The holiday season is full of special treats like gingerbread houses and egg nog that you only get on this special occasion. The delicacies reminded me of one of my favourite resort treats in the Maldives, Soneva Jani “Souffle Station” (!). It featured one of its Soneva Stars visiting chefs Marianne Lumb from the UK who prepared custom souffles to guests at the main restaurant. A coup le souffle from a coup of a soufflé.
Stations are the best of both world of buffets and a la carte – the easy and prompt access of buffets with a chance to visually see your food options, combined with the personalisation and reduced food waste of a la carte. And if there is one Maldivian favourite that is very personal to us it is the breakfast delicacy of mashuni. Lori has it nearly every day when we visit. If it’s not on the buffet or menu, she asks the chef if he can make (which he usually can). And she likes it with just the right amount of chili and coconut. So Emerald’s mashuni station was ideal for her.
She said it was the “best Mashuni ever”. Possibly echoing my standard reply to the most frequently asked question I get of “What is the best resort?” I always say, “The is no ‘best resort’…just the best resort for you.” So maybe there is no “best mashuni”, but there is the “best mashuni for you” at Emerald.
All sorts of buffet “stations” provide a balance between variety of offering with the efficiency and convenience of a buffet. Egg stations are ubiquitous, but resorts have introduced all sorts of variations on the custom preparation theme. Pasta stations are quite popular, but we have never seen one quite as exquisite as Kudafushi’s. Most pasta stations have a tomato sauce and a crème sauce, but Kudafushi features 6 different varieties every evening each with quite a bit of flair.
My favourite was the Blue Cheese sauce, but a group of Italian guests were queuing for the pasta Pesto Siciliano with Cashews one of whom walked away muttering “buonissimo” (hard to get a better endorsement).
Stations are a commonplace feature at resort restaurants providing the freshness and customisation of a la carte with the variety of selection of a buffet. Dhigali brings the concept to the spa with their Natural Scrub Station for facials and body scrubs. Scrubs made custom for your treatment from the following ingredients:
- Sand with clove, cinnamon and cardomon – Maldive rub
Fresh scrubs freshly made from fresh ingredients for fresh skin.
The main rival to eggs benedict for breakfast luxury is steak and eggs. More of an American staple, you don’t find it that often on European menus. So I was delighted to find Cocoon’s Steak and Egg Station at their breakfast buffer. Quite nice cuts of beef grilled to your liking along with your choice of egg accompaniment (I tend to prefer scrambled with my steak and a bit of ketchup, which they also had at hand).
I always delight in finding things at resorts that I haven’t come across before in other resorts. I especially delight in finding things I had never come across ever in my life. So it was with Olhuveli’s “Pakora”, a kind of ghee-fried fritter. London and the UK is not short of Indian cuisine, but I have never had a pakora in decades of living here. Not to mention visiting the Indian Ocean neighbour for nearly as long. And not only did the resort offer the treat, but they had a special “Pakora Station” which made several variations on the culinary theme fresh to order.
I’ve also decide to add a “Station” tag to the blog to highlight the distinctive “fresh, made to order” preparations available at buffets around the Maldives.
And Finolhu has a bagel station for people who prefer their round dough morning thing savoury not sweet. Four different varieties of bagels and more toppings than I have seen this side of New York’s West Side. Of course, smoked salmon, but the smoked shrimps were a revelation. They also had smoked tuna and smoked king fish. As well as an assortment of cold cuts and other cheeses.
When I visited Morocco, I enjoyed a night in a Bedouin tent under the desert stars, but I must say that the highlight was the bustling, buzzing Marrakesh market square at night. An acre-sized tapestry of tiny market stalls all cooking up some specific delicacy concocted from the colour full piles of spices we saw touring the souks earlier that day. Club Med Finolhu Villas has the posh version of Jemaa el Fna with a collection of gourmet stations to cook you a variety of dishes for your meal.
You get to see the food like a buffet (instead of depending on menu descriptions), but freshly prepared to order like a la carte. We’ve all had our freshly prepared eggs and noodles dishes, but these were filet beef and sautéed fish dishes with delicate sauces. The approach was particularly helpful for people with weak English. But one of the biggest benefits was reduction of food waste. The on-demand cuisine meant that only food people were going to eat was prepared instead of large mounds of buffet offerings which (by definition) never get fully consumed (see the explanatory sign at the resort restaurant below).