Ashley from Pro Flowers asked me what makes the perfect brunch? Oh ho ho ho, Ashley, little did you know that brunch is the secret word around here; I adore brunch like no other meal. With Easter this weekend, and Mother’s Day right around the corner, many observers take a break from the traditional big holiday dinner and opt for a leisure, easy going brunch. So, what’s on my quintessential brunch check list? I’m ever so pleased you asked…
First and foremost, I’d have to kick off my perfect brunch with the best mixer in the world, champagne. Whether you raise your glass with a mimosa, kir royal, bellini, St.Germain Cocktail (above, Cast & Plow), or drink it straight, champagne is the transcendental beverage to set the perfect brunch tone.
For homemade brunches and holiday gatherings, I’m often the go-to girl for deviled eggs. Unsure what my friends and family love about mine in particular (homemade mayo? smoked paprika?) but it’s hardly a brunch gathering if these aren’t on the table.
While champagne based cocktails are par for the course, I’m do love me a solid Bloody Mary. My ideal bloody is mild on the pepper, pure vodka baed (none of this pepper infused vodka, thanks), hearty but low-sodium tomato base, and a cocktail bar of accompaniments which ideally include a fresh, crisp celery stalk and a skewed green olive. So far, the $5 bloodies at Gus’s BBQ have been my favorite.
Fresh Cut Fruit
Enjoying the literal fruits of “brunch season” spring and summer with a platter of fresh cut seasonal fruit is always a delicious way of cleansing one’s palate (and taste buds) between heavier courses. The above platter from Hornblower Cruises Champagne Brunch featured a proverbial rainbow of fruits.
Do you call them home fries? Fried potatoes? Potato wedges? Or, like The Bodega at St. Peter’s Market in Cork, do you harken to Spanish flavors at kick it up a notch with patatas bravas? Whatever you call them, potatoes are a brunch staple in my book.
When I want to really make an impression at a homestyle brunch gathering, I make strata. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink brunch dish boasts bread, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and meat. The strata was adapted from a recipe in Gale Gand’s Brunch! cookbook, with courgettes, Italian cheeses, mushrooms, green onion and Italian salami.
Sweet Dish for Sharing
Be it pancakes, waffles, French toast, brioche, pain perdu, what-have-you, I need a prominent dish to take a vacation away from savories and indulge my sweet-tooth. This ricotta pancake with lemon curd and berries as the perfect treat split among myself and two friends at Maximiliano in Highland Park.
I don’t care who you are or what your eating habits are, Eggs Benedict is the quintessential brunch centerpiece. My favorite meats include thick-cut ham, crab, lobster, speck, prosciutto or Irish bacon, as featured above from my brunch at Electric Cork in Ireland. So long as the Hollandaise is pure and the meat is quality, Eggs Benedict will always be the star of any brunch menu.