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October 6, 2008

The importance of a good breakfast

taotea%20001.jpgSomeone, I don't know who, said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It was my mother, or maybe the American Egg Board. Anyway, I'm beginning to feel it's true, at least when I'm traveling.

I ask for so little. A decent cup of tea with milk and sugar. Some toast. Real butter. But it's hard to find. If you go to a coffee house that has excellent tea service, the best you can usually do is a muffin or croissant, and not always today's croissant. ...

Or I end up at a place like yesterday's Golden Olympic restaurant here in Evanston, which had an off-brand tea bag so bad it took my breath away, and I don't mind tea bag tea. The mug was so ice cold I took it to the ladies room and rinsed it out with hot water. The toasted bagel came with four little rectangles of real butter, true, but it had already been slathered in "buttery spread." And the nearest I can describe the taste of the bagel was like very, very chewy white bread. As I chewed and chewed (it was late and I was hungry), I thought, One way you know you're a foodie is when you think one bad meal will ruin your whole day.

The best breakfast -- as opposed to before-breakfast tea -- I've had here was at Le Peep (pictured), which featured a Lipton's tea bag and toasted rye bread.

I'm ready to be home. 



Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:23 AM | | Comments (32)


Based on this post I assume that you have a favorite breakfast place in Baltimore that has high quality loose tea, fresh toast or really good bagels, and real butter. Do you mind sharing the name?

I look at a bad meal when I'm on vacation as a wasted opportunity. Normally I have every meal planned before I leave home but sometimes my plans get changed and I end up at a TGI Friday's or similar place eating the same food I can get anywhere. One of the main reasons (make that the main reason) for traveling is to experience regional food.

I'm guessing that EL's favorite breakfast place in Baltimore is Chez Large.

Thank goodness you were here to answer since I wasn't publishing comments till now. :-) EL

What's wrong with toasted rye bread?

Tea bags are tacky. But I went to a certain local "tea room" a few years back and was offered a selection of them, rather than a nice, freshly-brewed pot of loose tea. Food wasn't that great

Nothing. That was why it was my best breakfast. EL

This does not directly relate to the current topic, however.... I'm unsure where to post this question. My uncle is coming to town next weekend from Long Island and I am wrestling with where to take him for meals (2 dinners, 2 lunches). He is expecting seafood, but his tastes are very conservative and he doesn't like a lot of "funny stuff" on his plate; heavy sauces are also a deal-breaker for him. He's a coat and tie kind of guy but this is his first Baltimore experience. I made dinner reservations at Black Olive for Friday and I was thinking maybe lunch at Mama's on the Halfshell on Sunday. Anyone have some ideas for another lunch (after a morning classical concert on Saturday at the Meyerhoff) and dinner that night? Thanks for any help in advance!

Tea with milk and sugar? Disgusting. Tea with tea and a little more tea and a soupçon of tea. Milk? Ugh. Sugar? For weaklings. Tea alone. And drive the British out of Ulster! Free yourselves of the tyranny of foreign additives!

Michael's, flying nanando?

I like Night of the Cooker by the Meyerhoff, but it might be a titch modern for him.

I have seen bagels in the Midwest and West that seemed more like dinner rolls with a hole in them. I have also, rarely, had a bagel with butter, but only when there was no cream cheese. I also usually bring my own teabags on trips. Republic of Tea has travel tins that hold five or six of their circular teabags. That way you know what you will be drinking.

Why so cranky Owlie? You know everything goes better with a little Lemon - especially rebellion.

Good Indian tea with milk and sugar is quite restorative, particularly when served in the afternoon along with scones. clotted cream and strawberry jam.

If I'm not mistaken, the Irish, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike, do not scorn this.

Tea with sugar and lemon is also a fine thing, particularly with a tot of something in it.

And, as Owl Meat observes, tea by itself does very well.

Let a hundred flowers bloom.

flying nanando--

Take him to either the Prime Rib, Oceanaire, or Blue Sea Grill for dinner, and either Bay Cafe or James Joyce for lunch.

You haven't lived until you've been to one of Owl Meat's tea ceremonies.

I'm not talking about the serene Japanese traditional tea ceremony, but the hostage situation that is OMG filtering water, heating water in a tea pot on a gas stove (never a microwave, he thinks they are evil), heating the water until it is almost boiling, almost!?, preparing the loose tea in his homemade tea contraptions, pouring the water into it from three to four feet above it, meticulously timing the immersion (each kind of tea gets a different time), revealing the history of each tea, making you smell the dry leaves, straining the brew again with the Turkish high pouring technique, a small lecture on keeping the water alive by the way it's poured and almost boiled. Letting the tea settle. Forbidding any additives, sorry Lemon Girl. And if you are lucky you will get to gaze at, smell and then taste three of four types at once like a wine tasting.

It's completely insane, except that the results show you how to taste the subtle flavors in various teas. And these are usually all green and white teas, which I thought just tasted like grass and dirt. But it's not completely crazy because it is exactly like a wine tasting. The blindfolds are a bit much but, what the hey. As with anything he's passionate about, you won't be able to think of tea the same again.

Oooooh, McIntyre, you know I will scorn what I like whether it makes sense or not. I even scorn scorn ilself.

Tea with milk is tea flavored milk. My point is that you can never truly understand good tea until you experience it naked and alone. Imagine trying to understand wine via sangria.

In my humble opinion, EL needs milk and sugar if she is drinking Lipton's. If that is the only choice, I drink water. I do agree that the only way to drink tea is straight. Why add unnecessary flavor dilutors.

One more reason why McIntyre and Owl Meat are not the same person. (I think they are trying too hard.)

Tru dat carolb. If you're drinking Liptons then put milk, sugar, M&Ms, powdered goat placenta and some brandy in it too.

Did it ever bother that some company thinks that the best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup? I always thought it was being alive and not having a guy in a ski mask with an axe standing over you. Or waking up next to a dead prostitute. Or ...

God I hope this mood ends soon. Possible cure: steaks with Bourbon Girl tonight. Mmmmm.... meat!

OMG, when you get to be my age you wake up in the morning, scan the obituaries in the newspaper, and if your name isn't there get up, get dressed, and contemplate breakfast.

Of course, there's the time, long ago and far away, when some students at a New York college got The New York Times to actually print the Dean's obituary, prematurely.


You've never been to Scotland then. They always offer "sugar milk" to put in your tea. But I like my tea (and my bourbon) straight up.

English tea is most excellent, but I'll pass on the Earl Grey. Kinda bitter for me.

while I'm at it, how many of the Sandboxers like Southern sweet tea?

I understand the traditional recipe calls for 1 POUND of sugar per gallon. My teeth hurt just typing that. As a kid, my mom made "sweet tea" using about a cup per gallon.

These days, I order the unsweet tea. I was just up in Baltimore this weekend, and ordered unsweet tea. I got a weird look like, huh?
I said, "Tea without sugar". To which I got a look that said, whatever...

I won't order iced tea in restaurants, especially south of the Waffle House line, because I detest sugar in my tea, hot or cold.

Like PCB and others, I feel tea (and bourbon) should be served straight. Same with coffee. And no no no no sweet tea! (even though I grew up in South).

I've never had tea with milk or sugar. It seems the only reason one would use either is to mask some offensive taste, like people do by putting lemon and/or pickles and/or onions on catfish. Perhaps a tea with milk and sugar lover can explain?

Southern sweet tea GACK 10

Oh PCB why do you hurt me? There's no such thing as "English" tea. Tea is grown in China and India. Self-loathing and exploitation are grown in England.

Earl Grey tea smells a London whore.

No my ancestors had the good sense to flee Scotland and Ireland.

Also, only babies play in sandboxes, so your tea question seems inappropriate (I will fight that infantile nickname until I die.) I don't poop in my pants or play in sandboxes.

Fl Rob, another place that LOVES them some sweet tea is Canada. When we went to Niagara Falls a few years ago, I resorted to getting a glass of ice with a cup of hot water and a teabag to make myself "unsweet tea". It's starting to get more popular in some B-more restaurants. I've noted a few times in recent months where the server asked me when I ordered iced tea if I wanted sweetened or unsweetened. Nobody but in the deep south says it quite the same though - sweetea - all one word that I could barely understand when I first heard it!

Did it ever bother that some company thinks that the best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup? I always thought it was being alive and not having a guy in a ski mask with an axe standing over you. Or waking up next to a dead prostitute. Or ...

And you fear the suburbs? Aye! Carumba!

I like to sweeten my own tea, thank you very much, but I can't stand iced tea that tastes as if it came out of a canister.

And I drink my hot tea with milk and sweetener (not sugar, as a rule), but I can't explain why I like it that way any more than OMG can explain why he has such an aversion to the term "sandbox." How about "asylum" instead?

What's the deal with "sweet" tea? My understanding is that instead of putting one or two unnecessary teaspoons of sugar in tea you put eight to ten in, junkie style.

That's probably why so many Canadians invade my town each winter.

Your posts above have me laughing out loud here at work, to my co-workers puzzlement.

I don't think sweet tea is GACK! but I never order or make it, either. I "learned to drink coffee" by putting sugar in it, but I abandoned that habit, too, in college.

Eve, I can fight a crazed maniac hovering over me with an axe.

You can't fight the suburbs. I feel like the guy in that really old BBC show The Prisoner. He's trapped in a prison (something like a beautiful garden) that seems pleasant enough, but he's still a prisoner and he can't get out and doesn't know why he's there and doesn't know who's in charge. In the end it turns out that HE is Number One (the guy in charge). Now that I think about it, it seems like a perfect parody subtopian ennui.

I was trapped in the suburbs this weekend and it just freaked me out. Your house is your prison and the only escape is a car which is also a prison. It wasn't that I even wanted to go anywhere, I was blissfully happy being where I was, I am just wired to need the option of freedom.

Owl, you described exactly how I felt when I was at Deep Creek Lake. I didn't want to have to drive 20 minutes to do stuff. Not that the house wasn't serene, beautiful and very nice. Just made me feel "trapped"!

I grew up here, drinking tea out of a gallon jug, pre-made (by my dad, from teabags not the powdered stuff) with lemon and sugar already in it.

When ordering out he always ordered tea without ice and a glass of ice, so the sugar would melt in the tea. Then he'd pour it over ice.

I always thought southern sweet tea was iced tea without lemon. Now I like that better than tea with lemon. LOVE SWEET TEA. yum.

And when I make it, it def does not have a pound of sugar, I use less than a cup per gallon and I use raw cane sugar not white.

Never known plain unsweetened tea. Seems boring and bitter.

Sugar is a drug so if you drink something that you are used to having sugar in, you won't like it at first because your brain is wired to want that drug with that taste. Try to convince me that sugar is not a drug. I personally don't enjoy chewing percocets without a handful of Skittles.

If you want to really tap your body's energy, then tea without sugar is the only way to go. No crash just burn. Rust never sleeps. Viva Zapata! Random phrase! And now David Lynch with the weather.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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