by Pamela Lanier
We are fortunate to hear from so many inn aficionados. Travelers who make travel inn style their leisure activity of choice. What keeps these frequent inngoers heading back for more? In my last article, we defined the single most important attribute of an inn is the innkeepers and their warm and welcome attitude. The second most important attribute is breakfast. That’s right, those memories of awakening to the aromas of coffee and goodies entice today’s time strapped, work harassed traveler to keep coming back for more.
And what kind of breakfast, you may ask, fits the bill? As long as there is great coffee and superb tea, something freshly baked and fruit you’re on the right path. However, what we call the buffet continental breakfast seems to be gaining favor all over. This is a breakfast set up with one or more sideboards which contain various cereals, granolas, yogurts, fruit, and possibly cold cuts, cheese and soft boiled eggs. This type of buffet continental works beautifully when you have an inn full of business travelers with various schedules. It can be set out early and allows guests to choose their own favorites and serve themselves.
Other inns take this buffet breakfast and expand it to include a made to order entree. Personally, I love those big British breakfasts. This kind of big breakfast sets one up for a long morning of intensive sight seeing and other activities. It’s also something most people just never have a chance to do on their own. I recall an especially memorable breakfast I was served at the Grant’s Corner Inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The room was set up with six or seven small tables and one larger table for the solo guests to mingle. On one side of the room was a cereal bar including 3 choices of juice in small glasses, and on the other side was a beverage set up with fabulous fresh coffee, an electric tea kettle to ensure that the tea water is truly boiling before being poured over the tea and a carafe of hot chocolate. After serving ourselves from this copious bar, we sat at our place at the table which had a small printed menu of the day’s breakfast special which consisted of a Denver omelet not too huge – with all this other food, two eggs are plenty) and a choice of pork sausage links or vegetarian sausage and a side of scrumptious cottage potatoes. Our host greeted us, chatted for a few moments and discerned our tastes and soon his assistant returned with our breakfast entree piping hot and a standing rack of toast both whole wheat and white. Wow, were we impressed. The whole room was raving over the breakfast. I can assure you that many of those guests have returned.
One of the beauties of doing an outstanding breakfast, whichever type you choose that works with your schedule and clientele, is that breakfast is the most inexpensive meal to produce because the cost of ingredients are generally low. Furthermore, much of the work can be done in advance (like the overnight French Toast recipe below) allowing the innkeeper a little more leisurely morning.
One last thought; breakfast in bed is a big favorite with about 25% of guests at the inns which offer it and need not be a huge effort. A favorite for me was a breakfast I was recently served in Bath, England. I was brought a tray with sides (to keep the contents from spilling) which was lined with a beautiful piece of fabric. Nestled in a small basket where a muffin and a croissant. In a bowl, covered with a breakfast plate I found a fruit salad. Also on the tray was a steaming pot of tea, glass of orange juice and one soft boiled egg in an egg cup. The tiny bud vase with a pink rose and a contrasting folded cloth napkin completed the ensemble. It was a wonderful way to start my day and I delighted in my breakfast as I got ready for the day. This type of breakfast tray can be set up the night before, having inquired of your guests upon check in if they wished breakfast in bed. Make up the trays in the evening with everything in them except the food itself and then assemble in the morning as needed. A cheery smile and a copy of the paper ensures a happy guest.
Make your inn a winner with a breakfast for champions.
Stuffed French Toast
A recipe from Grandmere’s Bed & Breakfast Inn
Nevada City, CA
1 loaf of sourdough bread, cubed
Sliced cream cheese
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup maple syrup
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
Spray 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Layer as follows: bread, sliced cream cheese, bread.
Mix milk, eggs and 1/2 cup maple syrup. Pour over casserole making sure that bread is saturated.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake for 2 hours at 350º.
Pour mixture of 1/2 cup syrup and 1/2 cup melted butter over all.
Pamela Lanier is author of The Complete Guide to Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and Guesthouses, presently in its 18th annual edition, host of TravelGuideS.com available on over 7,000 Internet sites and portals and, with a membership of over 6,000 inns, hers is the largest organization worldwide of independent innkeepers.
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