While Sunday brunch may be a tradition for many, on the East End the beach trumps brunch and finding a parking space at any of the East Hampton Town beaches is near impossible after 10 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday in July and August.Â
However, for people like me – those not on vacation during the summer – enjoying a relaxing breakfast on Saturday, and especially Sunday while I tool through my Sunday Times is a necessity. There are a number of great breakfast places on the South Shore, including my personal favorites Estia’s Little Kitchen on the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike, the Hampton Maid on the Shinnecock Bay in Southampton and, during the off-season, Sunday brunch at Della Femina in East Hampton. But it’s hard to justify navigating a 30-minute wait for eggs benedict and pancakes when the ocean swells are calling your name. So with a few key, local ingredients you can create a breakfast that rivals what a restaurant can offer and at a better price.Â
One of our favorite, mainstay breakfasts is cinnamon French toast with fresh berries and maple syrup or honey. The key ingredient is obviously the bread, and in our house we don’t settle for just any bread. For our French toast we rely solely on Breadzilla’s cinnamon loaf, which at $7 a pop may sound a little pricey, but provides more than enough food for four people. Try finding a breakfast joint on the East End where you can get delicious French toast for four for under $15. Besides, this bread has amazing flavor, with cinnamon and sugar marbled throughout the soft pastry.Â
Slice the bread into about one inch thick pieces and soak in a mixture of local eggs and Â½ and Â½ (about 2 eggs per 2 cups of cream). Iacono Farm on Long Lane in East Hampton has absolutely scrumptious eggs (and chickens), and is a definite recommendation over grocery store brands. The ingredients really make this dish, so going the extra yard when it comes to bread and the eggs is worth the time and money.
After dredging the bread in the egg and cream mixture, place it in a hot skillet layered in butter. Once cooked on both sides cut each slice in half. Usually two full slices is more than enough for one person. If you don’t use all of your bread, fear not – it freezes well when covered in plastic wrap.Â It will be just as good for your next batch the following weekend.Â
We pair this dish with fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries and blueberries – which we get at Round Swamp Farm on Three Mile Harbor in Springs. Round Swamp generally has fresh berries in season. Bananas are also a wonderful fruit for this dish.Â
For syrup, making a trip to Vermont may be your best bet when it comes to taste, your general peace of mind and your wallet, but many specialty and grocery stores on the East End carry Vermont maple syrup, so skip the Aunt Jemima if you can.Â
While my husband thinks it boarders on blasphemy, I also enjoy honey with this dish, which can be procured locally at the Hamptons Honey Company in Southampton and through the Bees Knees, which is available at the Sag Harbor Farmers Market each Saturday.Â
With the first bite, in the comfort of your own home hopefully still in pajamas the minor amount of work this dish requires will be more than worth it. The soft, warm bread, complete with caramelized cinnamon sugar, mixes with warm maple syrup, melting butter and cool, crisp berries … it sure beats waiting on a sidewalk for a table any day of the week, especially on Sunday!