Last summer I finished Steig Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy, and I distinctly remember telling a friend that the books had me craving bread, eggs, and cheese as a meal (in the book they often referred to this combination as simply a sandwich). It seemed that all the characters ever ate was bread, eggs, and cheese (and coffee, endless cups of coffee). These staples are constantly mentioned throughout the series:
“She made three big open rye-bread sandwiches with cheese, caviar, and a hard-boiled egg”
If you do a search for the number of times sandwiches are mentioned in the first book, I believe the number is 35!! I often mimicked this ensemble, eating my way through the series; but it wasn’t until this morning while having breakfast with my bestie at Bette’s Ocean View Diner in Berkeley, that I truly understood what it meant to have bread, eggs, and cheese.
I went to Bette’s intent on ordering pancakes, I’d been craving them all week. Once we sat down I began perusing the menu, when my eyes spotted the souffle pancakes. Mmm…
But, I also felt that I needed something savory. One pancake was not going to be sufficient. When our waitress came around she offered to list their daily specials, one of which was the Northern European Breakfast Plate. What is that, we inquired…
It’s basically what Lisbeth Salander would eat (with a few modifications). A few pieces of Pain au Levain from Acme Bread (they provide artisan bread to various restaurants in the Bay Area, most notably Chez Panisse), a selection of cheese wedges from Cowgirl Creamery (they produce organic cheese in Point Reyes, right across the Bay), slices of smoked ham, and two soft boiled organic farm eggs. We were completely sold by the mention of Cowgirl, they have some of the best products I’ve ever tasted, so we each ordered a plate and decided to share the pancake as a “dessert”. When our dishes were brought out to us I could not help but squeal with delight. I appreciate aesthetics and this collection looked beautiful!
The eggs were served in the most charming glassware. I was melting with enchantment. If I had a pair of these I would seriously eat soft boiled eggs at every meal!
The umber-colored egg-shells easily gave way with a gentle tap of my spoon. I slowly peeled away the shell and dipped in. This couldn’t possibly be breakfast, the egg whites were so creamy that with one spoonful they fused with the caramel of a yolk that was nestled within. The hen that laid these eggs was surely subsisting on pure bliss.
As if that wasn’t enough, we still had a plateful of bread, cheese, and ham. We slowly worked our way through our plate. I no longer wondered why the Swedish characters in the books chose this for almost every meal, or why Steig Larsson was so obsessed with sandwiches. We were completely satiated that we had forgotten about our pancake souffle!
This was no pancake. No. It was a custard cloud brewing a strawberry storm.
I closed my eyes, opened my mouth, and allowed it to rain.
That meal was so decadent and so filling that it held me over for most of the day. Finally, around 2pm I was prompted to think about lunch when I encountered these at my local market:
Baby sized avocados (3x $1.00!!!). Suddenly I was inspired by my Northern European breakfast, and decided to make a California-style open faced sandwich to rival Salander’s.
I toasted a couple slices of Alvarado’s Sprouted California style bread, slathered a generous amount of hummus (from the huge batch I made several nights ago), and topped with slices of vine-ripe yellow tomatoes and the creamy avocado. It hit the spot! Simple ingredients, but one complex mouthful!