The Best Breakfast in the World?

The best breakfast in the world?  Now there is a challenge!  For me it used to be a full english but I find that heavy and, unless it’s made with the best possible ingredients, not so good.  Migas was a favourite – not any old migas but migas from the original 59 diner.  With Hugo’ salsa of death.  But then a friend called Buddy took me to the French Press in Lafayette and frankly my life changed.  There I had Cajun Eggs Benedict and what an incredible breakfast it is…

It is rich  – so rich the term filthy rich doesn’t do it justice.  If it were a car it would be a Bugatti Veyron with baby armadillo leather trim and a case of Krug 1988 Brut in the passenger seat and with Ursula Andress in that Bikini opening the door for you.

I might be digressing.

But with this depth of richness it needs to be a special occasion meal.  You know the sort – a hangover might be involved.  So what is it? Well start with thick buttered toast, topped with boudin and a beautifully poached egg sitting as a crown of yolky(!) goodness.  All covered in Gumbo roux style gravy with smoked sausage. Its hard to describe just how well the flavours and textures blend to be the perfect mix. I had to try and recreate this……

Donald Link’s Real Cajun is full of great recipes.  In there is his recipe for Boudin.  You should really buy the book but just for the boudin look here.  I used this for my boudin. Continue reading “The Best Breakfast in the World?”

Fix me a sammich

I do enjoy a good sandwich. It has to be made with excellent bread and fresh ingredients mind you, which is why most pre-packaged triangular “sandwiches” so rarely come up to snuff. Making your own is more satisfying on many levels – you make it yourself, and you make it exactly the way you want it;  can’t be bad.

While adding condiments can be the way to go, think mustard on ham, or horseradish on roast-beef, there is one sandwich that requires no condiments at all, just great ingredients and a bit of seasoning. As a kid, growing up in Holland, I used to regularly head to De Bruine Boon in Leiden, and order a koffie-verkeerd (Basically a coffee made “wrongly”, lots of milk) and a broodje-brie. The Bruine-Boon is still there today, but seems to have been renovated, so to me, has lost some of its charm. Of course, it may be exactly the same, and I have become jaded, who knows? If you are in Leiden, I recommend it for a spot of lunch (or brunch with a hangover – I seem to remember doing a lot of those at the Boon).

So for a broodje-brie, or Brie sandwich, take a fresh, crusty, French Baguette ( I believe they’re called Freedom Baguettes over here), some Brie (the most delicious is invariably a triple-cream, but for the sake of your weight or your heart, any will do), and a fresh, ripe tomato.

Slice about 6 inches diagonally from the baguette, and split it down it’s length. Cut slices, about 5 mm thick of the Brie and cover the bottom slice of bread with it. Then thinly (or however you want) slice the tomatoes and lay them on the Brie. Season with salt and freshly ground black-pepper. That’s it!

This sandwich really hits the spot at lunchtime, and goes well with a crisp, dry white-wine like a Sancerre, or a New-Zealand Cabernet-Sauvignon. Or a nice dry cider, or a beer, or a glass of water, or a koffie-verkeerd. You get the picture.

St. John Bread & Wine, London

One of our favourite restaurants here in Houston is Feast. One of the two chef/owners at Feast is James Silk who worked for many years at St. John’s in London, and is a proponent of “Nose to Tail Eating” championed by Fergus Henderson the owner of St. John’s. The food at Feast is superb, and is clearly influenced by St. John’s, so finding myself in London, I had to take the opportunity and pay a visit.

St. John’s was sadly booked solid, however St. John – Bread and Wine, their sister restaurant, was not. Bakery and Wine Merchant by day, Restaurant by night, St. John’s B &W is in Spitalfields, just around the corner from the somewhat creepy looking All Saint’s Church, which fans of Alan Moore’s “From Hell” will certainly be familiar with. Spitalfields - All Saints CHurch

We arrived at about 8, just in time to see a suckling pig being brought out to serve a large group, there to celebrate a birthday. Suckling pig can be ordered with one weeks notice, and looked delicious. The aroma wafting over as the pig was carved up started the drool-juices flowing.

I started off with Ham, Turnip Leaves and Dandelion, a delicious salad. Our starters had taken quite a while to arrive, but given the ample supply of excellent bread from the bakery this wasn’t really an issue. The length of time it took for our main courses to arrive was however.

We had ordered two Speckled Face Mutton and Black Cabbage dishes, and one Brill, with garlic and brown butter. After almost an hour of waiting, the two lamb dishes arrived, looking fantastic – pink and succulent. Markus and I waited poltely before diving in for Suresh’s fish dish to arrive. I wish we hadn’t! After about a minute the waiter came and whisked away our plates! Apparently they had made a mistake and had served them to the wrong table.

This might have been forgivable if it hadn’t taken another 30 minutes for our own lamb and fish to arrive. Our annoyance was compounded by the fact that the lamb was cold! I realise that lamb served in this way is best served warm, not hot, however ours was most definitely at room temperature. The waiter offered to take it back and warm it up, but we were understandably reticent to part with it after such a long wait.

I have to say that it really was superb, despite being cold. I’m sure if it had been warm it would have been even better.

The manager was most apologetic about the incredibly slow service – although we did have to wait a little while for her to get to us, as she was busy apologising for the same thing to a couple sitting behind us! She comped us the lamb main courses which was a nice gesture. Sadly, given how late it was we didn’t really have time to sample the puddings, something for which St. John’s are well known for.

All in all, while the food was really top-notch, the evening was soured by the very poor service, and had the food not been so good I would definitely have second thoughts about returning. As it is, I’d give them another go.

St. John Bread & Wine – 94-96 Commercial St. London E1 6LZ

Loch Fyne | Loch Fyne Oysters and Seafood Restaurants

Loch Fyne | Loch Fyne Oysters and Seafood Restaurants.

Am over in the UK on business, the team went to the Loch Fyne Restaurant in Beaconsfield on Wednesday evening.

I had the best kippers I have ever eaten bar none. The smokyness was more subtle than usual, which was welcome as it is often overdone, and they were deliciously moist. Definitely recommended as a starter, as are the Whitebait with lemon mayonnaise.

The sticky-toffee pudding was extremely good, and almost makes up for the dodgy oyster that kept me up all night after my visit. Almost.