Neither My Darling B nor I are breakfast-eating people. I had to think awhile about how to punctuate that sentence so it implied we were people who didn’t usually eat breakfast, and not so that it sounded like we would even think of eating people for breakfast. Because we do, every morning. Everybody in Madison does. It’s required by law. Okay, not really. But if we did, wouldn’t it suck to blow it all wide open because I slipped up punctuating a sentence? Stuff like that keeps me awake at night sometimes.
Every Saturday, though, we eat breakfast. We eat it at our favorite restaurant, which used to be Cleveland’s before the owners gutted it and turned it into their life-long dream, a Greek dinner restaurant, and consigned our beloved greasy spoon to the realm of fond memories forever.
Since then, our favorite breakfast place is, I believe, Lazy Jane’s, a restaurant in a two-story clapboard house on Willy Street that has the best chorizo scramble ever, anywhere. And eggs Benedict. And Belgian waffles. Really, their whole breakfast menu is to die for, and I say that knowing I’ll be ridiculed endlessly for using the phrase “to die for,” but it’s worth the shame.
Every so often we breakfast someplace new, if I may be allowed to use “breakfast” as a verb the way the English still sometimes do, and I think I may after using “to die for” and possibly getting away with it. No catcalls from the crowd yet, so we’ll move on.
About a month ago, we finally visited Willalby’s Cafe to see what breakfast there would be like. It’s a warm, snug place where you can linger over a cup of coffee for as long as you want while, for instance, plowing your way through the Sunday paper. It’s the kind of place where people who still read a newspaper linger for hours. It’s a very neighborhood cafe. The regulars are easy to spot. In fact, B spotted one of the regulars sleeping in the basement hallway B had to travel to get to the ladies’ room. It’s that kind of place.
And in the winter, we breakfast almost weekly at the Dane County Farmer’s Market, because we like to support the market and we like to try new things. The people who organize the Dane County Farmer’s Market rarely disappoint us in that respect. They bring in local chefs from restaurants all around the Madison area who volunteer their services to present the weirdest foods I have ever been offered for breakfast. By that I mean, how often do you eat carrots or steamed broccoli for breakfast? That’s a rhetorical question. Maybe you eat that kind of thing every morning, but I don’t. In fact, before My Darling B found her muse in preparing delicious meals from home-grown veggies, I thought of vegetables as the stuff that makes cows and pigs tasty enough for me to eat them.
It’s not just veggies, it’s other weird stuff, too. This morning’s breakfast, for instance, was potato pancakes made with salmon and trout. Who even thought of that? I can imagine a lot of out-of-this-world things, but if you had asked me to make breakfast for you I would have buttered some toast and served it with a glass of orange juice. Never in a million years would I think of making potato pancakes, never mind adding shredded trout and salmon to make it even scrummier.
The potato pancakes came with a poached egg on a tiny slice of toasted sourdough bread with a dollop of hollandaise sauce. Why poaching makes an egg taste so much better is one of those cooking secrets that I’m willing to let remain a mystery to me. In case you’ve never had poached eggs, they’re made by cracking open an egg over a pot of boiling water so that, in theory, you end up with what looks like an egg fried over-easy, except it’s round and white as a pearl. I say “in theory” because poaching an egg takes a lot of practice and, until you’ve got the knack, what you end up with looks like a pot full of boiling snot. When you finally get the pearl and pop it in your mouth, though, it’s totally worth all the disappointment.
The scone was a delectable unknown. I couldn’t tell you what was in it other than probably flour and water. It came with a sticky-sweet dribble of preserves that I couldn’t identify, either, but it sure was good.
And, because this was a breakfast at the farmer’s market, there was a helping of spinach and carrots so generous it filled up half the plate. Thankfully, they didn’t stew the spinach or boil the carrots.
Spinach should never be cooked. If you hate spinach, the likely reason is that you’ve only ever had it served to you cooked. Rinse it under cold running water, eat it with your favorite dressing or even raw, and it’s just delicious. People who cook spinach will have to serve an eternity in purgatory eating hot dogs and nachos smothered in Velveeta cheese for every meal.
The carrots were pan-fried, I believe, and then only just barely enough to leave them tender, but not mushy. I was a good boy and ate all my veggies this once, partly because I feel so guilty about leaving them uneaten after somebody tried their darndest to serve me a delicious meal, but mostly because this time, they succeeded.
I damned near left out the baked apple half, smothered in caramel and sprinkled with nuts and raisins. I don’t go for apples but this was, as B noted, like eating an apple pie without the crust. I ate every single bit of it.
I ate everything. Cleaned my plate. It was, I think I can safely say, the best breakfast we’ve eaten at the Dane County Farmer’s Market this season.