Waking a little earlier than usual and opening the curtains onto the balcony of we found ourselves in what must be one of the most beautiful places on earth, just in time for the sunrise. Regretting the time we had given to Colombo instead of Ella, we waited for the promised breakfast service. First to be brought out were what we have come to think of as the staple items: hoppers, dal, sambol and of course, white toast. We also were given a cool tropical fruit drink, and later, a small omelet. We found these hoppers to have a somewhat unappetizing texture, a little too spongey for our tastes (others have been more crisp). The rest was also just OK, reminding us why we typically choose to research food options outside of the complimentary meals provided at B&Bs.
After breakfast we set out on our drive back toward Kandy, with a driver arranged yesterday by our Kandy guesthouse host. After a few non-culinary stops we made our way to Nuwara Eliya, known as the highest city in Sri Lanka, where we stopped for lunch at a place that our driver seemed to know. It was quite busy, so we anticipated some toothsome victuals. The rice and curry combination came with a choice of chicken or fish for the protein, so of course we got one of each. Aside from these, the curries were fish, potato, and a green identified as spinach (but we think it what Google calls water spinach as what we came to know in Malaysia as kangkong), and one or two others we seem to have forgotten and the ubiquitous dal. How did it taste, you may ask? Well, delicious, yes, but all the rice and curry was starting to blend together into a curry-leaf-fenugreek-cumin-peppery oneness. Yes, it was good, but we were beginning to crave something, maybe anything, else.
After lunch our next stop was at one of the tea plantation processing facilities that dot the landscape. A guide took us for a quick walk through the plant, explaining the all the various drying, fermenting, chopping and sorting steps. It was quite interesting, the warm wet tea smell was amazing, even as complete non-aficionados. Another element of our tea ignorance was that we had no idea Orange Pekoe was a grade (the highest) of tea, not a separate variety. After the tour we were given a taste of Broken Orange (third highest), and with even with no added sugar it was quite good, smooth and aromatic with a hint of sweetness.
Stopping at one of the roadside stands as we continued toward Kandy, we picked up a small bag of jackfruit. These giant pods contain hundreds luscious fingers of sweet fruit-fleshy goodness encasing individual seeds. The taste is sort of the definitive tropical fruit flavor, with a flavors of banana, mango and papaya all rolled into one.