By Michael Venezia
Photography by Shanda Crowe
I must admit that I prefer brunch to breakfast. My morning begins with a cup or two of coffee, toasted wheat or sourdough bread garnished with some Kerrygold Irish butter and fig jam. As the minutes of the morning tick away, I become anxious for more substantial food and beverage. Weekend brunch options enjoyed with appropriate wines will usher in your afternoon with a relaxed and satisfied feeling of contentment. In addition to aiding digestion, many fine low alcohol wines are delightfully refreshing and exceedingly rewarding when enjoyed in moderation with your favorite brunch menu.
Our morning meal is often driven by the diverse cultural, geographic and demographic influences found throughout Cobb County.
Some burning questions still resonate in my mind and perhaps will never be answered. Are Wheaties still the breakfast of champions? Will a daily regimen of Cheerios reduce cholesterol? Are Pop Tarts a breakfast food?
Our demanding personal and professional schedules usually prevent families from enjoying a sense of togetherness in the morning. Sometimes it is breakfast on the run. A stop at the drive thru at McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin, or a visit to the bakery counter of your favorite grocery store for a bear claw. No need for discussing suggested wines to enjoy with these popular breakfast items.
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, without a doubt, a late morning brunch with a glass or two of wine is effective in stimulating your mind and body. So let’s examine three food and wine marriages that are nutritious and delicious.
THE INCREDIBLE EGG
Preparing an omelet at home requires very little work and with your selected ingredients, this simple yet elegant meal can be enjoyed with wine. A three egg omelette, sliced shitake mushroom caps, shallots and diced bacon with gruyere cheese garnished with fresh herbs is very enjoyable with a glass of riesling. A low alcohol, unoaked medium dry style German riesling will accent the combination of flavors captured in the omelette. With delicate white stone fruit flavors and fresh acidity, riesling works very well with the combined earthy overtones of the mushroom and bacon accented by the soft melting texture of the warm cheese. Those assets contribute to a wonderful food and wine synergy and exalts your signature egg creation.
A few of my favorite German rieslings include St. M from the Pfalz, Dr. Loosen Spatlese from the Mosel, and a Rheingau from Prince Von Hessen.
When not at home, my wife Patti and I enjoy an occasional Sunday morning omelet or egg skillet dish at the J’ Christopher’s on Powers Ferry Road. The atmosphere is very relaxing and over the years many of Patti’s former Wheeler High School students have worked as servers. The restaurant offers delicious pancakes, yummy grits and wonderful biscuits. Alas, they do not offer wine but if they did I’d order a glass of Riesling to go with the meal.
I have lived half of my 64 years in Cobb County but my formative years in the ’50s and ’60s were spent in the borough of New York City called Brooklyn. The foods enjoyed in those days somewhat define who I am, and I still hunger for the ethnic foods found in the borough of “F u h g e d d a b o u i t.”
In the Jewish dominated neighborhoods of Boro Park or Williamsburg, many independent bagel bakeries serve the needs of the community at large. Popular with the New York City’s melting pot population, hot bagels, bialys and a selection of appetizing accompaniments are sold throughout the day and well into the night. Staffed by bearded Kosher-observant Jewish men, the talented bakers still create the quintessential New York bagel that is truly “to die for.” The secret ingredient is the magical qualities of the New York City water. Happily now closer to home the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company has successfully accomplished the task of duplicating this unique flavor contribution of texture, density and depth of flavor to make these bagels special.
Located near the Galleria Centre in Cumberland, this popular restaurant has an authentic menu that is honest and genuine. The technologically filtered “Brooklynized” water used in the bagel making process is the key ingredient to the soul of the bagel. My favorite is the “everything bagel,” tastefully garnished with garlic, onion, salt, poppy and sesame seeds. Enjoyed with a schmear of cream cheese and sliced smoked salmon, it is magnificent anytime of the day. Media personality Larry King is the mind behind the restaurant and he has created the perfect eat in or take out environment for the bagel meal. Efficient service, nostalgic Brooklyn atmosphere, and its convenient location make it a popular destination. My preferred choice of wine to accompany this delicacy is a glass of Prosecco. A popular Italian sparkling wine, it can be also enjoyed with a splash of orange juice for a delicious Mimosa. The market has many brands to offer and often the words Brut or Extra Dry appear on the label. If you prefer a very dry example choose a Brut, or if you like a wine with some subtle sweetness opt for the Extra Dry style. So get a takeout order and enjoy at home with a chilled glass or two of Prosecco.
A well-known winery outpost for locals and visitors is The Breakfast Club on Tybee Island. Through the years I have enjoyed many delicious meals at this very popular eatery with my friend Sandy Hollander. Owner of 45 Bistro in the Marshall House Hotel on Broughton Street, Sandy knows his way around a kitchen and his truck knows the way to this iconic Tybee Island landmark restaurant. In the season, the line forms early and hungry patrons wait their turn to enter this culinary breakfast nirvana. e always wait for two counter seats in full view of the team of line cooks creating their wizardry on the flat top grill.
Their execution of the extensive menu is a marvel to behold and the symphony of sights, sounds and smells as the dishes are assembled is a thing of beauty.
This family owned and operated diner, whose chef is a Culinary Institute of America graduate, is a must when your travels bring you to the Georgia coast. All the sausage and sauces are made from scratch, all prep work is done on site and freshness and cooking to order is the driving theme of the great diner. My favorite dish is the low country omelette. Local Georgia white shrimp sautéed with homemade Polish sausage, and diced potato and onion. Rolled in a three egg omelet with Monterey Jack cheese, grits and toast, it is very wine friendly.
A chilled dry French Rose of Provence will do nicely to compliment this beautiful flavor riot. Along with the ocean breeze of the Atlantic, a dry rose will create a palate flavor combination worthy of a dish created by the CIA trained chef owner. I have a trip scheduled later in the summer and I will bring a bottle to enjoy and test my theory out in real time.
So with the right combination of food and wine it is never too late or too early to find that perfect pairing to leisurely weekend late breakfast or brunch.