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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

“Breakfast Guys, Table for Two?”

March 19, 2015

There are many ways to define a person’s eating habits or style. I am a “breakfast guy.” It’s as simple as that. Above all meals, I love breakfast.

There are guys who thrive in the lunch scene. They close multi-million dollar deals over a salad and a glass of wine (three-martini lunches are a thing of the past). There are people who dress for dinner and flourish in the evening environment. For me it’s breakfast.

There’s just something about an early morning meal that appeals to me. Maybe it goes back to my childhood and the memorable breakfasts I enjoyed in my mother’s kitchen. Both of my grandmothers made excellent breakfasts, too. I have fond memories of all of those things, but to have an obsession this strong there has to be a bit more. There is something in my wiring that is obsessively attracted to breakfast.

It might even be genetic because this breakfast passion is something that affects my 13-year old son, too. He is also a “breakfast guy.” Everyone struggles with waking a teenager in the morning. I have no problem in that area. Especially when breakfast is involved. He and I are devotees of breakfasts in our town— whether it’s at our home or some diner or café— and in the towns to which we have travelled.

A few years back my family took an extended sabbatical to Europe. I have many great memories of experiences shared, museums visited, friends met, and sites seen. But I also have great memories of breakfasts spent with my son in so many charming places.

My wife and daughter usually slept a little later or worked on schoolwork in the early mornings. My son, who was 10-years old at the time, and I would venture out to a nearby eating establishment and have breakfast together. Amazingly enough, with all of the sites we saw and all of the places we visited, those breakfasts are some of my fondest reoccurring memories of that trip.

We sat on a terrace overlooking The Temple Of Zeus and The Parthenon and had freshly squeezed orange juice and soft-boiled eggs several mornings in a row. We dined in Italian street side pasticcerias from the southernmost tip of Sicily to the Alps. We ate breakfasts in quaint hotels in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and in grand cafes in France.

Breakfasts in Spain were often centered in or around the local market (not a grocery store market, but a European version of our farmers markets). He and I would get up early with the fishmongers and green grocers and have breakfast alongside them after they had stocked their booths.

When travelling in Europe, try not to miss the markets in the early morning. Stop by and grab a fresh piece of fruit and check out the bakeries that are located inside the markets. We ate a lot of breakfasts that consisted of nothing more than freshly baked bread and fruit sitting on a bench or shipping crate in an open-air market watching the buzz, as the merchants got ready for the day.

The Italian markets were our favorites but the grand market in Budapest might have been one the most impressive we visited.

Some of the more interesting breakfasts we ate were in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden. Many European countries serve breakfast items with which we are familiar. There were a lot of things in Denmark and Sweden that never make our list, such as cured or pickled fish. Also, like the British, they eat baked beans for breakfast.

I welcomed the “strange” foods. It gave both of us a chance to broaden or breakfast horizons. We ate some interesting items for breakfast, but many times our “go-to” morning entrée was soft-boiled eggs and toast.

I grew up eating soft-boiled eggs and biscuits. It’s an easy, and delicious, way to eat eggs in the morning. For those who have never eaten a soft-boiled egg, there’s nothing to it. The egg is boiled for three minutes (more depending on how cold the egg is at the start) to the point at which the yolk is runny and the whites have set and are cooked. The egg is then cracked open, the yolk is dropped into a bowl, glass, or cup and then the whites are scraped from the shell into the container with the yolk. Biscuits or toast can be torn into small pieces and mixed with the egg. Salt and pepper is all that is needed to finish the entrée.

At home we sometimes crumble bacon into the mix. They eat undercooked bacon in almost every country in the European Union so we skipped that step over there. More often than not we tore pieces of croissant in with the eggs. Croissants are found in every European country, not just France.

Husband, father, friend, chef, author, are among many of the titles by which I could be described. “Breakfast guy” defines me as much as any of them.


Bananas Foster French Toast


6                         Eggs

2 cups                Half and half

1 /2 cup             Sugar

2 tsp                   Cinnamon

2 tsp                   Orange zest, fresh

1 tsp                    Vanilla

1 stick                 Butter

1 large loaf         French bread, sliced on a diagonal into 1 1 /2 inch thick pieces

Bananas Foster Sauce

1 stick               Butter

4 cups               Bananas, sliced

3 /4 cup            Pecan pieces

2 Tbl.                 Dark rum

1 1 /2 cups        Butter pecan or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Combine all of the ingredients for batter and stir well. Soak French bread slices in batter for five minutes. Heat butter over a medium heat in a large skillet. Brown the soaked bread on each side and place in a baking dish. Keep French toast in the oven to keep warm until all slices have been cooked.

To make the sauce; add butter and bananas to the same pan. Cook for four to five minutes and add the rum. Allow alcohol to burn off. Stir in the pecans and syrup. Remove French toast from oven and top with Bananas Foster sauce. Serve immediately.

Yield: six to eight servings


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