Brunch at Turning Point

C and I have made a tradition of brunch at Turning Point whenever we’re both in town. I usually go for one of their skillet dishes, which contain potatoes, eggs cooked to order, and various accessories. This time, I wanted something sweet as well, so we decided to split a skillet and pancakes. Luckily, I was absolved of the responsibility of deciding on one type of pancake because Turning Point conveniently offers a plate of minis of any three of them. Two of the them came with fruit reductions, though I didn’t need them: plain maple syrup suited me best in the end.

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C’s Wilbur skillet: potatoes, scrambled eggs, avocado, bacon, tomatoes, cheese. Lots of crunchy, fatty bacon.

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In a world that’s fast-paced and constantly changing, it’s nice having elements in one’s life that provide steadiness and continuity, no?

Turning Point of Holmdel
2132 Route 35 South
Holmdel, NJ 07733
732-615-9000

Shakshuka my hookah/flash the bazooka/ready, get set/booyah

My experience at Oleana last weekend inspired me to prepare a Middle Eastern-themed meal, so I concocted my favorite excuse to cook, inviting some friends over for brunch.  I wanted to build the meal around shakshuka, a North African dish I had had bookmarked for awhile.  Isn’t that a wicked fun word to say?  It’s both exotic and bad-ass, and had I not known what it referred to, I could just as easily be deceived into thinking it was a fun island cocktail or the baseline for a rap beat.  Plus, it rhymes with nasty words like hookah and bazooka. Couldn’t you totally see Eminem dropping the above line? I hope he credits me when he does…though ideally not by referring to me as a b*tch or ho.

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Continue reading “shakshuka…”

Spontaneous Sunday brunch at Upstairs on the Square

As my faithful readers know, weekend brunch is my favorite meal.  So when EK and I were looking for a bite to eat before hunkering down for a studious Sunday afternoon, I suggested an early brunch at Upstairs on the Square.  I had never been, but remembered this restaurant scored air time on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I ever Ate” pilot episode for their Eggs Benedict.  Sometimes I wonder if culinary/dining tidbits have monopolized my memory space, since those seem to be the only pieces of information I retain.

Coffee and baked treats to start: coffee cake, petit cinnamon rolls. muffins, and scones.  Cute but nothing special.

Continue eating “Spontaneous Sunday brunch…”

Weekend brunch

Weekend brunches make a habit of being my favorite meal of the week. The combination of comfort brunch food (usually involving that win-win combination of robust sweet and savory dishes) and the delicious lounging and lingering into the early, even late afternoon, I just love it. I think of the three-hour brunch that breezes by as one of those moments that C.S. Lewis refers to in The Screwtape Letters, when Screwtape talks about the innocuous forms of entertainment that humans enjoy (i.e., intimate family gatherings, appreciation of music) and which divert their attention from less wholesome pursuits.

Anyway, my love of the weekend brunch, an urge to break my cooking slump, and the imperative of catching up with some lady friends, induced me to draw up such a meal on Saturday. The menu: potato and andouille sausage hash and a spinach, fennel, and orange salad.  And some homemade sourdough croutons, which me lady friends really liked 🙂

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Continue eating…

Edible Easter

We all know holidays are excuses to eat, and to eat well.  Throw in a couple visitors from out of town, and that pretty much guarantees a weekend of gustatory satisfaction.

After a morning of lattes, tax filing, and story writing, L and I made a pit stop at Christina’s before heading over to Davis.  One of special flavors of the day was Taza Chocolate, and after I gushed earlier about the magnificence of Taza, we couldn’t have passed that up.  I also got a scoop of carrot cake ice cream, which had all the makings of carrot cake minus the cake– chewy raisins, walnut chunks, carrot nubbins, and whiffs of cinnamon and nutmeg.

On the heels of an unsuccessful (for me) thrift shopping venture, we donned the deliciousness that is Dave’s Pasta.

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Continue reading Edible Easter…

Saturday brunch @ Cafe Luna

The meal of the week for me. Valentine’s Day work party with pizza from Upper Crust comes in a distant second.  They make a mean pesto chicken pizza, but I would probably need at least half a large pie to feel sated and I didn’t want to pig out in front of the coworkers.  Little Miss Piggy should not come out during the day, I say, so as not to scare the children or the faint of heart.

I had planned to have brunch at Cafe Luna a few times before but for whatever reason it didn’t happen until today.  Shame on me, because the brunch there is fantastic.  They thoughtfully offer the french toast dishes in full or half-size portions, thoughtful b/c while delicious, the full orders are enormous and you might think twice before committing to one.  There must have been at least eight variations of french toast available, in addition to a delectable selection of pancakes, waffles, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and paninis.  M’s eyes honed in on the french toast section of the menu, and while she debated between the nutella & banana and the monte cristo, I convinced her we should split the nutella one “for dessert” so she went with the monte cristo as her “main”.  Haha french toast for entree and dessert.  I ordered a brunch special, the ham, spinach, and gruyere strata made with egg-soaked Iggy’s (!) bread (foccacia,  think).

Major props to Iggy’s on their brioche, which is the base for all Cafe Luna’s french toast dishes.  The topping combinations are pretty standard; it’s the bread that sets this french toast apart.  In my mind, Iggy’s and Hi-Rise are the gold standard for European style bread in Cambridge.  I hear Flour is first-rate too but do not have first-hand experience and so cannot compare.  The french toast was eggy and super fluffy, with a rich mouth feel but light going down.  If you eat too fast, you could easily down a couple thick slabs of it before feeling the gut check.

M’s monte cristo french toast: french toast, ham, swiss, mustard, served with syrup. Probably could’ve used some more time under a broiler to melt the cheese more.  Sweet and savory is the ultimate taste combination.

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Someone very pleased that her food has arrived:

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The strata is a welcome riff on your average quiche — in composition it falls somewhere between a quiche and frittata.  More delicious Iggy’s bread bound and baked with eggs and plenty of gruyere.  Ham and spinach were the meat and veg of choice (I think they change it up daily).  Served alongside a fresh salad, it was a textbook savory brunch dish that I would happily add to my regular rotation.

Generous portion of strata with a side salad: looks a bit like lasagna, no?

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While small, Cafe Luna lends itself to studying/lingering, though maybe not for too long on early weekend afternoons, since lines tend to form and while there are a million other places to go study, there are a very limited number of places to go and eat french toast made with fresh Iggy’s brioche.  There was a guy chilling there, just him and his laptop, and while he didn’t cost M and I a wait, he was definitely lingering at the expense of others.  I wonder if the restaurant should have some kind of policy guarding against that type of behavior on weekends; it would be in their best interests to do so but good for them for holding out so far.  Ooh, and I hear in the spring/summer they have outdoor seating, and the restaurant faces out on Mass Ave, which could lend itself to some pretty amusing people watching.

“Dessert”: half-portion of the nutella & banana french toast. Huzzah!

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Luna, you have another convert.  I’ll be back!

Cafe Luna
403 Mass Ave
Cambridge MA 02139
617-576-3400

Brunch!

One of my favorite dining experiences is brunch.  I love waking up late to good coffee, a meal that’ll last me until dinner, and the moments of lingering that often follow.  A few days ago, a friend, who I can only describe as British, helped me relive that experience at a restaurant called The Flying Pan, a well-known restaurant in the ex-pat area known for the Western brunch staples such as French toast, omelettes, and Eggs Benedict.

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Staying true to his roots, O went for the English breakfast, a mix and match of eggs, toast, sausage links, bacon, pan-seared tomatoes, mushrooms, and baked beans (‘of course’). I think he enjoyed himself, though my apologies for the rough quality of the photo.

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I ordered a garden omelette with egg whites only, which came with an English muffin, potatoes, and some fresh fruit.

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I really enjoyed my meal. The toasted English muffin with a generous slab of butter really hit the spot, as did the omelette, which was light, fluffy, and loaded with fresh vegetables. Most importantly was what it was not — doused in oil, which is one of my major gripes with many diner omelettes. Downed with some coffee and OJ, I was seriously feeling the love. Unfortunately, there was a line of people waiting so we, good people that we are, decided not to linger and make those unfortunate, and probably hungry, souls wait any longer. Thumbs up for this place from me. Plus, it’s down the street from kosmos, where one can be easily reinvigorated by ordering libido-enhancing smoothies or something along those lines.