a 3-course breakfast at home

Simon and I woke up at about 5am this morning, so decided to sit on the balcony with a big pot of tea and watch the sun rise. We then realised we can’t see the sun rise from our balcony so I figured I’d go and make something to eat instead! Possibly the only good thing about jet lag is being able to get up early and have time to make a proper breakfast.

We hadn’t had dinner the night before so were starving, so I made a quick citrus salad from oranges and grapefruit. I added some chopped sweet basil and a little bit of brown sugar, put it all into a plastic container and shook it for about 30 seconds, so the juice was released a little and softened everything up.

Orange and grapefruit salad with crushed sweet basil

After this, this I got started on macerated strawberries and pluots with homemade granola and greek yoghurt – a dish inspired by our breakfast at Blue Bottle in San Francisco. I started by cutting up a whole box of organic strawberries  – around 10 or so, as well as a very ripe pluot I found in Threesixty the day before. I put all of this into a bowl filled with a mix of grapefruit and orange juice (squeezed from what I had left over from the citrus salad) and balsamic vinegar. Added a little bit of white sugar into this mix and let it sit for about an hour, though I think overnight would be ideal.

I served it all up with some organic greek yoghurt, organic muesli to which I added some olive oil and maple syrup and popped under the grill til it was really warm and crisp, and a grind of black pepper over the fruit – it was delicious and I’ll definitely be making this dish again!

Macerated strawberries and pluots with museli and greek yoghurt

At around 10 or so, Simon was hungry again. This time I thought I’d tried to recreate (well with a few changes) the egg dish we had at Farm:table – soft-boiled eggs with caramelised onions on pan-griddled bread, with fried cherry tomatoes and rocket. This is fantastic combination and with a big drizzle of truffle oil added just before serving, made a wonderful Sunday breakfast dish to share.

Eggs on caramelised onions with cherry tomatoes and rocket

Top view

Quick orange and grapefruit salad
Serves 2
1 whole large orange
1 whole grapefruit
3-4 sweet basil leaves, washed and cut finely
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Peel the orange and grapefruit and cut into bite sized chunks. Place in a large plastic container and add the chopped basil leaves (if you’re not a fan of basi, you could try mint instead) and sugar. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until everything is all mixed together. Serve in small bowls.
Macerated strawberries and pluots with homemade granola and greek yoghurt
Serves 2
10 strawberries
1 pluot
1/2 cup grapefruit juice (can be 1/4 cup grapefruit, 1/4 cup orange juice)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or less if you have an aged, heavy vinegar)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 large tub greek yoghurt
1/2 cup muesli
Cut up the strawberries into slices and then cut in half, slice up pluot into thin slices. In a medium bowl, mix together the grapefruit juice, balsamic vinegar and white sugar. Add in the sliced fruit and make sure it’s coated in the mixture. Leave to sit for at least 2 hours.

To serve, place in bowl with toasted muesli and greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey if you want some added sweetness.

Soft-boiled eggs with caramelised onions, cherry tomatoes and rocket on 5-grain bread
Serves 2
2 free range eggs
6-8 large cherry tomatoes
2 slices of 5-grain bread, cut in half
1 red onion
handful of rocket
olive oil
truffle oil
knob of butter
Bring eggs out in advance so they are room temperature or they may crack when placed in the water. Chop up onions into thin slices. Fry in pan til soft and translucent with olive oil and a knob of butter. Bring water to a rolling boil in a pot and add the eggs. Cook for 2 minutes then turn off heat and leave in pot for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up a griddle pan and grease with olive oil. Fry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Add bread and cook until warmed through and griddle marks appear on either side. Season rocket with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Shell the eggs and cut in half.

Now assemble – place onion on bread and half egg on each slice. Scatter tomatoes and rocket around the dish and then drizzle plate with a little bit of truffle oil.

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10 of the best

Travelling for a month in Mexico and California meant that we ate (pretty much) in a different restaurant every night, so I thought trying to pick my top ten dishes out of all these meals would be difficult, but it was surprisingly easy once I sat down and started listing them.

So in no particular order…

1. Shrimp tacos at Taco Fish, Hermosillo

So so tender and fresh, and packed full of flavour, seriously the best ‘fast’ food I’ve ever had.

Shrimp tacos

2. Cheese risotto with sock eye salmon and brown butter sage sauce at Cook, St Helena

I  suggested Simon ordered this then spent the rest of the meal annoyed that he’d gotten it and not me. Hands down the best risotto I’ve ever had, incredibly cheesy but not too rich, the salmon perfectly cooked and fresh, and best of all the brown butter sage sauce. Heaven.

www.cooksthelena.com

Sockeye salmon on cheese risotto

3. Queso Fundido con Chorizo at Restaurant Palominos, Hermosillo

Seriously is anything better than a bowl full of melted cheese (chihuahua!) and melt in your mouth home-made chorizo? I think not.

www.restaurantpalominos.com

Queso Fundido

4. Jumbo shrimps, Water Grill, Downtown LA

I’m actually salivating thinking about this. Plump, juicy and tender, perfectly cooked, served with a delicious cocktail sauce and a garlicky saffron aioli. Love love love!

www.watergrill.com

Shrimp

 

5. Chocolate tart with chewy caramel & sea salt at The Slanted Door, San Francisco

Right, so chocolate tart base filled with flowing caramel, covered in solid dark chocolate and then sprinkled with sea salt? I think I might love you Charles Phan.

www.slanteddoor.com

Chocolate caramel tart

Last mouthful

6. Cinnamon roll, Alamos, Mexico.

Steaming rolls coated in freshly ground cinnamon goodness, slathered in a hot cinnamon sauce…I’d go back to Mexico just for another one of these.

www.teresitasalamos.com

Cinnamon Roll

7. Three Twins Organic Ice cream, downtown Napa/ Sweet Rose Creamery, Santa Monica

The best ice-cream I’ve ever had. Ridiculously creamy, packed full of delicious fresh ingredients. I tried the vanilla chocolate chip and Mint Confetti (mint ice cream with flecks of dark chocolate).

That is ’til we stopped by Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica and tried their salty caramel ice-cream with a good sprinkle of Fleur de Sel on top – absolutely astounding. Didn’t get a photo as my camera broke minutes before this, but that just means I have to go back.

www.threetwinsicecream.com
www.sweetrosecreamery.com

Vanilla chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip organic ice cream at Three Twins

8. Rustic Canyon Burger, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, Santa Monica

Wow. Simply the best burger I’ve ever had. Incredibly juicy beef patty, home-made burger bun that was bordering on brioche, just the right amount of melted sharp cheddar cheese, a rich onion fondue, herb remoulade and beautifully cut french fries. Wait, did I mention we added confit bacon to the mix as well? Yep. Went back on our last night in LA to have it again it was so good.

www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com

The burger at Rustic Canyon

Burger, cross section

9. Peach Crostata with Homemade Vanilla ice-cream, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, Santa Monica

After burger bliss, we almost ordered a chocolate and salty caramel tart, but that would have been a big, big mistake. Recommended by our server, this used in-season peaches and the most buttery, rich pastry I’ve ever tried. The juice of the peaches and sugar leaked a little through the pastry, creating incredible caramelised edges. Not only did we go back and order this again but also went to their bakery for breakfast and fought over a take away strawberry and rhubarb crostata as we sat on the beach for afternoon tea. Simon said he wanted to marry the pastry chef. We could work something out, I’m sure.

www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com

Peach crostata.

10. Pretty much everything at French Laundry.

So after seeing that they had an over 6-month waiting list, we decided just to turn up at French Laundry and try our luck. And how lucky we were to get a table and experience their incredible food. A mind-blowing meal, so good I can’t say which was my favourite dish. Possibly all. But the real standouts were probably the oysters and pearls (caviar with oysters) and the butter-poached lobster tail. Awe inspiring.

www.frenchlaundry.com

Caviar and Pearls

Butter-poached lobster tails

The best meal of the day

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. There’s something incredibly satisfying about a big hearty meal in the morning, accompanied by lots of tea. I can’t understand why so many people just skip it.

Now, shrimp tacos were my breakfast of choice in Mexico, but now that we’re travelling around California, I’ve found a few more dishes that make my mornings so much better.

On our first morning in San Francisco, we walked 40 minutes across the city to a little cafe called Bar Tartine – their sister establishment is a block away and is a hugely popular bakery, so we knew that all the bread would be good!

We shared an incredible dish of french toast, eggy brioche, strawberries with candied almonds. The bread didn’t disappoint – it was light and fluffy and beautifully buttery. Perfection.

French toast and brioche at Bar Tartine

The next morning, we discovered a cafe around the corner from our hotel called Blue Bottle Coffee – there are a few around San Francisco but this was their very first shop. There was a queue snaking around the block even on a Monday morning (who has time to queue for coffee on a Monday?) and being from HK, we had to of course join it to find out what it was all about.

I guess most people were there for the coffee, which was meant to be outstanding (I had a sip of one and it was smooth and mellow) but not being a coffee drinker, I ordered a herbal tea. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in a lovely glass pot full of fresh lemon verbena leaves. The tea itself was amazing so I’m on a mission to find these leaves fresh in HK now!

Pot of fresh lemon verbena tea

Simon ordered me Pecan Granola, which came with natural yoghurt, macerated strawberries and peaches, grapefruit juice and blueberries. The juice was poured over the top of the fruit and could probably have been used a bit more sparingly as I really dislike soggy cereal, but despite this, it was a great combination. The granola was home-made and lovely and crunchy, not too sweet, and packed with pecans.

We shared an order of Belgian style waffles which came with the same macerated fruit, whipped butter and maple syrup. The waffles were perfectly crisp yet soft and spongy on the inside and the fruit was a great accompaniment until it started to seep in and make everything a bit too soft. Also not crazy about soggy waffles.

Simon also had poached eggs with a catalan style tomato sauce, braised greens and shaved cheese  – I had a bite and it was a really unusual combination, especially for a breakfast dish. The toast was especially good, how I miss having decent bread!

Homemade granola at Blue Bottle

Waffles with macerated fruit at Blue Bottle

Poached eggs at Blue Bottle

So the next day we considered lining up again at Blue Bottle (the wait by the way, was around 20 minutes), but I found another place through Foursquare (yes it has its uses!) that was actually started by two ex-Blue Bottlers that was on the same street as our hotel.

It was a tiny little place with just one square table that wasn’t even that big. Luckily there was only two other people there so we got a seat. They only offered 4 dishes for breakfast and we decided to order 3 of them, cos that’s how we roll (literally roll, must go on serious diet once we get back home).

I ordered the cereal of the day with organic yoghurt, blackberries and blueberries. The cereal was a mix of bran flakes, puffed rice and something else equally brown and cardboard. The yoghurt was amazing, thick, incredibly creamy and heavy.

Cereal of the day at farm:table

Simon had hard-boiled eggs on toasted baguette with teeny tiny sungold tomatoes, padrone peppers and caramelised red onions. He was a bit wary about ordering it at first but once he took a bite, it was a different story altogether. I think he may have eaten it with his eyes shut as he enjoyed it so much. I had a bite too – the bread was super thick and liberally coated in olive oil, but the combination of the all the flavors worked incredibly well. And in such a small space too, with limited cooking tools, it was a brilliant concoction.

Hard-boiled eggs on baguette at farm:table

After this we had toast covered in goats cheese and strawberries marinated in beet syrup. Seriously I think this was a stroke of genius, the goats cheese was the perfect companion to the lovely sweet, perfectly ripe strawberries and the beet syrup added just a slight bit of tartness. The bread was a little bit sweet too, and quite buttery. A relatively simple dish but amazing. Going to try to try to recreate this once I’m home. I’m going to be busy.

Goats cheese. Strawberries marinated in beet syrup. Toast.

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia Street
San Francisco
www.bartartine.com

Blue Bottle Coffee – Mint Plaza
66 Mint Street
San Francisco
www.bluebottlecoffee.net

farm:table
754 Post St
San Francisco
www.farmtablesf.com