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Posts Tagged ‘Breakfast’

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review – Gatlinburg, TN


Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp ReviewI’m big about avoiding tourist traps or “voted best XXX 10 years in a row.”

Unless I specifically head out for one, of course, and Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp was just one such destination.

I was going to be passing near Gatlinburg, and I thought the least I could do to help boost their local economy after their devastating fires would be to stop and have breakfast.

It’s a tourism mecca, so there is no shortage of themed restaurants, but I liked the menu at Crocketts (it’s only open from 7A-1P BTW), and especially had my eye on their country fried ham, because as I am sure you know, I am a fiend for ham.

It’s a long menu, offering you a choice of egg breakfasts, omelets, skillets, “griddle cakes” and accompaniments.

For some reason, my eyes alit on the most expensive thing on the menu, the Black Bear Camp Skillet, which pretty much assured you one of everything else on the menu:  two eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, taters, biscuit, gravy, pone, cheese grits and a monster “griddle cake.”

I did a respectible job at polishing it off, breakfast potatoes are not my thing, they take up capacity needed for more pork products, and the giant pancake suffered the same fate. Oh, passed on pone, too.

All of it was great. One small ordering glitch (that I have run into a few times lately).  I like my eggs “basted.”  Pretty standard method of cooking.  No can do here. Know why? There isn’t a button for it on the computer.  Scrambled, Up, Over Easy, Over Hard.  That’s it.  Odd.

But otherwise.

Breakfast for two with beverages is going to run your near or north of $40.  Nice kids menu. Be prepared to wait for a table at peak hours. Lots of wall decor that will fascinate the kiddies; no separate menu that I saw, but ordering off the ala carte menu you’ll do ok.

Didn’t get your fill?  They’ll sell you giant cinnamon rolls to go, as well as other souvenirs.

Fun stop. Good grub. Onward.  Spoiler alert.  Nothing to do with “Davy Crockett” if that’s what you were thinking, as I was.

I think I was in Gatlinburg once before, but just a zip through. Reminds me of Wisconsin Dells, if you’ve ever traveled that way.  For that matter, the restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of the Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Restaurant in the Dells, only difference being breakfast there is served family style and you’ll receive a complementary starter of freshly fried donuts!

Here’s the entire menu.

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Black Bear Camp Skillet


Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Griddle Cake – Yes, it is as big as it appears! 

Crockett's Breakfast Camp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review



Winstons Irish Bacon Review


Winstons Irish Bacon ReviewWhen you request bacon in the US, you know what you are going to get. Smoked/cured thin slices of pork belly, with streaks of fat parallel to streaks of delicious meat.

Unless you request “Canadian Bacon” which is neither Canadian nor bacon, but very lean sliced pork loin,  cured and smoked. Outside of the US, “American style” bacon is often referred to as “streaky bacon.”

Not so in other parts of the world, where you can be faced with a number of choices.  In the UK and other remnants of the Empire, where you will most often be served what is referred to in the US and Canada as “back bacon,” thin slices of smoked (or not) pork cut from both the loin and a small bit from the belly.  It is cut from the same part of the hog as pork chops.

Order a “full breakfast” in England, and it will come with a couple slices of back bacon, sausage, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, and toast. Maybe a grilled tomato. Depends on what part of the country you are in.

All this to say, in my recent visit to the mecca of foodie groceries, Jungle Jims, there are many choices of bacon to put in your cart, including a number of selections not made from pork. (My father was a habitual beef bacon consumer. It’s very lean, pretty chewy, but very tasty).

I picked up a pack of “Winston’s Irish Bacon,” which, to my surprise, is made here in Chicago. I’ve never seen it before, but apparently, Winston’s is a fairly old company specializing in Irish foods, they are wholesale processors, but also have a couple of markets and a restaurant.

Anyhow, Winstons bacon is delish.  I’m eager to track down some of their sausages and whatever else they got. Their factory/store is on the far south side of Chicago, but probably worth a drive. I’m a sucker for new sausage suppliers!

In the end, quality bacon at my house nearly always leads to a gooey fried egg sammich. Today was no exception!

Winstons Irish Bacon Review

In the pan, fried for 2 minutes a side


Winstons Irish Bacon Review

My fried egg sammich


Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Chicago factory and retail outlet


Winstons Irish Bacon Review

Winstons Irish Bacon Review


Carys Family Restaurant Review – Cary, IL


Carys Family Restaurant Review“No, we’re out,” said Adele firmly. I protested, and she replied “we had five servings left and I sold them all this morning. Won’t be more until the delivery truck comes.”

“I’ll wait.”

OK, I didn’t say that, and noticing the disappointment on my face that I wasn’t going to get to have Chicken Fried Steak for breakfast, she recommended the ham, without even knowing that’s my go-to 2nd choice.

“It’s off the bone.”

I drooled. “OK, ham and eggs, two over easy, hash browns real crispy, rye toast. Some char on the ham, please.”

“Done,” sez she.

I was at  Cary’s Family Restaurant on US Highway 14, 48.7 miles from Willis (nee Sears) Tower in downtown Chicago. Cary is one of dozens of burgs lining Highway 14, one of the original US highways. Depending on what direction you’re heading, it either starts in Chicago and ends at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, or the reverse.

There are a buckets of restaurants along that highway, and it’s on my bucket list to hit all of them. In this neck of the woods, I’ve hit the Sugar Bowl in Des Plaines, the Big Foot Inn (in Big Foot), Mr. Beefy and Kojak’s (both Fox River Grove), to name a few, with obviously, many, many more to go!

Adele returned to the table bearing my plates, and it looked perfect, the kitchen had even cooked the ham the way I asked for it (I like a little char on ham, adds to the texture), and the rye toast was oversized. Eggs over easy, and I was ready to go. Lots of Chicago area restaurants have a bowl of butter pats on the table, and Cary’s Family is no exception, so I set about the task of buttering the rye toast before cutting the pieces in half and slamming a half into the egg yolk.

Growing up in my house, the act was called “mopping” and was strictly forbidden. No naturally, as an ‘adult’ the activity amplified to tease my mother while she did a slow burn on the other side of the kitchen.

Back to the task at ham (sic). The meat was delicious. Geez I love real ham. Not that chopped, pressed and formed stuff, but real muscle meat, the longer it has been cured, the better. I’ve driven the back roads of Virginia and Kentucky looking for exceptional ham. I’ve been to the Ham Museum in Madrid (seriously) (Spain, not Missouri).

Anyway, breakfast was good, Adele was a delight, I won’t bear a grudge that they were out of Chicken Fried Steak, and will give them another chance or six.

It’s a pleasure to run into servers who seem genuinely happy to be doing their job well. Remember to appreciate them.

Cary's Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carys Family Restaurant Review


Food Club Liquid Eggs Review


Food Club Liquid Eggs ReviewI’ve never tried “liquid eggs” (industry term: breaker eggs), but I see them used quite a bit at charity breakfasts I attend. I do recall having powdered (dehydrated) eggs, which have been around for more than a hundred years.

My experience was on Scout trips – the eggs were pretty awful.  So I set out to do my home experience, and picked up a pint carton of Food Club (TopCo) brand “Great Egg0-Spectations.” The carton promises “contains 99% real egg product. (See full ingredient list at the end of this post).

I can see why they use these at the mass breakfasts, or in commercial bakeries and restaurants. Speed, little waste, consistent product. (As you know, “fresh” eggs can vary in taste and size).

So these were a buck. The carton contains the equivalent of eight eggs. 3 T equal 1 egg.  A reason for buying them would not be value, certainly at any store in any given week, you can find at least one brand at around 50 cents a dozen. Of course, you can pay up to $6 a dozen from the same display case, and obviously, people must buy them or they wouldn’t be there, but I sure don’t get the idea of $6 eggs.

I assumed I could use the product as I would fresh eggs, so I set out to make scrambled eggs, adding a dollop of milk to my mix, cooking them in a non-stick skilled at medium heat. They turned out just fine. Tasted like…………….spoiler alert……………scrambled eggs!

Food Club brand is part of Topco, which is based in suburban Chicago, and started as a co-op of producers in the 1940s. They sell thousands of different products (frozen, refrigerated and dry)  under their own brand names, to a wide variety of retailers. They also produce their products in three different value segments, from a economy type product to an added value kind.

My conclusion is that liquid eggs are tasty and convenient. Would I buy them again? Nah, like I said above, I really don’t “get it” for home use. Plus the carton instructs you to use in a week, and most people keep fresh eggs around for weeks without a care. If you’re really concerned with product longevity, powdered eggs can last 5-10 years, depending on the brand and storage method.

Do you use liquid eggs at home? How do you use them? Do you have a preferred brand?



Food Club Liquid Eggs Review



Food Club Liquid Eggs Review


Village Inn Review, Huntley, IL


Village Inn ReviewWhat’s better than getting a restaurant meal with quality ingredients, cooked precisely to your order, at a great value?

Not much I can think of. I have found my new “home away from home” for breakfast out, the Village Inn Family Restaurant, in Huntley, IL, a distant Chicago exurb. “Chicago area diners” lean towards large portions, and the Village Inn is no exception.

Throwing three eggs on a plate, next to (at least) a half pound of potatoes, along with your choice of meat and toast (rye, for me, always),  their breakfast will satisfy any sized appetite.

Two things stuck out for me. First, I love ham. But I especially love GREAT ham.  And by “great,” I mean “real,” not Village Inn Reviewsome pressed, chopped, and formed, ham-like meat.  No, I crave real muscle meat, full of texture and flavor. Village Inn more than satisfies.

Second? I crave my ham to have a little “char” on it, adds to texture experience, and I like my breakfast potatoes extra crispy.

Scored on both accounts, in fact the waitress brought the eggs and toast first, said the ham would be up in a minute, she didn’t think the cook charred it enough.  And when she delivered? Spot on.

I like going to Huntley.  It’s a peaceful little town, away from the hubbub of the big city, but with all the requisite access to commerce and great little mom and pop places, like the Village Inn and Sal’s Pizza, down the street.  Oh, and the most excellent Diary Mart.  I also try to get out there to support local charity feeds, like the Boy Scout Pancake breakfast and such.

Village Inn? I shall return. Often.  My compliments to the kitchen.

 Breakfast menu.
Village Inn Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Village Inn Review


Waffle House Review


waffleI wrote a piece years back, after hitting a Waffle House shortly after 9/11.   I recently dropped in on one on the Gulf Coast.  BTW, I counted on a map, and there are about 30 in a 40 mile stretch along the coasts of MS and LA.  Wow.

I sat at the counter, sipping my Joe, and indulged in some bacon and eggs, cooked as ordered, with a smattering of cheese on the hash browns.

If you haven’t been to a Waffle House, they are a chain across the South, with diminutive facilities, and a menu focused on breakfast, a few sandwiches, and a couple of entrees.  If you’re so inclined, you can even get a T-bone there for around $10.  Breakfasts run in the $3-$4 range. The chain is particularly proud of their hash browns, which you can ordered “smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped, or country.” The descriptions all refer to different add-on ingredients, and the taters are available in three different portion sizes.  They have not come up with a word (unless there is a secret menu) which would refer to ordering the hash browns with all of those additions.  They should.

My breakfast and coffee were just fine, they are big on consistency, and as such, a very dependable road stop. They have over 2000 locations in 25 states; they started in 1955 in Georgia.

The company hasn’t avoided controversy over the years, with a couple of religious and racial issues receiving some attention, but it seems behind them.

Find the one nearest you with their locator.

Waffle House Review

Waffle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waffle House Review


Farmer Johns Sausage Review


Farmer John Sausage ReviewI’ve never been much for “brown and serve” type breakfast sausages; to me, they have always represented one of the main components of civic group and church pancake breakfasts, huge chafing trays of the little pork links.

But it’s hard to pass up any processed pork product that is selling for around $2 a pound these days, less than half what you would pay for other breakfast meats, whether your favorites are bacon, ham, or smoked or patty sausage.

Farmer Johns Original Breakfast sausage are always a buck for a 1/2 pound package at Dollar Tree and most club stores.  Fairly often, they are on sale for even less.  So that’s a deal.

They are “skinless,” and they are not pre-cooked, so prep will take you 10-15 minutes on the stove top or under the broiler.  No one recommends microwaving them.

Farmer Johns is an L.A. company, located in Vernon, just south of downtown LA. They’ve been around since 1931, and make the full range of processed pork products: bacon, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, hams…….including the local favorite “Dodger Dog,”  sold at Dodger stadium and in retail outlets.  The factory (USDA est. 360) (pictured below) is “famous” for its extensive murals depicting rural life. They are now part of Hormel.

The ingredients for the breakfast sausage are straightforward: Pork, water, sodium lactate, less than 2 % salt, dextrose, surgar, flavorings, BH, propyl gallate, citric acid. I’m happy that list doesn’t include any configuration of corn syrup solids, or mechanically separated poutltry.

This product may have changed my mind about having them in the regular breakfast rotation, especially at this price.  Plus, since they are not in casings, if they are thawed, you can smoosh them into patties, if you prefer your pork intake in that shape!

The flavor is good, not very seasoned, so great appeal for the mass market.  They also offer  a “maple flavor” variety.

Farmer John Sausage Review

In the box

Farmer John Sausage Review

In the skillet 10 minutes

Farmer John Sausage Review

Dodger Dogs Retail Packaging

Farmer John Sausage Review

Farmer John Factory



Farmer Johns Sausage Review


Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review


Lunchable Breakfast ReviewWell this is a curious thing, spotted at WalMart for about a buck. “Lunchables” are “complete” meals to go, to eat heated or at room temperature, and were introduced in 1988 by Oscar Mayer, now part of Kraft.

They were created by a team at  Oscar Mayer as a way to sell more bologna, and the first units were comprised of lunch meat, cheese slices and crackers.

Now there is a plethora of choices, including the original styles, pizza slices,  diminutive hot dogs, burgers, and subs, and even tacos.

I admit to not being a regular customer, but I impulse bought this one, through it in the microwave for seconds and consumed.  I admit it has good flavor, the bacon is great, as is the syrup.  The waffles get kinda limp in the microwave tho, I should have tried one at room temp.

Would I buy it again?  Probably not, but they’re great things for a family on the go, as long as you watch the nutrition labels.  According to the package code, this product is made at  South’s Finest Meats 3201 10th Avenue, Suite S,  Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.

Lunchable Breakfast Review








Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review


Appleton Farms Ham Steak Review


Aldi Ham ReviewI have written about a lot of Aldi products; Aldi is the global discount grocer owned by the same German family as Trader Joes.  At Aldi, you won’t find many big brand names, but rather Aldi concocted brand names that are manufactured under contract to Aldi’s specifications. (Also it will cost you a quarter to rent a cart, refunded when you return the cart to the line. Oh, and bag your own).

Where as my spawn professes to be a “ham hater,”  I am a genuine ham lover, and adore it all. Except honey glazed.  My domestic favorite is the slow salt cured beauties from the Carolinas;  internationally:  jamon serrano, prosciutto and the like.

Much of the ham in grocery stores isn’t very good, tho, and so it’s nice to run into one that isn’t full of fillers and other bits.  The Appleton Farms Ham Steak is ham, water, salt, seasonings, and that’s about it.

It’s made for Aldi by a packer called “Gusto” and they’ve been running a  ham and bacon operation west of Chicago for over forty years.  Gusto was purchased by Butterball in 2012, Butterball is owned by Seaboard, a diverse firm dating back to 1918 and a single flour mill in Kansas.

They run a 200,000 sq foot facility in Montgomery, IL, capable of grinding out 6 million pounds of product weekly. Wow.

Their Appleton Farms Ham Steak?  Superb.  Highly recommended for real ham taste and texture.

Aldi Ham Steak Review

Aldi Ham Steak Review

Gusto Packing Factory

Aldi Ham Steak Review

Gusto Packing Aerial

Appleton Farms Ham Steak Review


Fairfield Inn Roseville MN


Fairfield Inn Roseville ReviewDesigned to compete in the category the hospitality industry calls “added value economy”, the Marriott Corporation created the Fairfield Inn brand in the late 1980s. This category of motel offers amenities, but limited “service,” at “value pricing.” Pricing, of course, varies depending on location.  “Limited service” generally means, no on-site restaurant, bell staff and the like.

As with most hotel brands, Fairfields are franchises, and franchisees are bound by a set of rules and standards required by the brand to give the impression of standardization. In other words, guests at one Fairfield Inn should be able to expect the same type of accommodations, services, and amenities from one location to another.

Brands do a fairly good job of policing this policies, in order to protect the value of the brand.

Small business operators being what they are, however, guests should not be surprised to find some variance in quality of operations (plus or minus).

The Fairfield Inn in Roseville, MN, a suburb of St. Paul is operated by TMI Hospitality, a Fargo, North Dakota based operator of nearly 200 hotels/motels of different brands. The company was recently sold to Starwood Properties for over a billion dollars, media reports state.

TMI seems to one of the operators that gives more than required of a franchisee. There wasn’t a single aspect of a recent stay at the motel that didn’t exceed my expectations for the segment. Every member of the staff that I encountered was friendly and accommodating. The motel and rooms were antiseptically clean, as was the swimming pool and pool area.

The complimentary hot breakfast was well supplied and tasty. The first hotel I remember offering this option (in a chain) was the Hampton Inns, in the mid 1980s. It’s rather standard now, in the economy and economy plus segments, and as I mentioned above, because the motels are franchisees, service and quality can vary. I know the menu choices are dictated, as I own a social media company and this year we wrote home pages for more than 400 motels of a couple different brands and the paragraph on hot breakfasts was nearly the identical language.

What I don’t know, however, is whether or not franchisees are required to buy from a central commissary designated by the franchisor, or whether they have latitude on picking their own suppliers and/or offerings.

I didn’t inquire who the supplier was for this Fairfield, could have been a local company, Sysco, US Foods, or someone like that. The breakfast bar was open for four hours daily, and offered (this is similar to the language from the websites we did) “breakfast meats, breakfast breads, cereal, fresh fruit and juices, yogurt, eggs, and hot waffles.”

This particular bar stood out as the attendants had it fully stocked prior to the posted opening, and kept it refreshed and clean. An addition to the offerings was biscuits with sausage gravy.

All food was heat and eat (it comes prepared from the supplier and is just thawed, warmed at the hotel), and was really tasty. The scrambled eggs were light and fluffy, and the gravy was flavorful and had nice chunks of sausage.

Some franchisees make a minimum effort in this area, and may put out the breakfast once, and when it’s gone, it’s gone, and there is no effort to maintain order or cleanliness during the serving hours.

The Fairfield in Roseville not only exceeded my expectations in this area, but they also get kudos for having a full array of condiments and a variety of toppings for the toasts and bagels available, something they surely wouldn’t have to do.

Fairfield’s have done away with vending, instead offering a “market” at the front desk, with a variety of snack food and beverages.  Prices are a bit spendy, but the concept does give you a wider choice and is available 24/7.

Another surprising service? There was a 4-5 inch snowfall overnight, and a hotel employee when out and brushed the snow off every car in the lot. I’ve never seen that, anywhere, and thanks!

Complaints? My nit picky stuff. Pool water was a little chilly, and I suspect the sausage was turkey based. LOL.

I travel an incredible amount, and I’m not loyal to any one brand or another, usually choosing my accommodation by convenient location.

While I can’t say you should start choosing Fairfield Inns to get this level of service, I can expect that any motel managed by TMI will probably have the same standards, and I will definitely  look for TMI properties in the future. Locator here.









Fairfield Inn Roseville MN

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