I love brunch. It involves everything good. Breakfast + lunch. Champagne cocktails. It always happens on the weekend. You can order a side of ham. When you begin a story with "so, I was out at brunch..." you sound really awesome.
HOWEVER brunch also means having to choose.It's all very West Side Story. I'm Maria (aka Natalie Wood, obviously (anybody else confused by how she's like not even a little Puerto Rican?)). Choosing between something sumptuously sweet and something hit-the-spot savory feels a lot like "The Rumble." Two sides, fighting for my loyalty: the eggs benedict, my old friend and the Belgian waffle, my star-crossed lover.
Invariably, I play it safe and order an egg dish. "It comes with my choice of sausage OR bacon," I conclude to my brunch date, decision made. But as I drink my coffee sans pastry covered in powdered sugar, a sad song rings in my ears, all about the brunch that could have been. "There's a place for us, somewhere a place for us...."
Luckily, when it comes to breakfast at home, I have a boyfriend who falls in love with me all over again when I make him a sugary, bready breakfast that he can douse in maple syrup. The honeymoon phase lasts for a couple of hours during which he'll watch Barefoot Contessa reruns with me. And, what do you know, Ina "Goddess" Garten, has a killer recipe for pain perdu that Dan loves. The recipe makes for a super fragrant pain perdu that leaves your kitchen smelling of vanilla and citrus.
I like to use a super-stale baguette, which we always seem to have. Soaking the bread overnight makes it custardy in the middle. Make sure your bread slices are thick enough so that they don't disintegrate once all of the eggy mixture is soaked up, but thin enough so that the mixture permeates the entire slice (about 1 1/2 in). If you're having an impulse brunch moment, use a brioche or challah like Ina says-- nice and spongey!
Then smother it with powdered sugar and fruit. And make a side of bacon. Maybe some home fries too.