

We give up. After 4 years and each of their 1,460 days dodging inquiries about the recipe for our photogenic best-seller cocktail, here it is. You win. But please all we ask is you take your time to make it as delicious as it’s meant to be and choose well your company. Do not share Cuca’s Sun-gria with just anyone.

SUN-GRIA, red wine, iced fruit, brandy soda

A refreshing version of the classic, this cocktail develops as the tropical fruit ice cubes melt and flavor the drink. From a sparkling red wine to a fruity punch.

COMPONENTS: Red wine mix + Iced fruit 

Red wine mix:
½ cup Red wine
1 tbsp  Vanilla brandy (to make it, cut 5 vanilla pods in pieces and put them into a brandy
                bottle. Keep at room temperature for 1 week to infuse)
2/3 cup Soda water
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Lemon juice

Mix brandy with red wine and soda, honey, and lemon juice. Stir gently not to remove bubbles from the soda.

Iced fruit
1 cup Pineapple, juice
1 cup Tangerine, juice
1 cup Watermelon, juice
1 cup Yellow watermelon, juice

Juice fruits individually and strain the juice to remove pulp.
Freeze juice in ice cube trays.
Place the ice cubes in a glass and serve the red wine mix separately allowing your friends to pour it over the ice cubes.

Enjoy, although you may find it simply tastes better in Cuca... :)