Saucy Little Minx: Hollandaise, Nigel Slater and My Cracked Tooth

HollandaiseBreakfast is generally a disaster. Yes, I can make pancakes, waffles, steel-cut oatmeal and a traditional British fry-up, but I am not a big fan of the first meal of the day. Give me four espresso and a a piece of dark chocolate, instead. Still, there are mornings when nothing makes more sense than to spend time creating a meal worth a memory or two. Given that I had to seek treatment for “cracked tooth syndrome” that came from my last dentist poor removing a mercury filling without explaining what he was doing, I needed an offset moment to compensate.

The plan was to riff on a recent mash-up I saw on Nigel Slater’s Dish a Day series: a pretty elegant, but simple, fry-up that I wanted to build eggs Benedict around. I recently purchased Slater’s Tender series of books – the photography is spectacular, and checked out who he was online only to find that I really liked his methodology and concepts about food preparation. In lieu of English muffin, I used French brioche from Patachou. Forget the home fries, as the mash had grated potato, bacon, chorizo, arugula, garlic, Thunder Oak gouda and onion. The hollandaise…the real bain-marie French brilliance, which for the first time ever was perfect.

AsparagusAsparagus kills when it is not overcooked. It demands to be blanched slightly, then grilled, then left to cool. Today, I was spot on, and I can still taste the flavours from these perfect stalks drizzled in Hollandaise. In fact, the whole meal was worthy of the hour it took. The crisp, dryness of the main meats cried for the sauce and egg to be soaked up by them. The brioche and croissant were light, but sweet enough to balance the salts of the meats. The vegetables were clean and offered a contrast. The champagne and orange juice soothed my throbbing tooth trauma until the Advil 400s kicked in; I currently need a few more as my whole head feels like it is being crushed in a vise-grip.

Slater NigelThunder Oak Gouda is my favourite cheese. Their aged traditional gouda is worth its weight in gold, and on my final voyage to Thunder Bay I bought all that they took in to the local farmer’s market. I try not to share it with Mingus and India, and mete it out with caution; you must be TOG worthy to taste its glories. The Hollandaise sauce was perfect insofar as it balanced the butter, lemon, tarragon, egg yolk and and white wine vinegar. Not an easy sauce to create, hard to keep fluid, and harder to use once the meal is done. Still, when one needs Hollandaise, then there is no substitute. Frankly, I was extremely proud of the execution; a few traditional preparations demonstrate one’s ability to cook, and Hollandaise sauce is one of those preps. I felt one step closer to being a chef who could run a small kitchen at a boutique inn this morning.
BrekkieMy tooth hurts like an open wound, but given that it was shaved into a nub and covered with a temporary cap for the next 2 weeks, I am in pretty good shape. In the meantime, a shot I did for Base Camp X hit 16, 500 notes on Tumblr and a shot I did for Paderno on the same day will be printed almost 3 million times for promotional purposes. My Paul Reed Smith guitar acquisition is so beautiful I almost want to cry when I play it, and I feel pretty darn good on all points of my life. Time to rest, recover and get back on the camel. My Profoto Softlight Reflector arrived today, and I am Jonesing to try it out on a few models (aka myself), to see exactly what light qualities give it the title of “beauty dish”.  Oh, and last night had me at Rodney’s Oyster House; the bar was happening, the raw oysters brought me to my knees, and I felt so alive knowing that such wonderful spots exist despite Toronto.  Alright, muskets at dawn!


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