Writing is a funny thing. It is a very solitary occupation, but in my experience it tends to flourish most when you surround yourself with other writers. You can feed off their ideas, their excitement, and become energized by their creative impetus. Every time I have been for breakfast with a fellow writer, I have come away with fresh enthusiasm for the act of writing, and my breakfast with Maté was no different.
At the time, Maté was my colleague. He had not been at the company for long and was fresh from the final stages of his creative writing Ph.D., which was all done bar the final viva. He had also had a story published, a wonderful post-apocalyptic survival tale entitled In The Panther’s Wake. As a result, we had a lot to chat about on top of other shared interests such as music and football.
Unfortunately for me and the rest of the Medical News Today office, Maté had been offered another role, teaching English in the north of Italy. For someone who had recently come to the end of one particular journey, this presented an exciting opportunity - one that could not realistically be turned down. And so, in his final week working at the MNT office, we ventured out for a farewell breakfast.
Since moving out to Italy with his precious guitar and writing notebooks, he has been having a great time. As should be expected, he has been eating lots of pizza and pasta. He has also finished the sequel to his first book, Through the Panther’s Storm, which has just recently been published and is available to purchase.
I am looking forward to reading it as the first book was a real delight. Set in a bleak future world where mankind has torn itself apart, the story follows two young brothers forced to survive alone after their family home is destroyed. They are driven by a dream and a desire to navigate wastelands and hostility to reach the sea and freedom, all the while aided by the mysterious figure of a panther.
The book creates the same haunting dread that permeates works such as The Road and The Last of Us, and yet offers a glimpse of hope and humanity that other works in this setting sometimes neglect. Ugly brutality is everywhere, but it can be defeated. This brutal world is also a real joy to travel through, and I am eager to dive once more into its richness. I am hungry for more, and the fast that I have been undergoing since completing the first book needs to be broken.
And so, the breakfast…
Kooks Vegetarian Breakfast
Falafel, halloumi, poached eggs, roasted vine tomatoes, mushrooms, hommus, guacamole on sourdough
|Veggie breakfast - £9.50|
Although the name Kooks should be musically associated with David Bowie, it has a stronger link for me with the band who took their name from one of his songs. I’ve never really been a fan of the Kooks, and so the name of the cafe automatically had negative connotations. I think it has also taken the place of Temptation Café, which I rather enjoyed when I visited it in the past. As a result, the breakfast was immediately at a disadvantage. What could it do to overcome this handicap?
Quite a lot, it turned out. The vegetarian breakfast was packed with a range of flavours and textures that made the meal an adventure. Smooth, crunchy, juicy, hot, cool, firm - all were present, and were often provided in different ways to how you would expect a breakfast to offer them.
|Author, visionary, dreamweaver.|
The falafel gave the wholesome crunch that a hash brown often would. The hummus and guacamole lent the smooth moisture that baked beans bring to the party. These options also felt slightly more healthful than the traditional breakfast components, and this was emphasized by the addition of rocket salad.
The rocket’s pepperiness meshed well with the mushrooms, buttery and subtly seasoned. Vibrant and intoxicating juiciness flowed from the tomatoes, but this taste explosion was nothing compared with the eggs, which were poached to perfection.
There were some areas that could perhaps have been slightly more tasty. The guacamole was fresh but standard. The halloumi and sourdough, while cooked well, did not offer anything beyond what one would normally expect from them. As these are usually wonderful components, however, there was little to really complain about.
The breakfast was so enjoyable that I actually forgot that no beans were included. Although it did not adhere to my breakfast canon, it was hearty enough to disguise this omission.
My only major hang-up with this was the price: £9.50 is a bit steep for any breakfast. Although the flavours were top quality, I’m after something truly exceptional if I’m spending almost a tenner. Perhaps some additional baked beans would have sealed the deal. Nonetheless, I ate a fine meal.
I have seen Maté once since he left for Italy; he popped back to the U.K. around the end of the year and found time to play an open mic gig with his friend Carl. Together, they are known as Bears At The Gate, and they make very smooth grooves. They had been working on some recordings, and hopefully these will see the light of day later this year. Hopefully he will return and visit again soon. Hopefully I will eat several more breakfasts of the quality of that offered by Kooks.
Function: Hearty enough to disguise the lack of beans - 4/5
Adherence to canon: No
Taste: Some high-quality pieces with the odd standard - 4/5
Value: Very tasty but pretty pricy - 3/5
Presentation: Great range of colours but presumption on positioning - 4/5
Venue: Pleasant venue with very attentive service - 4/5
Overall: Expensive, but largely worth it - 4/5