{05/03/2012}   Buffet breakfasts

I have just had a fry up (sausage, bacon, egg, mushroom, baked beans, black pudding and tomato, all cooked to order), a selection of pastries, a tube of smoked cheese (why were there no Baby Bels?) and a bowl of fruit. That would normally constitute three breakfasts on three separate days.
Arriving in a hotel breakfast room, I am filled with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. If there is a buffet breakfast, it will be exciting but I will over-eat and feel fairly horrible. If there isn’t I will feel I’ve missed out, but I will take pleasure in not bloating and feeling full.
I planned it well today though because I went for breakfast early so now have time in my room to drink tea and digest my breakfast feast.
I don’t know what it is about buffets. I feel I must’ve been brought up in the post-war rationing era to appreciate the possible vastness of a breakfast where you can help yourself until you can’t stuff even a mini donut down your gullet. (The mini donuts here are lovely!)
I fear the notion of free food may have something to do with buffet gluttony. Also, as a child, you couldn’t just raid the pantry or whatever; snacks etc were (rightly) rationed and their consumption monitored. I certainly wouldn’t have got away with having two wagon wheels in one sitting, though not through lack of trying. Then to see a heaving buffet table, inviting you to indulge in whatever and as much as you like … well, it’s just too much for me to say no.
I once stayed in an exceptionally good hotel in Frankfurt, merely by virtue of the one-day job I was doing being in that hotel and starting at 8am. Breakfast was 30 euros. I thought that a lot, but then I saw the breakfast room. I was overcome. There was an area for British, American, Japanese, Continental … I mean tables of different nationalities’ food. You can possibly imagine what happened next. I just knew I had to have a breakfast from each table (I only had one night there). I did it. I felt unbelievably awful. That was actually a bit of a turning point for me, I realised challenging yourself with an end result only being one of discomfort and bad health was not heroic, clever or fun.
Yet today, I still gorged myself, though not horrendously (I haven’t actually eaten the donuts and Danish yet!). Tomorrow I will have merely one breakfast … or maybe one and a half.
However, despite my blatant eating issues (!), a good breakfast can make or break a hotel or B&B. Believe it or not, a breakfast to order, ie no buffet for further courses, with good quality ingredients and, importantly, great bread can make me overlook a few room niggles. The one area where no one gets is right is the tea and coffee though. One B&B succeeded beyond expectations on the breakfast (locally sourced, some things ordered the night before, eg porridge and bircher muesli cooked/soaked overnight) and that was Rezare Farmhouse B&B in Cornwall, near Devon. Amazing. But fortunately I’m too full to wish I could eat there now! (this B&B has now closed as I believe the owners have moved to France)


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