Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Someone to Watch Over...My French Toast

There's not much out there that competes with the all-around goodness and simplicity of French Toast. I'm not even going to bother qualifying that with an "in my opinion." If you want to argue it as fact, I'll go to the mat for French Toast and I will do so with vigor.

That isn't to say that there aren't higher forms available. Like anything else, a French Toast variation can fall into a quick hierarchy based on the sum of its parts. Let's go ahead and name that most important quality. It's not the bread (though clearly challah is a superior choice). It isn't the presence of exceptionally fresh eggs (just the yolks, apparently). It's not the maple syrup or the amount of butter used to fry impossibly thick slices.

You are running out of patience for my chosen approach, I can tell. We can skip the part where I decry "it" not to be cinnamon or orange zest either.
It's the company. The person who passes the syrup across the table. The one watching the oven timer to ensure the bread has been dried out just enough to promote optimum batter absorption. My company for the affore-heralded French Toast? Unparalleled but wholly familiar to longtime readers. I managed a weekend in the woods outside Seattle earlier this month with Pop, a man of the hour every hour and one for the ages at every age. I think the shot above is a few years old but it best captures the two of us doing what we do best. Scallops in that instance, rather than French Toast.

We did a good amount of cooking, exploring, napping and general indulging (balanced by some elevation run-run-running on my part). A trip out to Denny Creek took us over the river.

And through the woods.

And back to grandfather's house we went...for additional exercising of hereditary feast talent.

I'm especially proud of this one. Yes I know, pride comes before the fall. But fall was already in high season when I got to Seattle and I am just fine with the hubris that comes with a beautifully stacked lox bagel. That is a work of art. Bless you, Blazing Bagels.

Other moments when we patted ourselves heartily on the back included the day we decided duck pâté, apple slices, crackers and pomegranate seeds counted as lunch.

And the night we decided to find out how sole would taste fried in truffle butter over leeks and chantrelles. In my defense, I did manage to get a lot of vegetables on the plate and we went with lemon sorbet for dessert.

But I think if I had to pick a dish to represent the weekend, that French Toast was it. I mean that was it. Top of the pile and that pile was covered in blueberries. I have to give thanks to Christopher Kimball because Pop had prerecorded the demo we modeled our own toast after on America's Test Kitchen (recipe linked). We added some orange zest and were lucky enough to find eggs at a roadside stand in Woodinville (assured they were exceptionally fresh).

I try to get out there a couple times a year. I love that part of the world but I'm in it for the company. One night after dinner we sat and listened to music for an hour and a half. When his favorite version of "Someone to Watch Over Me" came on, he belted it out with a lack of self awareness that comes with being 92.5 and not giving a damn for anything but things that give joy.

And yes, as the years have gone on there are other, shorter conversations that come up. It would be ridiculous for us to pretend that this will go on forever in kind. I think it's comforting to both of us that it's addressed in the form of him sending me home with paperweights and books and old photos. This time he pledged to be at my wedding "no matter what" and, should that come to pass, I suspect he might come disguised as a French 75 for a different kind of toast altogether. Pop is and will remain a bit of magic. It's not a secret, it's a treasure.


Molly McG said...

Pop for the win!!! That photo of you two is incredible. What a gorgeous post on all accounts :)

TKTC said...

Molls- You're the best. Thanks...one of these days (2013 perhaps), we'll need to do a Northwest adventure to Portland and Seattle. Too much fun.

GreenSug said...

More and more you are inheriting his magic dear girl. Amen for "not giving a damn for anything but things that give joy." This post, I give a damn about. So thank you.

TKTC said...

Jo- You guys are the greatest. Thanks so much for reading and I think we all want to be a little more like Pop when it comes to authenticity via joy.

rachaelsperling said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story with us. It sounds like a perfect weekend, in a beautiful place, with (as you said) amazing company. I might have to switch from my usual Sunday pancake breakfast to french toast this weekend. By the way, the second picture of your bagel and lox looks like it belongs in a magazine. Yum! Have a happy thanksgiving :)

Kelly said...

This is so sweet. I smiled reading the entire post. Of course after I found myself puzzled as to which french toast ingredient I had possibly forgotten.

Anonymous said...

by far one of my most favorite posts ever. you make me smile, friend!

TKTC said...

Rachael- thank you so much for the kind comment and welcome to the neighborhood! Good as pancakes are, I'm going to cosign your decision to make it a French Toast weekend.

G- Thanks, lady. I think it was one of my favorite ones to write. Particularly in light of some of the clips from last night.

We Are Not Martha said...

I've been far behind on my blog commenting, but I'm here now and this post actually brought a tear to me eye. It made me a bit sad that I've never had grandparents in my life, but it also struck me as beautiful and I think your relationship with Pop is so wonderfully awesome. And um, the man does not look a day over 70!


Walk to the Mailbox said...

Just scanning through posts on google reader this monday morning and felt compelled to read this one again even though I read it less than a week ago. Wanted to feel the love that just pours from its "pages." So inspired to go home and get my family's videos on DVD. Today is a big day for you. Take all of this love and use it!