Ever woke up to a lavish breakfast spread at 6am, watching the sunrise, looking out into a glistening pool of water, swaying palm trees? I did last Monday. Except that there was no waking up to do – I’d been up all night, dancing (wildly, if I may add) for six hours straight to mark the start of my friend’s three-day long Indian wedding saga at the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa in Thailand.
Much of the wedding party was fast asleep, and those who had been left on the dance floor till the DJ had retired had teetered back to their rooms, not to become human again until late that afternoon. Which left me as the lone, droopy eyed diner at The Deck, the official wedding restaurant at the Sheraton. It was such a luxury to have the entire restaurant, the murmuring pool below, and the yawning sunrise all to myself. Sheer bliss at the cheap price of staying up for just one more hour after the party was over.
The only thing missing, which would have totally taken breakfast to a whole other spiritual level, was a foot massage. Don’t know how those Bollywood actresses prance around in those ridiculous stilettos…all I know was that I no longer felt feet. Just toe mush. Painful toe mush.
A night of wedding indulgence calls for refreshingly simple, locally sourced and fresh ingredients first thing in the morning (assuming you’re sober and awake at that time). In Thailand, that would mean fruit.
What’s that you say? It’s only fruit? No, it’s not only fruit. It’s not just apples, bananas and oranges. Those tend to remind me of breakfast on-the-go after an all-nighter at work in NYC. Fruit in Thailand, Pollamai Thai, is way more exotic and complex: lychees, passion fruit, snake fruit (not a fan of this one), rambutans, mangosteens, pomelo, papaya, pineapple, rose apple, guava and probably countless others that I may have missed on this short trip. My two favourites that morning were these gigantic juicy wedges of sweet pomelo...
Another great find in the breakfast buffet layout were these miniature bread and vegetable towers. Definitely not as extravagant as the some of the other buffet dishes, but true flavour often lies in thoughtful combinations of quality ingredients. My veggie tower-of-choice had a soft white bread foundation brushed with a light olive (or maybe mushroom?) tapenade, with ascending layers of refreshing cucumber, sweet crunchy carrot, and a baby black wrinkly mushroom cap. Simple, well-composed and nicely executed.I also enjoyed the crisp, clean textures of the red pepper, cucumber and jalapeno combination (though I wimped out on the jalapeno and quickly slid it off. Spicy is best featured for lunch or after, not first thing in the morning when you're trying to ease yourself out of a slumber, or in my case, recalibrate my senses after those thumping Bollywood beats.)The third and final asparagus, cucumber and jalapeno combination wasn’t as successful – just an unappealing watery green pile of veggies with asparagus stalks that kept rolling off the bread before you could pop it in your mouth. But 2 out of 3 is still a good score.
My ultimate favourite on the breakfast plate that day was a dollop of mango passionfruit jam, labelled under some unfamiliar brand called Maurits. The sweet pulp of an overripe mango came bursting through, with the passionfruit somewhere in its shadow, present less in flavour and more in appearance through those glossy black passionfruit eyes peeping out through the translucent jam.
The only way to enjoy something so well-rounded in its ripe fruity flavour was to slather it on a dense slice of pound cake, which would ensure minimal interference with the jam flavour, yet provide the rich, buttery-textured resting ground for my dollop of mango and passionfruit pulp.Sadly, I haven’t found the brand Maurits discussed on Google since.
Even though I usually try to stay away from the usual banalities of a hotel breakfast buffet layout (aka hash browns, baked beans, omelette stations, mini cereal boxes…), I find it almost impossible to walk away without scarfing down at least one Danish or some other habitual resident of the pastry table. But the syrupy coated turnover that I grabbed off the table was a mistake. I could have sworn that I’d seen a raisin or two peeking out of a few of those turnovers on the platter, and excitedly swooped it up thinking that the sweet pastry crust would have even sweeter, juicy raisin bits scattered throughout. All I got was sweet pastry crust filled with more sweet pastry dough and air. And air instead of raisins can make for quite the anticlimactic experience.
The mini cinnamon roll redeemed the pastry chef. His miniature Cinnabon recreation spoke to my heart with its morning cinnamon aroma, crunchy almond slivers, trickly white icing and sweet syrup. Cloyingly sweet, but just what my morning cup of coffee demands of a worthy pastry partner.
While most hotel breakfast buffets can be mind-numbingly predictable, this breakfast is one that I won’t closet away with other vacation breakfasts from the past. The trick was in mentally obliterating all the routine breakfast dishes (with my pastry weakness being the one exception), so I could just focus my attention on those three or four refreshingly simple, locally fresh flavours that celebrated the sunrise and my tranquil, post-party recovery moment in time.
Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa
1573 Petchkasem Road, Cha-am, Hua Hin, 76120
Phone: +(66)(3) 270 8000