Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ceningan Alchemy

Over at the Sea Breeze Warung on Nusa Ceningan, a tiny island southeast of Bali, is a drink thought to be so extreme most locals won't drink it. Its translated name is shoe flower juice.
Ketuk plucks two red hibiscus blooms from a tree in the steep hillside garden behind her cafe and drops them into a tall glass. When the metal kettle on the stove whistles steam, she pours boiling water over the petals, half filling the glass. The water turns deep purple, then black.
"Kembang sepatu grows in every house in Bali, but most locals don't know about this drink," Ketut says, stirring a heaped spoon of white sugar into the black liquid. "It's too extreme. Only foreigners order it."

Then she laughs: "But it's safe! It really is! I'll eat or drink anything I make!"

Ketut slices a tiny local lemon in two and squeezes both halves into the glass. The chameleon liquid changes hue again - to a cheery maraschino red. She tops the glass with ice, and the shoe flower drink is served.
It's gently sweet and lightly flavoured, and is listed as Bunga Nusa on the menu.
Nusa Ceningan, in the Badung Strait, can be reached via a yellow suspension bridge from Nusa Lembongan. Best explored by bicycle.