English Breakfast

Clockwise: Bacon, Croque Madam, Poached Eggs, Italian Sausage, Redskins, Scallop, Cherry Tomatoes, Smashed Potatoes.  Not Pictured: Black Beans

Clockwise: Bacon, Croque Madam, Poached Eggs, Italian Sausage, Redskins, Scallop, Cherry Tomatoes, Smashed Potatoes.

Not Pictured: Black Beans

I know this isn't what a lot of people would consider an English Breakfast, but look, I had an English Breakfast one time and as far as I could tell, the entire aesthetic was, "7 or 8 different things that aren't connected, or even necessarily breakfast, on a plate." I made this in a condo on Sanibel Island, Florida. This breakfast was made with limited resources and beach house knives. "Beach house knives" are what I will be calling dull knives from now on. I imagine that in the routine cleaning that happens in between people checking in and out of these condos, amidst the vacuuming and scrubbing and flipping over couch cushions, nobody thinks, "Hey, you know what else we should do? Sharpen those knives."

Sanibel Island was the first time I took a family vacation in 2 decades. My parents have been going to Florida for the last 5 or 6 years now with my Aunt and Uncle. My cousins have also been meeting them for a few days each year. I never went to Sanibel with them, and for poorly thought out reasons. There's a great book - Blood, Bones, + Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, where she quotes her Dad saying, "...it's stupid to let money be the reason you don't do something." I think about that all the time.

The whole experience was peaceful. It wasn't an "exciting" vacation. Sanibel Island is retiree central. It's a bubble. It's a lot of rented bikes and Bahama Breeze's. It's old men playing cornhole (I don't know those people in the picture, by the way) and people collecting sea shells. Every room has a god damn sea horse lamp. To set aside my judgments of this place and have a good time, surprisingly, only took about 12 hours. Pretty soon I was striking conversation with strangers and enjoying chain restaurants. I admired sand castles like an idiot. I woke up to watch the sun rise. During the days I drank, cooked, and swam in the ocean. I didn't worry about work or my career. I didn't send any emails. I just kind of existed with my family. In that regard, I felt like a kid again.

I'm rarely one for novel gluttony, but that's exactly what I did here. I was feeling...lavish? I like feast eating on big occasions. Vacation put me in an extravagant mood. The thought process behind this breakfast started with a Croque Madame, which is breakfast-y enough given the poached eggs. Then I thought, "You know what goes good with béchamel and Gruyere? A scallop." Bring it back around to American breakfast and there's got to be bacon and sausage on there. There are few things more detestable to me than breakfast sausage, so I went with hot Italian. I would have gotten blood sausage, but unfortunately they didn't have any at the Sanibel Island grocery store. Next I decided to do 2 different types of potatoes: The Gordon Ramsay "smashed" style with onions and garlic, and a nice quartered redskin with bacon, garlic, and onion. Sautéed + salted cherry or grape tomatoes are highly underrated on breakfast plates, in my opinion. Underneath it all were some black beans with garlic, onion, and bacon.

Note: There was a heavy amount of butter and rendered bacon fat used here as I did not have any oil on hand. Dad took a nap at 10AM. Nobody was hungry for dinner. It was a good day.

Not leaving a recipe here, as it would be kind of pointless, but you should at least try a Croque for breakfast. Maybe on your birthday.

- Danny