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Anywhere, Anytime

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Were travel, art, architecture, fashion, food and adventure meet. Founder and global adventurer Geren Lockhart was "Born Packed" when she started traveling at a young age and never stopped. This site follows along on her journey. 

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Filtering by Tag: Foodie

THE ALILA HOTEL IN UBUD, BALI

Geren Lockhart

AN OASIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BALI JUNGLE. THIS HOTEL IS A GREAT SPOT TO RELAX AND EASE INTO THE CULTURE OF UBUD.

The Alila Hotel in Ubud, Bali is a unique and calming world where design meets jungle. From Denpasar airport, the property is an exciting and sometimes shockingly beautiful ninety min drive up into the mountains. We spent our first night in Bali here and would recommend it to anyone visiting for a longer stay as a great entry point. Waking up to the sunrise and the jungle monkeys roaming around was a lovely entry to a new world.  The food throughout our stay was a highlight, somewhat expected since it’s a program that was framed out by Elke and Ray from Locavore in downtown Ubud. Locavore is one of our favorite spots to experience food on the planet. Elke and Ray are visionaries and magicians who practice their art through the idea of integrating European technique with only local ingredients. These ideals are still in place at the Alila, putting their best foot forward when the restaurant is serving it’s decadent must have breakfast every day. This is NOT a lukewarm hotel buffet set-up. There was a multitude of beverage options and tons of small plates to try. The menu changes daily and you are encouraged to order 3 or 4 things, and if you’re sharing you can go even crazier, the portions are manageable and are meant to give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the food of Bali, to immerse yourself in the place. 

The grounds are lush, and the all of the spaces are well designed and still Balinese enough that you don’t feel like an urban alien dropped into the middle of an ancient civilization. Rooms are comfortable and chic if not ultra luxurious. The personal products through the property, room and spa are all from the locally produced namesake brand, and they’re great! Enough so that we not only squirreled away the ones from our room but went a bit crazy in the spa store stocking up since we didn't have an idea of when we might return. 

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The highlight of our stay was the pool. An "infinity-ish" moment set near the edge of a cliff and perfectly laid out so you can enjoy laying in the pool as much as relaxing beside it. Save a day for this. A full mid morning to sunset to immerse fully in the experience. Lunch in the lower-level grand scale lounge area, dip in and out of the pool, the sun, and the very comfortable beds as you wish. 

Relaxation is pretty much guaranteed here and as with most properties in Bali the rates are a great value for the level of the stay. 

 Alila Ubud


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LOCAVORE FAMILY MEAL

Geren Lockhart


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Locavore is my favorite restaurant on earth. The great news is that I've been many times. The not so great news is that it's in the hills an hour and a half from the nearest airport more than a day of flying from where I live. It's hidden away up in the mountains of Ubud, Bali. My introduction to Locavore comes from a list of recommendations generously gifted to me by a hotel manager that had spent a few years living in Bali. The note said, Locavore comes highly recommended, but I haven't been yet. I was not in Ubud town proper except one afternoon this trip. Just long enough to meet a couple of new ex-pat friends for lunch when they happened to be in Ubud the same day. 

We were wandering the streets looking for one of three spots I had pulled from the list for lunch. Brigitte looks up and says "Wait isn't that the spot you mentioned?" It's two o'clock and Locavore isn't a restaurant you just walk into and get a table. Not because it is too fancy because it is too good, it's too small, and it just doesn't happen. I'm really happy I didn't know that. They were through a good portion of the lunch service, and there were open tables. Maybe it was my American enthusiasm or my addiction to the role that serendipity plays in this adventure that has become my life. Either way I went for it and the gentle and soulful manager who I will come to know as Adi welcomed us to a late lunch seating for what was a life changing meal. 

Some clarity on that meal. We didn't have the tasting menu; we only ordered vegetable dishes, and we decided to share. All things you don't do if you know what you're in for and what you'll be missing. None of this mattered. The wine pairings are perfection. The extra courses, pallet cleansers, bread and much more mean that with one dish or ten you are in for a meal where there will be more "oohs" and "oh my god's" than actual conversation. We were all high and floating from the amazing, unexpected experience as we wound down the meal with the three courses of dessert that come when you pass on the idea altogether. I just couldn't walk out the door without getting the story of Locavore. As any food drunk new superfan would I found Adi and inquired. He told me that Eelke and Ray were the chef's and that the three of them were partners in the business. They had all worked together funny enough at the hotel I was staying at where they were given freedom in partnership with the general manager at the time to explore their passion. Local ingredients, European technique and getting to play. Once I hear this, it explains the quality of the food at the hotel. The Alila Ubud. While it is not the same level as Locavore, it is some of the best hotel food I have ever had. They respectfully continue the story that Eelke, Ray and Adi started.  

I have a few more stories about Locavore underway. Lots and lots of photos of beautiful food and drink to come but this tale is actually about a special experience I got to have earlier this year during my return visit to Ubud. This time, I was in town for a month. I had been corresponding with Eelke since I left about seeing them when I returned so I could tell their story in a bigger way. About a week before I am leaving to return home I get to spend a very special afternoon and evening with Eelke, Ray, Adi and the entire family at Locavore

Eelke invited me to have family meal with the staff; they do this every day. Sometimes it is the sous chefs who prepare, sometimes it is Adi's mom, sometimes it is the chefs. Today it's the sous chefs. I arrive just after the end of lunch service as the crew is breaking down the kitchen which they completely turn over every day between lunch and dinner services. It is a bit like a kooky symphony. Eelke introduces me to the general manager who was their long ago collaborator at The Alila Ubud. He happened to be visiting at the same time I was. I learn that he is Dutch and doesn't live in Bali anymore but Oman and that an unfortunate accident and his recovery had unexpectedly delayed his departure by a few days. There goes that serendipity again. We walk with Eelke to the cafe and expanded kitchen they are just weeks away from opening up the street. They need more room to prep the main kitchens needs and want to explore easier access to their food, range of sauces, and new ideas. I want to cry because it won't be open before I head home, and I won't get to take back massive quantities of the green sauce given to you with the bread. When you go, and you have it, you will know what I mean. You'll be willing to eat a second loaf just for the sauce. You will not even think about watching how much bread you eat as it does not matter when this sauce is involved. 

We make our way back to Locavore and family meal is almost ready. We all sit-down, we eat our way through elevated complex versions of more traditional Indonesian fare. It's divine. It is like no food I will have during the rest of my time in Bali. Traditional dishes, local produce, spices and proteins that are new and changed and informed by the risk taking and technique that Eelke and Ray have taught their crew. We drink great wine. They breath before service and I take way to many photos. It is a meal I will always remember. 

Just as the pre-service family meal is winding down the most wonderful Japanese couple walk in the door. Eelke gets up and greets them as everyone else is still seated and eating. The couple is very polite as they are inquiring about the possibility of a table.  The couple is lucky. They are early, and there is time for them to sit immediately and be done before they need the table for a later reservation. The woman squeals in the most delicate way. I know exactly how she feels. I was that lucky once. 

Reserve. I'm not encouraging you to bum rush the restaurant because that will lead to disappointment. With their growing popularity, I doubt that this is even possible anymore. Don't risk it. More about Locavore very soon.  

Locavore

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KZU WARUNG

Geren Lockhart

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Kzu is hands down the best warung in Bali. A warung is a local easy "cafe" offering up a rotating daily selection of mostly Indonesian dishes. My introduction to this hidden gem came through ex-pat Danish fashion designer Birgitte Rabens. Lucky her she spends part of each year in Bali designing and producing her Rabens Saloner collection, and she was kind enough to show me around. Birgitte has the most impeccable taste. Japanese chef Kazuya Takami has created a complete experience. Beginning with the contemporary industrial open-plan space that is designed yet welcoming. The highlight of Kzu waits for you behind the giant perforated metal door guarding the entrance. On offer, you will find a rotating daily selection of about fifty healthy, delicious and largely vegan dishes. Chef Takami counts Japanese, Indonesian, Italian, and Indian cuisines among his influences. Combining these influences with his intense focus on local produce he masterfully balances ingredients, spices and preparations. If I were lucky enough to be a local, I would find a reason to be here at least once a day. The food isn't foodie gourmet; it's just really good and good for you. Opening hours from 11 am to 7 pm mean you really can fit in a meal and a snack in if you are industrious. Full disclosure I ate here every day I was in Seminyak. Grab a Bintang and a full plate of nourishment for what amounts to less than seven US dollars at the current exchange.

Kzu Warung

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LOLITA EL BULLI STYLE

Geren Lockhart

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Meet Mauro Buffo, notable chef who's been in many of the best kitchens in the world. Most noteworthy were the four "courses" or seasons that he was a part of the team at El Bulli. I had the pleasure of having met Mauro through mutual friends in New York, and then a few years later embarking on what I like to call the insider foodie tour of Barcelona with him. We landed in Spain from different corners of the world and started the tour of Mauro's favorite spots inside and just outside Barcelona. Many of the team that Mauro was a part of at  El Bulli had since moved onto their own or other endeavors and we were able to partake of those new successes. My favorite Barcelonian was Albert Raurich who's place Dos Pallilos (two chopsticks) made for a real "situation" for me. Albert was at El Bulli in the beginning and stayed for well over a decade before stepping out on his own. I will be writing about our visit to El Bulli and our many meals at Dos Palillos soon, but for now it's a focus on Lolita, a perfect tapas spot formerly helmed by Albert Ferran and called Inopia. We were in town the weekend the switchover happened from Inopia to Lolita and yum is about the best way to sum it up. We sat down at a high bar along the wall and began ordering basically everything on the menu. A menu which is formed from a tight edit of heightened standard tapas fare, from ham to sardines to burgers all made differently with standout details added. The hot dogs are served with toy guns full of catchup which made for fun and good photos. The highlight of the night came when we literally ran into Albert Raurich as he was winding down from the service at Dos Palillos and joined us for cocktails and desert. He was heading to Lolita for a chill after work chef snack and an evening cocktail. I can admit that it felt like I was somehow privy to a life that I hadn't earned, but very much enjoyed being a part of. I suggest the Gin & Tonic which was all the two chef's drank and it's somewhat of a ceremony for them end of shift. Mauro currently makes food magic happen high up in the alps at the Vigilius Mountain Resort in Lana, Italy. 

Lolita


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BYRON BAY AUSTRALIA

Geren Lockhart

BYRON BAY, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA 

Stunning beaches, a bubbling foodie culture, gorgeous green countryside, and a chic beach vibe make for the perfect well curated peace out. I was lucky enough to experience Byron when I spent a long weekend there earlier this year.

STAY //

  • Atlantic Guesthouse / Communal living at it's best among a compound of houses and room blocks surrounding the courtyard Airstream. Family style share kitchens and chill out areas are great for meeting your fellow travelers while whipping up a great bbq or a healthy breakfast. The clean chic beach theme rooms are well appointed and sport comfortable cozy beds. Ask for a room upstairs so you can take in the green view and the sunsets. Read more on born packed. atlanticbyronbay.com.au

EAT// 

  • St. Elmo / Tapas and Spanish influenced mains, alongside the best cocktails and wine list in the area. Read more on born packed.  stelmodining.com
  • Harvest Cafe & Deli /  A short drive down the coast but so very very worth the trip. A hopping main restaurant serves amazing breakfast and lunch offerings. Be prepared to wait a bit as they are in demand. The deli next door serves up their wood fired breads and sports a cheese cellar that would make Murray's jealous alongside a meat locker that's not to be missed. Stock up on their sauces and treats for the kitchen back in Byron. harvestcafe.com.au
  • TOWN / Karl and Katrina Kanetani are big chef's in a small town. There are two TOWN's. Uptown which is for dinner offering sophisticated tasting menus and Downtown offering up breakfast and lunch that is thoughtful and complex and accessible without reservations or with a group. townbangalow.com.au

DRINK // 

  • Barefoot Brew Room / Simply the very best coffee in the area. A small hole in the wall just around the corner from St. Elmo. commongroundaustralia.com
  • Bayleaf Coffee / Great Coffee, Great Breakfast and it's just across the street from Atlantic Guesthouses. Owned by the roasters of Marvell Street coffee the coffee is top notch and the food isn't far behind. Be prepared to wait during the peak hours they've got the market cornered in Byron. Location Info

MUST DO //

  • Bangalow Market / A country upscale foodie version of what everyone in LA loves about the Rose Bowl. A must do if you're lucky enough to be in town when it's on. bangalowmarket.com.au
  • Hike the Lighthouse Trail / Ideally timed with sunrise or sunset this hike is a must do while you're in Byron. You will wind down the coast walkway and past some of the most famous beaches in the world on the way to the lighthouse and the easternmost point of the Australian continent. Rounding the tip you spy Tallow Beach below before you pop into the canopy and hike through the woods on the back side of the loop. byron-bay.com
  • Beaches /   They're all beautiful. They're all different. Don't pick, just go to all of them. Ensure you don't miss. Main Beach, Tallow Beach, Cosy Corner, LIttle Wategos and Wategos.  byron bay beach listing
  • Byron Bay Massage / Katie Connolly is a magic maker. She will come to you at the Atlantic Guesthouse and your life will be better. A variety of services and very well vetted therapists means you're in good hands, literally. I booked a massage just before hitting the road again and it made a huge difference in my travel experience. byronbaymassage.com.au 

BRING BACK //  

  • Super Awesome / cool surf spot on the main drag in Byron. Snag a tee or a backpack. Worth the luggage space. superawesome.com.au
  • Island Luxe / A chic for anywhere edit of high end and unknown designers some global and some local.  With outposts in both Byron Bay and Bangalow it houses styles for you and the new beach house you are slowly decorating in your head as each moment here passes.  No doubt you will begin imagining future summers here within an hour of landing. Islandluxefacebook
  • AHOY / Bright and playful accessories, clothes and home stuffs from around the world. Curated to match an overall theme each season there will be something you NEED here. ahoytrader.com
  • Our Corner Store / In Bangalow this small store on the main drag is packed to the gills with creative finds and great treats to bring home to those that didn't get to tag along. Pop in after lunch at TOWN ourcornerstore.com.au
  • One Teaspoon / If you're in need of a party dress or a bathing suit. This is your shop. Fun young and ready to dance is the best way to put it. oneteaspoon.com.au

RADIO // Triple J Radio 

TRAVEL STACK //4 Wheel carry-on & a tote. Bring your tablet and your phone, no computer needed. Swimsuit, sunhat and sunblock are musts. I picked up a Jack & Jac towel and some All Tomorrows Parties sandals in Sydney which became instant staples in the travel stack. They've been on every beach adventure since. 

TRANSPORT //  Fly to Gold Coast Airport from Sydney on Quantas.co.au and rent a car from Europecar.com. I had an Audi A1 the whole time I was in Australia and I couldn't recommend it more. 

WHEN TO GO // December to March which is the Australian summer is the best time to visit. New years eve is a big blowout but a bit less chic even though the fashion flock from Sydney make a showing. 

CONNECTED // Hotels and restaurants are Wi-Fi equipped, and when not directly connected you will get a signal most areas with your locally equipped mobile phone. Pick up an Australian SIM from Vodafone.co.au at Sydney Kingston airport just outside the customs check. All you will need is an un-locked mobile phone and a passport. 

POWER //  You will need adaptors for your US based electronics. Multi-port options save suitcase space and the Apple international adaptor kit is a must own. 

VISA //  Most countries require a visitor visa to enter the country. It's an easy on-line process that needs to be completed prior to arrival. Web link


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