so they brunch. believe or not, the word itself was coined in the late 20th century in the great britain, for churchgoers who would rather skip the first meal and sleep in. they’d have tea or coffee to start with, tangerine marmalade over a piece of warm toast, and perhaps a loaf or two of buttered brioche drizzled with berry compote and crème fraîche. maybe i shouldn’t write this at such late hour.
disclaimer: as you may have noticed, i am taking a break from posting chronologically (my contents are still stuck in summer, 2012), and write a collective post for a change.
although i particularly don’t take part in the ritual (only when i’m on day trips), i do have a particular palate for what is put on the table. i’ve found that the brunch varieties are, inevitably, strongly tied to the environmental factors. be it the location, climate, or people.
rain. it rains for 271 (almost consecutive) days in seattle-a good three-quarters of the year. needless to say, the brunch scene in seattle is indubitably different from that of southern california. the coffee culture in seattle makes it impossible for french cafés and bistros not to penetrate the vulnerable region (to snobbery).
i am, in no sense, implicating that the city of seattle ditches a pile of pancakes for breaking a demi-baguette and sipping macchiatos out of a demitasse. but, i totally am.
so i introduce you café presse (le pichet, next on the list). located next door to stumptown, presse is a rendezvous to s.u. students, working professionals in downtown, gay couples in capitol hill, culturally refined senior citizens, and obviously the french people.
to support local roasteria, both café presse and le pichet extract caffé vita beans. so i sit down, order a macchiato (and a san pellegrino to cleanse my palate), read, write, and watch people (my favorite brunch activity) until my œuf plat jambon et fromage gracefully lands on my table.
1117 12th ave
seattle, wa 98122
moving to the other end of the west coast (less than an hour from mexico!), we have the posh la jolla coast. with a plenty of sunlight, gardening is, needless to say, a cherished hobby in the southern california (succulents and cacti can be beautiful!). with a wall of herbs, syrup served in tin buckets, and handmade champagne cocktails with fresh herbs and berries, cody’s la jolla is no exception to this fad.
on the hillside of la jolla cove is cody’s. with the warm sun covering your back, view of the vast ocean from the patio, and the rustic beach cottage-style french toast, i almost want to identify myself as a californian. one complaint at cody’s was the ostentatious white sangria that (unlike its presentation) lacked flavor (if any at all). but i was able to pour a demi-bottle of saison dupont (champagne of beers!) to accompany my otherwise delicious californian brunch!
brasserie dupont, belgium
saison, 6.50% abv
cody’s la jolla
8030 girard ave
la jolla, ca 92037
meeting halfway between la jolla and los angeles is where i live. orange county. my favorite brunch destination in the o.c. is, oddly enough, a canning factory-converted, waterfront restaurant in newport beach…or simply the cannery.
at first glance, the restaurant looks like a geriatric, mainstream, typical o.c. dining establishment for spoiled kids from laguna beach and old couples living in pelican hill. it turns out, however, that there’s nothing geriatric and mainstream about the cannery. the menu is contemporary, yet classical american (best vichyssoise in town). sitting in the patio in front of the newport bay with boats cruising by, my sunday late mornings are never better spent.
3010 lafayette rd
newport beach, ca 92663
not all brunch is created equal. and apparently old vine café feels the same way. before moving to french fares, i was obsessed with new american creations. it encouraged chefs to be creative and craft something that’s worth a second look. the idea translates well in a form of french toast at old vine.
with chunks of apple in the middle and the brioche fully soaked in sauce (yet retaining its spongy texture), the french toast resembles a piece of square-cut apple pie than anything. pieces of candied figs and apricots adds texture and flavor to the baked brioche.
old vine café
2937 bristol st
costa mesa, ca 92626
moving up along the coast, we arrive at the manhattan beach. i’ve covered la jolla, laguna, huntington, and venice, but of all the beaches that i’ve visited (quite a few, actually), my favorite thus far is definitely manhattan. it could be the small homes on the hills, the strand, sidewalk boutique shops, or perhaps the horizon at your eye-level. it is peaceful but not tranquil and carefree but not careless.
the façade of manhattan beach post is sliding, weathered, wooden doors that open to welcome you to its seasonal offerings. a farmhouse in a beach town. even though southern california is blessed with produce that grow year-round, there are still some that remain truly seasonal.
take stone fruit for example. it is sweetest at the peak of the summer heat. the stone fruit with honey and mint was a true appetite-savior from the prolonged heat spell. the frittata that came in the cast-iron staub hardware was, needless to say, no ordinary frittata.
and so are cheddar bacon biscuits. the maple butter that sits innocently by the biscuits makes the perfect marriage. forget about the salad (actually, no). if i have one rant about mbp, it would be the lack of good craft beer. ommegang witte was sadly the only drinkable brew.
with a string-tie envelope (with my name handwritten) and rotating brunch menus inside with last-minute additions, fresh-picked flowers, and rustic hardware, manhattan beach post makes sitting in l.a. traffic worth its frustration.
manhattan beach post
1142 manhattan ave
manhattan beach, ca 90266
wherever you live, go out, explore your town’s one-of-a-kind brunch. don’t be content with a cup of mediocre coffee and a pedestrian brunch fare. be adventurous. life is too short to be pouring syrup and spreading butter on pancakes.