Category Archives: Bali

Via Alloro Beverly Hills: Pistachio Molten Cake

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Via Alloro in Beverly Hills. They are an Italian restaurant owned by a family that owns twelve local restaurants. Most of the restaurants are Italian, and considered the best in town, but two are Japanese. The service is great at all of their restaurants. The menu is a bit limited, especially at the Japanese restaurants. There are many choices for sushi, but not many choices for entrees.

Although, all of their restaurants are excellent, it is Via Alloro that catches my attention the most. The architechture is stunning in this circular building. The staff is very friendly and attentive. I was most impressed by the desserts. Most places just don’t have that many desserts, and the quality is rarely good enough to rave about.

I looked at the dessert menu after having a customized Fusilli Arabiatta with Italian sausage which isn’t on the menu. The sauce is perfect. Nobody else comes even close to having the perfect taste and density of sauce. But, the dessert menu had a pistachio molten cake. I decided to get it because I had never heard of anything like it.

The outside of the cake was made with pistachio flower. The inside had a gooey pistachio molten center. I have had chocolate molten cake several times before, and every time I get it, I have a horrible experience — and I say that as a chocolate lover. But, this pistachio molten cake had the perfect flavor, and wins the prize for the best dessert I have had in a long time since I had the Macadamia Cremeaux at Roy’s downtown a year ago.

I liked this cake so much, that the next time I tried a blackberry cake with ice cream. What impressed me most was that the minute they delivered the cake to me, I could smell the freshness from several feet away. The smell was so amazing I couldn’t believe it. The taste was amazing as well. It was a simple dessert, but I could tell that they put a tremendous effort into making everything they serve absolutely perfect — and I appreciate that.

On a final note, the “feng-shui” is excellent for me at Via Alloro. My business and life tends to prosper when I go to good feng-shui places. But, it is in Beverly Hills where the rich and famous hang out, so maybe we can take the feng-shui for granted there.

Bali’s Beaches — how do you choose which one to go to?

Bali’s beaches are best during the dry season from April until October. Beaches are cleaner, calmer, and dryer during the dry season. From reading reviews and browsing the internet, it seems like the majority of Bali’s popular beaches are near Kuta or South Kuta, and very close to the airport which is convenient for tourists. North Bali isn’t famous for beaches, and their beaches don’t get very good reviews, although they are away from most of the hustle and bustle. What distinguishes one beach from another might be how crowded it is, how many pestering vendors are around, and whether you can swim, surf, or snorkle conveniently and safely. Even though most of these beaches are very close to each other, the character of each beach is quite different. I apologize for not having photos. I have not yet traveled to Bali, but it is at the top of my list. You can visit other travel sites for pictures.

#1 Best Beach
Balangan Beach (Western part of South Kuta Peninsula & near Dreamland — Southern Bali)
This is a place with very few tourists, but a great place to surf. Rocky cliffs. Many local cafes.
CNN travel, Tripadvisor and other reviewers recommend this beach first or high on their list!

#2 Best Beach
Amed Beach (Eastern Bali)
If you like black sand, and a resort that got fantastic reviews, this is a great place to vacation. Lots of fishing boats and diving, but not much surfing. This beach has a close view of a nearby volcano!

#3 Best Beach
Padang Padang Beach in Kuta near the airport
This is a small beach where you can surf. The water is clean and clear. This beach used to be a secret only known to the locals.

Other Popular Beaches all in Southern Bali

Jimbaran Beach (South Kuta just South of the airport)
This is a place with many fish vendors and seafood restaurants.

Nusa Dua Beach (East part of South Kuta Peninsula — Southern Bali)
Beautiful Blue Water, pristine white sand, and very few vendors! There is a parking lot, and you can rent chairs!
This beach got good reviews, but is not the best in town it seems!

Geger Beach (in Nusa Dua: Eastern part of South Kuta — Southern Bali)
Tripadvisor gave this beach good reviews mostly in the Excellent or Very Good range.
This beach is quiet, clean, and swimmable!

Sanur Beach (East of Denpasar)
Enjoy 7km of paved walkway along the beach.

Kutuh Beach (Southern part of South Kuta — Southern Bali)
This is a very remote area that looks like how Bali looked decades ago before the invasion of tourists!

Do people go to Bali to experience a simpler life, or escape?

I just watched a documentary about Bali. It was an hour long. I have seen information about Bali before, and it is close to being in the #1 spot for places I want to go as soon as time permits. I learned some interesting things about the island’s history. They used to have a very simple life, and in many parts of the island still do. People would bath naked outdoors. People made their living doing simple things like farming, fishing, and artwork. These days, a lot of money came into the island from tourism and other industries, so electricity and modern living has made its way to much of the island. There are still many places that live life the old way.

Bali attracts with its simplicity…
One of the attractions for tourists is (or used to be) being in a place that is simpler. If you are from a modern place with a hectic lifestyle, you probably crave having time to unwind with no cell phones, no computers, and perhaps the sound of birds. Having some exotic people around you who cook spicy Asian food might be another attractive perk. Western travelers often question why the Balinese are in such a hurry to get electricity and “ruin” their idyllic way of life?

Craving a simpler life…
My question is, if so many Westerners crave a simpler life, why not create it? What Westerners don’t understand is that we choose our reality to a certain extent. Our choices are based only on what is available which limits us, but there is more flexibility than you think. There is simplicity right here in America. You can go to remote communities where there is no electricity and cell phones don’t work. Most people can’t live in these communities because you can’t make a living there. Therefor we NEED complexity to make a living. But, you can go for vacation and enjoy the trees, the ocean and whatever else is there.

Why not create this simpler life?
The Amish have a very industrious and happy lifestyle without electricity. I think their way of life is something that we can consider duplicating in other areas. Why not have areas set aside for simple living. How simple? It is up to the community. It would be much more affordable to live in such areas since there would be very limited plumbing, no gas, and no electricity. Many regular tourists in Bali were saddened by the fast modernization. But, in reality, Bali could choose to set certain areas aside to be a little bit simpler. That might be a nice tourist attraction as well. Most countries make the mistake of wanting to have every human being in the country have exactly the same standards for housing. But, maybe life is more fun if there are different zones with different standards!

A spiritual point of view on the issue…
According to spirituality, our surroundings are the way they are due to an inner condition. In real life, this is not completely true, but there is an element of what I call the “reflective spiritual axiom of equality.” What is on the inside reflects an exact replica on the outside. Hindus believe this spiritual law, but the reality (which they never seem to investigate or document case studies) disproves this Hindu belief. The truth is that what is on the inside attracts atmospheres that “best match” you for places or situations that you will spend a lot of time with. There is no such thing as an exact replica since thousands of humans live in particular areas, yet those humans only have limited shared attributes. Maybe we live in a complicated place because we are complicated on the inside? Enough about Hindu philosophy and its failings.

One benefit of electricity
The biggest advantage of electricity coming to the villages in Bali was that children could now study at night. But, with a good LED lantern, you can study at night too without all the wires!

Just because you live in a modern world
Even though most of us live in a modern world, it doesn’t mean we have to fly to an exotic foreign country to be simple. We can be simple wherever we are. We tend to get caught up in modern life and follow whatever everyone else is doing. It becomes something we are not conscious of. But, you can life in a modern city, and choose not to use electricity, or at least not use it much. You can choose not to use a cell phone, or at least not have the most recent model of i-phone. You can have a car, but choose to walk to the local market instead of driving and fighting for a parking place.

What are we really seeking?
I think that Westerners who go to Bali are not seeking simplicity, although that is a novelty for a while. People want to be refreshed. Most of us tend to work too much, and wherever we live becomes monotonous after a while. It is fun to be in a place that is really different. Different people, different landscape, different animals, different trees, different foods, different amenities. Bali has all of these if you ignore that it is constantly being invaded by armies of camera bearing tourists! We just need a change of pace. It is fun to go without plumbing for a few days. It is fun to not have electricity for a day or two. It helps us relax. But, after we are relaxed, I think that most of us would prefer to have our electricity back, unless we are retired. The fact is that we need modern amenities to enjoy a prosperous and interesting lifestyle.

My personal story with simplicity
Personally, I was the last of my friends to use the internet, but I swore I would become big on the internet once I built whatever site I was going to build. A few years later I did exactly that. The internet has changed since then, and my presence continued to grow in many unexpected ways. Now, I find this new tool Twitter to be a wonderful source of interesting articles and new friends. Ten years ago who would have thought? If I lived in a cave I would enjoy simplicity, but who would I tweet to?

I also enjoy simplicity though. So, from time to time I go to parts of India that are simple. I also visit Yosemite, and enjoy mountains, deserts, and beaches in the Western parts of the USA. Sometimes it is fun to be in a very remote town in Arizona or New Mexico for a while. But, when it is all over, I come back to what I term, “A normal life.” Maybe it is analogous to sleep. We need to be active for periods of time, and then we need to rest. Perhaps simplicity is good, but as a mechanism to optimize our resting periods…