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Ode to Breakfast

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Some people can’t wait for dessert. Me? I count the minutes till breakfast—especially when I’m on the road. When I open my eyes in a foreign country, I can’t wait to hit the streets and check out what the locals are eating for their first meal of the day. Pho in Hanoi (above), congee in Hong Kong, dosa in Mumbai, poke (POH-kay) in Maui: I’m a quick study.

On a trip to Istanbul last month, I couldn’t get enough of Turkey’s sesame-studded simit bread, bought from a street vendor, chased with a potent glass of chai. An even better reason to get a jump on the day: the decadent Turkish breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel Bosphorous. Along with my simit-and-chai fix, I got a bountiful platter of tomatoes, cucumbers, tangy yogurt, sucuk sausage, kasar cheese, kaymak (clotted cream), local honeycomb, and fried eggs served in the skillet—plus an eye-opening view of the sun ascending over the Bosphorous. If the best hotels make you feel like you’re back home in your own bed, the best hotel breakfasts remind you exactly where you are, in a single bite.

Do you have a favorite breakfast from your travels? I’d love to know. Here are my Top 5:

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1. Four Seasons Hotel, Bosphorous, Istanbul
The hotel’s Turkish Breakfast may have been big enough to feed an army but I wasn’t complaining. It’s a great way to indulge in the local food culture with prime Bosphorous views.

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2. Fasano Hotel, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Our Paulistano friend Bobby Betenson turned me on to the simple (and simply delicious) Caipira fried eggs at the hotel’s Nonno Ruggero restaurant. Grab a seat on the terrace and you’ll feel transported to the countryside.

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3. Rockhouse Hotel, Negril, Jamaica
Sure I love the hotel’s laid-back vibe and dramatic cliffside setting overlooking Pristine Cove. But I’m equally excited about its authentic Jamaican breakfast offerings: ackee and saltfish, bammy (cassava bread), and callaloo (pictured) which tastes like a cross between spinach and kale; I get a double order of every morning I’m there.

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4. Amankila Hotel, Bali, Indonesia
Part of what I love about breakfasts in other parts of the world is that they turn American breakfast conventions on their heads. Spicy nasi goring (fried rice) for breakfast? Why not! I also swoon for tropical fruits—including my all-time favorites, mangosteens.

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5. Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica
Whoever said Wheaties was the Breakast of Champions hasn’t tried the breakfast chicken fajitas with scrambled eggs, flour tortillas, pico de gallo and guacamole on the terrace at Papagayo restaurant. The secret ingredient is one you don’t see in this picture: a bottle of Lizano, an addictive, umami-packed Costa Rican sauce that has become a staple for us back home.

Nilou Motamed is the features editor at Travel + Leisure.


Photos courtesy of Sibel Benli (top) and Peter Jon Lindberg

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