Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Mornings

Anyone who has ever lived with me can attest to the fact that I am not a morning person (consider this my public apology to all who have had to suffer through my obnoxious alarm clocks). And this whole job thing, where I have to repeatedly wake up at what I consider an ungodly hour, is not helping. Throw in some dirty slush and chilling winds, and I cannot think of a single reason for why I should leave my warm bed.

Except one: Choice Market.

My housemate Lizzie introduced me to Choice Market. At first I was sure she was exaggerating, as I heard her sing its praises of scrumptious breakfast items and reasonable prices. But now I know differently, and believe me, there is no going back. Choice Market is a cozy and casual cafe five minutes from my house. It's the perfect way to introduce a visitor to my neighborhood, which I have now done four or five times over. It has never failed to impress whomever accompanies me, through its extraordinarily well-executed foods. Although I've now been there quite a lot, I continue to get giddier each time I go, knowing what deliciousness inevitably waits for me.

The experience at Choice Market is at once energizing and relaxing, and the set up of the cafe, genius. Walking in to the small establishment, you will always encounter a line of Pratt students, young families, and various other neighborhood residents waiting patiently to place their orders. Immediately to the left of the door is the pastry case (pictured above), where you are greeted by flaky croissants, puffy brioche rolls and gorgeous scones and muffins. To the right is a fairly large wooden table which seats about ten. If you are planning on eating there, you're first priority should be to stake a claim at the table, or shamelessly stalk those who look like they're almost done.

Once you get on line, you will find yourself drooling over their prepared foods, showcased right in front of the kitchen, from which good smells are forever emanating. Their prepared foods, like macaroni and cheese casserole, hanger steak with Chimichurri glaze, and sauteed Brussels sprouts with garlic and olive oil, always mesmorize me....until I remember it's time to focus on breakfast.

When I went to Choice with my mom (two mornings in a row, I might add), I like to think we discovered the perfect combination of dishes to share. The first was an omelet platter: an omelet with eggs so perfectly cooked and delicate tasting that I wouldn't be surprised if the eggs were laid hours before. The omelet is stuffed with creamy goat cheese, sauteed wild mushrooms that add that perfect savory note, and buttery sauteed spinach. That combination, making me weak in the knees as I write this, can melt a person from the inside out. Their omelets are served with roasted potatoes seasoned with smoked paprika, and a small pile of butter lettuce, drizzled with a flavorful mustard vinaigrette. This is all accompanied by two pieces of grilled toast (their own homemade bread, of course), which is crunchy yet dense and chewy. It's all incredibly simple, but done so perfectly that you'd think you had never tasted an omelet before.

So on to the second dish that rounded out the perfect breakfast of all time....blueberry pancakes. Again, not your ordinary pancakes. Choice Market blueberry pancakes are fluffy and moist, with the slightest bit of crispness on the outside. Studded with sweet blueberries, these pancakes are sprinkled generously with sliced bananas and walnuts, with a side of real maple syrup. I really appreciate that nothing is too sweet, and no flavor overpowering. All components work together in harmony to create a symphony of balanced flavors. The blueberries lend a slight tartness, while the bananas are creamy and the walnuts crunchy and a bit earthy. The pancakes are executed so well, and with quality ingredients, that you are elevated to a new level of serenity when taking a full bit of pancake, banana and walnut, all lightly coated with the subtly sweet syrup.

Okay, I've rambled on for way too long about omelets and pancakes, and I didn't even get to the orange chocolate scone my mom had, or the cranberry almond muffin I had (both delicious, by the way). So basically the take home message is this: go to Choice Market! Believe me when I say you'll be glad you got out of bed to brave the cold.