Turkish Eggs at Kopapa

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Until recently, I’ve really not been one for big, complicated breakfasts. I’ve standardly eaten a bowl of cereal, though recently branched out into porridge with banana since discovering the ease-of-cooking with a microwave at work. Yum. But, then, breakfasts became ‘in’, what with The Breakfast Club and all. I even starting meeting a policeman friend for breakfast, because early mornings seemed to be the only times we could coordinate to meet. And it was with him, before setting off on a group holiday in Wales, that I ate Kopapa’s Turkish Eggs.

“[I]t feels like this is a power-breakfast, that will propel you through the day with a smile”

First things first. ‘Hot chilli butter’ (on top of the poached eggs and whipped yoghurt) – that’s not going to be in solid form. But it’s only when said friend points out that that’s what this clear, reddish liquid drenched all over must be that I realise quite what an all food groups (fat, fat and fat) meal this is! To be honest this is a surprising revelation, because the dish is both fresh and light. It’s hugely flavoursome, with the chilli marking a (gentle) punch-in-your-face wake-up to go with the more traditionally breakfasty eggs. The yoghurt, fluffy and light, ensures a tangy bedrock for the dish, which rewards delving-deeply with your spoon.

I’ll admit, I was glad of bitter coffee to cut through what could (especially if rendered by a less sure hand) have ended up a cloying mess of a dish. Instead, it works well, with a side of sourdough toast giving a wholesome feel to what is supposedly the most important meal of the day.

I fear this review rather unreasonably focuses on the calorific aspects of what would be a treat of a start-to-the-day (if only for the cost), and everyone knows that calories before midday don’t count (NB: this may not be a view endorsed by the medical profession). In fact, it feels like this is a power-breakfast, that will propel you through the day with a smile on your face and a smug feeling of having explored the world’s culinary boundaries before you’re out of your (proverbial) pyjamas.

It powered me to Wales, at least.

Classic Tortilla at Barrafina

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There are some meals that break you. Of course, there are those so revolting, or so chaotic, that you end up exasperated and miserable. But others break you because they’re so good, so spectacular from both a culinary and experiential perspective, that you’re pretty sure your eating-life will never be the same again.

“Often the selected dish in the Time Out top 100 hasn’t been quite up to scratch”

This was one of those meals that broke me by being Just. So. Damn. Good.

James happened to me in town, so we made use of the fact that whenever he comes along we have a great Chowdown Showdown, and this was no exception. The highlights of the meal were so many it’s hard to even list them. Impeccable tuna tartare with a fresh avocado salsa. Tender squid on a spicy passata. A cheese fritter which oozed and delighted in equal measure. Indulgent pata negra (which we plotted how to steal). The black pudding was rich and not exactly to my taste, but James and Rachael practically fought over who got to devour the last morsel.

And every dish was presented like a work of art, feeding the eyes first, though definitely not  beautiful in a way that made us consider for a moment not diving right in.

So – the tortilla? Often the selected dish in the Time Out top 100 hasn’t been quite up to scratch when compared to others on offer in the relevant establishment. It’s also true that tortilla is never going to be the most complex dish, or allow chefs to show off and demonstrate the full range of their abilities. But this tortilla is a delight. We tried a classic version, plus one with ham and spinach. Both divulged a flow of rich, yolky flavour on being cut, delivering an instant aroma that the perfect, browned discs hid with their humble exterior.

“There are some meals that break you”

The flavour emphasised eggs (obviously), but in a way that showed just how good these miracles of nature can be when they’re allowed to take centre stage and not cooked till bouncy – in fact this is a dish as much about feel on the tongue as flavour. The ham and spinach match the rich, indulgent fattiness of the eggs, rather than trying to steal the limelight.

You’d be disappointed if you only ate tortilla at a restaurant that offers such a variety of spectacular colours, shapes and tastes. But I’d argue you’d be missing out if you didn’t have at least one small plate of this delicious, if simple, complement to any tapas meal.

Brunch at No 30 Café

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I love brunch – it’s a brilliant invention. Somehow it makes eating the most unhealthy meals seen genuinely good for you. Something to do with ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’: no matter what you have it’s worthwhile…

But better than brunch is a good brunch. Good brunch can be great, and given that the brunch I had at No 30 Café was just good, I guess it was  only mediocre.

I had eggs benedict (back to any unhealthy meal is excused), and excellent Norfolk ham sat atop perfectly fine muffins. The eggs were perfect poached hemispheres, and here the problems began. Poached eggs shouldn’t be perfect, and I’m not really a believer in egg poachers (the gadget, not the profession if there is one). Poached eggs should be wispy, uneven things. They’re pretty difficult to get right, but that may be why when you do they’re surely the best eggs on earth. Light, not heavy. Fresh and runny, not stodgy and hard.

To top this off, the hollandaise, served on the side, meant the experience was one of dipping muffin, egg and ham into pure, yellow, fatty goo. Okay, I know that’s what hollandaise is, but when it’s drizzled on top it’s slightly better disguised.

Lovely loose leaf tea served in a large pot somewhat redeemed these choices, and Tom’s croque madame was genuinely delicious, so I’ll certainly give the place another try. But I’ll be on the lookout for even better places in the meantime.