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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas tea & gin cocktail

Unfortunately, there aren't many days in the year when it is acceptable to drink gin for breakfast. But thanks to those lovely guys at T2 as well as Baby Jesus, Christmas morning provides you with the best excuse to fuse gin with tea for a breakfast aperitif.

The star of the show here is T2's Passionfruit Cheesecake fruit tea. I was noseying around its Bath store at the weekend with my friend and two days before payday, I was definitely browsing, not buying. But after one taster of this limited edition tea, I was digging out my credit card to make sure I had some in for Crimbo. 


The passionfruit in the tea tastes like a good quality fruit tea, but then as you savour the taste you get a biscuity kick of the cheesecake. I couldn't quite believe how T2 makes a sip of liquid taste like an excellent dessert, but when the store assistant said he brewed his up as a mixer for gin, I was sold.

You normally brew this tea for five minutes, but as per his instructions I let it infuse for eight hours overnight. When I woke up in the morning, I chucked it in the fridge before work and on my return added it to gin with a splash of tonic. So far, it's a love it or hate it combination, but the more you drink the better it tastes. I'm a fan, my boyfriend is not - but that just means more for me!


Now, go and put your feet up and enjoy your cocktail with a big fat Danish pastry, while watching Christmas special repeats of your favourite TV shows. For the record my faves are Gavin & Stacey, Vicar of Dibley Christmas Lunch Incident and the OC's Best Christmukka Ever.

Friday, 16 December 2016

#Shelfie: Toast Hash Roast Mash by Dan Doherty


The lovely Dan Doherty released his second cook book earlier this year - Toast Hash Roast Mash. And after living with it for a couple of months, I know it's going to remain a firm favourite.

I just adore this book. It's going to be one of those I keep by the side of my bed to flick through before I fall asleep, or reach for to cheer myself up at the end of a long week - well, toast, hash, roasts and mash are all the very best comfort food, if you ask me.

It is Dan's second book and unlike its Duck & Waffle predecessor, these recipes are simple to follow and cook from your very own kitchen. The book has a perfect balance of wholesome and naughty recipes to see you through the darkest of British winters. I particularly love how there is a section dedicated to hangovers - how about some Smoky Bacon Sloppy Joes or a Scotch Bhaji the morning after the office Christmas party? And Dan's philosophy to top nearly everything with an egg, which means a good chunk of this book is breakfast-friendly, hurrah!

The first recipe I tried out was his version of Mexican Eggs. A simple step away from huevos rancheros. Unlike the traditional recipe which involves a spicy tomato sauce which the eggs are baked in, Dan's recipe calls for a tasty Mexican chipotle salsa to drizzle over a couple of lovingly-fried eggs.



I've also tried his Middle Eastern Veggies, which were a delicious treat for a mid-week supper.

And high on my list of recpies to cook in the coming months are:

Shakshouka with Mint Yoghurt & Toasted Buckwheat (p.125)
Oven-roasted Tomatoes & Goats' Cheese (p. 28)
Banana Bread French Toast, Maple-roasted Apples & Creme Fraiche (p.185)
And, omg yes, Harissa Bolognese Baked Eggs, Runny Cheese (p. 50)

Monday, 12 December 2016

Mug of the Month: Borough Market


Just check out these two cuties. Perhaps I've been watching a little too many episodes of Planet Earth this month, but I had to stop by this stall while exploring Borough Market at the weekend, to check out its selection of animal designs - my favourite and therefore my Mug of the Month had to be the penguins. 

They make a perfect Christmas gift for a fellow foodie (large mugs £12 or two for £20, small mugs £9 each or two for £16). So head on down to Borough Market, grab a mulled wine and have a meander until you find this cracking trader. 



And what's a mug without a biscuit for dunking?


If you want to submit your favourite mug for next month's Mug of the Month, do get in touch via social media... @cl_baldwin on Twitter, @breakfastatcarolines on Instagram, or email me: breakfastatcarolines@outlook.com

Monday, 14 November 2016

Breakfast at Canteen, Southbank, London


The very spacious Canteen is hidden behind London's busy Southbank, right behind a pretty decent food market which runs Friday through to Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled as it can get lost behind all the stalls selling brownies and chorizo. Part of the Royal Festival Hall, I'm glad to say Canteen's primary-coloured decor doesn't reflect school canteen food in the slightest. 



I've popped in here a few times and made my way through the menu and have had many tasty breakfasts, always thinking it's prices are on the London-side of "reasonable".

The menu may seem simple, but a few unusual breakfasts lie between the English breakfast and eggs florentine. May I present Welsh rarebit, roast tomato and poached egg (£6.50)...


Or some black pudding on sourdough, roast tomatoes (£6.50) and extra bacon (£2.25) - don't forget to check your teeth after this meal!


Maybe you fancy something a tad more comforting now the weather has dropped like a zillion degrees. Try Canteen's porridge, banana, honey and poppy seeds (£5.50), which I swear kept me warm and cosy until lunchtime.


And of course, the coveted avocado, poached eggs and chilli on toasted sourdough (£9.50).


Don't forget to take a walk around the food market after your breakfast. Food, followed by food - my perfect kind of Saturday.

Canteen
Royal Festival Hall, 
Belvedere Rd, 
Lambeth, 
London SE1 8XX

Monday, 7 November 2016

Breakfast at Milk, Balham, London


Look at this dish, go on, take it in. Isn't this just autumn in a pan? Butternut squash baked eggs with crispy sage and crumbled feta. The golden yolks perfectly runny to be mopped up with charred toast. And I must say, Butternut squash for breakfast was a bit of a revelation for me.

This is what Milk in South London's yummy-mummy territory, Balham, is really good at - very tasty, well thought out, unsual meals. Oh and the corner premises on Hildreth St market with its huge floor to ceiling windows has the perfect light for Instagramming your brekkie.

But I'm not really sure what Milk is trying to be. It feels very hipster, with its white-washed brick walls and specials menu scrawled straight onto the kitchen tiles, yet it is full of mums with prams, catching up with other mums with prams.


Known for the hoards of South Londoners who queue for an age every weekend for brunch, I went with my friend during the week, so perhaps it had a different vibe. That said, I'm not really a fan of the hipster brunch anyway, I prefer a friendly cafe where I can have a leisurely coffee and sit reading my book. But Milk is more about the uncomfortable wooden stools, squished intimately too close to your neighbour so they can turn around tables as quickly as possible.


So after trying to get as comfortable as possible in my seat and pouring over the menu, I decided on the butternut squash and eggs combo, while my anti-egg brunching friend decided on the corn fritters with some Indian-spiced sauce and corriander topping - I'm sorry, Milk's minimalist website doesn't offer their menu, so I'm struggling to remember ingredients, never mind prices a week later. Her meal arrived in a stark metal dish and she tells me it was very tasty.


While I can't fault the food and its extensive brunch menu (of which I can't remember as there were so many options), we were rather annoyed by the policy of 'no swaps'. My friend wanted to switch her avocado for mushrooms, which were the same price on the menu if you wanted them as extras, but we were told she would have to pay extra for mushrooms as they did not offer substitutions. This really got our goat. In a city where you pay between £8-15 for a decent brunch dish, I felt that was rather cheeky. And the thing is, it's the kindness of ensuring your customers enjoy their meal that will get us returning again and again. And when we have so many brunch options and places we want to try on our list, I feel Milk has been ticked off and I'll go onto the next, rather than popping in again in the future.

But as I wander by one Saturday morning a weekend later and note the throngs of people waiting in the chilly November morning for a table, I don't think Milk is worried right now about breakfast loyalty.

Milk (M1lk)
The corner of Hildreth St & Bedford Hill
Balham
SW12 9RG
(no reservations - obviously)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Breakfast at Dickie Fitz, Fitzrovia

So last week it was my birthday and I must admit I did chuckle when I received my fifth 'happy birthday' message along the lines of: "I hope you're celebrating with a fabulous breakfast". Am I that predictable... it seems that I am!


It was a dark October morning and before I headed to work, I was treated to a lovely start to the day at Dickie Fitz in London's lovely Fitzrovia. Unlike its neighbouring Soho, Fitzrovia has not yet sucuumbed to the chain-restaurant disease and still has a few charming independent pubs, cafes and restaurants. By way of evidence, my all-time favourite breakfast spot, Lantana, can be found on Charlotte Place.

Dickie Fitz is sophisticated restaurant, recently replacing a pub on Newman Street and when you walk in you can't help admire its impressively high ceiling which provides the backdrop for several dramatic spherical 'dandelion' lights. But rather than making you feel intimidated, it's eye-wateringly canary yellow seating set against crisp, white walls and grey, marble tables feels very welcoming. 



I learnt that the Aussie head chef was flown over to create a menu "inspired by the fresh flavours and ingredients of the Pacific", which, to me, means it has to have a great breakfast menu, with the obvious smashed avocado with charred tomato, kale, feta, grilled sourdough (£10.00) to the less obvious porridge with coconut, jasmine, raisins, banana, honey (£5.00).

We went for the "zucchini" (or courgette to you and me) fritters, with charred tomato, wilted chard, roasted portobellos and goat’s curd (£8.50). It was pretty special and ever so slightly gooey and satisfying in the centre, lifted by the sharp goats curd, while the wilted chard and portobellos were solid accompaniments. 



Next up were the buttermilk waffles with salted peanut, yogurt and fresh strawberry syrup (£8.00), which rounded off the meal pretty nicely - especially the compote syrup. 


A little spot of finery in Fitzrovia, which, in true Aussie style, doesn't take itself too seriously. 

48 Newman Street
W1T 1QQ
London
0203 667 1445

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Breakfast at The Good Egg, Stoke Newington, London


The Good Egg had been on my brunch wish list for such a long time. But for a South West London resident, getting all the way from SW19 to N16 is quite a trek across the city. I don't mind a long tube journey with a good book, but when you could be facing an hour-long wait for a table at a popular establishment like The Good Egg, I kept choosing other restaurants off my Sunday brunch wish list to try instead.

Then came along one of those extra-special mid-week days off, you know the one, where you just fancy a day to yourself, with absolutely zero plans - no jetting off for a city mini-break and no jumping on a train for a hen do. Nope, nothing. Perfection.

So this lovely sunny Friday comes along and I jump on the tube and make my way up to The Good Egg in Stoke Newington for brunch before a massage later in the day (I told you it was an indulgent "me day").


Despite it being 11am on a Friday, the small venue was still bustling, but I easily got myself a table inside. The brightly-lit room's focus is the marbled bar and open kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing the Israeli-inspired seasonal menu. You can see the produce sat on shelves behind the wooden bench which surrounds this Jewish-style brunch joint.


Eating solo, I ordered a coffee and settled down with the menu, where I sat indecisively for an age. Challah French toast, tahini, marbelized egg, pastrami and my favourite shakshuka all jumped out at me and I just couldn't decided.

I was torn between the shakshuka (baked eggs with with tomato and peppers, with preserved lemon yoghurt & sumac and a challah roll. With rare-breed merguez sausage or halloumi £9) or a bacon and date pitta (pita stuffed with bacon, marbelized egg, date jam & amba £7.50).

On asking the waitress very nicely, she said it was possible to have a half pitta on the side of my shakshuka instead of the challah roll, which meant I could at least try both. Hurrah.


Served in a sturdy skillet, the shakshuka was bravely spiced, with a hefty dollop of lemon yoghurt and the sausages were firm and delicious. But the star of the show for me was definitely the bacon and date pitta which was served on those little metal taco trays - genius. The sweetness of the dates with the saltiness of the bacon worked wonders - well those Americans do know what they're doing, they serve their bacon with maple syrup. 




The Good Egg is up there with my all-time favourite brunch places, I just wish it wasn't quite so far away. 

93 Stoke Newington Church St, 
London N16 0AS


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Mug of the Month: A Cath Kidston classic

I'm very chuffed to say this month's Mug of the Month comes from a reader, Clare McDonald, who submitted her lovely Cath Kidston Highgate Ditsy Stanley mug.


This gorgeous and simple design is a classic Cath Kidston pattern and I personally love the duck-egg blue contrast with the pretty pink flowers. Clutching your morning coffee on a blustery autumn day and you can be transported back to spring for a few precious moments with this lovely addition to your kitchen shelf.

You can buy it here for £6.50. 

If you want to submit your favourite mug for next month's Mug of the Month, do get in touch via social media... @cl_baldwin on Twitter, @breakfastatcarolines on Instagram, or email me: breakfastatcarolines@outlook.com

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The last days of summer


Hello breakfast-lovers, I know, I know. It's been a while. I have to apologise for my summer hiatus, but rest assured I have been eating, drinking and creating a lot this summer.

And haven't we had such a good one? I've really been able to take advantage of our tiny London garden this year, even if it is for a quick cup of coffee and a boiled egg in the morning sat at our rickety garden table.

But I've definitely been loving the long, hazy, summer nights which start off drinking pimms with our Ray-Bans and end up drinking Rioja, snuggled under piles of blankets and the stars.

Or sunny Sunday afternoons, one hand tending the smoking BBQ, the other holding onto a sunshine Aperol Spritz, condensation slowly dripping down the glass (I really think Aperol is my favourite colour).

And not forgetting frozen margaritas and ice-cold martinis served in lovely glasses I unearthed from my mum's attic. I told you there was a fair bit of booze.

This summer, alfresco dining has been a grown up affair, every evening setting the weathered table with a a pretty, yet simple tablecloth and a jar of sunflowers or gerberas to reflect my mood.

Check out my Instagram for all my food-related updates (I've given you a couple as a taster below). And apologies again, but sit tight, more breakfasts are coming your way very soon.





A photo posted by Caroline Baldwin (@breakfastatcarolines) on



Friday, 13 May 2016

Breakfast at A la Folie Café Français, Miami Beach

I must admit, one of the last things I was expecting to find on a street called Española Way, was a French café. But nestled far down this pretty little street off South Beach, draped in trees heavy with yellow blossom and bars serving the best tequila in Miami, is a petite and chic café, called A la Follie.


A photo posted by Caroline Baldwin (@breakfastatcarolines) on



Española Way feels distinctly Spanish with its colourful awnings hanging off the Spanish-style buildings, but everything about A la Folie Café is most definitely French. While it was heart wrenching to walk by cafés serving huevos rancheros, I followed my trusty guide book to find A la Folie, which was easy to miss due to the overgrown palm trees right in front of the entrance, providing shade for its early-morning breakfast goers, sat at spindly little tables lining the pavement – sorry sidewalk!


A French friend of mine tells me "a la folie" means "like crazy" and is sung at the end of the 'he loves me, he loves me not' game, which is of French origin.

Inside is full of French memorabilia as well as rows and rows of magazines (even a few in the French language), while Church-style pews line the walls, decorated with navy scatter cushions which complement the black-tiled floor. A framed map of Paris neighbours the French prints on the wall, while a gramophone is cleverly suspended towards the back of the café. This is the kind of place you could happily spend a few of hours with a couple of bowls of coffee, escaping the sun while reading a magazine or two. 





My friend and I order coffee and my café au lait arrives in a big bowl with no handle – how very French – and we peruse the menu, which features a number of traditional dishes including French onion soup and escargot, it was breakfast, so it was time to eat our weight in those carbs the French do so well. 


A la Folie Café Français specialises in paper-thin crêpes made from buckwheat, which is what my friend chose, which enveloped a generous helping of blue cheese and spinach, topped with a good handful of toasted almonds. Meanwhile, I decided to go for the breakfast bread basket: a baguette, pain au chocolat, croissant and jam, accompanied by a fruit salad, just in case you wanted to attempt your five a day.

I must say I regretted my choice of baked goods when my friend’s crêpe arrived, which she gladly let me “try” (I mean, share). If I was to return, I’d order the bread basket between two in addition to a breakfast dish. That said, the pastries were buttery and flaky, while the baguette held its crunch even doused with enough jam to cause a severe spike in anyone’s blood-sugar levels. 




If you’re in Miami Beach and fancy a quiet brunch spot to watch the world go by, try out this little French gem on Española Way.

A la Folie Café Français
516 Española Way,
Miami Beach, FL 33139


Monday, 25 April 2016

Mug of the Month: Peacock Power

A couple of months ago I attended an event at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London. where I enjoyed my morning cuppa out of the most delicately designed peacock mug. The mug in question was part of the St Pancras Chambers Collection and costs £15. 

It really was beautiful.


And there must be a trend for peacocks this season, because if, like me, you think £15 per mug is a little steep, I found a colourful variation in Debenhams this month, for almost half the price, at £8 each.



If you want a touch of elegance with your morning brew, go grab them now while you still can.

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, 18 April 2016

Breakfast at Yardbird, Miami Beach

A short walk from the hustle and bustle of Collins Avenue on Miami Beach, where the party goers drive their flashy cars, pretty girls screeching and waving their arms out of the window to a toot of a fellow horn, sits Yardbird, a much more casual affair.


Achingly cool, Yardbird is the type of restaurant where your Bloody Mary is served in a mason jar, along with two sticks of crispy fried bacon - even the bill (sorry cheque) comes in a mason jar.

I feel if Yardbird was set in London, it would instantly be labelled "hipster", I'm not sure if it's the size (Yardbird is much bigger than the tiny pop-up restaurants which litter Old Street in East London), or the softly placed wild flowers and tea-towel placemats adorning the tables, which brings this place right back down to its Southern roots. If you combine wooden floorboards, an iron-top bar with a gigantic wine rack, that's the right amount of cross between sophistication and traditional, if you ask me.


 

After trying and failing to book a table one Sunday morning in March (apparently the staff don't check their voicemails on a Saturday afternoon), my friend and I managed to find a space between the many Miami brunch revellers and the cocktail paraphernalia at the bar - in fact I felt like I'd committed a cardinal sin asking the bartender for a coffee instead of a mimosa, but she skilfully poured the strong American coffee across the bar, avoiding all iPhones, with a lovely smile on her face, before going back to shaking her colourful liquid concoctions. 


Whitewashing the exposed brickwork also softens the surroundings, while floor to ceiling windows on this corner street building allows the Miami morning light to flood into the room. Around us are people from all walks of life - gaggles of girls gossiping over cocktails, hungover-looking young couples attempting a brunch date, parents with young children sat in leather booths munching on pancakes and a huge family gathering on one table which was stacked with every dish from the menu, with the grandparents tucking into various dishes and happily toasting their younger counterparts over a breakfast cocktail.

I always get overwhelmed choosing breakfast dishes from a new menu. While I want to try something new, or taste something I wouldn't normally choose, I also want to order a classic to see how different venues put their spin on that famous eggs benny - FYI, Yardbird's comes with a biscuit crumble and lardons. 


At least this time I was traveling with a friend who is a first-class foodie and sharer, so we decided to start with the Maple-Glazed Bacon Doughnut ($9). I expected one doughnut we could cut in half to whet our appetite, not a tower of four, shiny with syrup and encrusted with bacon bits. We gleefully tucked in to the miniature skillet and the sweet doughy pillows went down a dream with our American black coffee. I did think they could have been more savoury, I tasted more maple than bacon, but they were still delightful.



While I had my eye on the Chicken, Watermelon and Waffles ($36 and the house speciality), a day of eating like an American the day previously had already broken us, and I felt it would have been a waste. So we opted for two of Mama's Biscuits ($14), one with Virginia ham and cheese, the other with crispy chicken and pepper jelly. Biscuits are such an American breakfast, and in my experience are often dry, but these scones were airy and sweet, topped with smoked ham almost like bacon and the other with some of the best friend chicken I had ever tasted - salty, but not at all greasy. To be honest, for a Southern menu, none of it was greasy or oily and I love how Yardbird has a perfect balance traditional southern diner comfort food with a classy cocktail service


Virginia Ham and cheddar cheese

Crispy fried chicken

Afterwards suitably stuffed, we leaned back on the bar and watched the Mac 'n' Cheese and the '77 Elvis Chocolate Chip Pancakes float by, which was pure torture. We wanted to taste everything, but our British stomachs couldn't handle another morsel and as I write this post, how I wish we had sucked it up and ordered dessert - it was Sunday brunch after all.


1600 Lenox Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.538.5220