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“My wife and I tried to breakfast together, but we had to stop or our marriage would have been wrecked.”
Winston Churchill
Herbie Goes to Brendas

Herbie Goes to Brendas

I’ve been trying to live passionately the last few weeks, but it has been tiring.  So tiring that I’m sitting here sick in bed as I write this.  But that is okay because I’ve rediscovered that passion for life that had escaped my everyday routine for a couple weeks.    Its that same passion that has driven me to drive a VW Beetle made up to look like Herbie the Love Bug.  Its that impulse that drives people to do things that make them happy and allows you to enjoy life.  And for me that helps translate into others being happy.  I’ve always been passionate about travel, hotels, food and discovering new experiences and most of all sharing them with those I love.

I’m not sure what Winston Churchill was referring to in his quote about eating breakfast with his wife.   For me it is totally the opposite.  My latest passion are the breakfast beignets at Brenda’s.  Oh MY!  This isn’t about the swankiest or trendiest places, but little points in our lives where we could just close our eyes and still taste the food, remember the wonderful time we hand and long to relive a great time when we were happy. 

For my wife and I breakfast has always been a highlight.  Sitting down and having breakfast together means we are taking time to be with each other and usually that meants we aren’t rushing off.  It started when we were penniless college students in Pittsburgh and would go to the now defunct Bagel Nosh in Squirrel Hill for a $2 breakfast that included an egg, bagel, and coffee.  Oh did we have lots of refills just to hear this one waitress with a fake British accent (we still laugh about it to this day).  Over our life together there have been numerous places where we have held hands under the table over a hot cup of coffee.  In New York it was The Cupping Room located in SoHo where they served the best Challah Bread French Toast along huge bowls of coffee (yes, you brabbed the mugs with two hands).  That has since been replaced by our new favorite breakfast place in New York, the Clinton St. Baking Company where you will find the most incredible pancakes and muffins.

Clinton St. Blueberry Pancakes

Clinton St. Blueberry PancakesInside the Clinton St. Baking Company

The food is so good that Martha Stewart has written it up several times.  Beware that seating is limited and when going there we have waited outside in the cold until they opened. When we go to New York, we won’t miss getting a breakfast there. Part of the secret is the fresh Maple syrup which is sickeningly sweet.
Breakfasts in Hawaii also hold a special place for us.  Our honeymoon breakfasts on the Bay Terrace Cafe at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island has beautiful views, a fresh outdoor experience, omelettes made to order, fresh fruit, malasadas, and the friendliest service with that Aloha spirit.  Just tell them and they will freeze some grapes beforehand and you can take them out to your cabana chair on the beach.  It is the beautiful way to start a day on the Kohala Coast.
There have been so many others along the way:  Fresh Fields  Market in Durham, NC where you could order your breakfast any way you want it, bringing ingredients from the market to the counter and reading the newspapers and magazines for free and returning them to the rack, the now defunct Cheers in San Francisco where we held so many Sundays in their garden courtyard, Ann Sather’s Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberry sauce in Chicago, and the list goes on….. the food always taught us to enjoy life and reminded us about embracing the moment.  We never had a meal at any of these places where we came away without a good plan for the day as well as a desire to return.  I’ll have to come back and edit this entry if I remember any others.
Our new recent find is Brenda’s.  Their beignets are so unique and the location is very tiny and in a very sketchy neighborhood.  The restaurant is only open from 8am -3pm and the flight of beignets (chocolate, plain, Apple and crawfish) and lines form beginning 15 minutes before opening on the weekends.  As we packed up Herbie on a recent  morning, my wife smiled seeing my excitement at showing her my latest find.  The kids were skeptical (crawfish was not as exciting to them as the chocolate) but they definitely enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the cramped little restaurant.  The sweet potato pancakes were wonderful as well as the andouille sausage omelette.  Even if the Crawfish beignet sounded a bit odd, we all agreed it was the marquis menu item and well worth trying even if you didn’t like it.  Everything on the menu is under $10 and affordable.
For me though, the best part was seeing the smile on my wife’s face as she drank her coffee and we smirked as we saw our children with full bellies and chocolate smeared faces.  She was also happy to see me enjoying myself with our brand new “breakfast haunt”.   I’m not sure how long we will continue to frequent this venue (our waistlines will suffer), but I do know we have plans to come back.