Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Battling Brunches

This may come as a shock, but there are a bunch of Boston-haters out there. Yes, it’s true. Most of them have spent some time in New York (the city, not the vacuous state). They compare, compare, compare Boston to omnipotent and irreproachable New York, and declare it to be inferior. “Well, in Noo Yohk, you can get a hot dog, with foie gras, on a carousel, at 4AM. Can you do that in Boston? Noooooo.” Fine, you’re right. You can’t. That sounds gross anyway.

In all seriousness, I love Boston. I made the conscious decision to come to here. I could have gone to grad school in any major city, but I chose Boston. I, gasp, chose Boston over New York. Consciously, rationally, happily, I chose Boston. I love this city. Boo to the Boston-haters.

But. [Why oh why is there always a but?]. I will concede to the New Yorkers on one point. That point? Brunch. Boston is not a brunch town. There is nothing like Norma’s, nor Café Orlin, no place that can provide a memorable start to a weekend of delightful inactivity. Restaurants in Boston tend to serve brunch as an after thought, foods that are somewhat uninspired, routine, boring, and either dry or greasy… or both.

So what’s a self-respecting brunch-lover such as myself do? Stay at home. I made brunch for my friend Maiya one week, she reciprocated the next. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful tradition.

My menu was approximately five orders of magnitude less interesting than what Maiya's masterfully prepared (with a couple of hints from Mrs. Child).

Take a look at my menu:

- Sweet corn and zucchini frittata
- Breakfast chicken sausage from Whole Foods (quickly dubbed “meat candy” by Maiya for its potent nutmeg and cinnamon overtones)
- Heirloom tomato salad
- Big, fat toast
- Vanilla-blueberry crumbcake
- Lovely bottle of Belgian ale, courtesy of Maiya

Now compare that to Maiya’s menu:

- Oven-baked eggs with watercress, maitake mushrooms, and lots of heavy cream
- Some type of a cured pork product (no clue what it was, except salty and delicious)
- Potatoes pan fried in DUCK FAT (genius)
- Heirloom tomato salad with a rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil dressing (not pictured, sadly).

- Apple crostata with cinnamon and cranberry honey
- Bottle of champagne for kir royales, courtesy of me

Yeah. It was good.

Who needs Norma’s anyway. I have Maiya. And Melissa. And Kanchan… I have people who feed me well.

P.S. Forgive the gratuitous tomato porn:


DD said...

I feel you on living in the shadow of NYC. I feel Philly suffers from that too...granted I couldn't stand the place (but i like it now)...the food is good. Really good. And they have amazing brunch places. Surprising for a town best known for, and sometimes only known for, its steak and cheese hoagies. I have yet to have one.

DD said...

p.s. the one place we went to for brunch when you lived in Brookline was yum. We walked there...it was a bit divey. And the other place by the water. afterwards we went to see the boats. I know - super descriptive - but i know you know which places i'm talking about.

leena! said...

i love brunch too! especially when it is inspired!

My favorite is to put corn tortillas into a muffin tin, fill with refried black beans (made using bacon fat and jalepeno)an egg, cheese and salsa, and then bake until egg is cooked. Its portable and so delicious!

Maiya said...

oh, squeals! you're the best! it's definitely a tradition in the making. who needs lousy south end brunch when we can spend sundays mastering the art of french cooking (both) and getting stupid drunk (me)?

snd readers: anna is a far more superior chef than me. don't believe her tales! oh, and the potatoes in duck fat were her doing entirely -i just happened to have three tubs of duck fat in the freezer!

aimee said...

Well both brunches look pretty delicious to me, I'd happily eat them both - interesting or not.

Incidently, I've made two attempts at baked eggs recently and well, they've both been crap. The second attempt actually rose up like a souffle and then settled down as hard as a rock - what's that all about?


Anna said...

Archna (DD) - Philly has great food! It has really come into its own lately, don't you think? Yeah, Martin's was totally divey. I don't know why I wanted to go there so badly - must have been the counter and bar stools. I hope to have better places lined up for us next time you visit, which will be very very soon, right? Right?

Leena - Oh my. That sounds just about perfect. I honestly want to go home right now and make that (what? I want to leave lab? How novel). Question - do you fold the tortilla back over the egg or does it flop about a bit? Or does it not matter at all? Yea, that sounds super good.

Maiya - We don't need the South End. Totally don't. We have duck fat, Julia Child, and copious amounts of booze. That's a recipe for happiness in my book!

Aimee - The egg rose? Was it beaten up with stuff or was it just two whole eggs plopped into a dish? Did you have a water bath in the oven? Weird. Sorry. You're a pizza ace - make breakfast pizza! That sounds good... I'm hungry.

Hillary said...

Oooh love all the pictures, especially the tomato porn! Heh. There is no comparing Boston to New York. I'm a Boston fan all the way, and I'm no fan of New York!

JC said...

Those brunches sound amazing! It's times like these that I feel like the culinary amoeba to your homo sapiens. Did that make sense?

Anna said...

Hillary - Yay! You're on my side. Cool.

JC - It made sense, and thank you, but I don't deserve the praise, really. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I am am much better eater than cook!

JC said...

I wasn't just referring to cooking, though, but eating as well. I mean, I'm totally enraptured by a good breakfast burrito and you're eating potatoes fried in duck fat and poached hake. I know you like simple stuff too, I mean you've posted about hot dogs a couple of times, but your ceiling is much higher than mine. I've just been very limited in my eating experiences.

aimee said...

Aha, water bath! That might help. I'd never made them for myself but remember them being made for me when I was younger - clearly not very well - I totally forgot about the water bath. But it's still weird it rose. Just a plain old egg, cracked into a dish, with a little butter and cream. No whipping, no beating. No nothing. It was in there a while, I sort of forgot about it. But STILL!

Pizzas were frickin' awesome. All that dough effort; completely worth it. My kitchen is covered in flour.

Anna said...

JC - I am not a food snob, I swear! I like trying things I have never tried or even heard of before. There are people that always order the same thing at their favorite restaurant, but I make a point of trying everything, if only once. I always order the most unusual thing I can find. And I have a rule - I never order chicken when I am out. Never. There is very little you can do to make chicken interesting. See? Your ceiling is where you put it, is what I am trying to say.

Aimee - Now I want to put an egg in the oven just to see it rise.
Do you use a pizza stone? Do you really need one for pizza? I am trying to cut down on all the kitchen toys I keep buying.

JC said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to insinuate that you are a food snob. You're right, the ceiling is where I set it, so I should try more new things!

aimee said...

I've never used a pizza stone, so I couldn't tell you whether or not it makes an improvement. I feel like I should have one though. I definately need something more suitable than the back of a roasting dish, so I think it's really about time.