Eggs: Not just for Easter
It’s springtime and I am smitten with eggs. While everyone else, it seems, is dying them and hunting for them, I will fry them in plenty of salty butter and let them drip over a slice of rustic toast. I will scramble them with soy and ginger into leftover rice. I will boil them gently till firm, but their insides still incredibly soft, of course, and dip long ‘soldiers’ of toast into their golden yolks with nothing more than a crunchy sprinkling of Australian pink salt. If I am eating my weight in eggs, it must be spring.
I can understand the popularity of an oversized omelet, stuffed to overflowing with smoky ham, oozing melted cheese. Who, for crying out loud, wouldn’t gobble up a spicy pile of huevos rancheros, a messy mixture of creamy beans and warm tortillas? I can appreciate the fact that the love for eggs takes all forms and comes in an endless amount of preparations. Although for me, I am in love with simple.
For me, there is nothing more delicious on a Sunday morning or for a late night supper, than a perfectly runny, simple poached egg. Truly delicious, happily perched on top of a double toasted English muffin, the lush yolk snuggling comfortably into the crunchy nooks and crannies, finished with nothing more than a drizzle of peppery olive oil and more good salt. A poached egg or two makes an elegant, not to mention ridiculously easy, spring meal when served a top a shallow bowlful of those aforementioned spring vegetables, all quickly sautéed with nothing more than a knob of butter, a splash of chicken stock, if you desire, and a few snips of fresh chive.
Oh eggs. Is there something more comforting than homemade egg salad? I believe that it has sort of gotten a bad rap over the years. Egg salad has sadly earned a reputation for being a fattening deli staple, mashed to death and laden with yucky sweet mayonnaise. Unfortunately, that is typically the case. Good egg salad? Oh, it is so good. Local eggs, boiled until the yolk is just set, the color of a golden Sonoma sunset, gently chopped and mixed with a lemony homemade mayonnaise, possibly a tiny dash of curry powder or a handful of chopped dill folded in. Now, that is good egg salad, completely addictive eaten straight from the bowl with a spoon or even better yet when generously piled on a slice of grilled bread and eaten open-faced. Even better yet when finished with a slice or two (or three!) of smoked salmon or topped with peppery watercress and always, always, that generous sprinkling of good salt!
I don’t eat eggs all that frequently, so when I do, I am passionate about where they’re coming from. I hadn’t lived in Sonoma all that long when I plonked down my first six bucks for a dozen eggs from the farmer’s market. All the time thinking, “I can’t believe I just paid six bucks for a dozen eggs.” They were the most lovely shade of pastels that I had ever seen: soft brown and pale, pale blue. Each one a milky, creamy white or a faded, grassy green. They were almost too beautiful to eat. I kept them in an antique Ironstone bowl on my counter where I could gaze at them each time I came into the kitchen, their simply sitting there, like a painting, I realized was worth the six dollars alone.
I mustered up the gumption one evening to crack a few into my favorite little mixing bowl, with plans for an adorned omelet for supper, nothing more than a pinch of fine herbs thrown in… très française. The first egg slipped from it’s shell and landed gently into the bowl. I stood motionless for many minutes as I peered into the bowl. That egg practically brought tears to my eyes. Its yolk, the most brilliant orange, sat high above its white, a more gorgeous egg I know I had never seen before. I cracked the other egg and it too was stunning. As I whipped them excitedly with a fork, I knew there and then that there was just no going back. As I sat down to my omelet that evening and took my first bite, the first bite of the best omelet I have ever eaten, I knew that there was no going back to those grocery store eggs.
So, this spring, I will think more sincerely about eggs. Local, yummy, healthy eggs. Our picnics will feature frittatas with just the tips of Delta asparagus, dots of super soft farmer’s cheese, and possibly a puree of fresh sautéed nettles. I will enrich my go-to Monday night dinner of homemade gingered chicken broth, simple but for floating bits of fresh spinach and perfect cubes of silken tofu, by dropping in a few, fat eggs. Sundays, when there are ends left uneaten from a few of our favorite Della Fattoria loaves hardening on the counter, I do believe we shall soak them in a couple of eggs whisked with a generous amount of Straus cream. As we linger over lattes, they will be left to bake gently, the best brunch, served with a drizzle of warm, smashed strawberries. Eggs, no matter how I enjoy them, all the better with a bottle of Gloria Blanc de Noir, and a toast to spring.
On the Menu
Head to Petaluma and to McClelland’s Dairy for an “Easter Egg Hunt & Traditional Farm Tour” this Saturday, March 30, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Guests will first learn about the history of the farm, pet baby calves in the nursery, milk a cow by hand, watch cows being milked in the parlor, then stroll through the farm store and taste their delicious European Style Organic Artisan Butter all during the tour of this working dairy and farm. Finally, kids will hunt to find hard boiled eggs from the farm’s own grass fed chickens! Visit Mcclellandsdairy.com or call 664.0452 for details.
Napa’s Silverado Resort and Spa invites locals and visitors alike to celebrate the spring holidays with a special “Easter Buffet” on Sunday, March 31. Guests will enjoy festive spring dishes from the very talented Chef Jeffrey Jake such as hot smoked salmon with farm egg and buttery brioche and a fresh Dungeness Crab Louie. The Easter bunny will be making an appearance for the kids, and parents have the option to add on a sparkling wine and Bloody Mary bar experience. In addition, Silverado will be offering an “Easter High Tea” on Saturday, March 30 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Royal Oak restaurant. The experience, complete with a live magic show, includes traditional treats such as tea sandwiches, scones, and petits fours is a great way to kick off the holiday weekend. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 257.5431.
On Sunday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. join Andrea of Quarter Acre Farm for a morning of tomato education during her now famous “Tasty Tomato Talk!” During this class, you’ll learn the ABC’s of successfully growing the most delicious tomatoes at home. The topics that will be covered include choosing which varieties to grow, how many plants to grow, deciding on their location within the garden, transplanting tomatoes, watering for healthy plants and tasty fruit, and pruning for less leaves and more fruit. The cost is only $10 per person and will be held at the Stone House (HWY 12 Properties office) at 147 East Spain Street. Reservations are required as space is very limited. RSVP to Quarteracre-tomato.brownpapertickets.com.
Observe Earth Day at Jack London Park as you raise a glass of wine to toast the land we cherish so much during “Sonoma Valley’s Earth Day Wine & Walk Celebration.” On April 20 and 21, participating Sonoma Valley wineries will donate a percentage of their weekend’s sales to Jack London Park. Interested guests can first stop at those wineries supporting Jack London Park, and then possibly enjoy their winery purchases with a picnic at the park. Savoring the wines that are made from the abundant Sonoma Valley vineyards combined with experiencing the 1400 acres and 20 plus miles of trails in Jack London Park is an ideal way to mark Earth Day. Participating wineries include Bartholemew Park, Benziger Family Winery, Envolve Winery, Gundlach Bundshu Winery, Hanzell, Imagery Estate Winery, Kaz Winery, Mayo Family Winery, Moondance Cellars, Ravenswood Winery, VJB Cellars among others. For more information please call 938.5216 or visit Jacklondonpark.com.
French Toast with Warm Strawberries
- 3 large, local eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 (1-lb) rustic baguette, cut crosswise into 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices (not including end pieces)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups strawberries
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)
- 1 tablespoon Grande Marnier
- Garnish: confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, and salt until blended. Pour into a large baking pan and soak bread slices in 1 layer, turning once, 8 minutes. Purée 1 1/2 cups berries with sugar and Grande Marnier in a blender. If you want to eliminate seeds, force purée through a very fine sieve into a bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl and fold in remaining berries. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet or griddle over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Transfer 4 soaked bread slices to skillet with a slotted spatula and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Cook remaining bread in 2 batches, adding more butter as needed. Transfer slices as cooked to a large shallow baking pan (using a clean spatula) and, when all are browned, bake in middle of oven until hot, about 5 minutes. Warm berries gently in microwave and serve with French toast immediately.
Kristin Jorgensen is one of Sonoma’s most passionate, food obsessed residents. In this weekly column, she covers all the delicious happenings, foodie events and restaurants in Sonoma, the rest of Wine Country and beyond. Email her with comments, questions, or your food related events at firstname.lastname@example.org.