The Weekend Brunch Series – Loving Prosciutto & Eggs Benny at La Vecchia at Yonge & Eglinton

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poached eggs benedict weekend brunch with prosciutto and arugula at La Vecchia

Thinly sliced meats, cubes and wedges of cheese, olives and tapenade, honey, mountains of arugula…good god, my mouth is watering just thinking about all of the scrumptious delights!  I think the month of April really changed me.  I’ve always loved things like cheese and crackers and cured meats (one of my favourite guilty pleasures is a herb and garlic cream cheese sandwich with thinly sliced German salami – YUM, YUM and YUM), but after going to dinner with coworkers at Obika Mozzarella Bar in Brookfield Place, having an amazing, wonderful dinner at Hockley Valley’s Cabin restaurant with my FBC friends during FBC 2013 and basically having enough cheese and charcuterie to last me two lifetimes during the month of April alone (I might as well be a walking cheese wedge), I have really begun to appreciate the artistry behind charcuterie platter creation.

I would always eat things in isolation; some cheese cubes on a toothpick at parties, some antipasto, a few slices of meat.  All enjoyable but never really together because, let’s face it, the nagging voices that sternly tell us to stay away from all that sodium will deter us from that fun.  But I am here to say that every so often, I DON’T CARE.  I definitely plan on paying much more attention to charcuterie platters from here on out and to indulge in one of my favourite charcuterie staples, prosciutto, when given the opportunity.  So when eggs benny with prosciutto stared at me in the face from the menu of one of my more recent weekend brunch meals at La Vecchia by Yonge & Eglinton, I had to take advantage!

La Vecchia weekend brunch menu in Yonge and Eglinton

La Vecchia weekend brunch menu in Yonge and Eglinton

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past La Vecchia over the years.  Located on the east side of Yonge Street a few blocks north of Eglinton by Broadway Avenue, it’s sandwiched between so many different eateries, many of which I’ve visited on a regular basis.  But what set La Vecchia apart and what drew me to it in the first place is its ambience.  It exudes that feeling and atmosphere of old world Italy (historical but with plenty of character, and a quiet, easy-breezy sophistication and glamour) and when the patio is set up during the summer, it makes you feel so relaxed just walking by it.  It’s the type of place I feel I can truly soak in a dining experience.  The type of place that gives you more than just delicious food but also a delicious experience – sitting back and taking your time, savouring those bread and olive oil moments, sipping water as you people-watch; all those little details that make those meals so memorable and enjoyable.

La Vecchia dining room in Yonge and Eglinton

La Vecchia has a FABULOUS weekend brunch menu.  Not only do they offer plenty of savoury and sweet options, but they also offer plenty of choices within those options.  You never have to feel like you’re caged in when you’re perusing their menu.  Case in point: 7 frittatas, 6 egg (uova) breakfasts (benedicts, sunny side ups, poached, and style of your choice), 5 sweet brunches, a whole host of veg, salads, and antipasto, fresh focaccia sandwiches,  and – wait for this – 9 (nine!) pasta and risotto brunch dishes!  And lots and lots of yummy things like portobello mushrooms and grilled vegetables, sausage, cured meats, goat cheese, parmesan, bocconcini and Asiago, calamari, and so much more!

Prices are very brunch-typical, hovering around $11 or $12 for most mains and dishes with a few less expensive ones ($8 or $9) and a few more expensive ones ($14 to $16).  This menu makes me think of “Around the World in 80 Days” only more like “Around the Menu 80 Times” because of all the different types of dishes!

poached eggs benedict weekend brunch with prosciutto and arugula at La Vecchia

poached eggs benedict weekend brunch with prosciutto and arugula at La Vecchia

poached eggs benedict weekend brunch with prosciutto and arugula at La Vecchia

My brunch pick for my first visit to La Vecchia: the Semplice Uova (egg) breakfast ($12) featuring 2 poached eggs on a bed of juicy, thick slices of tomato and fluffy arugula topped with thinly sliced mouthwatering prosciutto with a side of home fries, diced roasted red pepper and fruit.  So many of the my favourite things rolled into one!  I love prosciutto and arugula like nobody’s business, the prosciutto imparted so much flavour in the dish, the runny yolks in the poached eggs (which, by the way, were perfectly runny and poached) gave the dish this great, thick, egg yolky “sauce” for me to dip my home fries and tomatoes in, and the fluffy arugula just soaked up every flavour around it, just like an English muffin would in a traditional eggs benny.  There was a great balance of flavours and textures (salty, juicy, starchy, runny, and crunchy) and I didn’t find the prosciutto to be overbearing or overpowering in the dish with its cured salty flavour.

poached eggs benedict weekend brunch with prosciutto and arugula at La Vecchia

I love poached eggs and eggs benny so much and it’s so much fun trying different combinations and variations.  We’re used to seeing the classics (the florentine, the peameal, and the smoked salmon) and while I love them, it’s awesome seeing different meat and veg combinations that also really speak to the Italian cuisine of the eatery.  You can bet I’ll be back to try some of the sweet brunch dishes (they have crepes with strawberries and chocolate sauce!) and their pasta – lots and lots of pasta!  La Vecchia is a fabulous weekend brunch spot and with spring finally here their open front windows and patio will make dining here even sweeter.

*****

La Vecchia is an Italian eatery that serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch 7 days a week (11am lunch Monday-Friday, 10:30am-3:30pm brunch and 3:30pm dinner on Saturday, and 10am-3:30pm brunch and 3:30pm dinner on Sunday).  They are located at 2405 Yonge Street on the east side of Yonge Street several blocks north of Eglinton by Broadway Ave. in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood.  You can view their menus and contact info on their website HERE.

Smoking Hot Sunday Brunch – Smoked Trout Cakes, Poached Eggs, & Edamame Fennel Salad at Brockton General!

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I promised you all a weekend brunch post from the west end so I’m here to deliver!  After doing a lot of exploring in Leslieville over the past month, I thought it would be nice to switch things up and have some fun on Dundas West, specifically in Brockton Village!  I still remember that crazy day a year and a half ago in April when I decided to be spontaneous and walk the entire length of Dundas West from Keele to Spadina (um, hello, over 5 km!), stopping at King’s Cafe for lunch, watching snow flurries flying around in the sky from the window, and completely zonking out on the streetcar and subway ride back. 

And since that day, I have loved Dundas West, Brockton Village, and all the neighbouring areas for its aesthetic and character (Dundas West is home to some of the most beautiful graffiti artwork in the city) and of course, for its food!  I know some parts of the strip are a little industrial and “middle of nowhere”, but little gems still sparkle beneath that steely exterior and really, once you hit Lansdowne going eastbound, there is so much to see and explore in terms of specialty food shops, bakeries, and great eateries.  And Brockton General is one of them!

I found out about Brockton General from Where Toronto magazine many moons ago, immediately looked them up online, and kept them on my brunch hitlist for months.  It was their stewed fruit French toast menu item that made me squeal in the beginning!  This month I finally made my way here on a Sunday morning, sat down on one of their sweet wooden chairs at one of their pretty outdoor wooden tables and enjoyed one of the most relaxing, delicious, memorable brunch meals EVER.  With a light breeze, a clear sky, and a peaceful atmosphere, this meal at Brockton General epitomized what a Sunday morning brunch should always be.  Their cafe is so sweet and cute with so much vintage and romantic flair.  Little sugar pots, tiny vases of flowers on the ledge, vintage prints on the exposed brick wall, linen napkins, pretty porcelain dishes with floral prints, and even an antique spoon collection on the wall to boot! 

Even though the space isn’t monstrously big, there’s a decent amount of seating with tables for four and two all over, so as long as you get there not too long after they open, there shouldn’t be an issue with line-ups.  Then again, there was a steady stream of people coming in when I was there on a Sunday morning (couples and groups of friends), so to cover your butt, show up soon after they open to be on the safe side.  The food is so delicious here I wouldn’t be surprised if I was proven wrong about the line-ups!

The wonderfully unique thing about Brockton General is their menu and I’m not even talking about their food or dishes persay here; I’m talking about their constant changing menu.  The menu that changes EVERY WEEK.  No joke!  Brockton General’s brunch menu changes every week, highlighting seasonal ingredients and whatever creative concoctions they might come up with.  I LOVE that.  I know that it can be bad if there’s a menu item you just adore to pieces and you’re not sure if it’ll come back or not, but just think of all the amazing different dishes you can try with an evolving menu like theirs.  The menu might feature similar types of dishes week to week, but with different ingredients or different sides.  And I’m happy to report that there are always vegetarian options!

In addition to classic breakfasts like bacon and eggs (their chalkboard sign out front says “magical bacon forest!”), eggs benny, and French toast with seasonal fruit and maple syrup, Brockton General’s menu specialities include omelettes with yummy seasonal vegetables (cauliflower puree with green beans, salad greens and toast – I have never seen anybody do omelettes with cauliflower!  And green beans?  Amazing!,), breakfast sandwiches (English muffins, fried eggs, pork loin, different cheeses, homefries and salad), and sausage or veggie hash with veggie gravy, fried egg and toast.  On top of that, they have a number of different small meals (rye berry salad, granola with fruit and yogurt) and sides (bacon and/or pork loin, homefries, and so on) that you can pair with your main and a drink for a Brockton General price fixe!  Prices for mains come in at $11-$13, but if you choose a drink, the granola, soup, or salad, and a main, it’s $18 any time and all the time!

My brunch meal: smoked trout cake with a poached egg, remoulade, salad, and toast ($13).  I never say no to fish and seafood cakes!  I love crab cakes and salmon cakes and wish I could eat them more often.  This totally and completely satisfied my desire for fish cakes though and I am still reeling from the wow factor of this brunch meal!  The poached egg was perfect (thin egg white skin with a runny yellow yolk on the inside), the toast was perfect and crunchy (I couldn’t believe how excited I was about how good the toast tasted!), the salad was beyond fresh and bright and delicious, and the smoked trout cake?  Heavenly and mind-blowingly delicious!

Let’s talk about the salad first though.  Now, I loooove green salad with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing as much as the next perso.  Heck, I could have that every day.  But when you’re in the face of REALLY GOOD salad with more than just greens, it makes you appreciate it that much more.  Brockton General’s salad that day was a mix of baby arugula and mixed greens, sliced red onion, and – wait for this – fennel and edamame!  I love edamame so, so much and was squealing (on the inside) about it througout my meal.  And the fennel!  I think this was the first time I truly tasted fennel.  I have read about its licorice taste more times than I can count and I finally felt like I understood firsthand.  It was a beautiful and definitely unique from other places.

The smoked trout cake was just bang-on fabulous.  First off, as soon as I cut into it, steamed billowed out.  So fresh, so good.  It was wonderfully flaky and soft with the most flavourful, smoky interior of flaked fish and green onion with a golden brown crisp exterior.  You have to eat it to get the full effect of the smoky flavour.  The menu was not lying when it said smoked trout!  It was smoky with a hint of heat and it was almost as if you could taste it straight off the fire.  It was so savoury and the smokiness just envelopes your tastebuds and lingers as you continue eating.  That’s how bold it is.  It was a flavour my tastebuds had never come across before and it paired perfectly with their cool, creamy, delicious remoulade sauce!  I wish I had a whole ramekin of this sauce.  Generally made with mayo, mustard, garlic, and spices (and sometimes hot sauce), the sauce completed the fish cake so well.

From the get-go, all I could think of when I was here was how much I wanted to bring my best friend, my mum, and my boyfriend here to eat.  And all my friends.  And anyone who just loves food and brunch.  My unforgettable brunch on that clear Sunday morning confirmed it.

*****

Brockton General is located at 1321 Dundas Street West between Ossington Ave. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Wednesday to Sunday (closed Mondays and Tuesdays), with dinner hours Wednesday through Saturday (6pm-10pm on Wednesday, 6pm-11pm Thursday through Saturday), and weekend brunch hours on Sunday from 10:30am-3pm.

The Weekend Brunch Club – Neapolitan Eggs in Stewed Tomatoes, Potato Rosti, and Springtime Brunch at Table 17

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I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of the most indecisive people on this plant.  I have had the time of my life writing Ate by Ate, but I’m telling you, I drive myself crazy sometimes with my own waffling.  It takes me days to figure out which places I’d like to visit, what neighbourhoods I want to explore, and what menu items I want to try, and it’s not because I’m bored of my options – quite the opposite.  There are so MANY amazing choices for me to choose from that, as a result, I often find myself wanting to do a gazillion things at once and this in turn makes things harder because I know I have to come to a concrete decision sooner or later. 

This just in: for the first time in goodness knows how long, I had no trouble deciding on where I wanted to have a nice weekend brunch a few weeks ago and shockingly enough, what I wanted to have.  This easy breezy decision even took me by surprise.  My tummy knew exactly where it wanted to be fed: Table 17 on Queen East in Riverside.                

After the great brunch I had my first time there (The Sloppy Giuseppe!  Two fried sunnyside eggs with polenta, bolognese, and greens), I really wanted to go back to try some of their other brunch dishes, especially since I knew how great their variety was in terms of savoury egg breakfasts.  I always tell myself that I’ll get around to trying the French toast and pancake breakfasts, but when I go to places like Table 17, with their rustic, farmers’, local meshed with global atmosphere and menu, I always er on the side of savoury. 

Even though Table 17’s brunch menu isn’t exceptionally large (there are 10 main brunch dishes to choose from), what keeps those of us who thrive on variety coming back is their focus on seasonal ingredients and mixing up their cheeses and vegetables in dishes such as their weekly scramble, which changes every week, and their quiche which also changes on a weekly basis.

I settled on the Neapolitan Eggs with a side of potato rosti and while I do love the Sloppy Giuseppe more between the two, there’s such a brightness and freshness to the Neapolitan Eggs dish with its savoury tomato sauce and greens.  There’s a level of flavour depth in tomato sauce that is just uncomparable to anything else.  Just the thought of a big pot of tomato sauce with a hint of cream and a spattering of fresh herbs makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Growing up, I was always a fan of the cream sauces like alfredo, white wine, mushroom, and such.  I love them dearly still (spaghetti in white sauce or mushroom sauce will always be a weakness), but tomato sauce has really grown on me and I appreciate its flavour and versatility so much more. 

Neapolitan Eggs (or Eggs in Purgatory) is a classic southern Italian dish, originating in Campania in Naples and while the origins of its alternative name are subject to speculation*, Table 17 does a fabulous job on their menu of integrating these traditional, classic European flavours into their local framework.  Local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, but globally inspired – that’s the intent and motivation.  Two of Table 17’s brunch dishes tip their hat at classic and traditional Italian favourites, including the Sloppy Giuseppe dish I had my first time and their Neapolitan Eggs.  Neapolitan Eggs can be made in a few different ways – eggs baked in tomato sauce or cracked into the sauce and then simmered – but Table 17 does it poached style. 

The dish ($10), which is also a vegetarian option, consists of two poached eggs in stewed tomatoes and basil on country toast with a green mix salad in olive oil vinaigrette.  My favourite aspects of the dish include the thick, runny yolks of the eggs (the delicious hallmark of an awesome poached egg), the thickness of the egg whites (they tasted so good with the cracked black pepper, oh my goodness), the texture of the tomato sauce (segments of crushed tomatoes strewn throughout tomato sauce juice with sweet onions), and the lightness of the dish as a whole.   

And of course, we can’t forget about the amazing potato rosti on the side!  Table 17 offers several side dishes ($4) in addition to their mains, things like double-smoked bacon, bangers (sausages), frites, and potato rosti.  Made with shredded potatoes and then formed into large patties for pan-frying, potato rostis are a fab alternative to hash browns and homefries.  Their potato rosti side is absolutely fabulous and it is SO DELICIOUSLY GOOD. 

The crispy, crunchy, waffle-like potato pancake came in a half moon pie shape and was cut into four wedges and was accompanied by a dish of sour cream.  It was perfect for dipping (in the sour cream and in my tomato sauce), it was crunchy and crispy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside, and it was so good eating mouthfuls of it with the mix of egg white, egg yolk, green salad, and sour cream.  It was brunch heaven in my mouth and it was a wonderful complement to my eggs and tomatoes because it just sopped up all the flavour and provided that tiny bit of fried crunchiness that makes everything extra awesome.

I’m already looking forward to my next brunch here and given how indecisive I am, it wouldn’t hurt for me to start thinking about what I’d love to try next.  I’m thinking of having either the Farmers’ Breakfast or the Weekly Scramble.  With potato rosti again.  Or maybe a side of bangers.  Or maybe I should just flip a coin.   

*****

Source *= Almost Italian.com

Table 17 is located at 782 Queen Street East in the Riverside district of Toronto in the east end.  They are located on the north side of Queen East, east of Broadview Ave. and west of Boulton Ave.  They are open 7 days a week for dinner at 5:30pm and are open for weekend brunch at 10:30am.  Brunch is served until 2:30pm.  Follow them on Twitter @table17, check out their Facebook page here, and their site here.

Perfect Poached Eggs on Smoked Salmon and Mascarpone – Breakfast at L’Espresso Bar Mercurio’s!

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Over the past three years, I have developed a keen sense of what I call my “food instinct”, the little radar and gut feeling that has allowed me to zero in on places that give me good vibes and good eats.  Not necessarily the best and most amazing spots everyone would love (because we all have different preferences and tastes), but the best places for me.  I instinctively know whether or not I’ll enjoy a spot and one of the ways I can tell is by looking at their breakfast and brunch menu, if the place has one.  That, for me, is a tell-tale sign.  If the breakfast menu doesn’t light a fire in me, it’s a no-go.  If it makes me do a happy dance or if it makes me squeal, “oh my goodness, I want this, this, and this!” over and over, it’s a winner. 

And that is certainly how I felt after perusing Mecurio’s breakfast and brunch menu over a month ago!  Not only do they serve weekend brunch, but their every day breakfast menu contains a whole slew of adorable Italian tramezzini sandwiches and a very delicious sounding French toast among other items!  Add to that an extensive and impressive list of loose leaf tea and you have yourself a menu with endless delicious possibilities.  Tramezzini sandwiches are a cross between tea sandwiches and the traditional club sandwich.  If you frequent Hong Kong style diners especially, you’ll know exactly the type of club sandwich I’m referring to.  Think of the adorable white bread sandwiches that are cut into triangles with their crusts cut off, but in brunch fashion.  I was in conniptions.  Even though I was going gaga over the menu of Italian breakfast sandwiches, I went for something else during this first time breakfast adventure at Mercurio’s. 

I promised you all a breakfast post from L’Espresso Bar Mercurio when I wrote about their hot chocolate and chocolate ganache kisses last month, so here it is in all its poached egg and smoked salmon glory!  I have come to the conclusion that I love poached eggs just as much as overeasy ones.  I get so excited when I see poached eggs on a menu.  I don’t know which aspect I love more: the delicate dome shape or the runniness of the eggs after you poke them.  Poached eggs and smoked salmon are two of my favourite things and I will take them in every shape and form (remember the delicious smoked salmon eggs benny from Futures Bakery?) because every place has their own unique interpretation and style of presentation.

Mercurio’s is in the form of a bruschetta, just not in the traditional sense.  Most of the time, we think of diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and onions when we think of bruschetta, but in this case, it’s a cured meat and cheese type of bruschetta on toasts.  Their salmon bruschetta breakfast ($7.95) comes with two servings of multigrain toast smothered in creamy mascarpone cheese, slices of cured smoked salmon, and two giant poached eggs, with a healthy sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper for me!    

These eggs were perfectly and beautifully poached with runny yolks (runny yolks are a must!  I’ve read stories of people having poached eggs that weren’t really poached because they were literally hard-boiled!) and the smoked salmon was sliced in that perfect, “I’m thick enough to give you that great meaty scrumptiousness but also not so thick I look like sashimi” style.  These were some of the best poached eggs I’ve ever had and I think it was the combination of thick, runny yolks and that perfect, bubbly egg white exterior that’s thick around the bottoms and edges but paper thin around the dome that really made them great.   

After having yet another delicious poached egg (and smoked salmon) breakfast tucked under my hat, I am beyond excited to eventually try their French toast and their tramezzini sandwiches!  My stomach is already grumbling at the thought of breakfast sandwiches with scrambled eggs, bocconcini cheese, brie cheese, roasted peppers, turkey, spinach, and more.  And best of all?  Mercurio’s offers a 20% discount on all food items with student ID.  Delicious food and a discount; it doesn’t get any better than that.

*****

L’Espresso Bar Mercurio is located at 321 Bloor Street West at the corner of St. George Street right across from St. George subway station.  It is sandwiched between the ROM and the Bata Shoe Museum (the shoe museum is literally just steps away) and it is an espresso bar, dessert cafe, and brunch and lunch spot all in one.  They are open 7 days a week from 7am-11pm from Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  They also offer weekend brunch.

Committed to Food, Committed to Friendship – A Scrapbook Snapsnot of the Breakfast Club Girls

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Eating breakfast classics, drinking cups upon cups of tea and coffee, and catching up with friends during a weekend or holiday brunch is one of the best feelings in the world and making this breakfast scrapbook layout made me so happy.  I’ve been down in the dumps lately and even though I know how much I love to write, scrapbook, and design, it still catches me by surprise when both of these loving pastimes calm me down and give me a little piece of mind.  Writing and scrapbooking function as both my creative outlets and my stress relievers and they have been so therapeutic for me. 

This scrapbook layout served as yet another reminder of all the reasons why I love food, story-telling, and the time spent with friends.  I feel so lucky to have a sweet boyfriend who humours me, supports me, and is up for anything when it comes to my blogging and photography escapades, and I love having different friends with whom I can enjoy different food activities.  I have friends who love to go on sushi lunch dates, friends who are just as obsessive about cupcakes as I am, and friends who are my vegetarian and vegan partners in crime.  Finally, I have my group of breakfast and brunch girl friends!

Friends since our first year of high school (and beyond for my other three girls who have known one another since sandbox and playground days), the four of us have formed a lifelong bond and tradition over breakfast get-togethers and have coined ourselves Team Commitment as an ode to our friendship and our commitment to delicious food.  This year we celebrated our 5th consecutive year as a group (our 3rd here at T&T Bakery & Cafe!) and each and every single our breakfast club gets together, there’s always fabulous food involved!  Not only have we noshed on waffles, poached eggs, bacon, sandwiches, bagels, and French toast, but we’ve also exchanged food gifts.  I baked cookies for my dear Lindsay over Christmas, Laura surprised us all with chocolatey Tim Tams and hot cocoa two years ago, and Lisa shared some of her fabulous homemade caramel, nut, and white chocolate bark and homemade cinnamon sticky buns!  Even some of our non-edible gifts have been food-related! 

Food has quietly (or maybe not so quietly) played a starring role in our get-togethers over the years.  It has anchored us, giving us a little stability and a lot of excitment and anticipation.  Over tea and coffee and plates of food, we have celebrated graduations, weddings, break-ups and heartbreaks, new loves, new jobs, new schools, and even a new country to temporarily call home.  Every breakfast get-together is, simaltanously, a sign of change and growth on the one hand and comfort and familiarity on the other.  The scrapbook layout is a snapshot of several moments frozen in time of four very different young women who, despite having their own aspirations, dreams, and goals in life, always make the time and effort to eat, laugh, and cry together.  We look forward to our breakfast meals as we reminisce and catch up on each other’s lives and this scrapbook layout is my way of capturing the story of four girls who come together to celebrate food and friendship.

*****

T&T Bakery and Café is located at 35 Main Street Markham at the intersection of Highway 7 and Markham Rd., just north of Highway.7 and on the east side of Markham Rd.

Scrapbook materials used: Cornflower blue, watermelon pink, pale lemon yellow, and textured beige cardstock (Recollections); breakfast waffle patterned paper (MMMMM Waffles – Mom’s Diner by Recollections); blue journalling tags (Darcy collection by Anna Griffin); glittery breakfast pancake and waffle adhesive embellishments (Waffle Baking stickers by Martha Stewart Crafts); floral and garden gold foil stickers (atd by Momenta); strawberry sticker (Sticko); sapphire alphabet stickers (Recollections); circle paper punch (ek success); deckle edged decorative scissors (Provo Craft).

Poached to Perfection – Two Kinds of Eggs Benny at Futures Bakery!

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When I was growing up, I was fascinated with all the different ways eggs could be cooked and served.  This might sound all sorts of nutty, but when I used to accompany my mum to the supermarket when I was little I would grab all the little egg recipe books (you know, the ones by Get Crackin’) and all the coupons around the store not for their discounts, but for the recipes on the back and for the pretty pictures of egg sandwiches, omelettes, and frittatas on the front.  And till this day, those tiny recipe flipbooks are sitting comfortably in a file folder reminding me of the days when I dreamed of cooking great meals all on my own. 

As weird as it sounds, eggs play a role in a lot of my foodie memories, both sentimental and otherwise.  My grandmother made – and still makes – the best Chinese style preserved egg, something I really enjoy eating but also something I eat as sparingly as possible because of its salt content.  My little brother and I would test our “cooking” skills on Mother’s Day when we would “surprise” our mum with scrambled eggs a la breakfast in bed.  And the runny style eggs used in dishes like Chinese shrimp and egg rice remain my favourite along with the classic overeasy.

One thing that always left me stymied growing up though was figuring out what a poached egg was, and how to make one!  Up until I started university, I had no idea what a poached egg was and I had no idea that it was the center of attention when it came to the ever popular brunch dish, eggs benedict.  All of that changed though when I ate my first eggs benny a number of years ago and found out how to cook a poached egg.  I thought to myself, “I get to create a whirlpool of hot water in a pot to cook an egg?!  How funky!”  And so began my journey into the world of hollandaise sauce, eggs benny, and all its different variations: smoked salmon, peameal, ham, spinach, you name it.

Futures Bakery offers 3 different kinds of eggs benedict including eggs benny with grilled ham ($6.95), eggs florentine with fresh spinach ($6.95), and eggs blackstone with smoked salmon ($7.95).  I’ve tried both the eggs blackstone and eggs florentine and eating these two amazing breakfast dishes makes me realize what was wrong with past eggs benedict dishes that missed the mark.  For one thing, the English muffin is soft and moist.  I’ve had eggs benny on English muffins that were dry and let me tell you, it’s not fun.  It is also not a walk in the park when you need to saw through an English muffin that crunches like broken glass.  With eggs benedict, the English muffin is supposed to mesh with the poached egg and whatever it’s being served with so that you can cut into it with one swift motion.  It’s meant to be creamy and pillow soft, not starchy or anything that would remotely leave you feeling parched.

Futures does SUCH a bang on job with both of these.  The eggs are poached to perfection.  None of the yolk threatens to spill out before you even take a poke at it, and the hollandaise sauce is delicious.  It has the perfect consistency (not so thick it goops up but not thin and runny either) and they’re sprinkled with the yummy all-dressed chip-like spice mix which is also what coats their scrumptious potato home fries on the side.  The spinach leaves are HUGE on the eggs florentine and the smoked salmon has that wonderful slightly salty flavour to it that makes the whole dish explode with savouriness when you combine it with hollandaise and home fries.  Two eggs benny dishes for brunch, poached to perfection.

*****

Futures Bakery and Cafe is located at 483 Bloor St. West, in between the main intersections and subway stations of Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.  It sits right at the corner of Bloor St. and Brunswick Ave. on the south side of Bloor.  They are open from 7:30am to 2am 7 days a week.