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Bali Breakfasts – or, an exercise in gluttony

September 5, 2010 · 73 comments

Happy Fathers’ Day! Today being the special day in Australia at least, I thought I’d write a special post in honour of my Dad.

There is little else that demonstrates that I am my Father’s daughter quite like witnessing my efforts at a buffet. While I’ve often said that my eating abilities are a force to be reckoned with, this is not always apparent in my everyday life. Present me with a full buffet breakfast however and my talents can really shine. If the buffet breakfast also happens to be the only prepaid meal while away on holiday, then hang on to your hats (especially if they’re particularly tasty looking).

Padma dining room

On our July holiday to Bali my sister K and I, both seasoned holiday buffet breakfasters, put our genetic buffet talents to the test. It’s not all nature though – nurture also plays a role and to maximise the experience you need to be aware of a few pointers:

  • allow at least 1.5 hours for breakfast – 2 hours is better – and be aware that some items may not be replenished when time is creeping towards the end of breakfast;
  • do the rounds of all the options before beginning your first course – you need to be tactical in the use of stomach space when faced with so many choices;
  • if you see something you love, DON’T WAIT until a following day to treat yourself with it – many large buffets will cycle through items and no amount of tears the next day will magic up some chocolate waffles;
  • pace yourself – it’s a marathon, not a race;
  • be aware of tasty morsels within reaching height of children – they may be contaminated with germ of child;
  • use the opportunity to try out new foods, but don’t load up your plate with things you have no intention of eating – wasting food is not cool, kids;
  • take advantage of the quality people watching opportunities while enjoying your leisurely breakfast – you are guaranteed to be amazed/repulsed by some people’s food choices and to witness some odd family interactions;
  • if you can, get in a good weights session at the gym before starting all of this – most things are more enjoyable if you have to work for them, you can always eat more after a good workout, and you can try and fool yourself into thinking your stomach is sore due to too many crunches and not too many pancakes.

One of many breakfast dessert courses - anyone know what those stringy white bits of fruit are, next to the pineapple? They tasted of nothing.

We got to apply our method to two buffets during the trip. The first was at the Conrad Hilton in Nusa Dua. As far as Bali hotels go, this place is over the top. Super fancy pants. Unfortunately it has prices to match, and we just stayed here for a few days for my friend’s wedding before heading up to the more affordable Legian for a few more days. The ridiculous prices meant that K and I were extra determined to make our breakfasts last as long as possible so we could hold out until afternoon tea or even dinner time, with perhaps some complimentary fruit to see us through.

Dessert course on day...uh I can't remember, it's all just a beautifully hazy sweet memory

It was very easy to spend a good couple of hours enjoying the Conrad buffet breakfast, given the range of food choices on offer. Delicious tropical fresh, dried and tinned fruits to accompany a range of cereals, yoghurts and bircher muesli; a large bench of antipasti, salads and sauces; a soup/noodle station with different noodles and all sorts of condiments; a Japanese station with miso, nori and various pickles; a selection of various Asian hot dishes; all your standard western hot dishes; a different hot roast each day, carved off the bone for you; a selection of various breads, pastries and other sweets; and some sort of children’s station that we avoided. There was even a massive bamboo steamer, holding little steamers inside it which in turn held a selection of dim sum dishes. We made no attempt to hide our joy upon spotting this.

Buffet breakfast options at the Conrad Hilton, Nusa Dua

My breakfast typically consisted of five courses. We would start off with a cereal/fruit course, then I would move onto a salad/antipasti course before hitting up the hot food selections and then finishing off with something sweet.

There was always some type of glutinous rice goopiness at the sweet pastries station, and it was impossible to resist (especially if it was bright green pandan glutinous rice goopiness).

My typical breakfast - please don't judge me too harshly, it took a couple of hours to eat.

While taking our sweet time to ingest as much delicious food as possible we would enjoy the views and discuss such important matters as whether we would spend some time at the pool before getting a massage, or vice versa. I also spent some of the time trying to convince K to come on the flying blowup mattress thingy with me as you needed a minimum of two people to do it, but by the end of the trip I remained unsuccessful in this endeavour.

Pretty hard not to spend 2 hours eating breakfast when you've got such views...

After three days it was time to head north to Legian, where we were staying at the Padma. After the awesomeness of the Conrad buffet we readied ourselves to be disappointed, but the Padma was even better than the Conrad! They even had some special rice for those who find theirs a little too straight, if you know what I mean..

Just a tiny selection of the food options at the Padma, Legian - kinky rice, anyone?

The combination of even tastier food choices, a nicely stretched stomach and the knowledge that we had to hold out until 4:30pm when we had free food in the Garden Club lounge meant that even more food managed to get magicked away during our breakfasts here. I was particularly impressed with the hot sweet dishes, always including some sort of sago/coconut and sweet bean options.

Just one of many multi-course breakfasts at the Padma, washed down with countless coffees

If anything apart from my nose and eyelashes is going to prove my paternal lineage, this is it. I hope you are not too horrified, but I just can’t fight my genes (some fighting with my jeans may or may not have occurred when I got home).

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