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).
The Maldives Sub-Continental location means that the region dish of “curry” is a traditional staple. But, a curry varies widely not just in different recipes, but also in different countries. Living in England, Indian curry is time honoured tradition, but lately I’ve become more struck by the fragrant coconut and coriander tastes of Thai curries.
I don’t think I’ve seen a resort that hasn’t served a curry as a part of its buffet selection. But JA Manafaru serves all the curries. Well, at least all the ones I knew about.
Its main restaurant offers a Curry Station which has the following styles of curry…
- Sri Lankan
- Indian Molee
And they are not sitting there pre-made but rather their chefs prepare them for you fresh to order (see photo). And as such you can tailor them to your own liking choosing the sauce, the meat (chicken, lamb, seafood) and how spicy you like it. In fact, the curry is so fresh that the curry leaves grown in the chef’s herb garden on the island.
Often it is the little touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I had to start off my Best of the Maldives posts on Coco Bodu Hithi with their creative pancake station. I already featured the special Maldivian flag pancake made for the 50th anniversary celebrations a fortnight ago. But that was just a sample of the creative concoctions the chef Endro (see photos below) makes.
He uses three types of pancake batter – (a) Red (strawberry), (b) Brown (chocolate), and (c) White (plain). He made the above “Love” heart for me to give Lori and a special “Maldiv” flapjack for me.
In fact, this post made me realise that I didn’t have a “Breakfast” category tag…yet.
For the ‘healthy sweet’ option, Palm Beach is not only has a fruit smoothie bar (like the W Retreat), but they also have a fruit station at their breakfast café. Or as our Italian au pair used to say…“froo-itt”.
The have an exceptional array of fruit on offer, but most importantly they have a server who peels and cuts it for you fresh in front of you. Many resorts have a number of ‘made to order’ stations (the ‘Egg Station’ being the classic at any resort around the world), but even the ‘custom everything’ W Retreat doesn’t have a fruit station like this. Because they have so much less wastage than pre-prepared fruit, they can offer an incredible range. And you don’t have to worry that what you are being served was cut several days ago and just in and out of cold storage since.
The ultra-5-stars will do anything for you at the drop of a hat and W Retreat is certainly right up there with obsessive service. But usually, breakfast is a fairly self-service situation at most resorts with a smorgasbord of morning delights on offer to provide more than enough choice for most people to craft their own well suited breakfast. Some things are prepared to order especially the ubiquitous ‘Egg Station’ and often a ‘Pancake Station’ (which will do waffles too).
But the W Retreat has taken the preparation stations to a whole new level at their breakfasts where everything is made to order custom to your requirements. I certainly pushed the Egg Station to limits I hadn’t yet experienced at a resort getting myself fresh Egg Benedict (with freshly made, not pre-prepared, Hollandaise Sauce). For beverages, I had a custom made Fruit Smoothie with fruits I hand picked from their literal cornucopia. For the Japanese visitors, the popular breakfast item of Miso soup was custom prepared (not sitting simmering in a big vat) and you can choose your own spices and added ingredients to include (see photo above).
But the quintessence of personalisation is their coffee mugs. They offer a vast assortment of unique, colourful mugs (see below). When you choose one, that mug becomes YOUR mug for the entire stay. They keep track of whose mugs is whose and serve you in your OWN personal mug.