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A toast to incompetence

How hard can it be?

How hard can it be?

A few years ago I wrote a post titled Basic bloody competency (BBC) wherein I railed against the hit-and-miss nature of buying coffee.

Yes, it can certainly be filed under First World Problem (FWPs) but it still bugs me when you buy a product, even as simple and relatively cheap as a coffee, and you get something that tastes like it's a Jack Ass sweatsuit cocktail (graphic content warning ... and one of my ten greatest moments in cinema. You know you've done well when the cameraman spews on himself).

Lately, however, it's been another breakfast staple that's been getting my goat: toast.

How many times have you ordered scrambled eggs and toast? The eggs arrive fluffy and yellow, ready to gulp down like you're a Roman senator dining on flamingo tongues but ... but ... the toast is two pieces of Turkish bread that have seen less heat than the Federal Liberal backbench.

I have a simple guide with restaurants and cafes - if I can make what you have just served me better, myself, at home, you are failing the basic tenets of your profession.

And toast? Man, I can make a piece of toast, buttered to the edges, grouted with Vegemite that will just sing in your mouth as the fat and salt and yeast explode together, unlike Brad Pitt who ate it like he was Tony Montana trying the product. 

I'm surprised he didn't wipe it on his teeth to check for numbness.

And you know what? I can do it in minutes - not even looking. See I have a toaster that cost $3.99 (made by forced labourers in the north of China) that cooks my toasts (intentional plural in deference to my daughter's burgeoning vocabulary) to just the right colour.

Then it pops up! How novel.

So how come you dudes in café land who I'm paying $7 for a piece of moderately browned bread cannot even get this right? 

Crisp corners, bordering a soft, radiantly white expanse, is not toast. It's bread that's been sunburned.

Actually, what got me started thinking about this was an absolutely pristine rant about the travails of getting a decent cup of tea by Mike Morris on his blog realreview.ie 

A sample (please read the whole thing, thoroughly worth it) is when Morris, a tea drinker, gets his "tea" delivered to him at a café:

The Internal Monologue: What the f--- is this? Seriously, what the f--- have you just brought me? If I ask you for tea I want tea, not the constituent ingredients. If I asked you for a toasted cheese sandwich, would you bring me some bread, some cheese and a Breville? No you bloody wouldn't. I don't want to assemble my tea at the table, particularly since you haven't even brought me a teapot. When a three year-old plays with their tea set they're closer to the correct preparation than you are right now.

For a start, the milk is supposed to go in first. How am I supposed to put the milk in first if you bring me a cup full of water? Where am I supposed to put the bag when I'm done with it? Where's my pot of hot water to top myself up? I mean, you might as well go the whole hog and bring it to me in a shot-glass. I was braced for my tea being shit anyway, but now you've even ruined that. What the actual f---ing f---?

Oh, and it's a tea bag. It's not even air-sealed. OK, I can live with a bag, but why go through that rigmarole of offering me different flavours and then bring me my tea in a bag? If you're going to pretend to be all high-class, then I want leaves and a tea-strainer, for pity's sake. Go away immediately and set fire to this place.

Ah, I know it's a bit fluffy, but after talking subversion in Turkey, and the historic fraud of the Mining Tax, I thought we could all just have a bit of a vent about the stuff that shits us about cafes.

Up for it?

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.

10 comments

  • I think paying for breakfast at a restaurant or cafe is a bit silly because the ingredients are basic yet you still pay pretty much lunch or dinner prices. Unless you're stinging for it and or are hungover and need it.

    I don't really get shitty in cafes because I know what it's like to serve customers. 10% of them are horrible and should be sent to a gulag.

    Commenter
    Meh
    Date and time
    June 13, 2013, 6:01PM
    • Sometimes a lovely breakfast cooked by someone else is a lovely treat. No washing up for you to do, no bacon grease to be cleaned off the benchtops and stove and nice large receptacle of your preferred caffeinated beverage to wash it all down with. It can make for a very pleasant food experience.
      It can sometimes be worth the effort of making one's self presentable for the world.

      Commenter
      M
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 8:29PM
    • I'm hearing you there! Went to a cafe in Bendigo that is not there now - and probably my brunch is an example.
      I ordered scrambled eggs on toast. The eggs were barely cooked, very moist and it was most unpleasant. I sent it back three times before I gave up and cancelled out. The toast was close to perfect, but the eggs were abominable.
      The tea was good though : pot, strainer and milk in a jug. Most satisfying.

      Commenter
      I'll do it myself, thanks.
      Date and time
      June 14, 2013, 12:46AM
    • I think the real story here is that Sam has a $3.99 toaster. Why not bring it along to the cafe and toast your own? In fact, I think we could well be onto a trend: BYOT.

      Commenter
      Malik the magic sheep
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      June 14, 2013, 7:51AM
  • Living in an area that has a glut of cafes that spruik their wares on creatively written blackboards with the call of a "Big Breakfast" I have discovered a few that are unable to serve me a decent poached egg with a yolk that has the right oozy consistency alongside bacon that has the appropriate balance of crunch and toothsomeness. If there is a sausage with the breakfast it is nice to have one with flavour that is not sawdust and footpath goo. I can go without the beans or wilted spinach. I do like a nice grilled tomato with a caramelised crust and some sauteed mushrooms not overly herbed. If any of it is cold I prefer to go without.
    If I treat myself to breakfast after going to the effort of extracting myself from my bed and my pyjamas and making the effort to brush my hair and not look like the crazy lady down my street it is nice to be rewarded with a meal that is comforting enough to deserve a nap afterwards.
    I'll leave my comments about overly chatty wait staff for anther time.

    Commenter
    M
    Date and time
    June 13, 2013, 6:06PM
    • M, as others, even Bender has said, if you can do it better order something else.
      Everyone has there own peculiar wants. Sam and others like toast where the butter/marg soaks into the toast. I can't stand it, a soggy mess.
      Toast should be preferably brown with a few cancer inducing parts of black ok. Allowed to almost cool, marg preferred so it still lokks like marg with Vegemite as black as night thickly applied and under no account should be returned to the jar and no butter bits or worse crumbs in the veg which happens when you do toast like those other barbarians here.
      Tomato, not grilled freshly cut can be eaten on toast without any marg.
      If you have to waste energy by having toast tomato and cheese, do so but cheap cheese is usually ok.
      As for tea, do not under any circumstances add milk to tea until the tea is brewed, preferably strong. Enough to colour it but not overwhelm the tea. One sugar is plenty.
      As for my breakfast, no funds to go out but I have my daily swiss muesli with a little milk or home made yoghurt, juice from the cheap stuff and a mug of tea. Day in day out.
      As for toasters, my old 4 slice one works well, a cheap one.
      As for having something different when you are out, the barra is usually farmed. When in an Italian restuarant order the rabbit, you can get pasta anywhere. Also, it is a bit like being an extra on the Sopranos.

      Commenter
      The Old Guy
      Location
      Marrickville
      Date and time
      June 13, 2013, 11:08PM
    • Poached Eggs on Crispy Toast. My darling breakfast. At my favourite caff, lately have been receiving eggs that have seem to have been merely waved over hot water. Whites barely set on the edges, slimy on the yolk side, the yolk not even set at the top. Gaaah. Have asked a number of times why it should be so. Apparently the poaching was a little too enthusiastic ... so cookie told to cook the eggs a little less. And the toast similar ... white with a slight brownish tinge. Haven't even mentioned the toast to them.
      Anyway ... that's not the story. In the olden days I stayed at a 'boarding establishment' that had an in-house cook. Eggs were coming out urky slimy. So I checked with the boss, and we wandered into the kitchen and had a chat with the cook. I think his name was Manuel there were some language difficulties ... 'nuff said) . We worked together on the water, vinegar, right temperature, gently lowering and then gently swirling the egg as it approached the sweet spot. "See?" I said, "Now THAT's a luvverly poached egg". The boss nodded. My partner-in-cuisine nodded ... saying that he had been told he was cooking them too hard and been told to do them softer. We repeated the exercise. Everything OK. Nods of agreement all round. Next morning I was served the equivalent of two golf balls on the toast. The morning after that the eggs nearly slid off the toast. Oh well ... shrug ...

      Commenter
      Kegaro
      Date and time
      June 14, 2013, 7:31AM
    • How will I know if I can make a better breakfast without trying it?
      A gripe I had with a lovely cafe near a previous abode is they kept messing with the recipe of their eggs florentine. Sometimes the wait staff would even ask me if I wanted salmon or gsm with it. Warm smoked salmon makes me fag and ham tastes slimy which is why I order eggs florentine not benedict. And seeded mustard does not go into hollandaise.

      Commenter
      M
      Date and time
      June 14, 2013, 8:21AM
  • I want my toast buttered hot within 3.5 seconds of being removed from the actual toaster.

    I don't care about the pretty little serve of butter standing alone like an island of opulent excess next to my already cold, dead toast.

    I want trickles of melted butter running from the crisp peaks of said Turkish down to the edge of my plate like streams on a mountainside after a spring storm.

    If you aren't prepared to do that then I might as well have just eaten a dry sponge and rubbed lightly salted lubricating oil in my own mouth for all the difference in pleasure it would have brought.

    You had me at "trickles of melted butter running from the crisp peaks". - Sam

    Commenter
    SmartMonkey
    Date and time
    June 13, 2013, 6:13PM
    • This is possibly the greatest description of toast I have ever read.

      Commenter
      infexious
      Date and time
      June 14, 2013, 12:18AM
Comments are now closed
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