Forces and influences in my life have colluded to make me obsessed with great breakfasts. Ordinary and even very good breakfasts fade into obscurity quickly, leaving only four memorable breakfasts.
The first was in the mid-eighties at a small restaurant connected to a super-cheap Quality Inn on Sepulveda Blvd in El Segundo near the LAX airport. I’ve discovered that the Quality Inn is now the Belamar Hotel, renovated into a tony whitebread place, so of course the treat is gone. This was a corned beef hash that started the obsession. It was shredded and peppered, then fried with a few thin potato chips, peppers, onions and some sort of light Mexican seasoning. It was served on a chipped plate with mismatched utensils. This changed my life so far as that part of it that lives through taste.
My second great breakfast was at the top of the Hyatt Regency in Sydney, the restaurant that catered to their (then very wealthy) Japanese patrons. I'm actually not sure precisely what it was that I ate, only that it was a rich deep fish and seaweed concoction over rice. This would have been 1986, and I was having a clandestine meeting with Japanese scientists who I admired. This was a layering of flavors, each one distinctly worthwhile, but unforgettable in combination, especially with theconcepts served simultaneously.
The third was offered by a place that seems to also be gone: the Good Earth on University Ave in Palo Alto, a healthy place — healthy for the era. It served a country scramble that resembled corned beef hash that somehow made up in herbs and spices for lack of grease.
I am writing this because recently I had a fourth memorable breakfast, pastrami hash at Founding Farmers in DC at the end of 2010. According to the menu: Pan Roasted Shredded Leek Hash Browns, Poached Eggs, Beef Pastrami and Tangy Creole Mustard Hollandaise.
I recommend the place and plate.
I also recommend having a 30 year sartorial quest.
The quality of the breakfast may have been influenced by the people I was visiting. The event was a symmetry meeting within a tensile architecture conference, and it gave occasion for a planning session for a new society. I was the most junior by far, representing someone more senior. It was my first exposure to the Japanese way of approaching serious matters.