I have no idea why but when I must have been about 11 or 12, my parents made the strange decision we should go on one of those all-inclusive holidays that families who live in Clapham typically take. It was to a place called Sunsail in Marmaris in Turkey and it’s fair to say it was a disaster. I was at my most podgy and geeky, with absolutely no interest in learning to sail or play tennis or do any of the other activities the leaders of the “junior jibers” club thought I would and should enjoy. My brother was similarly unimpressed; spending the whole time in the pool pursuing the childhood version of a holiday romance as far as I can remember. I have no idea what my parents spent their time doing and I’m not sure I want to, to be honest.
In fact one of my only positive memories of my first trip to Turkey were the breakfasts they served at the resort. They probably weren’t even that good. In fact I’m sure they were terrible: a huge phalanx of those metal containers full of congealing eggs and rapidly drying-out bits of bacon; mountains of fantastically over-sweetened pastries and breads that somehow never went stale; platters of gently sweating and relentlessly bland cheeses; and those strangely scientific glass columns containing vividly coloured but strangely tasteless juices. I loved it all; loading my plate and returning time and again for more (even going so far as to stuffing my pockets with homemade sandwiches of buffet goodies for later) so that by the time I boarded the tiny plastic boat I was supposed to be mastering that morning, it’s a miracle it didn’t immediately sink below the clear waters of the Turkish Riviera.
Memories of those Turkish breakfasts came immediately flooding back to me as we wondered into the Troy Cafe in search of sustenance on a recent Saturday morning. It was the buffet that did it. Although to be fair, Troy’s looked somewhat nicer than the one on offer all those years ago under the Mediterranean sun. Here at least there were vaguely appealing salads and plump grains of couscous on offer, rather than just bland rubbish designed to appeal to spoil children and patents so tired of their offspring they were prepared to pack them into boats with strangers just to get a moment’s peace.
We didn’t opt for the buffet though, craving something more substantial to give us strength ahead of our planned clean-up of E-8te Towers. While I was drawn to the Siren-like promise of hash browns on the Set 4, Nat paid homage to roots of the cafe, picking the full Turkish Breakfast.
Both came with tea or coffee and toast and these arrived first. The toast was generously buttered with actual butter but my coffee was nothing more than bog standard cafe fare. The breakfasts themselves, when they arrived a couple of minutes later, were vast. Nat’s was particularly impressive; a huge array of cheeses, salads, pastries, eggs and meat, accompanied somewhat incongruously by a small pot of jam.
In contrast mine was more traditional, but did feature a lake of beans which I could have put my sailing skills to use on if I hadn’t been more interested in Lord of the Rings back at Sunsail. Elsewhere on the plate, both my sausage and bacon were good, if not amazing quality, and my hash browns were fried to artery clogging perfection. The only bum note was my egg, which had been obliterated to the point where all joy had left, replaced by that strange dusty yolk that no-one sane enjoys.
Nat’s poached eggs were also nuked, but everything else on her plate was great; the halloumi squeakily tender, the strange beef sausage strips tasty and the salad bits refreshing. Even the pastry tube filled with cheese provided a pleasant crunch and the hit of grease you want from this sort of breakfast. What the jam was doing on the plate we had no idea, but we let it slide. Sure, the whole thing wasn’t really breakfast, but then again we were eating at 1pm so who’s complaining?
There might be technically better places to get breakfast on Kingsland Road. But there are lots that are much worse and where else can I go now if I ever want to be reminded of the summer where I failed to learn to sail.