Finding the perfect full Irish breakfast

One of life’s greatest little pleasures is going to a pub or a café for a full-on breakfast, but few places get it exactly right.

As a purist in these matters, I think beans have no place on a breakfast plate.  If you plan to serve me beans with my full Irish, which in truth isn’t all that different from a full English or a full Scottish, at least have the decency to put them in a little ramekin that I can discreetly remove and slip onto somebody else’s table when they’re not looking.

There should be no chips on a breakfast plate either, and no sautéed potatoes.  That’s for dinner time, not breakfast.

As a purist, I also think there should be loads of toast. Loads. A few extra slices of bread wouldn’t kill anyone without me having to ask for more and it should arrive hot so that the butter can melt over it properly. Real butter that is. Give me real butter and give me toast that is not stone cold. That just isn’t on.

full irish

I had a breakfast recently on the Aran Islands where they smeared some butter-substitute over the middle part of the toast leaving the outer parts all dry and inedible — an unforgiveable transgression, I think you’ll agree, since the toast-buttering is all part of the ritual and should be left to the person doing the eating.  Everyone has a unique way of buttering toast and that diversity needs to be respected.  What is this country coming to when a haphazard slather of vegetable-oil fake butter is considered acceptable?

I don’t much care for these little rectangular pats of butter, but at least if I get enough of them it isn’t too bad.  However, penny-pinching, or portion control as some people prefer to call  it, is far too common. Seriously now. How much does a mushroom cost? I went to one of my favourite places not too long ago and got half a large mushroom on my plate. A half mushroom. It probably cost more to cut it in two than it did to cook it.  What sort of mindset decides We’ll give them half a fucking mushroom?

By the way, is  there a factory somewhere in the world that makes stainless steel tea-pots especially designed to spill boiling hot tea in your lap and all over the table? Do they have some quality-control boodie checking to make sure they all overflow, rejecting the ones that work properly?  Are they the same factories that make the self-spilling stainless steel milk jugs for sale to chip shops and pubs throughout Ireland?

What’s that about? Does anyone ever say, Jesus, maybe we should be putting out teapots that are going to boil the bollocks off our customers?

Give me a runny egg. Give me plenty of tea or coffee. Don’t give me cheap sausages made out of biscuits. Give me some marmalade for my toast when I’m finished and finally, please don’t give me salt and pepper in horrible little paper envelope things that I have to tear open, if that’s all right.

I’m sure there are loads of things that enrage people about the breakfast-you-buy.  These are just a few of my personal pet peeves and no doubt I’ll think of a few more as we go along.

13 thoughts on “Finding the perfect full Irish breakfast

  1. Nobody cooks rashers well enough. I want the rinds orange and just verging on ash, if you don’t mind.

    And if we’re talking about keeping potatoes AND beans out of the mix entirely, I’d like to raise the question of the tomato products : intact and ketchupised, where do you stand?

  2. I like an intact tomato because it counterpoints the bacon very well, but ketchup has no place on any civilised breakfast table.

  3. I agree, well said, what is it with Tea Pots I love it when there are fesh tea leaves in the pot.

  4. I hate stainless steel teapots. All they’re good for is softening rock-hard butter. They are neither stainless, steel nor teapots. I used to think china teapots were the best until I visited a farmer’s house in West Limerick a few years ago, and got tea in a silver teapot – not that’s a class act. Speaking of tea – loose Barry’s takes some beating.
    Speaking of breakfasts – I reckon the Athea black pudding and the Tesco jumbo sausage are class-leaders. Research is on-going on sourcing comparable rashers and eggs. One rasher has been eliminated – the over-priced product of a certain organic farm in Kilcornan – to call their rashers truck-rubber would be an insult to truck rubber. Press on!!

  5. I get a smashing fry in the Yellow Lemon Cafe (beside the Milk Market, across from the Round House)…very good value at circa €6….

    Then again I have the pallet of a truck driver…

  6. Great post, and I totally agree with your views on the butter and tea pot shambles. I came across a smashing breakfast in Dublin a few months back, but they only provided sachets of that margarine muck. When I asked for real butter, the waitress looked at me like she’d just smelled shit.

    I don’t (can’t) eat eggs, regardless of what way they are cooked, and get utterly repulsed by mushrooms on a breakfast plate. I find the latter emanate a horrible juice that infiltrates the flavour of everything else, and just don’t belong.

    As for the eggs, when I’m out for breakfast I just politely ask the waiter to replace the disgusting thing with an extra sausage or rasher. This isn’t usually a problem, until I come across some nincompoop who insists on going by the book – “Oh no, we can’t do that”, or “Yes, but that will be an extra euro, is that OK?”

    My wife lets the beans stew down into a thick paste with heart-attack inducing amounts of butter, salt and black pepper. Served in a little cup on the side. An essential accompaniment in our house.

    White toast dripping with butter is A1, but fresh brown soda bread (or McCambridge’s) is also unreal if in the mood.

    I actually like the sausages fried, but the rashers (smoked or maple cured) cooked under the grill, with the pudding cooked either whay. Is that a bit much?

  7. anyone remember when the skin of a black pudding, would contract tightly around the pudding after frying? the pudding would be pushed over the skin. think an elastic band around a marshmallow.
    i’ve not seen this to happen in ages.

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