Last weekend, I decided to make a very ambitious breakfast of poached eggs on roasted potatoes with Hollandaise sauce. It took a whole carton of eggs (three for the Hollandaise, four for poaching and the rest for throwing away after the yolks bled into the whites) but the resulting dish, as you can see, was pretty dazzling. It’s the kind of breakfast that makes you, the chef, feel proud and triumphant, roaring with the might of a culinary lion. “I made that!” you keep saying to yourself, reluctant to disturb the plate with a fork. “I really made that.”
“Yes,” says your companion, digging in.
“I’m a culinary lion!” you continue. “Rawwwwwwwwr!!”
April Bloomfield–the chef of The Spotted Pig, the late John Dory and now The Breslin–cooks bold food. That’s what everyone loves about her; her food is never, ever boring. It’s the metaphysical opposite of the boiled peas and carrots you remember from your middle school cafeteria. Her peas and carrots, if she ran a middle school cafeteria, would be browned and salted and spiced and acidified. Kids would be so energized by them they’d stop beating each other up, earn straight As and all go on to win Noble Peace Prizes. That’s the power of food cooked by April Bloomfield.
My friend recently got engaged (woohoo!) and now she’s trying to figure out where to have her wedding in New York. I actually get e-mails quite a bit from people getting married in New York looking for venue suggestions and I rarely know what to tell them. So what say you, married New Yorkers? Where’s a good place for a wedding brunch that can seat 75 to 100 people and can close for a private event? If you use this advice yourself, I expect to be invited.
There are three kinds of people in this world: pancake people, waffle people, and people who like French toast. I’d put myself in the middle category: I’m a waffle person. I like the texture of waffles, I like the little holes that catch the syrup, and I love the way they smell when they’re being cooked.
But I don’t own a waffle iron so I only get waffles when I eat out; which leaves only two options for Sunday morning breakfast: pancakes or French toast. And for some reason, until last week, it was only ever pancakes–buttermilk pancakes, strawberry pancakes–but just pancakes, never anything else. “Why don’t you make French toast?” Craig asked last Sunday when we both said we didn’t want pancakes; I scratched my head and couldn’t come up with a good reason not to. “Ok,” I said. “Let’s have French toast.”
I love brunch but I’m always a bit perplexed when I arrive at a celebrated brunch spot–Prune, for example–and see crowds of people huddled outside, waiting desperately for eggs and pancakes and coffee, foods they can easily and much more cheaply prepare at home. Don’t get me wrong: a place like Prune can dazzle you with its brunch food, but at the end of the day, it’s brunch food and no brunch food–however spectacular–should require a one hour wait.
Which is why I’m delighted to tell you about the brunch I had a few weeks ago with my friend Lauren at Irving Mill, one block east of Union Square. The place is enormous, like a farmy banquet hall, and on Sunday at 12 noon it was almost totally empty, which should’ve been a cause for alarm. Instead, though it was a cause for celebration: Irving Mill serves a pretty killer bunch and the best part is, you don’t have to wait.
Dear Craig Claiborne,
I am greatly enjoying your somewhat notorious autobiography, “A Feast Made For Laughter.” Sure, it’s a little creepy when you talk about touching your dad’s erect penis while sharing a bed, but I appreciate your zeal for people and food. Case in point: early in the book, you tell a story involving Parker House rolls. Your brother passes you a basket of them and instead of taking the basket from him, you start to reach your hand in and take one out and your brother, appalled, drops the basket to the floor saying: “When anyone passes you a basket of bread, you take the basket. Or at least you touch it as a gesture of thoughtfulness.”
This passage amused me because it’s a good story, but mostly it made me hungry–hungry for Parker House rolls. I cracked open “The Joy of Cooking” and found the most basic recipe in the world; a recipe that required only yeast, butter, flour, sugar, salt and milk. I’d write out the recipe here, but it’s so standard any internet search will suffice. And those rolls–which took a few hours to rise–were quaint and comforting, the kind of food you want an American food icon to eat. Thank you for inspiring me to make them; I look forward to the rest of your book.
I am bad with secrets. I’ve always been bad with secrets. You shouldn’t tell me any secrets, secret holders, because I will give them away.
Case in point: the brunch you see above. What is it? Where can you get it? Why do I love it so?
If I were a good secret keeper, I’d end the post here. But I am not a good secret keeper and alas you shall know…
Brunch, more than any other meal, celebrates abundance. We don’t want one pancake when we go to brunch, we want a stack of glistening, syrup-coated chocolate-stuffed pancakes. Yet one pancake–a solitary, singular pancake–is one of the peculiarities you’ll find on the brunch menu at Flatbush Farm, a lovely neighborhood gastropub in Park Slope.