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Peter LaFrance

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why to Witt with Eggs Benedict

Preface: In the late 1800’s, on the island of Manhattan, at either Delmonico’s or the Waldorf, a rich white person either challenged the chef or was suffering from a hangover. The former was a woman and the latter a man. Eggs and hangovers I can understand. I expect the Delmonico’s legend must have been a response to her sense of comfort food. I prefer to believe the Commodore at the Waldorf version of the legend.

Over time this dish has been adapted to respond to as many names as there variations on what you can put between a poached egg and a toasted English muffin before swaddling it all with a rich sauce. A basic list of variations can be found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggs_benedict

The version pictured above is the “Eggs Norwegian” with a slice or two of Norwegian salmon in place of the slice of ham.

Tasting notes…

Appearance: The snowy white eggs, napped with golden yellow sauce, are the upside-down of a well poured Weiss/wheat beer.

Aroma: If you are lucky the notes of toasted bread from the muffin will be wafted upward with the distinct rich aromas from the sauce and the egg. An American Wheat will be crisp and clean the pallet. A Bavarian Witt beer will have sparkling clove and banana aromas that will have nothing in common with the dish but will synergistically create sensory anticipation.

Mouth feel: Both the egg dish and the various versions of wheat beer will have a smooth, rich feel in the mouth. The egg yolk richness needs no introduction and the enthusiastic carbonation of most wheat beers brings a very full mouth filling sensation.

Flavor: Done properly, the richness of the poached eggs enhances the crunch or the toasted bread and, in this case, the salinity of the salmon. The distinctive fruity flavor of the Bavarian Witt or the distinctive acidic flavor spike of Belgian Witt is particularly complementary.

Finish: The creamy rich combination of egg and sauce is nicely chased away by the crisp flavors that most wheat beers have. In particular, the clove flavor of the Bavarian wheat beers and the sparkling finish of American wheat beers are effective in cleansing the pallet.

Comments: I cannot attest to the curative effects of this dish on a hangover. However I can attest to the soothing effects of this as a comfort food. The fact that I am not a “brunch” fan withstanding, this is a dish I will treat myself too when the time is perfect to relax and enjoy. This is not something to be rushed through. It also seems to demand to be served al fresco in the back yard of a small bistro… but I digress.

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