Breakfast is often referred to as being the most important meal of the day, and for a very good reason. Some say that breakfast should be eaten like a king, lunch like a prince (depending on whichever camp your tent is pitched in), and supper like a pauper!
As the name suggests, breakfast ‘breaks’ the overnight fasting period, and replenishes your supply and need of glucose, thus boosting energy levels for the entire day ahead.
Yet, despite the bountiful benefits of breakfast for your health and well being, many people often skip this resplendent repast completely in favour of a quick coffee and a cigarette!
Here in Balearic bliss on the island of Mallorca, breakfast itself is rarely mentioned, yet make no mistake, when 10 o’clock strikes, it’s down tools and big up the ‘merienda’, that mid-morning snack which has become a cultural mainstay island wide, which in some cases has actually replaced breakfast altogether.
Stoic British tourists, often stuck in their own Empire traditions, insist that breakfast must be a cooked ‘Full English’ affair, and nothing else will satisfy, even when they visit our sublimely sizzling Mediterranean shores, seeking out the bacon, eggs and beans; fried bread a veritable bonus that really hits those jackpot notes!
Here at home we tend to go for a more National Trust version of the British breakfast with home-made muesli, fresh fruit and yoghurt, followed by golden toast sliced from a rustic Mallorcan loaf, lathered with butter and a quality marmalade. However, whenever we are away on a trip to the mainland, we always include ‘pan con tomate’, Iberica ham, and cheese, aka the mysterious ‘continental’ as part of our breakfast spread.
Pan con tomate is so refreshingly delicious, I almost feel compelled to lead British tourists away from the baked bean fry up section, and introduce them to a Spanish classic. Traditionally, ramallet tomatoes are used which have a very thick skin along with a particularly juicy interior, yet plum tomatoes are a great substitute. Easy to make at home, you simply halve and grate tomatoes on a course box grater, gathering the pulp over a bowl.
Hopefully, the tomato skin protects your fingertips. Season the pulp with salt and pepper, then add a pinch of dried oregano along with a good glug of virgin olive oil. Mix well and spread on freshly toasted bread. The tomato pulp keeps well in a fridge for a few days and is extra delicious topped with a slither of local ham or cheese as they do here, and in Spain.
Yet casting continental options aside, in all honestly, I can safely say that in terms of variation and choice, the best breakfast I have ever had in my life was in Las Vegas; and it began one morning, nine years ago, as I woke, bleary eyed to greet a fresh, new, Mallorcan day.
“I want to go to Las Vegas!” That was the first thing Other Half said to me, completely out of the blue, even before I was fully compos mentis. Other Half had been sitting up in bed for hours, surfing the internet, and discovered that Barbra Streisand was performing for one night only at the MGM Grand in LV.
If you are a fan of the delectable Ms Streisand then you will be aware that she rarely gives live concerts, so the Las Vegas gig offered an extremely rare and exclusive opportunity to see a favourite superstar perform in the flesh. If you are not a fan then you probably couldn’t care less!
However, we are both massive fans of Barbra, yet I wasn’t totally convinced I wanted to schlep all the way to Las Vegas for a two hour concert, superdiva or not!
“But I really want to go,” said Other Half. “This might be the last opportunity we ever get to see her!” Personally I still wasn’t 100% convinced. After all, Mallorca to Las Vegas is a very long, long way.
“Well, if you don’t want to go I’ll take Sheila!” Sheila was an English friend who lived in the village, who was also a big Streisand fan. But no way was Sheila going in my place!
“I don’t suppose there will be any decent seats left anyway,” bemoaned Other Half, idly toying with the phone index for Ticket Master.
Surprise!!! The venue was fully sold out, but as luck would have it they had two tickets held back. They weren’t bad seats, and I suppose the ‘we can get out of it now clause’ slightly kicked in as we seriously considered the overall cost of such an extravagant impulse. Other Half then asked the Ticket Master agent – “can you better those?”
And again, as luck would have it, two really fantastic seats had just been returned for sale. It was a now or never situation! We had to commit with an immediate decision, as the concert in Las Vegas was only ten days away. Result! Barbra here we come!
On the very same day, Other Half miraculously secured Virgin Atlantic flights, USA visas, and deluxe rooms at the five star ‘Encore at the Wynn’ with breathtaking views along the entire length of the world famous illuminated strip.
I had never previously had any aspirations whatsoever of going to Las Vegas or anywhere near it. I rather thought it smacked of tacky tinsel town casinos, stag night revellers and Elvis impersonators. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! Of course it was all those things, but I didn’t realise it would be so much fun, or that I would still be talking about the Vegas breakfast options, nine years down the line!
Everything in Las Vegas is totally OTT, like an elite fantasy wonderland for grown ups. The Barbra Streisand concert was history in the making, a sublime, magical experience, and well worth crossing the Atlantic for. We also took in a Cirque du Soleil show and an amazing underwater extravaganza staged in the hotel’s on-site, sub-aqua theatre.
All in all, the sparkling Las Vegas experience showcased a memorable and remarkable 5 day break; and like I said at the beginning of this article, the breakfasts we had there were unbelievable.
The ‘breaking of the fast’, choreographed at our five star hotel, was a gastronomic affair of such proportion it clearly took our breath away. Staged in a massive crystal conservatory, larger than life arrangements of tropical fruit and exotic vegetables divided the venue into cosy, intimate seating areas. We sat beneath breathtaking hanging spheres of floral decadence - giant blooming baubles staged at different heights which created an indoor/outdoor garden atmosphere.
Breakfast itself was an open buffet style exhibition where you could help yourself to every possible breakfast combination and option on the planet; incorporating the big American blow out with every international and global taste and fancy catered for. Cereals, breads, cookies and pastries, pancakes, crepes, tropical fruit, juices and shakes of every description.
Crispy bacon, hash browns, cold meats and charcuterie, enough cheese to create the moon, eggs every which way of your wildest dreams, and breakfast salads and sides to stagger the imagination. You name it, and it was there somewhere on a gilded platter just waiting for your fork!
The staff were super attentive and continually replenishing and replacing with different, exquisite choices.
We paced ourselves as best we could, but in reality, where do you really start with such a food fiesta? After a few hours, and feeling quite sated, I came back to Other Half wedged behind our breakfast table and said – “You should come and see this.
They’ve started putting out crab cakes, fish, steaks and chicken.” In reality, we had sat through the entire breakfast service and moved into brunch. That’s how chilled Las Vegas was, and to this day the best, five star breakfast experience EVER!