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Monday, 30 June 2014

Breakfast at Glastonbury

This year, thanks to my job as a tech journalist, I was lucky enough to be taken to Glastonbury by the telecoms provider EE. I popped my Glastonbury cherry a year with very mixed weather – one minute it was blazing sunshine, the next rather frightening thunder and lightning. But I survived, with help from the lovely EE VIP Garden area, where I could go to escape the downpours, have a few drinks, recharge my phone and even blow-dry my hair.


EE provided superfast 4G wifi through their 'herd of cows'

On the Saturday, EE provided their VIP guests with a mouthwatering brunch and a few celebrity surprises.

It was probably more of a 'lunch' than a 'brunch', but who’s complaining? The spread was extensive with a BBQ buffet of burgers, relishes and salads, as well as pastries to keep in touch with the breakfast theme.

Chilling in the EE Garden at Glastonbury
But the best part of this buffet was (DJ) Seth Troxler’s Smokey Tails pulled pork – I’m a HUGE fan of heavily marinated and slowly cooked meat, so I was really looking forward to trying out Troxler's family recipe. He assembled bite-sized sliders (or mini-burgers to us Brits), made from a brioche bun, jammed with pulled smokey goodness and a sticky red cabbage slaw. I was told to “eat it in one”, and so I did. And – wow –I could have eaten ten of those sliders back-to-back, the sweet BBQ and smokey sauce with succulent pork was pretty damn good.


And while we sheltered from yet another storm in a tent full of scatter cushions and decorated in the EE colours of yellow and turquoise, we listened to intimate performances from Bipolar Sunshine and the beautiful Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Glastonbury EE Garden entry

I was very excited as I'm massive fan of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and I think she should have definitely won Strictly Come Dancing last year. We listened to acoustic numbers from her latest album and she finished with her rendition of Dolly Parton's Jolene which almost bought me to tears.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor singing at the EE Garden in Glastonbury
I managed to grab a Sophie-selfie
The Glastonbury experience


Glastonbury sunset


Flamingo selfie
"Glastonbury is heaven for a foodie" - I was told before I headed to Somerset on Friday.

And indeed it was, the muddy fields lined with so many different varieties of street food serving an endless number of cuisines from your bog-standard burger to food from the 'farmhouse kitchen', spicy chocolate dip for churos to frozen bananas. But that was exactly the problem - I was ridiculously overwhelmed and it would take me forever to decide what to eat, much to the annoyance of my friend. Part of me wished I had longer to eat my way around the festival, but my aching legs splattered with mud told me home on Sunday ahead of work on Monday was probably for the best.

Frozen banana stand - who would have thought?

Farmhouse Kitchen for a healthy alternative

The Soup Library - I  loved the name!

Churros are the best midnight feast snack

But after a weekend of jumping up and down to amazing bands, little sleep, too much indulgence and a sea of mud, the best thing ever was the bacon butty eaten while sat on the floor of platform one in Castle Cary station. Just heavenly.

A bacon butty and a cuppa tea - I feel human again


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Breakfast at your desk - banging banana bread

Make this delicious banana bread on a Sunday afternoon to keep you going for breakfasts all throughout the week. But beware - if you take the entire loaf into the office for breakfast, I would be surprised if you manage to keep more than a single slice to yourself.

I added walnuts, apricots, sultanas and chia seeds into the mix after you combine the regular banana bread ingredients: 125g of melted butter with 140g of sugar and two beaten eggs, then add three mashed overripe bananas and all the extras. Once that is combined, stir in 170g of flour with 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and 2tsp of baking powder. Then pop in a preheated oven at 160°C for around 1hour and 20mins, covering with tin foil after 45mins to prevent the top from burning. When it's ready, a metal skewer inserted into the loaf should come out clean. 

Eat with coconut yogurt, or on it's own, still warm from the tin. But it's also perfect cold the next day on it's own.



All right. Yes, it's basically a cake rather than a bread. And along with sugar, butter and flour it may not be the healthiest of starts to the day. But I feel that you do have other nutritional elements in the form of banana, dried fruit, nuts and magical chia seeds. 



Nutritional breakdown:
Apricots and sultanas- for fiber and antioxidants
Walnuts - for omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamin E
Chia - for high fiber, protein and omega 3

And for once in my life I've baked this banana bread without any chocolate chips (a massive sacrifice if you ask me), maybe next time I'll add some cacao powder to give it a richer depth.

But don't kid yourself, either way, this isn't the most slimming of breakfasts. 

My next task is to find a more healthy and perhaps gluten-free version to make me feel slightly less guilty for eating cake for my morning meal.

But this weekend, I'm heading to Glastonbury Festival for the first time and I've made this loaf to take me with to help me with any -ahem- fragile and -according to the weather forecast - soggy mornings. This banana bread will stay moist happily for up for a week in a cake tin and I'll be hiding this breakfast bounty safely in my tent. I can imagine it will be a god-send in the mornings.

Enjoy x

Check out my overnight oats and avocado on toast for more speedy breakfasts at your desk

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Breakfast at your desk - energy boosting avocado

Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America. Known colloquially as “alligator pears”, they are one of my favourite foods. I love their comforting soft flesh in salads and I can rustle up a mean guacamole in about 60 seconds flat.

But what about for breakfast?

Avocados have more potassium than bananas, and are jam-packed full of healthy fats. They are also very high in protein for a fruit (yes-avocados are fruits), making them great energy-boosting food and perfect on toast to start the day. This breakfast is also easy enough to craft together at work to be eaten at your desk while checking your morning emails.

I sliced half a beautifully ripe avocado that I bought from Borough Market and layered it on toasted rye bread. I also sprinkled a little feta on top so its saltiness would contrast with the sweet avocado flesh. And when it comes to this quick breakfast, the riper the better, as it makes a great substitute for butter - so just spread instead of slice.


You can also try adding avocado to scrambled eggs, to smoothies, but I think what I might try next time is baking an egg in half an avocado. Mmmm... delicious. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Breakfast at your desk – overnight oat jars

Hands up who has time to make a decent breakfast in the morning before work?

When I started this blog I wanted to change my attitude towards breakfast. As well as exploring unique brunch spots at the weekends, I wanted to think differently about my average weekday breakfast. 

“Step away from the boring cornflakes and sliced banana,” I told myself. “Put down the stodgy bacon and cheese croissant.”

So I’ve now set about discovering tasty, exciting (and often healthy) options for breakfast, while making sure they’re easy enough to transport to work and eat at your desk.

One of the first healthy options that comes to mind is oats. But while porridge is really good for you, I much prefer cooking my own than eating the "convenience food" microwave sachets which have invaded offices across the country. If I cook my own I know exactly what goes into my bowl with no added sugar or nasties. But I also know I prefer to spend those extra 15 minutes in the morning hitting the snooze button than slaving over a hot stove.

Recently, a friend told me she’d been experimenting with overnight oat jars. And after doing a little research, I see these are all the rage on Pinterest, Instagram and blogs on the web – it seems to be the latest healthy trend for the super-busy urbanite.

While overnight oat jars need to be prepared the night before, they only take 60 seconds to pull together. Throw milk, yogurt, oats and whatever flavours you like into a jar and pop it in the fridge to allow the oats to absorb the liquids overnight. 

Simple store-cupboard ingredients

What you’ll need:
  • A Kilner jar, Mason jar, or any jar with a lid
  • Equal amounts of oats, yogurt (I used coconut) and almond milk (good for low calorie, low GI and no saturated fats)
  • Flavourings – I kept it simple with raspberries, half a banana, linseed and a pinch of ginger for a zing, but let your imagination run wild.
  • Toppings to add in the morning – granola and pomegranate seeds, but again, go crazy!
Between you and me, I was so excited when I put my first jar in the fridge, it was like Christmas Eve, I couldn't wait to go to bed so I could wake up and try it!

Result? Weekday breakfasts will never be the same again.

My beautiful breakfast bounty,
drunk with a cleansing lemon and hot water

A jar of healthy goodness

It was brilliant. You have the comfort of porridge, yet it's a cool fresh summer alternative to the steaming hot bowl I associate with dark winter months. And it was delicious - the ginger really came through, but the sweet pomegranate jewels and tart raspberries cut through the spice. And there were so many textures, from the gloopy porridge, to the firm banana and crunch of the granola, and not to mention the gorgeous pink colour.

The only downside was that the coconut yogurt was overpowered by the raspberries, but I'm not sure it was strong enough to begin with. Next time, I'll try my favourite Rachel's Organic brand of coconut yogurt and combine with some calmer flavours.

The added bonus is that it can be eaten greedily from the jar before you dash out of the house – or even better take it with you to enjoy at a slightly more leisurely pace at your desk with your morning earl grey.

If you’re anything like me, you could get a little too excited and throw too many flavour combinations into one jar, but stop and think about what flavours go well together.

I fancy trying cacao and coconut, lavender and blueberry, or grated apple and cinnamon. Oh wow, so many combinations. 

Note: While you’re experimenting make sure to taste your jar in the morning before running out of the door, add extra milk if its too gloopy, and taste to see if it needs a touch of honey or maple syrup to sweeten – raw oats are not as sweet as cooked porridge because they haven’t been in contact with heat which breaks down the starch into sugar.

Enjoy and please share your inventions with me by emailing breakfastatcarolines@outlook.com, tweet me @cl_baldwin or I’d love to see your pictures on Instagram @breakfastatcarolines

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Sophistication at the Soho Beach House in Miami

Another American Breakfast Dream on my recent visit to Miami for work – I still can’t get over how well Americans do breakfast, I may have to move there!

This time it was a trip to the Soho Beach House which is part of the Soho House chain. Brunch here was an absolute pleasure, the outdoor terrace was covered in trailing branches which gave off a dappled sunlight glistening over the silver teapots. It really was one of the best ways to spend sophisticated Sunday morning. 

I chose eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce with crisp brown toast for dipping. I need to try and recreate this at home, because it was just delicious and I often bake eggs in ramekins with cream and cheese. But this brunch for me was all about the presentation, from the wooden boards, the slightly tarnished silver accents, dainty milk jugs and crisp white napkins. And not forgetting the star attraction - the Florida sunshine. 








Sunday, 15 June 2014

More of the American Breakfast Dream – Dottie’s in San Francisco

Dottie’s True Blue CafĂ© was another golden find on my work travels in San Francisco. I was recommended this place from a friend after retelling my awe of the French toast at Mama’s Bakery in San Fran. But this time I decided to get to Dottie’s before opening to avoid queuing around the block for an hour.

What you will notice about San Fran is it doesn't matter what time of day you wander around, there will always be a gentle buzz of people in the city centre, but it never gets like London with pavements full of zombies walking aimlessly around. Aided with my jet lag I arrived at Dottie’s between Market and Mission 10 minutes before opening at 7.20am on a balmy Sunday morning, and there were already a few joggers and a number of people looking for somewhere to start their day.

I was still about 10th in line, and within the ten minutes, the queue had already doubled. Luckily, I got a seat pretty easily - I could have had a table, but I choose to sit at the bar and take in my surroundings.

I had no expectations of this place other than the "huge portions" my friend had told me about. I think part of me was expecting a greasy spoon, but I couldn't have been more wrong, thank goodness. The cafe is set up with a 1920s theme, with black and white pin up girls hanging on the brick walls, brass finishes, a marble top bar, and big band music playing gently in the background.




The menu here is extensive, with chalkboard specials changing daily as well; it was an excruciating decision – sweet or savoury?

In the end I settled on the lamb Merguez sausage, roasted garlic, tomato, spinach and goats cheese omlette, but instead of Dottie’s famous buttermilk dill toast, I tried their chili cornbread.



It arrived on a plate quite easily larger than my head, indeed my friend was right the portions were massive. But the omlette was fantastic. I would have never put those flavours together, but the sweet goats cheese sat all gooey in the middle of the perfectly cooked eggs with chunks of tender lamb sausage. I think I would reach for the chorizo if I was making this, but the lamb was so much tastier and less overpowering than spicy cured sausage.

The side of chili corn bread with chili jam was needed for a different texture against the eggs. And the crunch of the bread slathered in jam was delicious. The jam providing a nice hit of warmth, but it was also very sweet which satisfied my sweet versus savoury dilemma from earlier.

It came to around $22 with tip, which also included my bottomless coffee and the side of fried potatoes (like I needed MORE food!) which I think was pretty reasonable value considering I couldn’t face any more food until dinner time – I couldn’t even grab a homemade cinnabon which sat looking longingly at me from the side of the vintage till register. That made me rather sad.



Whenever I leave my heart in San Francisco, it is always at the breakfast cafes. 

Farewell Dotties - until we meet again. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

A Borough breakfast

Borough Market near London Bridge is a dangerous place to be if you’re a foodie with cash to burn.

A cavern of delights from fresh meat, fish, fruit and veg to artisan goodies galore – it’s one of my favourite places to wander around by myself on a Saturday morning. While it's become a bit of an overpriced tourist trap these days, it’s still a place that’s close to my heart.

I go straight to The Flour Station stall where I grab myself an almond croissant for £2. Their almond croissants are quite possibly the best in London, and I usually buy two, one for ripping apart feverishly while I squeeze through the busy crowds, and another to warm up in the oven on Sunday morning. Accompany it with freshly brewed coffee or one of the many dozens of juice and smoothie options and you have a weekend bunch on-the-hoof fit for a queen.


Once my fingers are suitably sticky and covered in icing sugar, I continue my ritual of soaking in the atmosphere by tasting the salsas, smelling the cheeses, listening to the crackle of falafel being fried and feeling the ripeness of avocados and peaches.

Today, I came across a new find – Mini Magoo's – a stall I have been missing all these years as it’s been located at Borough for eight already. Mini Magoo's produces organic cereals, from granola and cornflakes to porridge and muesli, with additional natural flavourings, such as cherries, blueberries, nuts or ginger.



I decided to give the orange cornflakes and ginger granola a go – all in the name of research of course! At £4.95 each for 330g, they weren’t cheap, but they are so much more than your common-or-garden Shreddies or Alpen, and they are both gluten free.




Keep reading for a review up soon.

Mug of the Month – Tennis at the Queen’s Club

This week I was lucky enough to attend the tennis at the Queen’s Club in London. Founded in 1886 and named after Queen Victoria, the Queen’s Club has a long established history as one of the premier lawn tennis courts in the UK along with Wimbledon.  In fact, located in the swanky West Kensington, it is often referred to as the warm-up match before the Wimbledon Championships which happen towards the end of June.

Gorgeous weather and far too many Pimms were consumed on one of the sunniest days of the year. We watched World No 3 the Swiss Stan Wawrinka make his way to the semi-finals in 25 degree sunshine - it was bliss.

Is there anything more British than tennis, perhaps cricket? But in both sports you can tell it's a posh day-out by the polite clapping and delicate afternoon tea.



So my Mug of the Month for this unusually warm June is this dashing little number proudly displaying the Queen's Club logo as well as six tennis racquets through the ages from the 1500s through to 1970. For a tennis fan and history geek like myself, I just couldn't leave the gift shop without it. And at £7.50 it was a steal compared to any other gifts in the store, let me tell you! And it just goes perfectly with my tennis-themed strawberries and cream jug I bought as a souvenir from Wimbledon last year.



Perfect for a cup of quintessentially English breakfast tea - I will be using it as I cheer Andy Murray on from my sofa in two weeks’ time as he steps up to defend his Wimbledon title - I'll need a good cuppa to calm my nerves!

Mug of the Month: I’m a firm believer that if you drink a cup of tea out of a beautiful mug it will taste better. Every month I will be featuring a lovely mug which will be perfect for your morning cuppa. Spotted a special mug I should know about? Get in touch: breakfastatcarolines@outlook.com or tweet me @cl_baldwin

Monday, 9 June 2014

Where it all began – the sweet U.S. of A.

It’s got to be said: Americans know how to do breakfast.

Us Brits can pull together an elegant afternoon tea at the drop of a (top) hat, but when it comes to fluffy pancakes, architecturally sound waffles or sweet dense bagels, the yanks know best.

And my obsession with brunch came about while on my travels to the States. I go every couple of months to attend technology conferences for work, and last September on a trip to San Francisco was a turning point in my breakfast experience.

San Fran has got to be one of my favourite cities and its laid back attitude makes it the perfect setting for a lazy weekend brunch. And that’s exactly what I did on my first visit last year.

I went online to hunt out a decent recommendation for a Sunday breakfast and the Twittersphere came back with Mama's on Washington Square which has been serving breakfasts to North Beach for over 50 years. I was warned that the queues get pretty long, so I hopped on a cable car and arrived for opening at 8am. 

Sadly I wasn’t the only person with the same idea and the queue was already around the block. But I stuck it out, and after an hour of rereading the same section of my guide book, I was rewarded with one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.



I chose the Cranberry-Orange French Toast which is homemade bread (or more like cake) baked with cranberries, fresh orange juice and walnuts, which is then battered in egg whites and fried. And of course I added the seasonal berries as a side and chose a Mama’s special smoothie (bananas, berries, orange juice, yoghurt and honey) to wash it all down.

Considering the queues outside and the limited seating inside, I wasn’t rushed by the staff and happily enjoyed my breakfast in the lemon-yellow cafe with a great view of the breakfast bar and bakery. It came to less than £10 ($16.30 – plus tip) and I just wish London had a place like Mama’s - or perhaps for my waistline it's a good thing it doesn't!


If you’re ever in San Francisco, I urge you, GO – just let the menu tempt you! Get there for 7.30am and be aware that they’re closed on Mondays, but whatever you do get yourself to Mama’s.

Rise and shine

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," they say; and I'm as guilty as the next for mindlessly eating a bowl of micro-porridge at my desk, or choosing a lie in over a decent breakfast at the weekend.

But after being inspired by travelling the world with my job - where I get up early to explore foreign cities and eat my way through the culture - I decided to start this blog.

But be warned: you won’t find any traditional fry-ups here. I’m definitely not the greasy spoon kind of gal, as I find a Full English usually leaves me rather queasy. So instead imagine boutique brunches, homemade Seville crepes and maybe a classy Bloody Mary or two if you’re lucky.

I'm already a huge foodie - Back to the Roots was my first foray into blogging where I loved exploring local farmers’ markets and regional food in Wales during my time as a student. Now I live in London and I’m a journalist - so I should know a thing or two about this writing malarkey. I write about technology in enterprise and government and if any of those tricky topics tickle your fancy you can read my professional work here.

I hope you enjoy and please feel free to get in touch via social media... @cl_baldwin on Twitter, @breakfastatcarolines on Instagram, or email me: breakfastatcarolines@outlook.com

Caroline x

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh

― A.A. Milne