By Larry Levine –
Dieticians and nutritionists call it the most important meal of the day. Educators tell us it makes a big difference in how a student will learn during the school day.
It’s breakfast, of course, and it confronts us with a constant need to choose between healthy and what we would rather eat.
OK. OK. Calm down. I know, for some people what they would rather eat is also healthy. I eat oatmeal for breakfast probably 90 percent of my mornings. I make it with soy milk. When blueberries are in season in North America, that’s what I mix into the oatmeal in generous amounts. The rest of the year I substitute half a sliced banana. I enjoy my regular oatmeal breakfast.
But ask me about my favorite breakfast and the answer won’t be oatmeal. In fact, I don’t have one favorite breakfast. I have several and most of them would not meet the definition of healthy.
I love pan fried pork chops with poached or fried eggs. I love a full English fry up: bacon, bangers, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, blood sausage, and bread all fried in butter and served with Heinz vegetarian beans. I love a salumi and cheese breakfast with tomatoes and cantaloupe as only Italy can produce. I love a lox, cod fish and white fish sandwich on a plain bagel with cream cheese, onion and tomato. I love lox and eggs and onions with caramelized onions.
None of these would thrill my cardiologist. But I don’t do any of them often. At the same time, she would be thrilled to know I love the traditional Japanese breakfast I get in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles or at the Kapalua Resort on Maui – miso soup, broiled or grilled fish, an egg, dried seaweed, steamed rice, tofu, daikon radish, a pickled plum.
When all is said and done, what’s most important in our breakfast choices is balance and moderation. It’s our overall diets that matter, not what we do in any single meal. With this in mind, I intended to ask the co-hosts of the restaurant recommendation website atLarrys.com to tell us about their favorite breakfasts and then publish their answers. Owing to the serendipity of electronic communications, I mistakenly invited not just the co-hosts, but also the entire email promotion list for this online food magazine to participate.
Here is what some of them had to offer regarding what they order when they cook breakfast at home or order breakfast in a restaurant. (All named locations are in California.)
My friend Jim Hayes –
“Just get corned beef hash in there.”
atLarrys co-host Larry Sheingold –
“Sorry to be mundane, but my favorite breakfast is the one I make every morning — steel cut oatmeal and fruit. About half a cup oatmeal in a bowl with fruit of the season. In the summer that’s peaches. Microwave for three minutes. It comes out almost like pie filling. With no sugar added. Less time in the microwave means crunchier fruit. Apples, berries, cherries, bananas. All work. Any combination. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a dose of sugar, salt and fat to start the day occasionally.
“Then, I like the house made corned beef hash with over easy egg or lemon yogurt pancakes at Katrina’s in Auburn, or the cinnamon buns at the farmer’s market in Davis. Saturday mornings, or the spicy pork quesadillas at Nopalito’s in East Sacramento.
“At home, it would be an everything bagel sandwich with over easy egg and thick bacon.”
Former State Senator Rod Wright –
“I have a few. I really like Eggs Benedict with sausage or bacon. Shrimp and grits always a favorite. The Mud Hen Tavern on Highland Ave. just north of Melrose in L.A. does a Chicken Croquette, deep fried in a waffle batter, fabulous.”
Lecturer, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Rick Tuttle –
“Three eggs scrambled, a hamburger patty, and a couple of slices of tomato. Coffee, black, two cups.”
Family friend Paula Morgan –
“Besides what I cook at home, I like Brent’s Deli in Northridge or Joe’s Cafe in Granada Hills. My favorite is a custardy French toast with fresh fruit and spicy sausage.”
atLarrys co-host Jeff Daar –
“Three that quickly come to mind: Greek omelet, chillaquilles, bagel, lox and cream cheese. Of course great espresso.”
Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield –
“My standard/favorite breakfast is an omelet with spinach, cheese (usually jack or Havarti, but Swiss or cheddar will do), sliced turkey, and turkey bacon, or real bacon. Add home fries, sweet potato fries, or tomato to be a little healthier and you’ve got a great meal.
“MatzaBri with syrup is great during Passover and other times of year, when one wants some comfort.”
My friend Nancy Dolan –
“Gerren and I love to go to The Good Neighbor in the San Fernando Valley. The service is great and the order is always perfect. We both love eggs benedict, (done right, with just the right amount of lemon) and for me the second choice is ham and eggs with the ham scrambled with the eggs. For Gerren it’s crispy bacon and eggs over easy.”
Howard Welinsky, Senior Vice President, Warner Bros. Pictures –
“Bea’s or Patty’s in Toluca Lake.”
Jason Levin, Communications Deputy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield –
“I love breakfast at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, but I never order on menu. Wheat toast, over easy eggs, avocado and a half grapefruit is all I need.”
“The best pancakes in California are at Elmer’s in Palm Springs. Park Tavern and Foreign Cinema in San Francisco have interesting high-end breakfasts/brunches.”
Keith Weaver, Executive Vice-President, Sony Entertainment –
“Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach. Too many calories to eat there too often, but yum.”
atLarrys.com co-host Larry Dietz –
“Since I’m allergic to lightly cooked onions, my order is lox and eggs, no onions, slice of tomato on the side, water bagel toasted with butter.”
“If there were a way of having flannel cakes for breakfast at Musso and Frank’s Grill in Hollywood …”
“And wasn’t a “rasher” of bacon 6 slices, way back when?
“Speaking of bacon, the bacon I would order with my flannel cakes would be Danish (cured with brine) from Marconda Meats in the Los Angeles Farmers’ Market.”
Democratic National Committeemember Mary Ellen Early –
“My favorite place for breakfast business meetings is Marmalade Cafe in Sherman Oaks. Remember the outstanding frittatas. Portions are generous, and I usually take home enough for a couple more meals.”
Firefighter Andy Fox, Thousand Oaks, CA City Councilmember –
“Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle. All locations.
“Cici’s in Tarzana. A huge variety of delicious pancake selections and egg dishes. Need to get there early in morning or you will wait. It’s always packed.”
Political Consultant Josh Pulliam –
“In no particular order:
“Los Angeles – Chateau Marmont; sit on the patio and eat soft boiled eggs and accoutrement with French press coffee. Portos: meat pie and Cuban coffee. Best deal in LA, (80 cents each for a meat pie.
“San Francisco – Tartine Bakery for the best quiche in CA.
“Napa – Five Dot Ranch. Oxbow: sausage and egg biscuit
“Yountville – Bouchon for corned beef hash or smoked salmon.
“Sonoma – Fremont Diner: anything on the menu. Kentucky Hot Brown: waffles, biscuits.
“Sacramento – Napolitos: best pancakes in Sacramento.
“Carmel – Little Swiss Café: pancakes, raisin toast.
Lobbyist Steve Afriat –
“Nat’s Early Bite in Sherman Oaks. Elmer’s in Palm Springs. Bea Bea’s in Burbank. Art’s Deli in Studio City.
Golfing buddy Irv Cherno –
“I enjoy bacon (crisp), eggs over easy, hash brown potatoes and a biscuit at Eggs ‘n’ Things in Thousand Oaks. I mix and mash the eggs into the potatoes, sprinkle some pepper on the mess and enjoy.
“Oh, yes…lots of coffee.
atLarrys.com co-host Victor Griego –
“Pie and Burger – the thin pancakes and bacon. Bun and Burger – the chilaquiles.
Golfing buddy Mike Cornner –
“When I make breakfast at home, I make scrambled eggs. My kids say they are fluffy not stuffy. I use a good bit of cheese and lots of onion flakes with a dab of Worstershire sauce.
“When eating out, I like steak and eggs or eggs Benedict or eggs over easy with hash browns at the club.”
Niece Karen Fishwick, owner of Ragamuffins Café in West Malling, Kent, England –
“It goes without saying that the Full English is very popular. Two Cumberland sausages (rich in spice and full of flavour), 2 thick rashers of bacon, 2 eggs usually poached, hash browns, mushrooms and beans all washed down with a nice cuppa!!!
“More recently people are being a bit more adventuresome. Our scrambled egg feast proving ever more popular (2 doorstep toast with scrambled eggs, with a topping made from peppers, mushrooms, red onion and tomatoes). Another ‘new’ favourite is Stilton and mushrooms on 2 doorstep toast, the trend from this being that more of our customers are going vegetarian. On a personal note, if I or my sons go out for ‘breakki’, Christian will choose poached eggs and spinach on toast; I will go for eggs benedict, and Ryan? You guessed it a full English!!!!”
atLarrys.com co-host Michelle Reynolds –
“My favorite breakfast is spaghetti with amatriciana sauce, particularly made at home in the wee hours, after a fun night out with friends. I also like bagels with salmon, red onion and capers; and spicy ramen. I don’t eat eggs so my favorite breakfasts are a little unconventional.
“My favorite breakfast restaurants in Sacramento are The Grange, Cafe Capriccio, and Deere’s.
The Grange’s menu changes daily but everything is excellent. It’s always so hard to choose! At Cafe Capriccio, I typically order the crispy taco with potatoes and cheese. It is delicious: warm, creamy with a terrific texture thanks to the red cabbage accompaniment. At Devere’s, I love the cheddar scallion biscuits and gravy. Fantastic!
“Amatriciana is fairly controversial, but I make mine the traditional way, with tomatoes, cured pork and cheese. I add onions, which is not customary but I love them just the same, and that’s how my mom makes it.
“I like lox, when I’m on the East Coast. When out here, I toast bagels, smear cream cheese, and top with chunked roasted salmon, red onion and capers.”
atLarrys.com co-host Lloyd Levine (my son) –
“I love breakfast, a good, hearty breakfast. I like omelets, steak and eggs, pancakes, etc. I love lox and eggs and onions. To pick a favorite from. all of those would be impossible. So, I have narrowed it down to two things:
1) The traditional lox, codfish, whitefish breakfasts that we had at grandma and grandpa’s house growing up. I like them for the bagels, the fish, the flavors, but also for the family aspect of the meal, and now the tradition.
2) Other than that I would say breakfast is the meal where I enjoy/exercise restraint. I have found a healthy, go to breakfast that I enjoy and eat without fail. It gets my day off to a good start and doesn’t load me up with high fat, high sugar, high calorie foods. I pretty much eat that breakfast 7 days a week unless I am in a hotel. I find it also helps prevent weight gain by offsetting any high calorie meals I might eat later in the day.