Wednesday, April 27, 2016

America's Best Breakfasts by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman

Readers, I'm a breakfast person. But not breakfast for breakfast most of the time. I like breakfast all day! And I love trying recommended breakfast places when we travel. Like the San Diego place with the mammoth biscuits we couldn't even finish, or the food truck breakfast tacos we had on our last trip to Houston... It's always been this way for me: midnight trips to the local 24-hour diner in my college and post-college years were a heaven of fried eggs and gravy fries, Corned Beef Hash with Dill Hollandaise was kind of a life-changing discovery when we found our favorite brunch place after moving to Colorado, and the fabulous Cajun Benedict concoction I had for lunch on my last trip to Lafayette is the stuff of dreams! And I haven't even mentioned some of our other local favorites we take visitors to here.

All that's to say that I think (or thought) America's Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast would be the absolute perfect cookbook for me. In their newest book Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman highlight some of the best breakfasts from around the country and provide readers with the recipes to make them in their very own kitchens. Yum!

But there are two things I don't love about this book. First, the title and premise are a bit misleading. The authors don't highlight ALL of the states. In fact, they hop skip and jump straight from LA, San Francisco, and Portland over to Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Ohio with nothing in between. That's a whole lot of states not covered by even one highlighted breakfast spot! Now I don't know the reason for this and (most of you don't know this) considering I once wrote cookbooks that required places to agree to have their submitted recipes printed in a book, it could simply be that the authors intended to highlight ALL of the states and had issues getting recipes. I don't know. But there are sections highlighting places without recipes in the book as well, so that still doesn't explain why so many states aren't represented at all.

My second issue with this book is that in perusing the recipes I noticed a lot of them require quite a bit of prep for multiple components, some of which have to be made a day ahead of time. Now, like I said I'm not hellbent on breakfast for breakfast but when I went to make the "Caramelized Grapefruit with Basil Sugar," for example, I was not prepared to have to let the grapefruit chill for at least an hour before I could eat it. It's broiled grapefruit with sugar! And considering it's got olive oil on it, it was essentially cold, greasy grapefruit...

Not all of the recipes were overly complicated or unappealing, though. The "Bacon, Egg, and Cheese 'Paco'" (a brilliant creation courtesy of the Food on a Roll Truck in Miama) is a breakfast wrapped in a pancake (why did I never think to do this?!). "Marlene Schrager's German Breakfast (For Dinner)" is a tasty and easy scramble as is the slightly more time consuming (only slightly) "Devil's Mess" from Richmond, VA's Millie's Diner.

In spite of my above issues, the variety and types of recipes is actually quite nice. There are omelets, crêpes, donuts, breakfast sandwiches, and even pop tart recipes included. There are a number of regional and ethnic dishes as well - "Pozole" (from San Jalisco of San Francisco), "Koko Moco" with a homemade mushroom gravy (from Koko Head Cafe in Honolulu), "Pho Bo" (courtesy of Dông Phuong in New Orleans), Ingrid Hoffman's "Yuca Buns" and an Avena Breakfast Smoothie, and even a Scrapple recipe from DC's Birch & Barley.

And while the "Morning Glory Muffins" (Panther Coffee and Cindy Kruse's Baked Goods in Miami) may have made me dirty every dish in my kitchen to make them and Lambert's (Austin) "Frito Pie" requires the forethought (and self control) of keeping extra brisket on hand after a BBQ meal, the argument could be made that there is enough variety and enough recipes like Versailles' (Miami) "Tortilla de Papas" and Miss Lily's (New York) "Coconut Pancakes" to appease even someone like me who doesn't want to think about breakfast a day ahead of time.

I do still wish there had been more representation of the other states, though.

Rating: 3.5/5

Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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