So after a long, restful winter break, I’m finally back at Hamilton.
Those 4 weeks went by impossibly fast. Classes are starting tomorrow (no Martin Luther King Jr. Day for us – OUTRAGE!), so I’m trying to get my blog posts up while I still have the time. My last week of break was chock full of fun and good eats, and I’ll try to share those with you guys as soon as possible. So.. ON TO THE FOOD!
The day before I left for school, my friend Euna and I decided to meet up one last time this break. Normally we would’ve have talked over lunch or dinner, but our schedules didn’t really work out for either meal. In the end, we decided to have breakfast together and chose the Breslin Bar and Dining Room for our eatery of choice.
We’ve eaten at the Breslin before, although it wasn’t a full meal – we only came here for the dessert. Looking back on that, that was a pretty scrubbish thing for us to do.. But this time around both of us had a legitimate meal; it was actually quite exciting because while restaurants usually have similar lunch and dinner menus, their breakfasts are radically different.
Now I am a breakfast-y kind of gal. I loooove breakfast – whether it’s a traditional Korean meal with rice and soup, or cereal, toast, oatmeal; I just love the feeling of waking up early and giving my body the nutrition it needs to get through the rest of the day. So I’ll never, EVER skip breakfast. Even on weekends I won’t sleep in, just for the sake of that early meal.
That being said, not only is the Breslin one of Euna’s favorite restaurants, it also has a rockin’ breakfast menu, which is why we decided to eat here. Skimming through all the oatmeal, granola, and yogurts (stuff that I would usually get), my eyes landed on right on a dish under the “Eggs” section:
Poached eggs with curried lentils, yogurt, and cilantro.
I love lentils, I love poached eggs, I love cilantro, and I love yogurt, so it was only natural that I get this. Now, curried lentils aren’t part of your usual breakfast fare, but this dish was amazing. I’ve never had real curry before, but if this is what it tastes like, I want some more in my stomach. NOW.
You know the Japanese curry blocks that Asian moms stew with vegetables and meat to make the curry you eat with rice? This is not that curry. It tasted similar to it but so much more flavorful and nuanced. I loved how spicy the lentils were (both heat-wise and actual spice-wise), and the rich egg yolks and cool yogurt cut through that spice; towards the bottom of the plate, all the yolkiness and lentilness mixed together to make a perfect topping to eat on top of the toasted baguette slices.
Portion-wise, the meal was pretty small but considering how protein-packed this breakfast was (lentils = plant protein. eggs = unborn chicken protein. yogurt = cow juices protein. PROTEIN OVERLOAAAD!), I was more than satisfied after eating it.
And because the Breslin is located in (or at least connected to) the lobby of the Ace Hotel, after paying for our breakfast Euna and I headed over to the Stumptown Coffee Cafe right next door.
Although this location is a pretty new, it’s already extremely popular – at 9:00 AM there was a line going out the door – and with good reason. This location gets freshly roasted daily from Brooklyn. Some people are even calling Stumptown Coffee the “new Starbucks” for elevating coffee to new heights, just as the now-ubiquitous Starbucks did when it first started. But more than that, Stumptown is at the forefront of almost every coffee frontier, changing coffee from a staple commodity to something like wine – showing the country how each bean has its own very unique flavor profile depending on where it was harvested, how it was roasted, fermented…
Granted, while I’m not a coffee geek (pre-drying before double fermentation à la the Kenyan style? wuzzaaat?) I do appreciate good coffee. And the coffee I had here was undoubtedly the best I’ve had in my long, full, 18-year life. All sarcasm aside, just by looking at the meticulous care and attention each barista puts into each cup of coffee and each customer, you can tell that you’re in for a cup of something special.
I always thought milk art was made by dragging a toothpick across the surface of the foam, but the barista at Stumptown did it by just tilting and turning the cup ever so carefully while pouring the steamed milk on top. And he did this with every single order of coffee with milk in it; it was a beautiful thing to watch.
But not only that, Euna said her coffee was delicious. Quoting from her blog,
The macchiato is a perfectly petite cup of skillfully brewed coffee. The rich coffee rests on the tongue with no bite or burn at all. Smooth and intense at the same time. There is no need for sugar here.
Stumptown Coffee also offers a variety of freshly-baked pastries from the Breslin right next door, so Euna got a caramelized French toast to go along with her coffee. Even before you see the picture, doesn’t that just SOUND delicious?
Whenㅑ think “french toast,” a tower of soggy, sweet, white bread come to mind. Not so at Stumptown. Obviously they can’t serve sopping-wet slices of bread to their customers, so the pastry chef tweaked tradition by selling well-caramelized, thick slices made from a firmer filone loaf.
Euna offered me a piece of her treat, and when I bit into it, the deliciously crunchy outside broke to a tender, eggy inside flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. Although a lot chewier than an average French toast, I thought it was perfect – no soggy bread for me, thank you!
So while Euna’s order came out fairly quickly, mine took a little longer. Why?
Because I had ordered…
A cup of manual, pour-over drip coffee made with a Chemex!
A lot of you guys probably have no idea what this is – maybe an hourglass? Well, the Chemex in essence is drip coffee, although it’d be a crime to compare it to your average auto-drip coffeemakers.
Manual-drip is a slow and low-tech way of making coffee, and pretty much all the barista does is put a filter in a cone, add coffee, and pour in hot water.
But it is SO much more than just that.
The thing about the Chemex is that it uses the infusion method (almost like tea) to slowly brew the grounds, resulting a richer cup of coffee.
And that cool-looking kettle isn’t just pretty for looks – the design of it allows for the barista to use his arm instead of his wrist to control the pour, thus giving him better control over the flavor of the coffee.
So, what did my fancy-schmancy cup of Chemex coffee taste like?
Unlike any coffee I’ve had before. The coffee was now only extraordinarily smooth and un-bitter, but for the first time in my coffee-sipping life, I could so many flavors in my coffee other than, well, coffee. I can’t say I have a sophisticated enough palate to distinguish all the different notes, but this was an eye-opening (taste bud-opening?) experience to say the least. Such a bouquet of flavors in a single sip… It was actually quite amazing. You could almost call it a coffee epiphany. Also known as a coffeephany :D.
The delicious food and amazing coffee combined with dashing, well-dressed baristas definitely made this a breakfast to remember. Seriously, what girl wouldn’t like having her coffee given to her by a handsome man wearing a fedora and a vest? But in all seriousness, I’m glad that I was able to eat such quality food with Euna before we headed off to our respective colleges for our spring semesters.
Oh yeah, and from now on I’ve decided to put down the addresses of the places I eat at (other than my house of course – because that’d just be weird). I mean, it only makes sense to give you guys the location of the places I review in case any of you ever want to eat there. Plus I really, really recommend this day’s eats. Now why didn’t I do this before…?
The Bresling Bar & Dining Room
16 West 29th Street
(Between Broadway and 5th Avenue)
New York, NY 10001
Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel
18 West 29th Street
(Between Broadway and 5th Avenue)
New York, NY 10001