Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pain Perdu

During our SOCA weekend, our young host took us to a weekly event that he knew we'd enjoy, a farmer's market just around the corner from his apartment. The morning was sunny and crisp, just perfect for wandering the market in search of dinner fixings and breakfast.

Down there the farmer's market, in addition to a lovely, laid-back vibe somewhat missing from the market I usually frequent, includes services such as dog sitters who keep your pooch in shady comfort under their tent with other dogs, water and snacks while you stroll the market they are not allowed in. The market management pays for this service but tips are gratefully accepted and it's good publicity for their dog-sitting service. I think I have found my next career.

The market also boasts booths where they will cook your omelet, waffle or French toast to order. Our group of seven ordered at least one of each, and all reported that their breakfasts were delicious. I've always been a sucker for French toast, so I ordered that, then wandered off to get a cup of coffee at the next booth while my breakfast was prepared.

When I returned, it was just in time to see my breakfast being flipped by this young chef in the red jacket and plated, topped with real butter and honest-to-goodness real maple syrup poured from a jug so large it must have cost $100 or more.

From the first bite, however, I knew this was like no French toast I had ever tasted. I strolled back over to read their description and realized that this is "pain perdu," the very frugal French version of French toast (yeah, I know). In French, "Pain perdu" means "lost bread." Yesterday's stale bread is soaked overnight in the egg-and-milk mixture until it becomes mush, then sautéed in butter the next morning, the bread being "lost" in the egg mixture. At this stand, the resulting mixture had a consistency not unlike oatmeal when it went into the pan to be chopped with a spatula and smooshed around until it set enough to flip it. I wasn't quick enough with my camera to catch my breakfast in the air, even though it was flipped several times before plating. Our young chef's version was studded with bright red fresh cranberries and golden raisins, tart and sweet surprises to discover as I enjoyed every single bite.

We sat under an umbrella, all seven of us crowded around the table enjoying omelets, pain perdu and waffles, laughing and swapping stories on a sunny SOCA morning.

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Blogger Kailyn said...

That sounds absolutely wonderful.

Saturday, February 27, 2010  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

Pain Perdu sounds like the bit of the bread & butter pudding you find under the lovely crusty brown bit on top! I must give it a go.

Saturday, February 27, 2010  
Blogger Greg said...

Pain Perdu! They could lose some bread over hear.

Saturday, February 27, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I didn't know it was chopped up! Like fried bread pudding?
I love the overnight soaking; it makes custard.

Saturday, February 27, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Kailyn, the whole day was. Just lovely.

Morgan, I'm going to try making it at home, too. It's too far to drive 400 miles to get my next taste.

Greg, try it on your next batch of stale bread!

Cookiecrumb, I didn't, either, and perhaps this isn't classic? I was surprised, too, but it was quite good with the addition of tart cranberries and sweet raisins.

Sunday, February 28, 2010  

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