Archive for breakfast

breakfast across philly: first, south

Posted in delicious stories, vague recipes with tags on December 31, 2009 by thatwasdelicious
Red-eye gravy

Red-eye gravy and the best damn peach sauce in the Union

I know a man who can make a mean breakfast. A mean, salty, eggy, kale filled, grits done just right, piles of fried green tomatoes with pancakes and coffee breakfast. One Messr. M. Wooten.

The first time I met Matt I was newly arrived to Mendoza. I had spent the night before on a bus traveling from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. Lilli had met me at the bus station, sitting in a cafe wrapped in her familiar blue hoodie, cup of coffee and some delicious pastry in front of her, nose deep in a book. We sat for a while in the bus station sipping coffee and trying, with limited success, to piece together the tales from our lives since she had left the Larchwood house the March before. We started threads of conversations, got lost down others, tried to tell one story and then had to back track to tell the story right and then another one… and so on. In the midst of this piled up conversation she stopped suddenly and said, I have to to tell you about Matt.

Would you believe it, I had found Lillian Dunn romanced in beautiful Mendoza by an American, a Georgian to be specific, boy? There had been rumbles about this Matt person through emails the weeks before I had arrived in Argentina but sitting there in person and watching beautiful Lilli with her hair longer and more golden, her body more sure of itself (she had taken to swimming), and her normally exuberant energy anchored in a way that was new to me talk about this Matt, I was transfixed. In front of me was a love story in all of its glory–heightened perhaps by the place that the two of them had found themselves but in no way a fantasy. Who, I wondered, could this person be?

Lilli and I walked back through the quiet plaza streets. At the early hour of 8 o’clock most of the citizens had just retired from their night of carousing. As we passed by a pastry shop a group of teenagers shuffled by, the girls carrying their shoes in their hands and leaning on the arms of the boys in the group. I carried my backpack and she carried the canvas bag I had brought with me from Nepal. The plazas were cool in the morning sun, the trees a bright green, the mountains could be seen in the distance, early summer had indeed arrived to this part of the world.

We walked up the stairs of then Matt’s, soon to be Lilli’s, treehouse apartment. The Treehouse is a rooftop apartment. It has a glassed in porch room that looks out over a patio and is just big enough for a small wooden table, a futon, and a gas stove. The kitchen is long and narrow and the bedroom is capped with a skylight. The patio looks out over the tree tops and has enough room for a grill, a wash line, and a hammock. It is a beautiful, beautiful place. Somewhere between a boat and a treehouse really….

I can’t remember if the first time I met Matt was in this Treehouse or if it was later but what I do remember thinking to myself is, This boy is different and I like him. There was also a sense of the familiar, but that could have been because upon first meeting he gave me a big hug, sat down on the couch with me and got into an involved and very intelligent conversation, and then took me to the market where we planned and bought the ingredients for the asado that Lilli and Matt were hosting at their place later that night. How could that not feel somehow familiar?

And then there was Lilli: she sat back, sat at the table watching the two of us, I am not sure what she was thinking but for the first time I had the sense that she was not worried about this person, this relationship, this time. She was genuinely, sincerely, unconcernedly, presently enjoying that moment.

So that was Argentina. The next time I saw Matt is was again a summer’s day but this time it was a summer’s day in Philadelphia. Matt had decided that he would take a year, move to Philadelphia with Lilli, work on building and rebuilding houses, and see what happened.

Lilli found an apartment in South Philly. It is on a block near a street where there are lights strung up for all parts of the year. Most of the yards boast basil plants and wild patches of overgrown tomatoes. The window in their living room looks out over the city and the street is quiet at night. They have one of the best pizza places in South Philly a block from their door and their downstairs neighbor has a cat and is writing a novel. Lilli decided that this apartment was the one for them when the landlord told her that they could do what fixing up they wanted and she found a domino (the number 4, the number of stability and growing relationships) on the floor. Since they have moved in Matt has painted the bedroom yellow, they have outfitted the house with a rocking chair and comfortable futon and nearly the entire contents of an old Italian lady’s home (she was moving in with her daughter-in-law…). They ripped up the tile and uncovered a hardwood floor. Matt has made counter space and rack to hang the pots and pans on and in the first part of the summer had covered the dinning room table with the seedlings that would get transplanted into his garden. They have rescued pieces of other homes that Matt has worked on and incorporated them into tables, coat racks, bookshelves. Lilli has filled the house with beautiful, sometimes strange objects, and piles and piles of books.

And it is here that sometimes I feel more at home than in my own small apartment on the other side of the city. Especially on Sunday mornings.

professional weekenders

And this is the long way of getting to the breakfasts that Matt knows how to make. I can’t exactly remember what prompted the first breakfast or what it included since there have been many breakfasts since and they tend to blur together. But here are some particularly delicious moments that do stand out, a la Matt:

-Arriving at Matt and Lilli’s door. Lilli answered in blue sweatpants and a sweatshirt and when Joe and I had climbed the three flights of stairs to their apartment, there was Matt, in the doorway, with a cup of coffee in his outstretched hand for us.

-Matt brought back salted ham from home and made red eye gravy (coffee, fat rendered from the ham, combine). That when over grits.

-In the later summer when there was an abundance of green tomatoes, Matt made fried green tomatoes. He used a combination of white flour and cornmeal, salt and pepper, dredged the tomatoes in egg and dipped in the flour and then fried. The tomatoes were crunchy and even a little sweet in their salty fried crusts. Again, more eggs, probably some greens, some grits, some salted ham….

-The last harvest of kale came in a week or two into December and Matt made a frittata with the kale (which was sweet and slightly chewy without being tough and such a bright, deep, green) and onions and that was accompanied by grits and bacon and pancakes.

These are the breakfasts that you eat and that leave you satisfied for the rest of the day. These are the breakfasts that get people up and out of bed and across town (or at least off the futon) and on more than one occasion in the making, the eating, or the cleaning up of these breakfasts I have wanted to propose marriage to this whole mess of people or at least propose commune.