My trip to New York started with a favorite brunch spot going down the tubes and ended with a brunch spot that I loved so much, I went twice. That spot is Lafayette and it’s located, as the name might suggest, on Lafayette Street just south of the Astor Place stop on the 6 train and north of the Broadway/Lafayette stop on every other train. My first visit was with my friend Alex who you can see above modeling a $14 basket of pastries so good, we pretty much devoured the whole thing. Going to Lafayette and not ordering the pastry basket is like going to Disneyland and not riding the rides. You just can’t avoid it.
The ladies who lunch really exist. I saw them on the Upper East Side, where I stayed for several months recently, and they don’t necessarily wear hats anymore (“Does anyone still wear a hat?”) but they know how to command a room. Two women I sat next to at Maison Kayser completely ignored their bread basket, full of the city’s best breads, and complained that the iced tea wasn’t cold enough. You don’t see that in Des Moines.
Here in Los Angeles, I found myself alone one night and invited my friend Diana over for dinner. I decided that even though this was a dinner, I’d treat it like a ladies luncheon. I’d serve salad, a crisp white wine and a Roquefort Cheese tart from Simon Hopkinson’s Second Helpings of Roast Chicken.
We need to talk about the pancake at Canelé in Atwater Village.
I mean, look at it: it’s totally outrageous. It’s puffed up like a blowfish and it’s filled, almost defiantly, with a Meyer lemon custard. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with a lemon wedge, this pancake puts all other pancakes to shame. Is it a Dutch Baby? A riff on the David Eyre’s pancake? Possibly.
Restaurants that are institutions don’t have to be good. Before it closed, Tavern on the Green in New York was like that. You didn’t go for the food–no, you definitely didn’t go for the food–you went for the chandeliers, for the topiary, for the chintzy souvenirs you could buy in the gift shop.
Sunday Morning Oatmeal is not your average, every day oatmeal. It’s an oatmeal that, if you ate it every day, might kill you. But on Sunday morning, death is the furthest thing from your mind; you’ve got the Sunday Times Magazine crossword puzzle open on the table next to you (you look for all the food clues first, naturally) and Bon Iver playing on iTunes (well, Craig does, I just liked it and asked “What is this?” and he said “Bon Iver.”) There’s no set formula for this Sunday Morning Oatmeal, you just wing it as you go. But it’s best if you start the night before, right before you go to bed.
This is a highly unnecessary post, especially if you’ve seen my post “Easy French Toast.” That’s my go-to French Toast recipe and the only difference between that recipe and this recipe is the bread. So why write this post at all? Because the difference between making French Toast with white sandwich bread (as I did in that old post) and making it with challah bread (as I do in this post) is like the difference between building a fort with pillows and blankets vs. building a fort with bricks, mortar and cannons. This French Toast blasts the other French Toast apart.
On a drowsy Saturday morning, you stumble out of bed and look at what you have in the kitchen. You don’t have much. There are hot dog buns, there’s cream, there are eggs (hopefully untainted by salmonella) and slivered almonds. You scratch your chin, you lift your eyebrow, you hold your monocle closer to your eye. Might you? Might it be possible? Why perhaps it might!
A dish is born: Hot Dog Bun French Toast.
If you want to know the best thing about Cafe Gitane in The Jane Hotel, you’re looking at it. It’s an utterly charming space; big, bright, airy. There’s even an alligator on the wall.
When Craig’s Uncle Chris, Aunt Liz and Cousin Katie came through New York a few weeks ago, they wanted to take us out to brunch. At the time, I had a copy of New York Magazine’s Best of New York in my hand and under the category of “Best Brunch” they chose Cafe Gitane for “an ambience that feels airlifted from the Left Bank with a detour to Cuba.”