The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

Rovos Rail, South Africa: The spread is lav­ish, tra­di­tional and exquisitely pre­pared: fresh fruit, eggs floren­tine, poached, fried, boiled or in an omelet, served with ba­con, beef sausages, tomato and mush­rooms. For non-meat-eaters, there’s scram­bled eggs with smoked salmon. But the setting makes the break­fast mem­o­rable. I am on Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa, slowly rolling south from Pre­to­ria to Cape Town. Ser­vice on the self­styled most lux­u­ri­ous train in the world is ex­cel­lent, the food and wine fault­less.

Pas­sen­gers dine in a beau­ti­fully re­stored vin­tage pre-1930s wagon-lit din­ing car, with plush green car­pets and chairs, wood and brass fit­tings and rich, pol­ished, bur­nished wood walls that look al­most ruby red. This am­bu­la­tory gourmet restau­rant whisks back pas­sen­gers to an Africa of an ear­lier, more leisurely era with a steam-en­gine pace.

As I savour an early morn­ing break­fast, we roll past low moun­tains wrapped in a sil­very sheen and through the arid flat­ness of the Ka­roo grass­land, with twisted thorn trees and aca­cia shrubs adorned with yel­low flow­ers.

As I linger over a sec­ond cof­fee, an os­trich races along the tracks, run­ning across the stony ground with its wings spread as though try­ing to lift off, al­most keep­ing up with us. This grand old train rolling across South Africa is built for com­fort, not speed. Float­ing across the wild African veldt, the ba­con and eggs taste like never be­fore. Garry Marchant Shangri-La Sin­ga­pore: Dim sum for break­fast? Or mee goreng noo­dles, or In­dian breads flipped and kneaded on the spot? The more ex­pected morn­ing dishes — ce­re­als, fruit, eggs ev­ery which way, spe­cialty breads — are on of­fer at Line at the Shangri-La Sin­ga­pore, but one doesn’t go to Asia for the toast, surely.

The groovy Line, de­signed by New York’s Adam Ti­hany and over­look­ing the or­chid­filled gar­dens of the ho­tel’s Tower and Valley wings, con­sists of a se­ries of in­ter­ac­tive food sta­tions at which din­ers can or­der dishes ala minute for break­fast, lunch or din­ner. Omelets are given an ori­en­tal twist with a sprin­kling of sliced bird’s-eye chillis or fill­ing of cur­ried potato cubes.

The Ja­panese counter dishes up nour­ish­ing miso soup and chawan mushi, a savoury egg cus­tard. The Sin­ga­porean break­fast equiv­a­lent is con­gee, a rice por­ridge that def­i­nitely is an ac­quired taste, es­pe­cially at 8am with a Chi­nese herbal jelly drink on the side.

The juices at Line are ut­terly de­li­cious, from guava to a mix of orange and pas­sion­fruit, and the smooth­ies (ba­nana, berry of the day, mango) can be mixed to or­der with the milk of choice (in­clud­ing low­fat soy). Just the shot for a day on the run in sul­try Sin­ga­pore. Su­san Kuro­sawa The Wolse­ley, Lon­don: Walk from Buck­ing­ham Palace across St James’s Park, past the Ritz and look to your right. You can’t miss it. Buzzing from 7am un­til mid­night, the Wolse­ley is all art deco op­u­lence, with soar­ing ceil­ings and mar­ble floors that tip-tap with high heels, a cafe in the grand, old style. Lunches, sup­pers and teas are all worth writ­ing home about, but the break­fasts are the stuff of fan­tasy.

If feel­ing re­strained, have a per­fect mac- chi­ato and a hot, but­tered crum­pet. If a lit­tle more in­dul­gent, then a stack of thick pan­cakes heaped with sticky, caramelised ba­nanas. Or, if this is still too mod­est a feast, a de­li­ciously fluffy omelet piled high with caviar. What­ever you choose, butty or bene­dict, it will be served on the creami­est porce­lain and with the heav­i­est sil­ver. What wise man said we should break­fast like kings? A. Z. B. Knight

www.the­wolse­ Ho­tel Le Sainte-Beuve, Paris: The French are so civilised. They don’t go in for so­cial­is­ing at dawn like the English with their kip­pers and kid­neys, or the Ger­mans with their self-serve cheese and wurst.

As for the power break­fast, they leave that to the naive New World. Lepetit­de­je­uner is taken in pri­vate, so you be­gin the day in an un­hur­ried reverie.

At Ho­tel Le Sainte-Beuve, on a tiny street in Mont­par­nasse, the open fire down­stairs flick­ers alone while I, in my peignoir, lan­guish in the seren­ity of my cham­ber. The but­tery, crusty crois­sants on my tray were baked this morn­ing by Ger­ard Mu­lot, the fa­mous patis­seur whose shop is nearby. Nuns at Ab­baye de Jouarre have slaved for hours to make the straw­berry and apri­cot con­fi­tures.

With strong cof­fee and hot milk, I could not pray for a sim­pler or more bliss­ful, blessed break­fast. That’s the way the crois­sant crum­bles here. Mar­ion von Alder­stein

www.ho­ The Mis­sion Cafe, San Juan Bautista: Open­ing soon af­ter first light to the sound of roost­ers crow­ing and the bleary-eyed chat­ter of early ris­ing lo­cals in search of strong cof­fee, this charm­ing lit­tle diner is as Cal­i­for­nian as Levi’s. Set one block from the eerie 1797 Fran­cis­can mis­sion made fa­mous in Al­fred Hitch­cock’s Ver­tigo , the Mis­sion Cafe, to­gether with San Juan Bautista’s old-world main street (a few kilo­me­tres off High­way 101 be­tween San Jose and Sali­nas), has been quar­an­tined from Cal­i­for­nia’s un­stop­pable subur­ban sprawl to pro­vide a peek into the state’s colour­ful past.

Need­less to say we’re talk­ing grande rather than haute cui­sine. The pan­cakes are sub­stan­tial and the cof­fee bot­tom­less, but it’s the two-egg bur­rito with chilli you should or­der: so good, it has be­come a sta­ple since we re­turned home. Af­ter brekky, ex­plore the lovely mis­sion with its stuc­coed clois­ters and Span­ish plaza be­fore strad­dling the San Andreas Fault just north of the church. Chris­tine McCabe

300 3rd St, San Juan Bautista, Cal­i­for­nia. Ku­tan­dala, Zam­bia: I am head­ing for the break­fast ta­ble at Ku­tan­dala in Zam­bia’s North Luangwa Na­tional Park and do­ing my best not to run. I’d like to say it’s the food that is mak­ing my legs go wob­bly — and Guz Tether has a well-de­served rep­u­ta­tion as one of the best sa­fari camp cooks in all south­ern Africa — but it’s fear.

Lions have been hunt­ing close to the camp all night. I have been lis­ten­ing to the asth­matic coughs of their calls since day­break and I am try­ing my hard­est not to imag­ine what may be hap­pen­ing in the thick, tawny scrub along the path. Then, de­liv­er­ance: I walk up the rise be­neath the white thorn aca­cias where calm and smil­ing lo­cals are lay­ing out break­fast on a waft­ing table­cloth. It’s de­li­cious. There’s a finely ground muesli, pa­paya sparkling with mois­ture in the sun­light, yo­ghurt, fruit com­pote, white and brown bread with home­made pre­serves, tea and freshly brewed cof­fee.

Ev­ery mouth­ful is a mir­a­cle be­cause we’re about a day’s drive from the near­est sealed road. And if I seem to be dal­ly­ing a lit­tle more than usual, ad­mir­ing the scenery over the Mwaleshi River too ful­somely, it’s just re­lief that it’s not me on the break­fast menu. Michael Ge­bicki


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