Ask anyone in Key West about lunch and you’ll likely get the question: “Have you been to the crêpe place?”
Admittedly, this island is not a place I’d think of for crêpes — seafood, yes. (Perhaps even a boozy lunchspot with a view.) Crêpes? Silly as it sounded, it didn’t seem local enough for one of the few meals out I was allowing myself during my month of writing.
After a few weeks of getting this question though, I decided to investigate. So off we went one morning on a jaunt to a little corner in Bahama Village …
One of my absolute favorite photographers (and people) is on the road, wending his way through lesser-known India as I write this.
As much as I miss my dear friend Jesse when he’s off on these trips, I always look forward to seeing what treats he sends back. The first batch that arrived were of a gem of a coffeeshop in Shimla — a little place called Indian Coffee House that looks tightly swaddled in a bygone time and serves up terrific breakfasts.
With Jesse’s blessing, I’m sharing his photos with you. And I’ll let him tell you what transpired one morning in Shimla …
Breakfast in this household includes many of your standard brunchy dishes — eggs and bacon, egg-soaked casseroles, eggs a dozen ways and more.
What’s less typical is when I wake up craving Chinese porridge — and the eggy accoutrements that go with a hot bowl of the stuff that I get at my mother’s kitchen table in Singapore. The eggs she serves with porridge are large bowls of beaten eggs, steamed with minced pork and white pepper. Or, savory scrambles packed with ketchup, shallots and sometimes shrimp.
Of the egg dishes I love in Singapore — one remained untested in my own Brooklyn kitchen: Chai poh omelet, a scramble peppered with deliciously salty chunks of preserved radish.
The reason was simple — I’d simply never bought chai poh before. But when my chef friend Simpson recently gave me an extra packet he had in his larder, I decided to give it a shot. After all, Easter was around the corner and my Let’s Lunch bunch had decided to share egg dishes for April …
Perhaps you have noticed that it’s been a little quiet on this blog recently. The igvoiding (a word my sister loves) hasn’t been intentional, I assure you.
Travels for A Tiger in the Kitchen have taken me around the country and across several oceans in recent months. And when I haven’t been on a plane, at an event, prepping for an event or trip or simply recuperating from jet lag, I’ve been taking it (relatively) easy. I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of slowly reading a book — two I recently finished and can’t recommend highly enough: the elegantly written and enchanting “The Manual of Detection” by Jedediah Berry and “Three Junes” by the charming Julia Glass, which I dearly loved and also won the National Book Award for fiction in 2002.
As you might imagine, I have also been eating — very well, in fact. And one of the highlights occurred in Portland, Ore., when a break in the Wordstock Festival gave me a chance to visit a brunch spot friends had been raving about for months: Tasty n Sons.
Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. In Singapore, where I grew up, this first meal is not taken lightly — plates of spicy noodles and dishes of coconut rice paired with fried chicken or fish, eggs and flaming hot sambal sauce are common ways to start your morning.
So it’s no surprise, then, that I’m all about the hearty, savory breakfast that works just as well for lunch. When my Let’s Lunch bunch suggested tackling “breakfast for lunch” for our April lunch date, I jumped on board right away.
Leafing through my friend Joe Yonan‘s new cookbook “Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One,” I had spied several delectable-looking recipes in his chapter on tacos. One called out to me more than the others: Austin-Style Breakfast Tacos, which Joe began whipping together as a college student in Austin years ago.
With some eggs, chorizo and cheese in hand, I was ready to give this a whirl…
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have spent the better part of my life rebelling, pushing the boundaries, and, often, breaking rules.
There are some things I consider sacrosanct, however — and supreme among them is Singaporean food.
When a dear friend told me this weekend of going to Susan Feniger’s Street in Los Angeles for a kaya toast meal — a popular breakfast in Singapore that involves runny soft-boiled eggs doused with dark, sweet soy sauce and white pepper, and slices of toast generously slathered with kaya, a sweet coconut jam — I was thrilled. I always feel such pride seeing the homespun dishes I grew up with making their way onto American menus.
And then I opened the picture of this “kaya toast” meal. The egg, firm and yellow, was certainly not soft-boiled. The vegetables were disturbing — greens have no place in a kaya toast meal. And the toast didn’t look nearly charred enough.
This, alas, is what Americans are discovering as kaya toast.
There are far too many mornings in New York when I wake up with a pressing question: Where is my pork chop bun?
Flaky croissants, fluffy pancakes and hearty breakfast casseroles are perfectly delightful but one of my absolute favorite breakfasts is something far more basic — a soft white roll filled with a hot pan-fried pork chop.
It’s a classic Hong Kong breakfast — one you’ll find in coffeeshops all over the country. There are variations on the dish — the pork chop is sometimes breaded, the bun is sometimes sweet.
During a recent trip to Hong Kong, however, one place called out to us above all others: Lan Fong Yuen, a little shop in Central that is so beloved you’ll have to elbow aside throngs of starving locals for a place to sit …
As hotel restaurants go, the shop at Andaz Fifth Avenue tries pretty hard.
Determined to cast itself as a New York restaurant, it likes to broadcast just how local it is. Its Web site rattles off a litany of New York purveyors — eggs hail from Feather Ridge Farm in the Hudson Valley; lox comes from Russ & Daughters on Manhattan's Lower East Side, which has been providing New Yorkers with smoked fish since 1914. And there's even a self-conscious little area that sells snacks made by small, lesser-known brands in New York.
This is all in line with the in-the-know feel that the hotel, part of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts' chain of boutique properties, tries to give off. It's a pretentiousness you can already sense from the fact that it is the shop — spelled all lowercase, the hotel insists — and not, well, The Shop. (You'll have to check out my review of the hotel in the New York Times Travel section for more on this Andaz.)
How would the food stack up against all this posing? We decided to find out …
My dear friend Jeanette and I — two women who have been driven by our stomachs in the 20 years that we have been the best of friends — we wake up in the cool grayness of Hong Kong bleary-eyed and starving.
Even in the fog of sleepiness, our mission is clear — we stumble out into the dusty bustle of mid-morning Hong Kong and make our way toward Central. On a corner of narrow Wellington Street lies our destination: Lin Heung Tea House, a dim sum place that has been around since 1928 and is packed most mornings with regulars who head there for a morning dumpling fix, strong pu erh (or po lei as it is known in these parts) and some quality time with the day's newspaper …