food & drinks, Toronto

On brunch

Flickr user warein.holgado

Photo by: Flickr user warein.holgado

I don’t like eggs. I don’t eat pork. Because I don’t like eggs and I don’t eat pork, I don’t like breakfast.

I know, a lot of you love breakfast. You probably love breakfast so much you would (and do) eat it for lunch and dinner. I’m envious of your ability to eat eggs. Lately, I have made an effort to cook and like them, but I still can’t stomach them in great amounts. It takes effort to get through a hard boiled egg. Even a plate of eggs Benedict takes mental preparation.

I wouldn’t put so much effort into enjoying eggs if it was not for Sunday brunch. As The New York Times pointed out in 2005, “brunch is practically a competitive sport in Toronto.” This is still true. Despite hangovers, below freezing temperatures and lineups my friends will still trek (uphill, both ways) for a good plate of hollandaise sauce atop poached eggs.

Why does Toronto go crazy over brunch compared to other cities? I’m not sure, but I understand why the meal is often put on a pedestal. I am in love with the idea of Sunday brunch with friends. For me, it’s not about the food. Brunch is the bridge between the weekend’s indulgences and the work week’s responsibilities. It’s remembering last night while you still have its smell in your hair. It’s one last hurrah before groceries, laundry and Monday morning.

The meal is like a celebration, says Toronto chef Teo Paul. He admits his mixed feelings toward the 2-in-1 meal. As a chef, it’s a pain in the ass because brunch-goers are so fragile and yet demanding at the same time.

I appreciate it, but I have to do it a little differently. I read about a guy in New York who does the same brunch every weekend: a giant terrine of eggs stuffed with smoked salmon and whatever else, on a table piled with croissants. That’s good thinking. My kind of brunch is standing around a big barrel table eating oysters and charcuterie and drinking good, cheap wine with friends and old drunk French guys drinking wine out of silver ladles. That’s a celebration. I know I’m not in Paris, but I’d like to try to bring something new to Toronto, something different.

Most of my friends would say brunch doesn’t need anything different. But as someone who doesn’t like eggs, I’m cheering Teo on. I have no problem with eating oysters or drinking wine.

Question: Forget eggs and bacon. What would you like your Sunday brunch to consist of?


14 thoughts on “On brunch

  1. bevw says:

    Hey, Teo is business partner with my friend Kate in Union. You’ll definitely have to come to the opening, which will hopefully happen soon.

    PS I heart both eggs & pork so I’ll eat yours.

  2. BevW: I will most definitely come! I’m excited for Union. Teo’s a great writer and his blog entries just make my mouth water with anticipation.

    James: Of course. I love turkey bacon! But it’s often not available at restaurants, unfortunately. I also fear how processed turkey bacon is. Will keep my eye out for alternatives at markets in the spring.

  3. I like sandwiches, but I prefer not to start the day with a sweet meal like pancakes, etc. I like my sweets at the end of a meal.

    I know, I know. But oysters and cheap wine? Sign me up!

  4. James says:

    You’re right bacon, especially turkey bacon is very processed. I think maybe only Whole Foods might have a good, healthy bacon alternative. I will also keep an eye out and test them for you. Anything for a food adventure. Restaurants…hmmm, if you are ever in Washington, DC, Cafe Atlantico does a latino dim sum brunch that is to die for: they’ll also try to accomodate dietary requirements (i.e. you can exempt pork from the menu). The only other restaurant that might turn the tide for brunchy meals would be Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, if you only had the grits it might change your life, they are insanely good:

  5. James G says:

    I’m all for the cheap wine and oysters, but as an alternative how about a basket of freshly baked croissants with home made jam, a cup of strong coffee, a few obscenely ripe pieces of fruit, maybe a nice piece of pan fried trout with pinch of fleur de sel and a squeeze of lemon, a couple of grilled new potatos. I could keep going but I’m getting hungry.

  6. James: Thanks for the DC and Ann Arbor recommendations. I’ve never had grits and am curious about them.

    Yvonne: Good choices. I love the coffe + Coke combo. I fully support it, especially while hungover.

    James G: Your meal sounds fabulous. I would eat your Sunday brunch in a heartbeat. My favourite meal in these comments by far!

  7. I love oysters. LOVE ‘EM. I love wine. LOVE IT. I consume both regularly and still don’t feel like I indulge in them enough. But weekend brunches are usually the denouement of a night’s bender, no? When I’m feeling furry inside and on the cusp of vomiting when I say, “I’ll start with a coffee, please,” oysters and wine are the furthest thing from my spinning mind. Perhaps I’ve said too much about my lifestyle.

  8. …Actually, Teo Paul’s suggestion for brunch sounds amazing. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I should clean up my act so I can enjoy Sunday brunches without ibuprofen as an appetizer.

    Did you know pho is often eaten for breakfast, especially as a hearty way to start a day of working on the land/farm/paddies? That would be a comforting way to welcome Sunday, hung over or not.

  9. Pho would be a fabulous way to cure a hangover. Especially in the winter. I love dim sum but find it too greasy. Note to self: more pho on Sunday mornings.

  10. One of my friends hates eggs, and I can tell you… finding a brunch place to eat is challenging! Personally, I love belgian waffles with fruit, banana bread, smoothies… oh, and grilled cheese samwiches.

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