Richard H Turner's column: the meat expert goes on a detox break in Bali
The chef, butcher, restaurateur and now Foodism columnist has a prodigious appetite for meat. So how will he get on with a week-long detox break in Bali?
As a committed lover of meat in all its forms, I often eat up to a kilo a day – all in the line of duty, you understand. But while eating good, ethically farmed and naturally reared meat in modest quantities can be an important part of a healthy and balanced diet, my kind of consumption definitely isn't good for me. So, after a taxing week of cooking BBQ and consuming delicious food and wines at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in Western Australia, I found myself stopping at Como Shambhala Estate near Ubud, Bali for a quick reboot on the way home. Here – quinoa porridge and all – is how I got on…
Shortly after arriving in the early evening, I dine at Glow, Como's wellness-focused restaurant. There's no calorie-counting here – just foods that increase concentration and energy levels while addressing blood-sugar imbalances. Ingredients are locally sourced and organic with a strong emphasis on raw combinations and nutritional integrity. Supper of steamed mushrooms, broccoli and asparagus with kekup manis and chilli – all washed down with vegetable juices – is seriously tasty. Afterwards, I head to my ridiculously picturesque villa, set in beautifully manicured jungle and entered over a large Koi pond, and make a mental note: must work harder to afford this kind of luxury.
As a committed lover of meat in all its forms, I often eat up to a kilo of the stuff a day – all in the line of duty, of course
After a surprisingly good breakfast of quinoa porridge and fresh fruit, I have an hour's consultation with Nancy, in which we discuss myriad bodily functions. I'm given a schedule and a personal assistant called Tini to guide me through the coming days, and first up is a lymphatic drainage massage, (of course), which has a soporific effect. The day moves on at pace, involving physical activities such as TRX, yoga, pilates and something called qigong interspersed with endless juices, herbal teas and small vegan dishes. Before I collapse into bed at 9pm, I'm given a concoction of psyllium and bentonite clay in coconut water to drink. I sleep soundly and without interruption for the first time in months.
Days three to six
Variations on day two – sometimes the massage is Thai, other times it's deep-tissue or Indonesian. The workouts vary similarly, with rock climbing, cycling and gym thrown in the mix. Day four introduces the dreaded 'C' word (upon on which we shall dwell no more) and acupuncture, which proves so blissful I fall asleep. Over the coming days, I rotate my treatments in a slightly spaced-out daze, constantly topped up with a variety of juices and teas. But by day six, the meat and caffeine cravings are intense. I've not been so fit, clean, hydrated and healthy looking for years, but I'm starting to get dark thoughts about the Koi in my pond…
Enough! At 10.30am, I covertly commandeer a driver and head into Ubud. My destination is Ibu Oka, a restaurant famous for babi guling (Balinese roast suckling pig). The roasted pigs themselves arrive by motorbike, precariously balanced on trays, and they're carved into chunks and served in a rattan bowl with rice, fried intestines, spicy vegetables and a secret sauce. The pork is unbelievably succulent and the crackling is thin and crunchy. This is carnivorous bliss. I wander the streets of Ubud, my hunger temporarily abated, until I reach Bebek Bengil, known by locals and tourists as the Dirty Duck Diner. The whole menu is dedicated to duck – seasoned with Balinese spices and wrapped in betel leaves, it is slowly smoked for a whole day and served with rice, satay and vegetables. I return to the resort sated, but with my head hung low, and try to avoid Nancy and Tini.
My week finishes with a dinner of fish and seafood barbecue, accompanied by raw vegetable salads and 20 different sambals, all prepared at my villa by a chef who's as gifted and lovely as everyone at the Shambhala Estate. Note to self: I really must work harder... ■