We’ve all seen or at least heard about the infamous vermin video. You know, the one from last month that captures a rat clan noshing on some leftover pizza inside Green Eggs Café’s Midtown Village location after hours, much to the horror of a group of passers-by. Personally, I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. Are rats not entitled to a delicious brunch? True, it’s not every day that we have viral videos drawing it to our attention, but we’re naïve to think there aren’t rats absolutely everywhere in this city. They’re going to creep into our restaurants from time to time.
In Green Eggs’ case, owner Steve Slaughter notes that the rats were able to gain access to the restaurant due to a break in the sewage main. Everything has since been repaired, and after receiving the green light from the city Health Department, the restaurant is now re-open for business. And the hullabaloo aside, Green Eggs is one of the most popular brunch spots in town, so if I was going to be schooled in the art of breakfast-making, that’s exactly where I was going to go.
Since the restaurant is known for both its sweet and savory menu—and, really, no one should ever be forced to choose—Chef Israel “Izzy” Romero and I went ahead and cooked one of each: fried chicken and waffle Benedict and red velvet pancakes.
But before I go getting anyone’s hopes up, I should note that the average home cook will probably not be able to exactly reproduce these dishes. For starters, unless you happen to have a griddle, square molds and a pastry bag, chances are your red velvet pancakes are going to look more like a sloppy stack of flapjacks than an immaculate three-tier cake. So, think of the recipes as more of a template, making amendments as you see fit.
Using the same basic batter for both the pancakes and the waffles, we started with the red velvet dessert, which only require a few more ingredients and steps than your average buttermilk pancakes. Ultimately, what really makes them exemplary is the stuff in between: two luscious layers of strawberry mascarpone (an Italian cheese and the main ingredient in tiramisu), a mix of pureed strawberries, powdered sugar and cream cheese. If you want some hidden surprises, sprinkle some chocolate chips into the batter as it cooks. I think it goes without saying here that the end result tasted like dreamy, cream-filled red clouds with sweet hints of strawberry and cocoa.
Preparation for the fried chicken and waffle Benedict was also fast, but only because our seasonings and sauces had already been made, and the thinly sliced chicken cutlet was brined and ready to go. The only thing left to do was deep fry the chicken, poach the eggs and pour some batter into the waffle maker.
Although I could wrap my head around the idea of poached eggs atop Southern fried chicken atop a waffle, once Izzy added sage maple syrup and Louisiana hot sauce to the equation, he completely lost me. Fortunately, both flavors had a way of fading into the runny yolks. In fact, I forgot there was even syrup on it.
I can’t imagine attempting to cook either dish hung over on a Sunday morning, but I would wait in line hung over on a Sunday morning to have Green Eggs cook it for me. That’s the thing about breakfast: It always tastes better when someone else makes it. Actually, that’s sorta my philosophy on all food.
While I was chowing down on our creations, I quickly realized that I had an audience. Nearly every passer-by seemed to make it a point to peer into the window. I don’t know whether they were surprised to see someone eating there past 5 p.m., or if they were hoping to catch some furry friends going to town on another box of pizza. Either way, I can assure the brunch-lovers of Philadelphia that I didn’t see any unwelcome creatures of any kind on the premises.
Find all the recipes Nicole has learned from Philly chefs so far at forkingstupid.com.
PW's Taste of Philly 2014