How does a subtle little text tone still manage to slice through the silence of the morning like razor blades to my ear drums?
Sully can’t make it today. This is a first, but to be completely honest I wasn’t entirely certain I’d be able to rise from my bed either. That being said, I’m a trooper, and I mustered up whatever residual energy stores I possessed and sent out a text blast:
“Sully cancelled. Brunch?”
Vanyel calls within 5 minutes of me pressing SEND, and I hear that all familiar groggy voice still drenched with sleep that mimics my own. “I haven’t gotten up yet, brushed my teeth or anything . . .”
Good. Neither have I and it’s almost 10.
“Where are we going?” she grumbles, and I imagine her speaking into her mobile with her face pressed into the pillows. She’s not going to like my answer.
“East end. Bonjour Brioche is on Queen, east of Broadview,” I tell her.
I hear her groan, “so far!” But despite her outcry, I know she’ll still come.
“It’s the next one on my list,” I explain, although I know an explanation wasn’t necessary from the moment she decided to respond to my text.
“Okay, I’ll get ready now.” She hangs up, and I cringe inwardly as I realize that I too, must now get ready.
I love my family. Yes, there may be grumbling, growling and at times outbursts of outrage and dramatic wails of “spare me”, but they will come through as family always does. For the times when you sprain your ankle and have 5 hours to kill in a waiting room, need a pick-me-up, or when Eggs Benedict needs to be consumed and documented for posterity’s sake, and your brunch buddy has bailed, you can always count on family.
The sun is searing hot on my back as I walk past the front of Bonjour Brioche and head around the corner to where the lineup forms along the side of the restaurant. From this vantage point, all those waiting patiently have an excellent view of customers seated on the patio. This is both exhilarating and tortuous, since I’m absolutely positive that every person standing in line with me is famished and parched in this heat. By the time we’re seated we’ll all be suffering from some mild form of heat exhaustion and starvation. Self-inflicted mind you, it’s not like we’re trapped wandering the desert although the sun and heat would suggest otherwise.
Vanyel rounds the corner, and as my arms raise to initiate a hug she blurts out, “so I still haven’t brushed my teeth,” and my arms hover in the air as I reevaluate my hug. “I can explain why,” she says and begins launching into a long winded explanation that somehow transforms into the history and founding of the Steam Whistle Brewery. Time passes in the blink of an eye, and before we know it, they call for “any party of two?” and we gladly skip to the front of the line (not literally, that would just be rude and disrespectful to all those parties of 3-6 who clearly have no room for skipping).
We’re seated near the front of the restaurant, next to the window filled with colourful pastries and pies, glistening under the florescent lights. I glance at the menu and search for the familiar words “eggs” and “benedict” and come up empty. It must be here, I swear I’ve ordered it before. I scan through the menu again, and right before I open my mouth to utter some form of protest, my eyes find a blackboard behind Vanyel that have precisely what I’ve been looking for:
On a croissant!!! Instant points in their favour. I’ve always liked the buttery goodness of a croissant and believe it’ll provide excellent soakage and texture to the Eggs Benedict. Already I’m drooling as Vanyel and I both order the Eggs Benny, only I ask that mine come with peameal bacon, smoked salmon and avocado. Yes, all three please. The last time I enjoyed an Eggs Benny here was back in February, and I can still recall how delicious and rich everything was. Mmmm–you are missing out Sully.
As we await our Eggs Benny, Vanyel and I trade our Saturday stories, recap her work endeavours, and discuss the progress of my ankle recovery.
“Are you ready?” This seemingly vague question gives me pause. I know of what she speaks, “am I ready? No.” The end of my summer vacation is nigh, and although this life of leisure can at times be boring (I know, I know, cry me a river!), I’m loathe to start what will undoubtedly be the most challenging 10 months of my career. But hey, I love a good challenge.
Our server sweeps around from the counter carrying two heaping plates. I inhale deeply as the plate descends in front of my face, and my salivary glands are working overtime. Just look at it! A thing of beauty I’m telling you. Vanyel is spreading the butter across her crusty bread as I awkwardly maneuver a weed into my mouth.
“Mmm! The butter is tasty. Hard to spread, but mmm. . . tasty.” I’m inclined to let the heat from the bread melt my butter before attempting to spread it, making note of Vanyel’s semi-mutilated slice of bread.
As I glance at Vanyel who is inspecting and scrutinizing her plate, a grin spreads across my face and I can’t help but feel happiness spread through my chest. Food has always been something that my family thoroughly enjoys. From cooking to baking, finding recipes and going grocery shopping. We love to eat. Eating is an experience, and more often than not, what with busy schedules and distance, it’s what brings us together.
I return to my own plate, and hear her exhale, “Here we go!–Aaaaw,” and with that one, sad word, it carried with it a world of disappointed hopes, and immediately my eyes fly up towards her face to read her expression. Forlorn eyes meet mine, and in almost a childlike voice she whispers, “it’s not runny.” She’s so sad. This makes me sad.
I grab my knife and apply the minimum amount of pressure I usually use to pierce the yolk, but instead of opening the floodgates, I’m met with nothing. There is no sign of gushing yolk, none whatsoever. Over a year ago, this egg would have been cooked to perfection, as I despised anything less than over hard. But I’m chasing benny damnit! Where is my yolk?!
Vanyel and I eat what’s before us, although we eat with much less enthusiasm than when we started. The server appears to clear our plates, and a thought occurs to me, perhaps they intended for the yolks to be cooked through. That must be it! “Were the eggs benedict meant to have runny or cooked yolks?”
“Oh, were they not runny? They’re supposed to be.” Well then, there goes that possibility.
After paying the bill, Vanyel and I begin our journey back west. “I’m sorry the eggs benedict was bad.” I sigh and contemplate that for a moment, and am suddenly glad that Sully didn’t drive all the way back to Toronto for this. He would have been a scowling Sully for sure.
The next day, I messaged Sully to recap how it went:
If I recalled correctly, when I suggested Bonjour Brioche and mentioned that I’d enjoyed it, his response was “really? Hmmm, okay.” Thanks a lot Sull! ‘Choose your own adventure’ isn’t written in the constitution.
After not meeting eggspectations (see what I did there?), Bonjour Brioche has scored a 2/5 and is tied with Union where, if you’ll recall, we discovered BBQ and Benny should not be friends. But despite the BBQ sauce, at least their eggs were runny.
The quest for the best Eggs Benedict in Toronto continues next week* as we head back to Queen West and see if the rumours are true. Voted by Torontonians in Notable‘s ‘Toronto’s Best Eggs Benny,’ The Bristol came out on top with a whopping 25.8%.
Until next time Benny. . .
*Yes, this entry is quite delayed, as is the 7th Stop: The Bristol (Sully and I have already been). Work has been all consuming, stay tuned, they’ll be published within this weekend. 🙂