chris and i adventured to the neighborhood of clapham to look at flats during our first few days in london and found ourselves eating breakfast at a fantastic little place called breads etc. this cafe already had me at hello with a peek in the window at the droolworthy bread and pastry display pictured above. however, they won my heart completely when we walked in and noticed that EVERY TABLE HAD ITS OWN TOASTER. ahhhh! seriously. YOUR VERY OWN TOASTER. AT THE TABLE. i kid you not.
they could have served us fossilized dead cockroaches and still-beating monkey hearts and i would still be gushing over the toasters. yeah, i’m easy like that. luckily for us, there were no insects or animal entrails being served. instead they had an excellent selection of breakfast plates, each of which came with…get this, DIY toast. do-it-yourself toast is a wonderfully ingenius creation where you get to cut your own pieces of toast from a wide variety of freshly baked breads like white, wheat, six-grain, fruit and nut, olive and herb, etc. then you get to choose from an entire shelf stocked with multiple kinds of condiments including, but certainly not limited to various brands and flavors of jam, jelly, peanut butter, ketchup, marmite, vegemite, honey, nutella and more (btw, next time we’re drunk together and if you’re of a mature age, ask me the difference between jam and jelly). anyway, you can just grab your own jar of nutella and spread it on your bread with a shovel if you like. i had a fantastic rhubarb and ginger preserve on a thick slice of fruit and nut bread and it was truly excellent.
beyond the ever so intriguing and entertaining DIY toast, my actual order consisted of the ‘soft option breakfast’ – two soft boiled eggs, toasted sourdough bread with butter, and two rashers of bacon. so tasty.
as part of my ambitious let’s-eat-everything-british-we-possibly-can plan, i wanted to try marmite and vegemite, so i brought a few jars back to the table and squirted some on my eggs and toast. i preferred the marmite, an intensely flavored dark brown paste made from yeast extract that reminded me of soy sauce with a texture like toothpaste. kind of weird, but pretty tasty.
of course, a meal with DIY toast and at-the-table toasters would not be complete if nothing ended up on fire. i solved this problem by incinerating a small piece of sourdough bread, which lit up in flames and started wafting large clouds of smoke across the restaurant. luckily, my business partner/constant companion chris knows how to handle burning things thanks to his years of work at a barbecue catering company. he calmly put out the fire while i just sat and stared at the flaming toast in a combined state of stupefied inaction and paralyzed laughter. note to the wise: i am not a useful person to have around when something is LITERALLY ON FIRE.
below, a final look at the super cute and cozy restaurant. congratulations, breads etc, for coming up with the marvelous combination of DIY toast and personal toasters. i will repay your creativity by failing to burn your restaurant to the ground. love, mei.