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De-briefing breakfast

After seemingly endless discussions about how to do the best full English breakfast ever, Danny and I finally put our theories to the test and did brekkie for 4 unsuspecting guinea-pigs on Sunday.

Preparation involved an in-depth discussion, and internet search, on how to grill tomatoes and mushrooms (yes, I too was surprised to learn that there are actually recipes for grilling tomatoes); and a midnight shop at Tescos, where late-night shelf stackers must have been surprised to see a highly animated couple debate the merits of different types of tomatoes and mushrooms well into Saturday morning.

I might take this opportunity to add that never was there a better time to do this shop. Free of screaming kids and harassed parents, rushed singletons in the 5-a-day fruit and veg section, snogging couples hovering around the ice cream area, and trolleys piled high with the weekly shop, Tescos is a different place. Staff are friendly, or just pleased to have someone to talk to, queues are non-existent, no one tuts behind me as I slow down to check out the reduced items shelf, and Danny and I can pick up a million packets of bacon without getting shoved out the way by other shoppers. It was a joy and one of the best ideas we’ve had in a long time.

Sunday morning dawned and I was awake with the birds (birds sleep in on a Sunday) in anticipation of what was going to be the best breakfast ever made. I was basing this rather grand statement on the fact that the night before, during our dress rehearsal, I’d managed to poach an egg (a special thanks must go to Mr Hugo Woolley). Fresh from this monumental achievement I figured that everything else was just timing.

Hustling my parents out the door to walk the dog, ignoring beautifully sarcastic comments from my father about everything from food poisoning to his thoughts on the uselessness of a tomato at breakfast, Danny and I set to work. 4 slices of slightly burnt toast, a messy grill, 5 over-poached eggs, and some very crispy bacon later, breakfast was served.

On the plus side Danny and I were still talking to each other and, to date, no one has had food poisoning; the baked beans were a resounding success, as were the sausages, and it was unanimously agreed that the quantity of food and lack of grease was right on the money. On the downside we’re a bit concerned that the breakfast looks too healthy to appeal to punters looking for a ‘good ol’ fry up’ and we definitely need more practice at doing poached eggs ‘en masse’, while half were done beautifully the other half had most definitely seen better days.

It wasn’t this:

Nor was it this:

Overall however, it was not bad for our first attempt. We have 7 more trial runs to go, with increasingly larger numbers each time and while space might be more of an issue than we first imagined, all is bang on track.

As a post script I feel duty bound to add (for all interested parties) that my father, despite all the fuss, did actually eat his tomato. I consider this a small, but significant, victory.

Suzanna says:

In case it’s of any help, I am a GENIUS on the grilled tomatoes front and very happy to pass on my wisdom! :-) xxxx

Lee Rotbart says:

Indeed we have, in fact our 3rd ‘trial’ breakfast involves vegetarian guinea-pigs :-). Vegetarian options are a given as far as we’re concerned. So pleased you’re enjoying my blog, it’s great to get comments like that. x

Kathryn says:

Hi
I love reading your blog because my boyfriend and I usually visit Cornwall about 3 or 4 times a year and have stayed in some great guest houses. St ives is one of my favourite places.
I was just wondering if you had thought about vegetarian breakfasts?

Lee Rotbart says:

No photos as yet… we’re going to sort that out once our presentation looks better. We’ve decided, since the de-brief, that hogs pudding is going to be added (sourced locally once we get down there) and that should cover off that ‘healthy’ bit (as in, it’s not remotely healthy)… plus it will add more ‘stuff’ to the plate. :-)

Timbo says:

Aw, so did you actually take any photos of *your* efforts? – I want to see!!

I think you hit the nail on the head with your observation about guests’ expectations and that people expecting a greasy fry-up might be disappointed, however ‘superior’ their version of the cooked breakfast is.

Any mileage in having two options on the menu? – ‘virtuous’ and ‘dirty’? :-)

Matt says:

Re. poached eggs. Why not buy an egg poacher?

If you insist on free-styling the poached eggs then my top Masterchef tip is to use a frying pan with a lid and don’t forget to add white wine vinegar.

Oh, and if you need to cook a large amount of sausages at once try popping them in the oven in a casserole dish.