This week super-chef Bobby Flay will have Food Network devotees drooling over their remotes when he announces the Best Breakfast He Ever Ate: Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast at San Diego’s Café 222. (Café 222 is a hip and happening downtown institution. It’s super-casual and comfortable, with a menu of all-Star American comfort foods.)
The Tuesday (July 28th) episode of his new show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” will introduce the world to this scrumptious, over-the-top, ooey-gooey creation. I’m a big fan, too, though I, personally, would give the edge to the Café’s slightly more sedate Peanut Butter Waffle with Fresh Bananas. Both extravaganzas are handsome, healthful and textbook examples of chazarai (and I mean that as a compliment!)
However, much as I’ve loved the stuffed FTs that I’ve put away at Café 222 over the years, I can’t help but think that Bobby missed the boat on this one. For my money, the really, truly best breakfast in the world is at the Dan Hotel in Eilat, Israel.
Believe me, I wasn’t easily won over to this conclusion. For starters, it’s a buffet breakfast and I hate buffets (way too much jumping up and down to get food; way too many flavors jockeying for position in my stomach).
Second, I was at the Red Sea waterfront property with my family one year in June when the temperature might have dipped to 100 sometime in the middle of the night.
This was not weather for enjoying food. But the main dining room’s breakfast buffet was so splendid, so pure, fresh, appropriate and exciting, that I looked forward to jumping out of bed each morning.
There was fruit – ripe, fragrant, colorful and juicy; creamy yogurts from different kinds of milk; a variety of honeys, each with a distinguished aroma and texture; dried fruits, dates and nuts the likes of which I had never tasted; cooked grains that put Quaker’s to shame. The selection of breads was awesome, hearty and grainy, milky and sweet.
The usual buffet suspects got a new look: baked fish in herby crusts; smoked/marinated salmon as good as that in any Michelin-starred eatery; exquisite egg dishes. And more, much more.
But my favorite…and the dish I still dream about…was the Israeli salad of perfect tomatoes, cucumbers and spring onions, all precisely diced and tossed with parsley, dill and mint and a lemony vinaigrette. I topped it each morning with a luscious homemade yogurt and some nuts and seeds. The photo here is from flickr.com.
“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” is a great concept for a TV show, and a terrific catalyst to get you thinking about memorable meals. If you’ve got a “best” breakfast story, I hope you’ll share it here.