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.
The book starts with the aptly titled intro “A sandwich in the sun”:
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.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: Do you have a favourite cookbook to recommend for my collection?
For more on writing and other acts of faith,
sign up here for free email updates and receive
a copy of How to Pray When Prayer Seems Impossible
2 thoughts on “Breakfast at Bill’s and My New Favourite Cookbook”
I too love the experience of eating in restaurants overseas. As I read your blog a wonderful memory came to me of eating in a Pfannkuchenhaus (Pancake House) in Husum North Germany two years ago. Right now two of my favorite cookbooks are “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” and “Celebrations Mennonite Girls Can Cook”. But I’m fickle when it comes to cookbooks and my favorites change over time. I’ve always found my “More With Less” Cookbook a true and trusted friend, and my Betty Crocker Cookbook has been with me since I got married (a present from my husband during a very sad time in our lives) and I still turn to it when I don’t know where else to look. I especially love books that incorporate recipes in their content, even though the books might be fiction or travelogues or whatever.
Thanks for sharing – I also enjoy MGCC and the More With Less Cookbook, which I used a lot while at seminary. My tried and true basic cookbook is The Joy of Cooking given to me by one of my sisters who wrote in it “May your hours in your kitchen be enjoyable ones” which they have been and are.