Though both England and Scotland have their versions of the full breakfast, based on the version I had at Matt the Rashers in Dublin, Ireland can’t be beat.
The full breakfast at Matt the Rashers comes on a plate that has been precariously overloaded with: eggs, hash browns, bacon, tomato, liver, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, and sausage. It also comes with two slices of very hearty soda bread. It’s the breakfastiest breakfast in the history of breakfast. You can’t have more breakfast than that. It’s physically impossible.
It’s amazing. The white pudding and the liver are what differentiates this from the English and Scottish versions (though from what I can tell, the liver is more of a Matt the Rashers thing than an Irish thing).
White pudding is like black pudding, but without the blood. It’s quite tasty, though it’s basically just a slightly blander version of the black.
Everything on the plate was super tasty, and the soda bread — which has a very dense, almost cakey texture — is a great accompaniment.
It’s not even close; I liked the other two full breakfasts a lot, but this one is hard to beat.
Remember the post about the English full breakfast I had in London? Well, Scotland has their own version of the full breakfast (they add haggis, because of course).
I had it at the Royal McGregor, and it came with toast, a thick slice of tomato, baked beans, eggs, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, sausage, haggis, and buried beneath all of that, a tattie scone (which is a potato-based flatbread).
It was quite tasty — the haggis is a great addition (haggis, being made with various organ meats, is one of those things that sounds like it might be an acquired taste, but is actually just delicious). Plus, the tattie scone is under there, soaking up all those flavours. It’s not the best breakfast I’ve ever had, but I can certainly think of worse ways to start the day.
Situated underneath some train tracks, the Borough Market is really distinctive and absolutely crammed with vendors selling delicious food. My kind of place.
It’s also surprisingly enormous. It’s the kind of place where you think you’ve seen everything, then oh wait, there’s another corner over there with about a dozen dessert vendors.
There were a ridiculous amount of places I would have been happy eating at, but since I had heard good things about the chorizo sandwich at Brindisa, that’s what I went with.
Featuring zingy chorizo sausage, a slice of roasted red pepper, peppery arugula, and enough good quality extra virgin olive oil to give it a distinctly nutty flavour, this was a sandwich that absolutely did not disappoint. It’s served in a fresh, toasty ciabatta that’s pretty much perfect. It was so good.
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone bellow with quite the impressive room-filling intensity of the order-taker at the Regency Cafe, but holy crap. I wish I had taken a video of this because there’s no possible way I can adequately describe it with just words. She sounded like a pretty normal person when she was taking orders, but then when they were ready and she called them out? Her voice got two or three octaves deeper and it was like she had a megaphone embedded in her larynx.
I guess it was one of those “you had to be there” things, but it was actually quite awe-inspiring.
The Regency cafe is famous for its take on the full English breakfast, which in this case came with toast, eggs, baked beans, sausage, and bacon — I chose to add on black pudding (i.e. blood sausage) and hash browns, because go big or go home, right?
Even with the addons, it came up to just eight pounds (which also included a very strong cup of English tea), so it’s a pretty amazing deal considering the absolutely monstrous amount of food that you get.
It’s the type of meal where you want to lie down and go into a food coma immediately after. And it was seriously tasty — no individual component on the plate was particularly mindblowing, but taken together it was an absolutely phenomenal breakfast. Plus, you won’t need to eat anything else for several hours, which is always a good thing for a traveler on a budget.
There are roughly seven billion pubs in London, and a good chunk of them have long and storied histories.
One such pub: the Lamb and Flag, which has been around since 1772, and which was reportedly a favourite of Charles Dickens.
I have to imagine it was pretty different in his day — back then it was nicknamed “The Bucket of Blood” thanks to the bare-knuckle fights that were staged there — but it’s still standing.
The inside looks pretty much exactly how you imagine it’ll look. It’s the classic British pub through-and-through.
I ordered the sausage and mash and got a pint of beer to drink (of course). The food was actually pretty decent, particularly the very generously applied gravy, which was rich and satisfying.
As for that thing about the British drinking their beer warm? It’s not true, but it’s not exactly false, either. The beer definitely wasn’t warm — but it also definitely wasn’t cold. It was more on the chilly end of room temperature, I guess? But it was a stronger, more flavourful beer, so the temperature actually worked really well.
Despite having maybe the best food of anywhere I’ve visited so far, McDonald’s France has a surprisingly boring menu. It’s pretty much just the classics (and yes, the Quarter Pounder really is called the Royale with Cheese, so it’s got that going for it at least).
They do, however, serve something called Le P’tit Hot Dog, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a standard hot dog — maybe slightly smokier than usual — that’s topped with ketchup, mustard, and crispy fried onions. It’s extremely average.
I ordered a side of “Deluxe Potatoes,” which are just potato wedges. Like the hot dog, they’re pretty standard. If you’ve ever had wedges from the supermarket or from a cafeteria, then you know exactly what to expect.
And that’s about it. Even the dessert menu was just the usual stuff.
Also: there’s something vaguely off-putting about being told “bon appetit!” when being handed a tray of McDonald’s food.
There are certain dishes that popular in one country but virtually unheard of in most others that are so approachable and tasty that it just makes you scratch your head. Like, why does the whole world eat stuff like pizza or tacos, but not this?
Currywurst is one of those dishes. It’s absolutely everywhere here in Berlin. I doubt you can walk more than a block or two without stumbling across a place that serves it.
There’s absolutely nothing gourmet about it — it’s a greasy sausage that’s been cut up, slathered in ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder, typically served with a mound of fries. The balance between the sweetness of the ketchup, the savouriness of the the sausage, and the mild spice from the curry powder just works. It might not be the best thing that you’ve ever eaten, but it’s cheap and satisfying, and sometimes that’s all that matters.
Also: you have the choice of mayo or more ketchup on your fries, and I’ve been going with mayo, because that’s one thing the Europeans are dead-on about: mayo is the perfect French fry condiment. But man, they aren’t kidding around with it. They pour it onto the fries like they’re trying to put out a fire. It seems like too much, but I always wind up eating it all, so what do I know?
Seriously though: there’s nothing weird or unusual about the flavours in currywurst. It’s pure comfort food, so why this isn’t a bigger deal outside of Germany is kind of mystifying to me.
I’ve been eating a lot of really great meals on this trip; here’s one of the not-so-great ones.
I went to a restaurant in Zaragoza called La Migueria that specializes in a dish called migas; it’s a Spanish dish that consists of seasoned breadcrumbs that are fried around with ham or bacon, and served with meat. In this case, it came with chorizo sausage.
It’s an odd dish; you look at the picture above and you think, oh, there must be something below those crispy breadcrumbs. Well:
- No, there’s nothing under there but more breadcrumbs.
- They’re not crispy. Not even a little bit.
It tasted like they took plain white bread, ran it through a blender, mixed in some tough little pieces of meat, then dumped the whole thing into a bowl and plopped a sausage on top. If it was seasoned with anything, you couldn’t tell. So I can safely say that I’m thoroughly confused by the appeal of this dish, but then I strongly suspect it just wasn’t prepared very well.
The chorizo was fantastic, though, so there’s that at least.