My parents have been to Israel often enough that they no longer need to see the historical sites. When they pay a visit and ask me what I want to do, I send over an itinerary of all the restaurants they’re going to take me to for lunch and dinner that I otherwise can’t afford.
“But what about breakfast?” they ask.
“For breakfast,” I say, “I’m coming to you.”
Nothing beats an Israeli hotel breakfast spread. Forget what you know about American hotel breakfasts, with their sweaty trays of scrambled eggs, pancakes, sad, gray meats and dispensers of everyday cereal. Put aside expectations of the meager European variety, with its mini-pastries and a banana.
People often casually toss around the word “smorgasbord” to refer to anything that’s an embarrassment of riches but in Israel, these morning buffets do the word justice.
There’s a technique to buffet; it requires planning and a vision because you want to make sure to try everything. If you’re staying multiple days, consider focusing on a theme. For example, one day go for the made-to-order omelets or Belgian waffles and the next, opt for a selection of rich yogurt, fresh fruits and a wide range of cheeses. The salads (with herbs, seasonal veggies, nuts, fruit and grains) are usually fresh and crisp, as are the breads.
The size of the buffet is often proportionate to the size of the hotel: the big ones have massive spreads - in addition to the aforementioned staples, add platters of baked and smoked fish, quiches, puddings, an oatmeal bar and tables of tantalizing desserts. The smaller ones will be downsized but no less thoughtful or tasty.
An added bonus: Because hotels do their best to please, and cater to foreigners who have very specific morning rituals, they are the only places where you can find bottomless refills of drip coffee in Israel. For certain Americans, like my mom, this is as much a requirement for a hotel as a bed.
Hotel breakfasts are complimentary for paying guests – if you are not a guest at that hotel, you will have to pay, often upwards of NIS 100. The large majority of hotel breakfasts are kosher to appeal to the widest number of travelers. Meaning: forget about your bacon and sausage.
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