BED AND BAGELS
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
www.rovos.co.za 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
www.shangri-la.com 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.thewolseley.com 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.hotel-sainte-beuve.fr 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