Eating (and instagraming) the perfect weekend brunch is practically a sport among young, well-heeled New Yorkers. Some have gone so far as to say brunch is for jerks.
When I first moved to New York City the brunch trend of the moment was indeed for jerks; meatpacking district hot spots were filled with over-paid 20-somethings at bottle service mandatory, all-day, booze-fueled dance parties. As you might imagine, I had absolutely zero interest in the party like its 2am brunch trend. Yes, brunch may mean booze, but more importantly it means eggs and bacon and waffles, or pancakes, or both. And I’d like to squeeze a morning run in first, kthanks.
These days, brunch in the city is of the farm-to-table, fresh juice mocktail, house-made doughnut, hipster wait staff, $800 stroller parked at the table variety. And oh man, is brunch popular in my borough. So much so that there are lines after 11am because OF COURSE hardly any of the restaurants you read about on the food blogs take reservations.
My solution to avoid headaches and the hoops though which one has to jump for a plate of over-priced eggs is of course, to COOK. I love making my friends come to me for brunch on Saturday or Sunday. It forces me to clean and tidy up in advance which makes our apartment feel lovelier all weekend, ensures I don’t have to mess with the baby’s nap schedule or pack a diaper bag only to end up in a restaurant too hip to install bathroom changing tables (GRRRRR), and allows me to avoid shoes and public transportation. So. Many. Wins. Yes, I have to cook but that’s my most favorite way to pass the time, and I did I mention I don’t have to leave my apartment?
Here is my go-to brunch menu:
A make-ahead sweet, bread-y carbohydrate. I am partial to Alton Brown’s overnight cinnamon rolls. I’ve made the recipe as is and done a riff on the Deb Perlman version with homemade blackberry jam in place of cranberry. Overnight waffles also work. Did you stop reading at the word overnight? Fine, go to a nice bakery and buy sweet buns or some such deliciousness. (Or go to Ikea and get a pan of cinnamon rolls and see if your guests notice).
Seasonal goat cheese frittata. Asparagus (blanched and shocked of course) with roasted red pepper in the spring. Figs and caramelized onion in the fall. Naturally gluten free and vegetarian. Add crispy pancetta if you’re feeling frisky.
Seasonal green salad. Blend interesting lettuces like arugula, frisée, and red vein sorrel, then add roasted beets, shredded carrot and toasted pistachios in the fall or butter radishes, artichokes, and toasted pine nuts in the spring. Make a simple dressing and serve out of a pretty jar. Add protein, flavor, and class by topping your salad with oil-packed tuna.
Sparkly booze. I am partial to these crowd-pleasing apricot ginger bellinis. The recipe is very forgiving (as in I never follow it properly and the drinks still turn out delicious).
Make the three dishes and cocktail mentioned above and your house is sure to be the new hottest brunch spot in town. Want to step it up a notch? Buy cut flowers, remove the leaves, cut the stems rather short, rearrange and set out in a non-vase-type-vase filled with cold water. Serve fresh berries in a shallow bowl. Purchase three nice cheeses (one funky, one creamy, one sharp) and interesting crackers and display on a wooden board with juicy dates or guava paste. Ask friends to bring the following: Fancy chocolates, French macaroons, extra champagne, mixed nuts, and if you are looking to add a “health” element, some sort of green juice or green smoothie. Serve it all on your china and use cloth napkins. Don't forget to instagram it.
Tell us, what meal or type of party do you love to host?