It’s What’s for Breakfast: Bacon & Eggs, Please
It’s a rare thing to have the inn to ourselves – very rare – but the other night I took the opportunity to actually sit in the unusually quiet dining room to work on my weekly breakfast menu planning, bacon & eggs and so much more, while Abi watched the world cup soccer game back in our apartment. It’s true. I admit it. I could care less about watching the world cup soccer games. Am I the only one?
Here’s a look at what’s in front of me as I plan menus for the upcoming week. It’s a lot more than just bacon and eggs with a slice of toast!
What’s the Big Deal?
Now there would be many a folk who would think, “What’s the big deal, just throw some bacon & eggs, or pancakes, on the plate and call it a day,” and oh boy don’t I wish it was that simple? When we bought the inn, I knew I could cook, that wasn’t an issue. What I wasn’t quite prepared for was some of the finer details involved in the planning. And now, 4 seasons in to this gig, each year we have seen a steady rise in guest expectations, which makes planning that much more demanding. Notice the size of my eraser? There’s a reason for that.
Here at Abigail’s we serve breakfast at 9:00 a.m. Just one seating. Sometimes, a guest will ask, 9:00 until when? To which we smile and respond, 9:00. Most B&B peeps that I know offer just one seating with a 2-course breakfast. I never post a menu for a couple of reasons; #1. we may get a walk-in with a food allergy that will throw off my plan or #2. – and this is the real reason – there are mornings when I walk into the kitchen and think, meh… I don’t feel like making that.
It’s All in the Planning
To start my planning I look at my reservation book and I find the guests that will be in the house the longest and then I plan every day with them in mind to ensure they do not get served the same meal twice. This isn’t actually too difficult because our average stay is just 3 days. So why can’t I just throw some bacon & eggs on the plate and call it a day?
Let’s see, how can I explain this while putting a positive spin on it? Actually, let me preface this by saying that I have the utmost respect for those who suffer from dietary issues such as celiac disease or diabetes and for sure, we accommodate such restrictions and/or allergies. However, if I’m being brutally honest, there are many guests who, shall we say, buy into the latest fad?
The Latest Fad
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the guest who specifically asked for a vegan meal and after eating announced she’s not really vegan, she just prefers eating that way. Or, upon check in a guest will say, “Since I made my reservation I now prefer to eat gluten free.” Or, the guest that requests a gluten free meal and then gets caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. You see where I’m going with this, right? 😉
If someone is a vegetarian, that’s straightforward and easy to plan around. If, for example, I’m serving breakfast burritos, then I just have to make a separate serving with no meat. Or, on occasion I’ll make a vegan meal, which is a little more challenging but still doable.
It’s Not as Simple as Bacon & Eggs
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s not so difficult.” And you’d be right, to some degree. There are weeks though when I actually have to make tags for plates because we have so many restrictions I can’t keep them straight when we begin to plate the food, so I tag each plate to remind us who gets what. For example, we have a week coming up soon when I’ll have: 2 vegetarians, 1 diabetic, 1 gluten free, 2 no nuts, 1 no asparagus, 1 no mushrooms, 1 no pork and 1 no chocolate.
That’s when it gets tricky, to plan breakfast for 10, with that many restrictions. And that’s why I need a big eraser because all too often I’ll think I’ve got it all covered and then when I double check myself, I’ll realize I missed something. And to keep it all interesting, every now and then we’ll get a surprise thrown at us. For example, the other morning, 5 minutes before we were ready to serve, a guest said to me, “Oh, I forgot to tell you I’m a vegetarian.” What?!
Happy Taste Buds
My overall goal is to give every guest the best possible breakfast – to make their taste buds dance for joy – while balancing all of the dietary issues of the day. Most often, I can plan a common entree – such as a vegetable frittata – and then work around the individual needs. And judging by the number of scraped clean plates that come back to the kitchen every morning, there’s a lot of happy taste buds in the house!
This I Cannot Do
Well into our 4th season I’ve got a handle on the menu planning, but don’t even get me started on what I see coming next. I’m afraid this is where I’ll have to draw the line. Guests have begun to ask for special accommodation when it comes to the washing/drying of bed sheets and towels. This I cannot do, but what I do suggest is that they bring linen from home, and I have found that most guest with extreme sensitivities are more than happy to do so.
Great post Patti
I’ve always wondered what it was like to plan meals. Never knew how tricky. My hat is off to you. I look forward to reading more of these posts. Wonderful.
Thank you Sandy! And we were so glad you and Phil stopped by the other day, it was wonderful to see you!
Wow these look amazing Patti!!! Very creative!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted…#soulshots – Be Open
Thank you, Sarah! If you find yourself in Oregon, I’ll make you breakfast!
Your meals look delicious Patti and I find these insights into running your B&B fascinating! I’m a vegetarian and really appreciate it when hosts go out of their way to accommodate my food needs; it sounds like you’ve had some pretty picky and faddy eaters to deal with though and I don’t blame you for feeling exasperated! Also, I can’t wait for the world cup to be over too, it bores me so much 🙂
Amy recently posted…After the Adventure: Returning Home from Travel
Thanks, Amy! I’m sure you’re enjoying all of your favorites now that you’re back home!
Patti – you have me running scared…..here in Zimbabwe its just good ole bacon and eggs – and lots of it with a few French fries thrown in. The sweet with savoury is a new one on me.. plus no one here seems to be vegetarian, let alone vegan – big meat eaters here!
French fries for breakfast, huh? I wonder what my guests would think of that?! 😉
Breakfast always felt like the least complicated meal of the day. Who knew it could be such a headache….Thanks for this post, Patti. I’ll never again take my stay at a hotel or B&B for granted.
Thanks for linking up this week.
Marcia recently posted…Mannish Water Soup, An Aphrodiasic?
Thanks Marcia! Since becoming an innkeeper my outlook on certain things has changed as well. When we leave a hotel room I practically clean the room! 😉
Goodness Patti – most fascinating post and love the many pics, but…
I must say – as an int’l off-the-beaten-path traveler, those finicky folks would never cut it in places I travel like Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal. Indeed, while I respect folks w/ bonafide food allergies, diabetes, celiac, etc., when it comes to “no asparagus”? Uh, how ’bout you just push them aside and have an extra helping of potatoes for heaven’s sake! 😉
Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted…Inti Raymi – Festival of the Sun
Ha! Ha! Ha! I like your attitude Dyanne!
Wonderful description of the challenges of pleasing all…while doing it your own way. Beautiful pictures, too. When I visit, I’ll be your perfect, uncomplaining, I-eat-everything guest!
Kristin Henning recently posted…Art Nouveau Facades, Riga, Latvia
I so enjoy an uncomplaining, I-eat-everything guest! 😉
Oh my! This is incredible, can I come and stay at your place please. We are in Mexico which is a great place, but the breakfasts don’t compare!
Rob recently posted…Travel Expectations and Regrets
Absolutely! If and when you find yourself in our part of the world, I’ll make you breakfast, for sure!
Those are some nice looking plates!
A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted…Honest Food Tales – AngloItalian Follow Us
Thank you, and thanks for stopping by.
I’m not a breakfast eater normally, but I think I would be at your place! There is no way I could resist all of this delicious food – except the meat since I’m a vegetarian. I’m sure you have a VERY high satisfaction rating from all of your guests!
Michelle recently posted…My Alaska Cruise Ports of Call – Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan
You’re probably not surprised to learn we are not breakfast eaters either, but our guests do seem to enjoy the food and their stay.
Well, your images made my taste buds get up and dance! Breakfast at a B&B is always a highlight, and presentation is important. Looks like you know what you are doing!
Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted…Sights to See: annual events, Roar to the Shore and Mummers Parade, North Wildwood, New Jersey
Thanks Carole, they do tell me it’s good!
LOL to the laundry requests! I only have one dietary restriction…that it is hearty and that there is plenty of it. While I’m in good shape I’m a legendary big eater so as long as that is not a problem I will absolutely stay there! 🙂 I’ve always hoped you would write this post…specifically about the food planning so this made my day! Having dreamed of running a restaurant (far different alone that the task you and Abi have) I’ve actually learned enough over 20 years time that I could give it go. It really hit home for your planning at this part,”2 vegetarians, 1 diabetic, 1 gluten free, 2 no nuts, 1 no asparagus, 1 no mushrooms, 1 no pork and 1 no chocolate”. Wow! Thank you so much for writing and sharing this post, Patti! 🙂
Mike recently posted…CANCER-FREE CONTEST! Win $100…
I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Mike. My food isn’t fancy foo-foo, but it is good and hearty! No brag, just fact. 😉
I’ll have to come to your inn and enjoy those delicious meals, Patti. Ah, if I could cook like that I’d probably eat all day long…
Anda @ Travel Notes & Beyond recently posted…Hiking Kilauea Iki and the Thurston Lava Tube
Nah… you’d get tired of it all, just like we do. 😉
I am so impressed with your versatility in catering to all these different tastes in food. I just have to feed my husband and that’s enough for me to plan for. I almost had a son-in-law that couldn’t eat dairy products and I was so glad when my daughter broke it off.
Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it recently posted…Travel By Hoof Power, Horse of Course
Here’s the thing… I do all of the planning for the guests – but we never plan meals for ourselves. It’s just whatever we feel like each day and by the time we finish with the breakfast service and all that it entails, quite often the last thing we want to do is cook a meal for ourselves.
The photos and descriptions of your breakfasts have my mouth watering and I ‘m ready to chuck my standard yogurt and granola for something more exotic! Until your post I’d never really thought how much planning one might have to do to run a B & B but it looks like you really go the extra mile to please your guests!
Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…The Panacea: Do Nothing, Just B-e-e-e-e-e….
Funny you should mention yogurt and granola – add in some honey and berries and that’s pretty much what I eat every day. We never eat what we prepare for the guests! 🙂
Those photos made me hungry! They look delicious! I think people today are far too spoiled. I understand when someone has a disease or an aversion to meat, but all the rest is a bit over the top! How many times does a guest say…” Oh I didn’t realize there was only one seating and it began at 9:00″. I sure hope you smile and say yes and offer them a muffin to go!
Suzanne Stavert recently posted…My birthday surprise: The dinner of my dreams at The French Laundry
Ha! Ha! Muffin to go is a great idea for those who can’t quite make it to the dining room by 9:00! 🙂
Lots of good choices there for breakfast, I’ll take any of the choices above.
noel recently posted…Mission street art – Travel Photo Mondays
Alrighty! They tell me they taste good too!
These breakfasts look lovely! Made my mouth water. When we ran a B & B we had a weekly rotation menu. No one ever stayed for longer that a week. Guests really expect a B & B to do their laundry??? I had people ask to use the machines but never with me at the helm.
santafetraveler recently posted…Photo of the Week: Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument
I tweaked that last caption to clarify — guests do not want me to do their laundry, but I am getting more and more requests to launder their guest room sheets/towels and/or clean their guest room per their specific needs; the practicality of which is beyond reason – in my book.
It’s great that you create such wonderful meals. This must be tough for you as “chief cook and bottle-washer” but the guest experience is so influenced by food. Your lucky guests!
Irene S. Levine recently posted…Three ways to experience Hungarian cuisine in Budapest
Thanks Irene! It’s not rocket science, but it does keep me on my toes! 😉
Having a food allergy I so appreciate your efforts:) Your food does look amazing!!! We food sensitive people have to be flexible to though.
Tracey recently posted…How To Enjoy Local Food Traveling With a Gluten Allergy
Thanks Tracey – having a food allergy is not fun – I’m the queen of environmental allergies as well as many other things, so I understand when someone genuinely has an issue.
Those look like delicious breakfasts! I’ll have to check out your recipes! Breakfast is one of my favourite meals to prepare..although I’m sure the novelty would wear off if I had to do it every day.
Michele Peterson recently posted…Creamy avocado dressing: a recipe inspired by Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala
It’s pretty funny, Michele, you’d think we’d be sick to death of eggs as I crack about 10 – 15 dozen/week, but somehow we can still eat them. However, we rarely go out to breakfast. Actually, we rarely eat breakfast for that matter!
Wow! The level of commitment you show to your guests is amazing! Makes me want to come for breakfast alone – can we stay and just eat all day? No restrictions here, promise. 😉
The GypsyNesters recently posted…Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef – Bucket List, Check!
Sure! You can’t believe how happy I am when I have a week with no dietary restrictions, it lifts me up and I can go crazy in the kitchen!
I agree – dietary requirements are getting more and more convoluted –
We’ve just had some vegan visitors, which initially made me wonder what was I going to do, but by the time they left and I’d been eating their diet for the duration of their stay, I was rather like your guest who said – I’m not vegan, but gosh – I do prefer to eat that way!
(Pleased I’m on the other side of the world so can avoid your swipe – hehe!!)
Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…How to Create the Illusion of Movement with Arrows in Your Travel Journal
No swipes, I promise! 😉 I think Vegan is actually a very healthy way to eat but it takes a lot of time to learn about food and what one can and cannot eat. And it does take considerable effort to make 1 meal out of 10, vegan. I don’t think this particular woman was in touch with the reality of her “preferences” and the impact on a B&B kitchen.
My hat is off to you for preparing such a variety of items with a wonderful presentation. Although I can cook, I don’t really enjoy it. And don’t get me started on how much I Hate to do laundry. I’m just not a good domestic.
Gaelyn recently posted…Exciting water energy at Augrabies Falls
Gaelyn, I often joke that when we are no longer innkeepers I may never again launder sheets and towels. When they get dirty I’ll just recycle them and buy new!
Just remember — when I visit—no bananas! 😉 I honestly think I couldn’t handle your job. I don’t deal well with people who come off as “entitled”. I’m not saying your guests aren’t entitled to a certain level of service, but I find clueless people to be almost insufferable and if they’re really clueless, they don’t even “get” sarcasm.
Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…Singapore Selfie (A Visit to Singapore)
No bananas – no problem! I like your choice of descriptors – entitled, insufferable and clueless. They fit. Fortunately, we have many more that are polite, mindful and cheerful. They balance each other out. 😉