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.