Friday, January 25, 2008

Breakfast of Memories

When I was a kid breakfast eaten outside in the California sunshine was something that we often did as a family. About 11:00 AM, I would help my sister set the table shaded in part by the large avocado tree with yellow green foliage, and lumps of green fruit hanging from its branches. Fresh squeezed orange juice, scrambled eggs, warm crunchy/soft French rolls, strips of crisp bacon, cold milk, and maybe cinnamon rolls, made by my mother, to finish the meal. I loved breakfast then and I love it now.

Once a month or so in the early 1960’s, my brother, me and two friends would drive to Ojai from Los Angeles to shoot at targets. I remember that one of our friends always dressed for the occasion in a khaki shirt, shorts and a hat with the brim folded up on one side, looking like Hemingway might have while on safari in Africa. Stopping in Ventura for breakfast was part of our ritual, and two eggs, three or four link sausage, hash brown potatoes, and pancakes, smeared with butter and covered with syrup was the usual breakfast. Cholesterol, what was that? Calories, no one cared?

For a few weeks in 1967, I worked in Cleveland, Ohio. I was still living in Seattle, and was on temporary assignment to the company’s home office in Cleveland, Ohio. Along with a few other guys on similar duty I stayed at the old Hotel Alcazar. It must have been some kind of place in its heyday, but now eating there wasn’t an option. Each morning we drove to a nearby restaurant, one of few open in the morning for breakfast. We ate there so many times that the waitress got used to seeing the group, and she would chide anyone that failed to finish their meal. Breakfast was juice, a couple of eggs, maybe ham or bacon, toast and coffee. Interestingly, hash browns, so common in the west were not available.

A few years later, while working in Atlanta, Georgia, I often drove to our construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia with the construction manager. We always enjoyed stopping for a breakfast of eggs, a slice of country ham or a couple of sausage patties, the ubiquitous grits and fresh made biscuits. While grits never became a favorite, the ham and biscuits were usually outstanding. Sometimes we could get home fries, but never hash browns.

In 1973, for a hospital project in Macon, Georgia, I would drive from Atlanta to meet with the hospital’s administrator. The meetings were scheduled for early morning, and I always made it a point to show up in time, because if late I would miss out on the fantastic sausage or ham biscuits, hot from the hospital’s own kitchen, and arguably the best in town.

In the 1980’s I had the good fortune to stay at many German hotels, and nearly all served an outstanding “continental” breakfast of soft or hard boiled eggs, sliced ham and other meats, yogurt, muesli, assorted fresh fruit, juice, Jacob’s coffee, and warm crusty rolls, with butter and jam; delicious indeed.

My favorite breakfasts, not in any particular order, include:

Buttermilk pancakes, crisp bacon, butter and real maple syrup.

Fresh made roast beef hash with an egg fried over easy on top.

Two fried eggs over easy, crisp bacon, well toasted rye bread, butter and jam.

Most any German (sometimes called a continental) breakfast.

A sliced bagel, toasted on the cut side, spread with cream cheese and apricot preserves.

Breakfast things I dislike most:

Limp, warm bread that some restaurant call toast

Undercooked bacon

Weak coffee


A few of the places that I recommend for breakfast:

Lange’s Café, Pipestone, MN. The best pancakes that I have ever eaten, hands down, end of story. Lange’s is in the southwest corner on Minnesota, and if you are within even a couple of hundred miles drive into Pipestone, and stop at Lange’s, you will not be disappointed.

Blue Colony Diner, Newtown, CT. A great diner breakfast served almost faster the time it takes to order.

Harley Davidson Dealer, Bedford Heights, OH. (Yup, they have a diner inside the dealership.) A very good breakfast served with the potato, potato, potato sound of Harleys being tuned, what could be better.

Monument Café, Georgetown, TX. Located on Austin Ave., south of the square, the Monument Café serves a consistently good breakfast. They bring hot fresh baked biscuits to the table almost as soon as you sit down. I usually order pancakes, but their migas (scrambled eggs with tortilla chips, cheese and tomatoes) are sometimes too good to pass up.

Newman’s Bakery, Bellville, TX. Eat a good breakfast in a real honest to goodness bakery, now that’s a treat. After the eggs, just step to a glass case, pick out your favorite freshly baked pastry to enjoy with that third cup of coffee.

The Virginia Kitchen, Herndon, VA. A small family owned restaurant that serves some of the best biscuits I remember eating.

The Original Pancake House, on Lemmin, Dallas, TX. Not only good pancakes, served with real maple syrup, but just maybe the tastiest sausage patties on the planet.

The Bread Winner Café on McKinney, Dallas, TX. Weekend Brunch at the Bread Winner Café is really special. I love their beef brisket hash, with an egg fried over-easy on top. The food made up for the annoying wait.


Dee said...

Have you ever heard of a place called the Dillard House in Dillard,Georgia? If you have not,then please Google it. We had the most amazing breakfast there. The restaurant brings you your food "country style" and once you have finished one serving, another of the most delicious servings is on the way to you. My mouth is watering just thinking of it. Need to get back to GA soon!

RoadFoodMaven said...

Wow, what a great looking place. Must go, must go.