Our first breakfast for two in London:
For him: a fruit smoothie, granola with yogurt and honey, fresh fruit, and a slice of toast. For me: bubble and squeak (in the lower left of the picture – a mixture of cabbage, potato, egg, and herbs formed into a patty and pan-fried), the other slice of toast, and fresh mint tea.
Our waitress was young and French and had been in London just five months. “I’ll bring you some Marmite,” she said when we ordered toast. “You should try it spread very thin, just so you can say you tried it.” I took her advice, but one bite of the salty and somewhat bitter spread on a corner of toast was enough for me, and I quickly switched instead to Bill’s rhubarb and ginger jam.
Still, trying the Marmite was all part of the experience, and I loved everything about my breakfast at Bill’s Restaurant (near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which I gather is quieter than some of his other locations) — the way the fresh mint leaves floated on the surface of the water, the comforting warmth of the bubble and squeak, the simple decor with its fun splashes of colour, our French waitress who was realizing her dream of working in an English-speaking country, our hostess with the nose ring and an almost Cockney accent I thought, and oh, just being there for our first morning in London!
I had such a great time that I even decided to treat myself to Bill’s cookbook which focuses on fresh and seasonal ingredients – Bill’s own version of bangers and mash (i.e., sausage and potatoes), a Thai-style bubble and squeak, apples baked with fruit and nuts, pear custard with cinnamon roasted walnuts, and many other colourful and creative recipes.
We set out to make a place that was colourful and exuberant, with dishes that were really tasty but that also made you smile, that put everyday and unusual seasonal ingredients together and gave everyone lots of ideas to take home with them. We put fruit on our pizzas, we added roots, sprouts and leaves that people had never seen before to salads, we made cakes that looked so extraordinary that customers stopped to take pictures before they ate them. All of this, we’ve tried to capture in this book. . . .
Eating should be a simple pleasure , whether it’s a noisy affair with friends and family gathered round the table or just you and a sandwich in the sun. So have fun – explore new foods, experiment with new flavours and get out there and cook something to make you smile.
Yum, I savour the writing, photos, and layout as much as the recipes.