Saturday, February 28, 2009

A hearty country breakfast

Country breakfast, mmm ..... there's something lovely about a country breakfast, isn't there?

Oh, don't get me wrong - breakfasts in city hotels can be wonderful, with their summer trifles in shot glasses, and their little fruit compotes in adorable little ramekins, everything so perfectly arranged and presented. Scrambled eggs with dijon mustard and chives; smoked salmon eggs benedict ... miso and red bean and eel, sometimes, too.

But they're ever so much more engineered than their country counterparts.

Here in Mildura, the honest country breakfast is very well looked after. In the Chandelier Dining Room of the Mildura Grand Hotel, breakfast sausages nestle closely to smoked bacon from local pigs. Poached eggs gleam alongside scrambled. Mushrooms sauteed in hot butter steam gently beside wilted spinach and grilled tomato.

Mmmm .... and the fruit arrangements are like memories from my childhood. Big bowls of tinned peaches, sliced pineapples, stewed blueberries - after all, the Sunraysia region is known as the fruit bowl of Australia, and our breakfast buffet would certainly seem to confirm that. Strawberries, plums, apricots, apples and oranges as far as the eye can see.

There must be some serious irrigation in Mildura to produce all of this, because the earth is red and dusty and unforgiving, yet here is a veritable feast here in front of us. On the way in from the airport we saw the biggest prickly pear ever, and it was absolutely covered in fruit, all red and orange and spiky.

So for me? A large fruit salad generously heaped with prunes, which I absolutely love, and it feels like I'm five again.

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