Western omelet, home fries, sourdough toast, avocado
Bridget wanted to go out to breakfast, and we hadn’t been to the Ugly Mug Diner in downtown Salem for quite a long time. It’s super popular, and even though we got there only five minutes after they opened for business, almost all the tables were full.
I thought the morning sun really made this omelet look especially tasty. This one had diced ham, bell peppers, and tomatos with cheese. The ingredients are diced very small, which I like. I don’t want to have big chunks of ham or green peppers or whatever in an omelet. Like most breakfast-join omelets, it was too big ro finish, but I managed a good three quarters of it.
I’m not a big fan of home fries at all, but at least these home fries are well made. Large pieces of potato, but cooked long enough on the flat-top to get some nice browning and crusting. I will flat out not eat deep-fried frozen home fries, and don’t like fresh made ones if they haven’t gotten a crust. I ate enough of them to make it look like I wasn’t unhappy with them. The avocado slices were good and seemed fresh.
I’m usually quite satisfied with a breakfast like this, and this was no excpetion. First thing in the morning is not my best time of day, so I want something I can enjoy without too much consideration. Once in a while a fancy breakfast can be fun, but give me a plate like this any morning.
Foxtown Diner, Shelburne Falls – Cheeseburger and potato chips
We took a brief roadtrip to the western portion of Massachusetts over the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. Our daughter goes to college in North Adams, and she is graduating in just a few weeks, so we wanted to spend some time with her out there to see the places she has come to know before she likely says goodbye to them to begin a new adventure elsewhere.
Our first stop was in Shelburne Falls, and the first order of business was lunch at the Foxtown Diner. You could hardly get more small-town breakfast-and-lunch than this. The woman in the kitchen was cooking up huge pots of boiled corned beef and cabbage that no one was ordering, and the whole place had the gentle farty scent of cooking cabbage. A lady at a table in fron tof us ordered what she thought was a corned beef sandwich and was voluably disappointed. My cheeseburger was excellent other than being on a bulkie roll instead of a proper hambyrger bun. After lunch, we popped in and out of a couple of shops, bought a few things, and drove on to North Adams to do a car swap with the kid.
From North Adams we drove through Pittsfield to Lenox, where we had a room at a country inn for the two nights of the roadtrip. Lenox is a very popular summer tourist spot for exceedingly rich people, but in the depth of winter the hotel rates come down enough for mere mortals to afford lodging. The inn itself was sort of a corporate vision of what a country inn should be, but definitely better than the Marriott or the HoJoMoLo down the street. Once I had a chance to get in a little nap, we used Yelp to find a tapas place called Brava for dinner.
Brava, Lenox – olives and wine
Brava, Lenox – white anchovies with lemon and olive oil
Brava, Lenox – calamari with spicy remoulade
Brava, Lenox – gambas al ajillo
Brava, Lenox – prosciutto, Fontina and arugula pizza
Everything was good except the shrimp, which were not bad per se, but I have had much better elsewhere. The anchovies were especially good. Somehow I managed not to take a picture of the roasted Brussels sprouts. Charlotte ordered the pizza for herself and only ate a couple of slices. My glass of Rioja was perfect with the marinated olives.
Haven Cafe, Lenox – ham, tomato and cheddar omelet with home fries and salad
We started Friday with breakfast at Haven Cafe and Bakery. I was anticipating nothing more than coffee and a pastry, but they serve actual breakfast food and turned out this nicely folded omelet along with some home fries and a little pile of dressed lettuce. It was tasty and filling enough on top of the previous night’s dinner, that I felt no need for lunch later in the day.
We spent the morning at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Bridget and I had been there one time many years ago, but not with Charlotte. They have some of his originals – the Four Freedoms paintings, the Ruby Bridges painting, and some others – as well as some original magazine covers and reproductions of all of his Saturday Evening Post covers. On our earlier visit, we were able to go into the little house that was his studio that now sits on the museum’s grounds, but it was closed for the winter on this visit.
Even though we weren’t hungry for lunch, we did drive into Stockbridge and have some mid-afternoon pie.
Tiffany’s Cafe, Stockbridge – chocolate cream pie
Made the short drive back to Lenox and took a guided tour of Ventfort Hall, a “summer cottage” mansion owned by the sister of J.P. Morgan, and now open as a museum of Gilded Age luxury. Though not as remarkably ostentatious as the “cottages” in Newport, RI, this is a large, stately home that sits next door to Tanglewood, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra spends its summers today. The tour guide was a lovely lady who was exceptionally knowledgable about the Morgans, the house, and the local history. The house passed through several sets of hands after the Morgans and was in disrepair and danger of being destroyed by a local developer, but the town rallied to save it and the restoration project is still ongoing.
Appropriately enough, we chose a place called Morgan’s Tavern in Lee for dinner, though I doubt they were the same set of Morgans. This place featured a “traditional” menu of old-fashioned stuff like meatloaf, turkey dinner, and pot roast alongside some burgers and a few other things.
Morgan’s Tavern, Lee – pot roast, garlic mashed potatoes, broiled asparagus
Yum. Classic comfort food. I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish my dinner, considering everything else I ate that day, but I devoured this. Bridget had the turkey dinner (turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing). Charlotte ordered pasta bolognese and barely touched it. Lesson – do not order pasta bolognese in a place that specializes in pot roast and turkey dinner. Oh, and since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I was obliged to have a glass of Jameson’s.
The final food stop was Otto’s Kitchen in Pittsfield for breakfast on Saturday morning. It’s a place that Charlotte and her college friends like to go to for weekend breakfast, so she wanted to take us there. We arrived just ahead of the crowd and got a table before people had to start waiting.
Otto’s Kitchen, Pittsfield – “The Late Night” two eggs, bacon, English muffin, French toast
I went with another basic breakfast, though there were more elaborate choices available. Bridget and Charlotte both went with bowls that were combos of eggs, cheese, tater tots, and assorted veg. They were both well-pleased with their breakfast, and mine was good, but definitely basic.
We drove on to Williamstown to see the Clark Art Museum as the last stop before Bridget and I dropped Charlotte back at her dorm and headed home. None of us had the slightest clue that we found find such a treasure trove of Impressionist paintings – so many Renoirs, and also Manet, Monet, Pisarro, Degas, even an early Van Gogh. A world-class museum out in the middle of nowhere. Amazing.
To be candid with you, I had not really wanted to go on this road trip, but ended up enjoying myself a lot more than I expected. Every stop had something good, whether it was the food or the museums or the adorable little shops in Shelburne Falls. I think three days was just the right amount of time to hit the highlights, especially in March, when the weather in the Berkshires is still very much winter. We’ll be back out there in early May for Charlotte’s graduation and to help her haul all of her stuff back home, so there won’t be the time to see anything, so this trip was well worthwhile.
Omelet with black beans, shredded chiptole chicken, avocado, cheddar cheese, salsa, pico de gallo, and crema
Chilaquiles with black beans, queso fresco, and cheddar. Topped with eggs, crema, salsa verde and roja, pico de gallo, avocado, cotija cheese, and cilantro
Cafe Luna in Kendall Square in Cambridge is a seriously luxe breakfast experience. We’ve been a few times, but not since the pandemic. It’s insanely popular and you have to make reservations weeks in advance to even get a table (much to the disappointment of the people who show up without them and must wait forever to even get a chance to sit). It means getting up a little early on a Satdurday morning to drive to Cambridge, but it is entirely worth the drive.
Even though we ordered different things, there wasn’t much difference between the omelet and the chilaquiles except hers had tortilla chips and mine had pulled chicken. They were equally delicious, though.
Oh, and I almost forgot the biscuits. They make delicious biscuits and usually serve them with honey butter, but the waitress clued us into getting the maple bacon butter instead. OMFG, so good.
Top – sunnyside eggs with ham and rye toast. Bottom – soft-boiled egg with ham and cheese, rolls, jam
The weather for our week in Vienna was pleasant and mild, so that gave us the oppotunity to have breakfast in a couple of cafes near out hotel that had outdoow seating.
The top photo is from a cafe called Ulrich (named for St. Ulrich’s Church right next door). Ham and eggs, Austrian style, with delicious country ham (which you can see barely peeking out from under the eggs). I also had a latte there that was probably the best latte I have ever had in my life. So I had a second one.
The next day, we had breakfast at Cafe Adlerhof, just up the street. I had this pretty typical European-style breakfast plate of ham and cheese with a soft-boiled egg and some rolls. i used one of the rolls to dip into the egg, though some toast might have been better, and then had butter and strawberry jam on the other (which, again, I probably would have preferred toast). I had a cafe mocha which was not especially mocha-y, and a latte that was okay but not as good as the one down the street at Ulrich.
Waffles with vanilla roasted strawberries and bacon
Fathers’ Day breakfast 2020. The real star here is the vanilla roasted strwaberries. They make a fantastic topping for pancakes and waffles, and we have even used them as a topping for Dutch Baby. Oh, and ice cream. Amazing on ice cream. I found the recipe at SimplyRecipes.com. You should try them now, while fresh strawberries are available.
We decided to splash out on a nicer hotel for our vacation. A lot of the things to see and do here are free or cheap, and, quite honestly, we wanted to recapture the same experience we had with our hotel in Barcelona, so we figured it would be worth the extra money. So far, we have been proven out. This hotel has a ton of nice amenities, including turn-down service at night complete with little chocolates on the bed.
We both like to have a lazy Sunday morning, so instead of venturing out for breakfast, we ordered room service – a pot of coffee and a basket of pastried, and a bowl of oatmeal for my wife. The pastry basket had a pain au chocolat, almond croissant, raspberry muffin, and a scone. Room service just feels so decadent and old-time Hollywood movie-like. We could have ordered full breakfast, but I am usually satisfied with coffee and a pastry.
After breakfast, we took the Metro over to the National Mall and spent the afternoon wandering through the Museum of American History. We’d visited the museum on our previous trip to DC in 2009, and had been looking forward to seeing it again.
This picture popped up in my Facebook memories today. Considering the time frame, I’m guessing the brisket (and probably the veg, as well) was left over from St. Patrick’s Day. I only vaguely remember making this, and probably would not have were it not for Facebook.
When I was growing up, my mother occasionally made “New England Boiled Dinner”, which was a corned beef brisket that she cooked in a pressure cooker, along with potatoes, carrots, turnip, and cabbage. I always hated it. It was bland and smelled funny. Also, my mother usually used the point cut of the brisket, which is just fatty and gross.
I rediscovered brisket on my own many years later. I neveer make “boiled dinner”, though. I like to do a slow braise, and have several different recipes I use as the mood strikes. One of my favorites has orange peel, tomatoes, whie wine, and spring onions. But I also make one that’s really just beef stock and ketchup, and it’s almost as good.
Like all stews and braises, braised brisket is better the next day, and even about a week after the fact, this was really good as a leftover, cut up and pan fried into hash and served with a fried egg.
During the pandemic, Dutch Babies became a popular thing for people to make, but we’ve been making and enjoying them for many years. We’ve tried a few different fillings, but our go-to is sauteed apples. We’ve also made a roasted strawberry filling that was outstanding. Have never tried any savory fillings.
The pancake itself is just popover batter poured into a cast-iron skillet with melted butter and put into a very hot oven to bake until the whole thing rises up. The one in this photo has just come out of the oven. Like popovers, sometimes you don’t get them to rise up properly, but this one was particularly magnificent.
For the sake of synchronicity, here are the paczki I bought this weekend. Two raspberry, one blueberry, and one glazed. No cream-filled this time.
I posted these on Facebook, and my friend Mig (who lives in Austria) said “Those are Krapfen!” The technical differences between krapfen, paczki, Berliners, and all the other jelly donuts that are made in Europe this time of year are very small. It’s sort of like how every middle eastern cuisine from Greece to India makes some kind of baklava.
My wife and I agree that the raspberry ones from Coffee Time are the best.
Speaking of Lenten doughnut treats, our favorite doughnut shop in Salem, Coffee Time, does paczki this time of year. Because the paczki are so popular, they start early and run past the end of Lent. These paczki come in several fillings, and with or without whipped cream. Weather permitting, I intend to have one for breakfast on Sunday morning.