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WQED TV producer and PITTSBURGH Magazine back-page writer writes about his current work and assorted other things.

Lots of breakfasts still to come.

September 5th, 2010 · 12 Comments

We have many breakfast stories still to tell.

We loved our many morning meals (and interviews) at all 17 of the spots that we visited.  We edited and squeezed only 8 restaurants into the first show, so there are 9 (or maybe 10) more stories that we’re working on to assemble into BREAKFAST SPECIAL PART 2:

1. The first place where we shot:  Square Cafe in the Pittsburgh neighborhood called Regent Square.

Great food, cool and colorful atmosphere, lots of regulars and big crowds on weekends.  I realized here how important it is to have the owner/operator around.  Customers like to know there’s an immediate connection with the management.  And owner Sherree Goldstein here is like a celebrity.  Here she is cooperating with the paparazzi.

2.  The second place we visited was the sizzling Hot Metal Diner where owner Wendy Betten has built a loyal clientele that loves her big, beautiful and tasty breakfasts as well as the saucy attitude of the servers.

Wendy and her staff put on a rough and tough attitude here, with a set of posted rules for the diner, but the atmosphere stays homey and fun, knowing that we’re all in on the jokes.

3.  In late January 2010, we drove to Philadelphia to Carman’s Country Kitchen where you sit in unusual surroundings, the food is extraordinary and often surprising, and where the banter among Carman Luntzel in the kitchen, her staff and her customers is lively and fun.

I knew about this amazing breakfast spot because I’d been there once before with Holly Moore, the fabled master of hollyeats.com and a “star” of our program called SANDWICHES THAT YOU WILL LIKE.  He met us at Carman’s again.

The #4 special that day was duck breast with eggs, and it was scrumptious.  This is Carman.  With an omelette.

4.  On our Southern trip in mid-February, we stopped in Columbia, South Carolina, at Anson Mills where they make some well respected grits, using heirloom corn varieties and some ancient production techniques.  Their facilities are in a nondescript metal building behind a car wash on Gervais Street.

We could have spent more time there.  Lots of interesting processes going on all the time.

5.  We also shot and interviewed our way through a delicious morning in Raleigh, North Carolina, at Big Ed’s City Market.

It’s an anchor of sorts for a historic little 1914 neighborhood called City Market in downtown Raleigh, and owners Sam Hobgood and Clay Culpepper treated us well, letting us wander from kitchen to restaurant and back and forth a hundred times.   The grill cook here, Spencer, was one of the fastest and best short order cooks we saw anywhere.

Betty Sue made the biscuits, and they’re basically perfect with whatever you put on ’em.

6.  Eventually, in mid-March, we headed west.   After Portland and San Francisco, we found ourselves in Hawaii where James and Beverly Rubio had agreed to be our guides on the Big Island.

Our first morning there we all went to Ken’s House Of Pancakes, a Hilo landmark, not far from the airport.

We had the local specialty called loco moco, a breakfast bowl of rice with hamburger, gravy and eggs.

We interviewed Ric Maiava, the owner, several waitresses and waiters, and we learned some of the place’s traditions, including the banging of the Sumo gong!

7.  On our second morning in Hawaii, a typically rainy day on the eastern coast of the Big Island, James and Beverly wanted to take us north from Hilo about 60 miles to the town of Waimea (sometimes called Kamuela.)

Before we started our drive, they confessed that they usually stopped on this journey to get “malasadas” or Portuguese fried donuts at a roadside bakery run by a guy named Baker Tom.

We had to stop.  The idea of a roadside bakery was so seductive.  There should be more!  And Baker Tom let us shoot him and his wares for a brief extra story.

8.  In Waimea, we followed James and Beverly into the parking lot for a small line of shops where we found the Hawaiian Style Cafe.

It’s an amazing place with a big U-shaped counter where people sit and chat and catch up on the local news.

We did our usual mix of interviews:  owner, cooks, eaters, all the usual suspects.

But we  were truly knocked out by the food here and some of the unexpected breakfasts.  They also make elaborate and huge variations on loco moco.  Enough food for all day!

9.  In April 2010, we headed for the Northeast, for New England, where we went first to a grand old hotel that’s been restored and updated and turned into a jewel of a Marriott.  It’s called Wentworth By The Sea.  It’s in New Hampshire.

And it’s here that I had lobster hash with poached eggs back in 2006, and I always think of it as one of the great breakfasts of my life.

We gathered interviews, footage of the kitchen and the restaurant in operation.

We were surprised by a group of Red Hat Ladies who had come to the hotel for an annual great breakfast.  It’s a spectacular setting for a great breakfast.

10.  While in New England we also shot footage for a story about the Post Road Diner in Norwalk, Connecticut.  It’s right off I-95 at exit 14.  It’s a beauty of a lovingly restored old diner with location, location, location and gleaming chrome detailing, even in the early morning rain.

We met our old friend Gary Zemola, the Super Duper Weenie Man from A HOT DOG PROGRAM, there.  He had suggested this place as a beauty of a diner with wonderful breakfast fare.  And he was right.

We interviewed him, as well as the owner, the woman at the register, lots of customers, and a guy named Mark Kotlinski who had e-mailed me because he was making a new documentary about Connecticut diners.  We had a blast.

And some amazing French toast, made with bread baked on the premises!

So now we’re working on getting all these stories edited.  And we hope we’ll have a BREAKFAST SPECIAL 2 ready by the Winter of 2011.  So much great stuff to share.

Tags: "Breakfast Special"

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nick // Sep 11, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Fantastic! Looking forward to it!

  • 2 mary // Oct 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Some absolute winners, please visit them both!

    The Beaches Diner, Atlantic Beach, Florida
    Arthur and Pats, Brant Rock, Massachusetts

  • 3 Dave Singleton // Feb 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Would also suggest The Breakfast Club, Tybee Island, Savannah, GA. Shrimp & Grits? Hoowheee. Not to mention the Grill Cleaner Special.

  • 4 Rick // Feb 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    DAVE Did you see our PBS program last year? Jodi and The Breakfast Club were featured there. It’s a great breakfast spot, and I long to get back there, but I probably won’t go back with my TV crew. I hope you get to see the show one day.

  • 5 russell // Mar 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I’ve eaten at both of the places in Hawaii and agree that they’re good. If you do a show on Pork Chops theres a place in Kona named “Manago Hotel” thats worth a visit.

  • 6 Rick // Apr 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    A show on pork chops is a brilliant idea! If only we could get it funded.

  • 7 An Anniversary & An Announcement « Breakfast with Nick // Aug 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    […] Breakfast Special aired July 14, 2010. That morning I got to chat on WOSU radio with Rick, Kevin from Skillet, Tom from The Best, and Lisa Dillman (aka the Restaurant Widow). We had a small party that night to watch my five minutes of fame. Rick sent us some signed copies of the DVD. The whole documentary is delightful, a true celebration of breakfast. I’ve watched it too many times. And Rick’s not done yet. […]

  • 8 sharon and chuck // Sep 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    We’ll check this out on Sunday – can’t wait! But have you tried Macrina Bakery and Cafe in Seattle? It’s in the Queen Anne part of town and is spectacular!!

  • 9 russ // Jan 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    any update on “Breakfast 2”?

  • 10 Rick // Jan 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    RUSS Am I sending out psychic energy? I have been working all week on the proposal for BREAKFAST SPECIAL 2. Folks at PBS have given us some reasons to hope that will fund the finishing of Part 2. If all goes well, it may be on by this summer. RICK

  • 11 russ // Jan 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    ALL RIGHT!!!!!! Been waiting for the 2nd part.

  • 12 Marylu's // Mar 25, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Having such amazing breakfast is great. It is really fun and enjoyable reading your story especially when you see the group of Red Hat Ladies who had come to the hotel for an annual great breakfast.

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