COVID-19 Cuisine

Café Smörgås vs. Bread Basket

104 days into the lockdown, Lightchaser encounters some weird eggs.

In a delightful novel I read this week called Where’d You Go Bernadette, the character Bee mentions an idea of a techie project a fictional Microsoft developed called Samantha 2, where you stick a gadget to your forehead and it does what you think. So if you think, make me breakfast, providing you have an AI-savvy home attached to the gadget, your breakfast is made for you by your environment.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a sort of system that works like the Samantha 2 in Bali. Since the lockdown of sorts was instituted on the island, people who are stranded in the Covid Siege of 2020 can pick up the phone and order stuff delivered to wherever they are staying. The transport of food is done by two companies, Gojek and Grab.

It’s the 104th day of isolation for me, so you can imagine how much stuff I’ve ordered delivered to where I park my besieged stomach. Mostly I ordered produce and did the cooking myself: I’ve done that since moving to Bali in the fall of 2019, pre-pandemic. The previous two weeks, though, I’ve cut up avocados that were full of worms, salvaged cauliflower that had little blue wrigglies so I’ve had to soak them in saltwater for more than half an hour to deworm them… Generally, I got tired of cooking, especially after spending hours online sifting through information and trying to coordinate how to get unstuck. Also, I’m in the middle of writing another book and didn’t want to trade writing time for cooking/washing dishes/cleaning kitchen.

I decided to be completely dependent on the system of delivery on the island. It wasn’t meant to be an experiment, but you never really know what you learn when you try something new.

Such as how concentric things with white on the outer circle and yellow on the inner circle are actually eggs.

Earlier this week, I ordered a quick breakfast in the middle of writing Chapter 20: huevos rancheros from Café Smörgås (Sanur), delivered by Grab. A couple of days later, I had sampled Café Smörgås’s Full English Breakfast. Later this week, in the middle of Chapter 24, I ordered the Big Bang breakfast from the Bread Basket (Sanur) delivered by Gojek. This article describes how experiences were…experienced.

For this comparison, I choose to compare the Full English Breakfast with the Big Breakfast.

Full English Breakfast by CaféSmörgås

This breakfast includes: two eggs prepared your style, bacon or sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and a piece of lettuce, and two pieces of toast with butter and blueberry jam. 

Big Bang by Bread Basket

This order includes: two eggs prepare your style, bacon and two little weiners, mushrooms with onion, a half of a tomato with rosemary on top, and two pieces of toast with a single serving of butter and a single serving of strawberry jam.

These were the differences:

The fried eggs from Bread Basket were like concentric circles coloured white-pale yellow and were cold, rubbery. Café Smörgås eggs were not as perfectly shaped but they were warm and the yolk ran out in a golden cascade when you cut into them.

The bacon from Bread Basket was leaner than the bacon from Café Smörgås. Both samples of bacon were salty in that way that bacon is. But the bacon from Bread Basket was cold and limp.  I also have to say that the little weiners did not inspire the act of eating them.

The toast from Café Smörgås was thick, with the crust crispy and the inside soft. The bread was warm like the rest of the food from the Café, so the butter melted onto the slices. The blueberry jam was chunky and not too sweet. The toasted bread slices from Bread Basket were smaller and thinner, and it was cold. (Do you see a theme emerging?) The butter from Bread Basket was still cold like it had slept in the fridge and woke up late before making its way in a little baggie to my apartment. I didn’t even try the strawberry jam; it was one of those little packets that you could tell would mostly taste like sugar.

The Full English Breakfast by Café Smörgås had baked beans (warm) and mushrooms (also warm). The Big Bang by Bread Basket Sanur had mushrooms sautéed with onions (cold).

Overall, the food from Bread Basket was delivered cold. I ate both breakfasts immediately after delivery, and the meal from Café Smörgås had the right temperature: it felt like Samantha 2 had made it a few minutes before it reached the table.

Portion size is a consideration for value, and the portion of the Full English Breakfast was generous. Yes, there were two eggs just like in the other dish, and two slices of bacon, and weiners in the Big Bang instead of just mushrooms and baked beans, but the bread slices for the English Breakfast were thick and warm, and eating the toast from Bread Basket felt like I’d need to go to the dentist if I had to tug a bite off them. They were cold and hard.

Price-wise, the Big Bang by Bread Basket Sanur costs IDR 60,000 (U$4.25) while the Full English Breakfast by Café Smörgås costs IDR 96,000 (U$6.79). For the extra two and a half dollars, I would still prefer the Full English Breakfast.

A warm breakfast with high-quality ingredients gives more bang for your buck.

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