It’s challenging enough to manage production in the island’s towns and cities; kudos to those who are bringing us outstanding food products while creating employment in remote parts of Bali. Over the past few years I’ve visited several of these off-the-beaten track producers.
Cheese… The price of imported cheese is eye-watering these days, which is a serious issue for me. So I was delighted to discover Pasti Enak in Klungkung of all places, which makes and delivers excellent cheese at affordable prices around the island.
After starting several businesses in Bali since 2001, husband and wife team Chris Hayashi and Odit Hartati decided to focus on making artisanal cheese. Chris, who has been in the food industry for 30 years and a professional chef for 15, started making cheese by trial and error as a hobby in 2003. In 2011 Chris and Odit literally sold the farm to take a four year professional cheese-making/aging course in the United States.
Returning to Klungkung, they began the huge job of renovating their production space to meet international health and hygiene standards. By 2017 Pasti Enak had earned a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certificate, as well as ISO 9000 and ISO 2200 conformity certification. To achieve the highest Indonesian government certification for food production, Makanan Dalam (MD), production is governed by a 1700 page manual with very strict criteria. The MD assessment team spent 12 hours at the Pasti Enak factory and immediately awarded a score of 100%, almost unprecedented in Indonesia.
“As a chef, I was cooking with elements that were already dead,” Chris told me. “With natural cheese making, you’re creating life. You can make the same cheese from the same milk and culture in the morning and the evening, and they will taste different. The terroir is very complex.”
Over the past year Chris, Odit and their highly trained team have created 28 kinds of soft, semi-soft and hard cheese as well as labneh (a thick sour cream cheese similar to yogurt), hand dipped ricotta and cottage cheese. About 20 of these cheeses are aged for up to 9 months in climate-controlled caves.
Whole, fresh, raw milk from grass-fed cows is trucked in from Java two or three times a week and pasteurised and processed at Pasti Enak. Depending on the type of cheese, between 10 and 12 litres of milk are needed to make a single kilo.
I was already a big fan of their sake-washed Matahari Trappist style cheese. Recently I sampled a sensational triple cream Camembert with an apple-washed rind (to be marketed as Applebert) as well as a memorable Rahul, a subtle, firm cheese coated in coconut ash.
Pasti Enak cheeses are used in the kitchens of about 30 leading restaurants and resorts in Bali, including Locavore. Visit the website at www.pastienak.com to order for home delivery. Pasti Enak cheese retails at Frestive in Canggu and Kerobokan, at Bali Pure in Ubud, at Moksa Saturday Market and at the Sanur Sunday market.
Fruit Products… Probably Bali’s original professional producer of processed local fruit and nuts is Bali Asli. Richard Wendt and his wife Maya founded Bali Asli in 1989 in Papuan, one of Bali’s poorest regions, with a one-burner stove and one employee.
From these modest beginnings they grew to ethically produce a wide range of excellent fruit jams/jellies/marmalades, nut butters, herb salts and chutneys; pickles and kimchi are under development. The ingredients for the products are all locally sourced and processed. Bali Asli has also developed and sells environmentally friendly soaps and cleaning products.
Bali Asli is a wonderful example of how a small-scale industry can help develop local economies. It now employs 35 people, and the fair-price purchase of local, seasonal fruits supports many remote farming families who would otherwise not be able to get their produce to market. I’ve been happily supporting this little family business since I arrived here in 2000. Their marmalades and buni fruit jelly (very close in flavour to cranberry) are favourites. Bali Asli products are available at most supermarkets or through their website www bali-asli.com.
Cashews…East Bali is the poorest part of the island. The government planted cashew trees in the area to control erosion about 40 years ago. About 4,500 farming families in this catchment area have cashew trees on their land, but until recently this potentially valuable crop brought them very little in the way of income.
Aaron Fishman, who was volunteering in Desa Ban, East Bali, saw an opportunity to create a social venture that would bring the people livelihoods and educational opportunities.
“Indonesia produces about six percent of the world’s cashews every year but until we built the factory over 90% of them were bought cheaply by agents and exported for processing to India or Vietnam.” he told me. “With local partners, we launched East Bali Cashews in 2012 with a goal of adding value to local cashews for export at source and exporting the processed nuts internationally – minimising the middlemen, improving the farmers’ return and creating employment on the ground.”
When the raw cashews arrive at the factory they are steamed in a huge drum for 15 minutes before being run through simple shelling machines. Both machines are mainly powered with the biomass of discarded cashew shells. Once shelled, the nuts are air dried in ovens also powered by biomass. The skins of the nuts are peeled by rows of women who gossip as they work. Like coffee, cashews are a very labour-intensive product. It takes five kilograms of raw cashews to produce one kilogram of ready-to-eat nuts.
The company is now by far the largest employer in the area, employing abut 400 people, 90% of whom are women. As guardians of health and education within the family, women of East Bali Cashews not only earn money to invest in their children but are encouraged to develop management skills. East Bali Cashews has opened the region’s first preschool, initiated farmer training programs, and improved ecological conditions. And the products are wonderful. www.eastbalicashews.com
Coffee… it took a long time for the world of coffee aficionados to discover Indonesia but these days our Arabica is being described as the single malt of the coffee world.
There are several small artisanal coffee producers in Bali now. A few years ago I sipped my way around Ubud in search of the best cup of coffee. Not the foamy, milky concoctions made by machine but a simple, honest brew from a French press. From the first sip my favourite was and remains Cosmic Coffee – rich and deep, with notes of chocolate and orange.
The product of a small group of farmers on the slopes of Mount Batur, Cosmic Coffee uses only the ripest red hand-selected, carefully fermented, sun-dried beans roasted 360 grams at a time in a home kitchen. This is the essence of artisanal coffee; the small team produces just 10 – 15 kg a week and it disappears fast. Available at Kue, Bali Buda, Bali Direct and Kafe, and served at Kue, Roots, Elephant and Sopa. www.cosmiccoffeebali.com.
Copyright © 2018 Greenspeak
You can read all past articles of Greenspeak at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz
Ibu Kat’s book of stories
Bali Daze – Free-fall off the Tourist Trail and Retired, Rewired – Living Without Adult Supervision in Bali are available from
Ganesha Books and on Kindle