Our travels have introduced us to the wonders of foods of the world. While the wonders are on most prominent display at dinner, we can’t forget that most important meal of the day: breakfast. We’ve touched down in the UK twice, and for the bad rap their supposedly tasteless, boring, overcooked food gets, they sure can do breakfast!
Our first morning in Dingle (Ireland), we sat down to a “full Irish breakfast”. Full it was, as were we after consuming it. Two poached eggs, 2 plump sausage links, two patties of blood sausage, a chunk of fried potatoes, grilled mushrooms, soda bread, and a little cup of baked beans. Sometimes, there’s a couple of grilled tomato slices. Of course, it’s all washed down well with a pint of Guinness. Such is how we started our day on our Irish trip, which would also take us to Kilkenny and Cork.
It all harkened back to memories of my youth, where I first encountered the “full” breakfast, in Jolly Old. The first English breakfasts I encountered were called just that – no “full” – if maybe “proper”. I was not used to seeing that much food, or that variety, for breakfast: two eggs, two slices of grilled tomato, two big slabs of bacon (their thick non-crispy kind), grilled mushrooms, toast, and of course that little cup of baked beans. Tea was the accompanying beverage, another reason I’m glad I’m part Irish.
Finally, up early enough for breakfast in South Queensberry (north of Edinburgh) this morning, we encountered the full Scotch breakfast (of course) on the menu. Components looked about the same, with the addition of haggis, a deal killer. Not sure what the Scots wash this one down with, but for me it would have taken several drams of uisce bethea to get that taste out of my mouth. Or so I thought till I actually took advantage a couple mornings later. The menu entry looked plenty tasty (except for that haggis).
And on the plate, it lived up to its billing.
The little wedge in the middle is a “potato scone”, a tasty little pocket bread number I must learn to make. The speckled patty at 4 o’clock is the haggis. I’ve never before been able to stand this stuff, which is basically offal and oatmeal cooked in a sheep’s stomach, a mushy mess (1,2). There were some whole grains in this preparation to give it some texture, and the meaty flavor from the lamb parts, however disgusting their origins, was pretty good. Not saying I’ll try to make it back home, but I won’t be turning my nose up on it on the menu.
Others have made the effort to analyze and describe the differences between the “full” breakfasts of the UK (3). Note there’s also a “full Welsh”
So, on the bus home from town later the same day, Kathy and I decided to come up with our “full” breakfast. So, here’s the “full Harbal”, first draft
- 2 eggs, poached
- 2 strips bacon (thin, crisp)
- chunked mushrooms, ½ C sautéed
- hash browns or tater tots
- Hatch green chile sauce
- baked beans
- sliced half avocado or grilled tomato wedges (in season)
- sourdough toast and butter
Poached eggs have a rep of being kind of fussy to make, and/or require a special cooker. While there’s more to making one than laying it out on the hot bacon grease, it’s really not that difficult:
And a note on one of the ingredients: Hatch green chile sauce (4). In Santa Fe they slather this on everything, and we understand why. You can make it up yourself if you can get your hands on the chiles, grown in the Hatch valley of New Mexico (natch). Our Santa Fe friends bought it in jars put there by the Zia Green Chile Company. Fortunately, they sell on Amazon.
Finally, the mundane spud. I’d about given up making decent fried potatoes, be they American, hash brown, or whatever. The inside always seemed to get mushy before the outside got brown let alone crisp. I seem to have figured out French fries, but that requires tallow and I need to make up a new batch. Tater tots fill the bill: brown, crispy, and tasty, right out of the oven. But our old friends from the ‘burg, Dan, and Jill, the Shutesies, showed us another way. We tried it for the maiden voyage of the full Harbal, and waddyaknow.
And how did it all look on the plate?
Pretty tasty. No special beverage this time, as we’d already killed some mimosas and the better part of a bottle of chardonnay. But if starting from scratch, I’d recommend some vampire Marys , that garlicy version of a bloody Mary out of The Stinking Rose, San Francisco (5).
For those of you who like 3X5 cards:
1. Traditional Scottish Haggis. tasteatlas. https://www.tasteatlas.com/haggis/recipe
2. Haggis. VisitScotland https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/food-drink/haggis/
3. Massoud J. What’s the difference between and English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish breakfast? DishCult 8/26/21. https://dishcult.com/articles/england/whats-the-difference-between-an-english-scottish-welsh-and-irish-breakfast
4. Original New Mexico Hatch Green Chile By Zia Green Chile Company – Delicious Flame-Roasted, Peeled & Diced Southwestern Certified Green Peppers For Salsas, Stews & More, Vegan & Gluten-Free – 16oz. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074SYZ24Y?ref=nb_sb_ss_w_as-reorder-t1_ypp_rep_k0_1_11&=&crid=VRAXEZF9EUZL&=&sprefix=hatch+green
5. Ike B. Vampire Marys. WordPress 2/6/20. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/02/06/vampire-marys/