Make time for breakfast

Once again, Farmhouse Breakfast Week highlights the wealth of high-quality regional breakfast produce. Emma Outten learns from the “Breakfast Champion” in East Anglia about the importance of making time for breakfast.

Once again, Farmhouse Breakfast Week highlights the wealth of high-quality regional breakfast produce. Emma Outten learns from the “Breakfast Champion” in East Anglia about the importance of making time for breakfast.

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We may have the best intentions to cook up a farmhouse style breakfast during this week, but how do you make time for it? Taking a leaf out of the book of East Anglia's newly crowned “Breakfast Champion” may not be a bad start.

The Crown and Castle Hotel in Orford, Suffolk, has just been declared East Anglia's Breakfast Champion for its commitment to the promotion of delicious, healthy breakfasts using regional produce.

The competition was held as part of the celebrations for Farmhouse Breakfast Week, beginning tomorrow, and organised by the Home Grown Cereals Authority. (Last year, you may recall, Manor Farm near Thetford was declared the best breakfast place in East Anglia.)

This year judge Julie West from Tastes of Anglia declared that the breakfast produce and service given at The Crown and Castle was worthy of Breakfast Champion status, as she was particularly impressed by the commitment to source locally wherever possible. “The Crown and Castle has a local sourcing policy which is reflected in its excellent breakfast menu,” she said.

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Ruth Watson is the woman behind the Suffolk success story (she also runs a 120-acre organic farm so she should know a thing or two about farmhouse breakfasts!).

However, Ruth said that the real winner was her breakfast chef, Dawn Dow. “The great thing about Dawn,” said Ruth, “is that she adores the morning. She is up at 5 o'clock and she loves it.” For the very aptly named Dawn, dawn really is the best time of the day. And that added Ruth, “does make a huge difference.”

Why do Ruth, Dawn and the rest of the team at The Crown and Castle bother about breakfast so much? “It's such a treat for people nowadays,” said Ruth, who added: “I think it's one of the most significant factors now about being on holiday.” After all, as she explained, having breakfast is the very last thing they do before they leave.

The restaurant at The Crown and Castle is called The Trinity. So what's on the breakfast menu?

Starting with drinks, the freshly squeezed orange juice is absolutely genuine. Oranges are cut in half and put in their clever machine, said Ruth.

The apple juice is very local: it comes from nearby High House Farm, as does the loganberry jam.

Then there are the all-important cereals, yoghurt and fruit. The yoghurt comes from Friston Church Farm. And Ruth added: “We make our own compote of figs, prunes, apples and pears, poached in apple and orange juice, cinnamon and Earl Grey tea,” said Ruth. “It's very popular.”

Ruth, who is also the author of Fat Girl Slim, says there is a compote recipe in her first book, The Really Helpful Cookbook.

Last but not least, are the cooked breakfasts: Ruth underlined that they are not instantaneous, but are made to order (there are no buffet breakfasts to be had here!)

For the full English you can order all or any combination of Suffolk dry-cured bacon, grilled tomato, Suffolk Pride sausage from Lane Farm in Brundish, field mushroom, Lancashire black pudding and fried free-range egg from Bob of Barsham's.

Finally, the marmalade is from Tiptree and the honey is by Suffolk Meadow.

There are some things on the menu that just have to be sourced from outside the region: the oak-smoked salmon is from Wester Ross in Scotland, for example.

But Ruth believes that as much as 80 percent is sourced in Suffolk and the southern edges of Norfolk.

HGCA nutritionist Fiona Hunter, believes that this competition reminds everyone of the delicious breakfast products available across the country, as well as demonstrating the excellent work being done by so many to promote the most important meal of the day.

However, as much as we may love our breakfasts while on holiday, trying to emulate these glorious morning feasts at home can be a struggle.

Ruth believes that breakfasts of the type The Crown and Castle make to order rarely make an appearance on the breakfast table at home, (apart from may be on a Sunday).

So how can we take a leaf out of the book of the breakfast champion? “Squeezing your own juice,” for starters, said Ruth.

The key to a good fry up, she continued, was the quality of ingredients. This wasn't the time for buying supermarket own brand bacon for example.

The ingredients should be as fresh as possible, and not linger on the hotplate, any longer than absolutely necessary. “It's all cooked to order - that makes all the difference,” said Ruth. So if anything, she believes, breakfast cooked at home should be even better.

So what stops us? “It's that time thing, who has an hour or two to do it?” Asked Ruth. “Not many people.”

But the benefits are there, she believes, if we make time. Looking at her own customers as they check out, she notes: “People are much happier for it.”

She feels the same if she makes time for it, as she also notes: “If I'm having a farmhouse breakfast I'm not actually rushing around.”

LOCAL EVENTS

t The Bawdeswell Store, Bawdeswell, Norfolk: The village store is taking part in Farmhouse Breakfast Week by offering free samples of foods from their takeaway breakfast menu to their customers all week

t Members of Watton NFU are holding their annual breakfast meeting in support of Farmhouse Breakfast Week at The Thompson Chequers. This year's speaker is Bill Jordan from Jordan's Mills.

t Attleborough: Home Farm B & B will be serving up farmhouse breakfast every morning between 7am and 9am.

t Great Yarmouth: Pelham & Talbot Ltd will be promoting their bacon and range of homemade sausages.

t Details of more events, as well as more recipes, are on www.hgca.com/breakfast

t For more ideas log on to www.foodfrombritain.com or www.tasteofanglia.com

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