Thursday, June 4, 2009

Breakfast of champions

Dr Yobbo here. I'd like to talk to you today about the art of eating for hangovers. That is, eating to both avoid hangovers, and eating to ameliorate their effects. The former is the reason for the existence of the late-night kebab shop, the less said about which the better. The latter has also spawned its own bespoke foodstuff: the all-day breakfast.

Because as we age, bacon and egg McArses don't cut the hangover mustard (or the grease) quite the way they once did - and because as we age the frequency of our hangovers necessarily lessens, with a concomitant exponential rise in their ferocity - most cafes around and about the place will do you a fairly serviceable breakfast of a weekend even once the sun is well over the yardarm and the Stella taps are a-calling once more. The epitome of which is what could generically be called the Big Breakfast - though usually slapped with a grandiose title specific to the establishment in question - and which generally parallels a high-end version of the traditional, time-honoured Anglo-Celtic morning fry up. Bacon, sausages, eggs of some format to be determined by the recipient, toast, possibly mushrooms, possibly beans, possibly roast tomatoes for some semblance of vegetation, probably hash browns, almost definitely indigestion, and a steaming flat white in the largest serving vessel the joint can provide.

But the problem with the Big Breakfast is this: it's almost always just a little bit shit.

It's always something. Not helped by being, shall we say, usually of limited patience due to certain over-indulgences the eve prior, but it's not just being a grumpy hungover bastard that's causative here. It just seems that what should be the easiest schtick on the menu - a big bloody fry-up - always gets buggered up in some way. Flavourless, powdery beige sausages made from innards and the stuff they make Gyprock out of. Not enough bacon. Ludicrously poncy toasted ovoid crusts of ludicriously poncy southern European breads, far too small to actually scrape any of the gluggy, watery egg onto. Hash browns leaking oil over everything like a starchy scale model of the Exxon Valdez. Not enough bacon. Or, as was the case the morning after the Highlanders/Shihad double bill at the 'Brook earlier in the year, turning a vibrant shade of Munter Green in the fifteen minutes between ordering and receiving one's meal, and being left to watch grimly as sleeting waves of nausea led to an untouched $18 breakfast becoming resolutely cold and inedible in front of one's own yellowed, bloodshot eyes.

Bloody awesome gig though. Ears rang for days. AND we stuffed the Crusaders, sux-nul, in possibly the worst game of rugby ever played.

Anyhoo I digress. Put all that on pause, because the search for the Big Breakfast Of The Ages (or at least of Dunedin's burgeoning cafe scene) is over. End Of. We can declare a winner.

Eggs: free range. Poached, perfectly, just so the white is done and the yolk still soft and malleable.
Toast: generous rounds of grilled ciabatta, crunchy and yet spongy.
Bacon: heaps. Enough to make an impromptu eggs benedict with, courtesy the...
Hollandaise sauce: an interesting variation. Creamy, saffron-yellow, not too bitter, just so.
Beans: absent. Thankfully.
Tomatoes: usually go straight in the skip but these were just right. Not broiled until catastrophic failure, not given the Niki Lauda treatment, just singed lightly.
Sausages: the trump card. No floury beige turds here. Rust-red chorizo, sliced diagonally and grilled. Bloody gorgeous.
Coffee: excellent. Not a 'name' supplier, but roasted well and barista'd very competently.

Finally, the perfect All Day Big Breakfast. So where, I hear you cry, can one find this stunning azimuth of breakfast deliciousness?

I give you the Mega Breakfast. The name's a bit of a giveaway, as much as the location is unlikely - the quasi al fresco cafe parked in a glassed enclosure within Mitre 10 Mega's garden section. Seems it's more than just the weekend sausage sizzles that the big box hardware stores are getting a gastronomic reputation for. After all, where else would you be able to get a big breakfast, a decent flat white AND a 12V Bosch cordless drill for under $140? That, as they say in the classics, is win frosted with more win.

The Doctor is OUT.


  1. When i ran the pubs, i cooked more breakfasts than dinners. Once we got the chooks i worked on mastering hollandaise and then we had it 4 or 5 times a week for a period. Probably took 10 years off my life during that period.

  2. Speaking of pubs the grimmest all-day breakfast I've ever come across - tbf heard of rather than experienced myself - was that at the infamous Red Tomato Inn, a munters' pub in Kingsford down the road from the western end of UNSW. It was a dark, dingy shithole with some of the scariest, snaggle-toothed sub-humanoid lifeforms imaginable - and that was just the waitresses in the see-thru plastic aprons. It had a 24 hour licence, and if you bought a drink after 6am, you got a free breakfast. Funnily enough I never made it further south than the Regent, which was the last pub on Anzac Parade before you got to the Red Tomato. It's now a sports bar with probably much of the same clientele.

  3. Don't forget the worcestershire sauce on the 'maties!

  4. Actually the hollandaise served well there!

  5. Thus far I have always cast a sideways glance at the food offerings in the big orange boxes - perhaps I'll actually risk it on your say so Dr Y.

  6. Never attempt hangover breakfasts with a Bosch angle-grinder using blades bigger than three and a quarter inches

  7. Yobbo: the best fry-up breakfast I've seen, though not all day at all, was in the breakfast tea rooms of the Cri in Rockie. This involved an inch thick steak, plenty of bacon, a decent mushroom sauce, delightfully poached eggs runny enough to saturate as much of the bottomless toast you could eat, some more bacon, hot strong tea and lots of it, with the milk on the side and so cold the condesation stuck the tablecoth down under the milk jug, bacon, some pleasant garnish...

    Can't write more - pretty nasty headache, pinched nerve or something. But you get the idea about the Cri. We'd go back if we could take our dog