The Breslin’s English Breakfast Splurge (aka the “Must Add Pork Fat Beans!” Post)

For someone who can be so utterly particular about foods “touching” on her plate at this adult age — let’s just call it “a heightened sensitivity to plating” with dismissive hand wave (kidding!) — I should love, love, love The Breslin‘s full English breakfast ($21), which comes sans the traditional brekkie beans and, by extension, the tomato-y bean sauce that pools underneath everything.

I should love that there are no dry toast slices staring me down, begging me to sop up the mingling fatty-yolky-saucy drippings, right before I lick my fingers (possibly not kidding). The Breslin’s rendition is so clean it’s … a sensitive-to-plating foodie’s dream.

… Well except, this time, I sort of want the mess. I love the mess. How the first cut into an over-easy egg sends yellow yolk running into the bean sauce, which has by now commandeered the plate. And the fried tomato? Forget about it. Seeds and juice everywhere. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

By no means is this observation a slight toward the cooks, or the presentation. The execution of every component on this April Bloomfield gold-star dish is the picture of perfection: the browned casing of the breakfast sausage crackles with each bite; perfectly crisped (American-style) bacon; a grilled baby portobello, so succulent. The baked beans in pork fat, get outta here.

But for anyone who wants a truly sloppy English Breakfast, an already pricey meal goes over the top when you add a couple of slices of toast ($1.50/slice) and split a side of the (messy! soppy! delicious!) baked beans ($7). In sum, your English breakfast will cost you $27.50.

Or, I noticed, $2.50 more per person than it would cost to share the smoked pork belly with mashed potatoes at dinner, which is $50 and meant for two.

When I pointed this out to our waiter, he tried to justify the cost by (and I paraphrase): Well, sure, but to really round out the pork belly dinner, you’d probably start with an appetizer and you’d want to order a vegetable side, like the cabbage. And you’d want to balance it with something sparkly, like prosecco, which — did you know? — sparkling wines are the best to help you digest really fatty foods.

Damn that sounds like a gorgeous meal. Until then, you can find me in the bar, where I’ll be sipping on the house cask ale and nibbling on some bar snacks, which look scrumdiddlyumptious.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, 16 W. 29th Street, at Broadway, 212.679.1939

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Sunday: Wishing a Flying Saucer Would Land Near Me (aka the “Mmm … Paddington Bear Panini” Post)

photo-2The Paddington Bear panini ($7): Brie cheese, thin slices of green apple and sweet orange marmalade, pressed together within the jaws of a hot panini grill until the cheese starts melting and oozing.

Served with a small side of greens tossed a balsamic vinegar dressing that inevitably soaks into the crusty bread, just a little bit. Inexplicably, the balsamic only improves what was already a great sandwich — named after a very cuddly little bear. (Of course I ordered it because of the Paddington reference.)

For those not phased by cuddly, storybook bears, the Flying Saucer Cafe has a photo-4pretty big, and pretty legitimate, list of panini and sandwich-type options — in addition to the usual coffee shop suspects, e.g. hot and cold coffee and tea beverages of varying degrees of complexity.

The common denominator: All pretty cheap. A banana, marmalade and Nutella panini will only set you back $4; same with the house BLT sandwich, which seems to be a favorite, judging by the smells of cooking bacon that wafted my way periodically. Even a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, etc., was less than $6 — that’d be impossible to find in the city. (Hmm…)

I stumbled upon the Flying Saucer Cafe doing a little on-the-ground recon for an article I’m writing. (It’s hard to miss the funkdafied, hand-painted, saucer-cup-in-the-sky sign.)

photophoto-1

Inside, it’s whimsical and spacious, with plenty of reasons settle in and hang out for a while: old, overstuffed couches; mismatched tables and chairs of all sizes; free wifi; plus, a fantastic back patio. It has that comfortable feel of a general gathering point. There’s a jam session up front, with guitars and not-bad singing; open laptops everywhere; small groups titter and chatter, others lean their heads in, conspiring.

I left wishing for a place like this near my home. Someplace to escape to when I get apartment-claustrophobic and need a change of scenery. Sometimes, I would rather read, or work, or think, or daydream, among the company of strangers.

Thursday: Rain, Rain Go Away (aka the “Myers of Keswick’s Magical Pies” Post)

Nothing shutters out an unseasonably cold and gloomy September day like a couple of pork pies and a couple glasses of red wine.

photo-17photo-18Make that, one “world famous” pork pie and one pie of the month, called “The Huntsman,” from Myers of Keswick, possibly (probably) my favorite British sundries shop in the city, and a bottle of “Ten Mile,” an ambitious blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Barbera grapes out of Napa Valley by Nine North Wine Co. (Retails for $12.99 at Sea Grape Wine Shop, one of my favorite bottle shops in the city.)

photo-19This is not a pairing I could have matched myself a year ago. The pork pie and I are new-ish friends, but when I fell, I fell hard and fast. What’s not to love about the dense, salty, sticky, savory, (fatty), ground pork blend baked into a staunch, buttery, golden-brown crust? Don’t be fooled by its petit size or crimped edges, these pork pies pack some serious heft.

photoOn the other hand, the pie of the month, “The Huntsman,” is light and (almost) lean — it reminds me of the sort of pie a woman with an appetite more delicate than mine might prefer. It’s “three layers of yummy-ness” consist of pork pie meat, roasted chicken and Paxo sage and onion stuffing all layered into a pastry cup and baked until the stuffing is fluffy and golden.

“Welcome to autumn!” the index card proclaims. Could be that someone else’s cheery perspective is rubbing off, or it could be the blissful state these pies have put me in, but I’m about ready to say: bring it … well, almost.

Wanna see the guts? Check out the pies’ innards after the jump: Continue reading “Thursday: Rain, Rain Go Away (aka the “Myers of Keswick’s Magical Pies” Post)”