61 down. 40 to go.
When I first moved into the city back in ’04 (crazy!), I went out to brunch almost every weekend. Partly because I rarely went food shopping, partly because I wasn’t a very good cook, and mostly because I was too lazy to scramble my own eggs. And I also enjoyed going out to brunch. I’d happily chow down on my over priced omelet while reminiscing about the previous night’s events and throwing back bottomless cups of coffee, or bloody marys if I was feeling saucy or hungover.
As I got older and time went on, brunch became less and less frequent. Instead of going out to eat, I’d stay in and cook my own food. Ironically, I was too lazy to leave my own apartment. And, I also learned how to cook breakfast. I can make a mean omelet, scramble up some eggs, and I’ve even poached an egg or two in my time. Or maybe I’d just have some yogurt, granola and fresh fruit instead. I’m crazy like that. Not that I didn’t enjoy going out for brunch anymore, but I realized it wasn’t worth spending the money to go out when I could just as easily make it at home.
Fast forward to present day. There are more than a few breakfast sandwiches that made the list. Most of these are not offered as part of the dinner menu, or even the normal lunch menu. And because of my 9-6 work schedule, most of these sandwiches have been pushed to the back of the list. And guess what? We’re getting to the back of the list. Therefore, brunch is back, baby.
So, on an overcast Sunday morning, I trekked up to Columbus Circle to meet my brother, Rusty, at Bar Boulud for brunch. We sat outside, ordered two croque-monsieurs, and tried our best to blend in at this fancy establishment. A croque-monsieur is essentially a fancy ham and cheese sandwich. This is one brunch item that my eyes would typically glaze right over, but today I was happy to order it knowing that I have no idea how to make it at home.
This croque-monsieur includes slices of hot ham, béchamel sauce, which is a white sauce made of milk, flour and butter, two slices of sour dough bread, and gruyere cheese. A lot of gruyére cheese. We’re talking many, many cows involved in making just one sandwich. This thing had cheese coming out of all ends, and was covered by a blanket of gruyére. It was intense, it was decadent, it was rich, and it was fantastic. But because the sandwich was covered with so much cheese, it was physically impossible to pick up. I tried to get Russ to give it a shot, but he resisted. It made us question the definition of a sandwich. I always thought of it as anything between two pieces of bread. Do you need to be able to pick it up? Can you eat it with a fork an knife? These are the questions we contemplated as we sat there that Sunday.
What is a sandwich? Is a sandwich a sandwich? Are we a sandwich? What is a sandwich? One thing we knew for sure though, whatever we were eating, it was delicious.
Bar Boulud | 1900 Broadway between 63rd & 64th Streets