What happens when Sunday comes, and you have no one with whom going to brunch? That’s easy. You make yourself some eggs Benedict!
I remember the first time I tried eggs Benedict, almost eight years ago. See, for a Spaniard like myself, eating eggs for breakfast was not on the menu (pun intended… very bad pun intended). I was used to eating cereal or a toast with grated tomato. But I was living in the UK back then and, on a grey Sunday morning, I decided to give that dish that I saw at every pub a chance. And it was one of the highlights of a pretty awful weekend trip.
Upon arrival, me and my two companions, a dear friend of mine and another co-worker, took a cab to our youth hostel. However, once we arrived at the address listed on the website, such hostel was nowhere to be found. The cab driver was so nice to drive us around a little and we ended up at the front yard of a very luxurious hotel by the same name of our supposed hostel. We walked in, very confused, as our taxi drove away. After waiting at the reception desk a little bit, this guy walked us to a very old and decrepit building nearby, without any hostel sign of any sort. We looked at each other and feared for our organs, but we hadn’t anywhere else to sleep and it was getting late. So the guy walked us to the last floor, where we were sharing a room with a broken window and what we were pretty sure was a vampire.
Our roommate was a thirty-something year old attached to a bottle of whiskey. He worked, or so he said, at a bar, so he slept during the day and didn’t leave until the dark hours. He was tall and very thin and pale. He dressed in black and we never saw him eating anything but popcorn. He drank his booze out of a mug and told us he was actually living in that room and wasn’t interested in finding a real place. This way, he explained, he didn’t have to clean (I think nobody thought there someone had to clean anyway) and it was pretty inexpensive. He approached me with what I guess was an attempt of seductive smile and told me he also liked the fact that he met so many people there. And then he made a proposition I will not reproduce here.
Long story short, I didn’t sleep at all that night. On the one hand, I was scared that the vampire would come back, even more drunk, and climb into my bed or something. On the other hand, I have never been so cold in my entire life. And I have lived in the Poconos and traveled to Iceland, but still. It was just 1º Celsius (34 Fahrenheit) outside, but the linen in those beds was not prepared for a cracked window.
And, you want to know what? That was not the worst part of the weekend. We were in a historically exciting, culturally vibrant, aesthetically beautiful British town, and all our colleague could do was complaining. About what, you ask? Easy: EVERYTHING. We walked too fast. We visited too many places. We ate only three times a day plus snacks. We chose the wrong restaurant. We wanted to do as much stuff as possible during our trip, how dare we! All night dreading the wretched bartender, when the real energy vampire was with us all along.
The thing is, she is a nice person and we had a decent number of things in common, that’s why we invited her over. But apparently, she just didn’t like to do… stuff. She was the kind of person who wanted to go out just to be able to say in social media she was out but didn’t really enjoy whatever plan she joined. As a matter of fact, even when she had been complaining literally the whole time about literally everything, and even though the last day I snapped at her pretty harshly, once we got back to London I read her Facebook status update saying how amazing the weekend was and how much fun she had with us. My friend and I shared a good laugh. Oh, well, what are you going to do? At least I discovered eggs Benedict, didn’t I?
You can find Bearnaise sauce in most supermarkets, but I prefer to make my own. Is not that difficult, and it tastes way better.
- 2 egg yolks
- 100 g butter (approx. 1/2 cup)
- 3 Tbsp white wine
- 2 Tbsp vinegar
- One small shallot
- Some capers
- Fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer the finely chopped onion in the wine, the vinegar and the butter. If you don’t like to find the little onion pieces, discard them, and whisk the yolks with the reduction without turning off the heat. Be careful the mix is not too hot and don’t stop stirring so that the eggs don’t curdle. Meanwhile, incorporate the finely chopped capers and tarragon leaves. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens.
Place loosely a sheet of plastic wrap on top of a glass and crack one egg there. Add a little salt, black pepper and olive oil, and make a little ball with the plastic wrap, as shown in the picture:
When you have all your eggs wrapped in their new plastic shell, drop them in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how runny you like them. Unwrap them and cover them with the Bearnaise sauce. You can also sprinkle them with some chives, like they used to do in one of my favorite brunch places in Barcelona until they hipstered up:
Some people like them with bacon, others with salmon, others with spinach… I’ve tried them all and I cannot choose a favorite. Well, that’s a big fat lie. Bacon. It’s always bacon.
Also, I’ve had them with an English muffin, with waffles, with brioches, with grilled bread, with French toast… your call!
Sometimes you have to eat brunch by yourself, and that’s alright. It is certainly better than having brunch with the wrong travel partner. I learned that the hard way, but when I did, I started traveling by myself and LOVING it. So far I’ve been to France, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Japan and the United States by myself; and I’m about to go to another solo trip to Asia pretty soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling with friends and family when I know we are compatible. However, if my people are not available for a trip I want to take, I don’t hesitate to jump into that plain/train/car alone. I know for some doesn’t sound very appealing, but when I gave a chance to the crazy idea of eggs for breakfast I discovered one of my favorite dishes ever. Same with solo traveling. Now that I have already learned how to make eggs Benedict… I don’t need another grey weekend with vampires.