Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Non-Conformist's Oyster Easter Brunch at Gjelina

Sancerre for him and a bitter “Visionary” made with sherry and champagne for me. Even typical red girls know that oysters call for whites.

I am not a big believer in organized religion. Maybe it’s because I was traumatized in Catholic School when I would get in trouble for being different or arguing with the priests in the confessional about why I needed to be a good “Catholic” rather than a good “human,” a point they incessantly spoke of during sermons. The nuns didn’t appreciate my attempts at non-conformity either, like the ear piercing and hair cutting stations I would set up in the mornings in the bathroom, tantalizing my peer girlfriends to come in and spice up their identities in the otherwise non-descript world of blue plaid uniforms. I don’t need a sectarian group title or a church habit to know that I believe in good and bad and which one I should toe the line with in order to have an enlightened life. I know there’s something bigger than me out there that runs the natural order of things and that when one is walking with righteous action, one tends to have a simpler, more drama free and soulfully fulfilling life. So when it comes to holidays like Easter, I tend to use the occasions to do things like sleep in later or ignore the rest of the world in my hermit hole of a house while they carry on with their colored egg and candy hunts and other consumerist displays of celebration.

But this Easter something got into my system. I woke up with a craving for a proper Easter brunch, well maybe not proper exactly, but something along those lines nonetheless. So I rallied the Cute Gardener to walk with me to Gjelina, a place that’s been on our "to visit" list forever, with the bait of fresh oysters and an offer to treat.

After a fifteen-minute wait we got a table for two. I have never been able to get into Gjelina at night, there’s always a forty-five minute to an hour wait, so I didn’t consider this time so bad. We started with a burrata plate that came with braised artichokes adorned with orange zest and pistachio pesto. Could have done without the artichokes that didn’t taste like much and would have savored the rest of the textures and flavors in the dish.

Great combination of fresh and yummy kumamotos, kushi and shigoku oysters with the usual toppings although this mignonette had a real pepper kick, which surprised me pleasantly.

I had high hopes for the pizza but they fizzled upon sight (and charred taste) of the burnt crust. I did manage to keep my hopes up and enjoy the non-burnt bites I could get that were filled with gruyere, caramelized onion, fromage blanc, arugula and two exquisitely cooked sunny eggs.

Now that’s an Easter-worthy way to eat an egg. A few weeks ago on Iron Chef, the ingredient was eggs and I loved one of the female judges remarking that a softly boiled egg that runs all over the plate was just about the sexiest thing in the world. I couldn’t agree more and both my boyfriend and I agreed that even though we would not come back to Gjelina for lunch, dinner or pizza anytime soon, we might stop in for breakfast or dessert. The breakfast menu boasted some very creative egg-y concoctions that would be worth trying like Moroccan baked eggs with merguez, chili, tomato sauce, cilantro and spiced yogurt or the simple poached eggs with snap peas, faro, lemon and mint pesto.

And the desserts were fantastic including a bitter chocolate beet cake and fun pink, beet gelato and a melt-in-your-mouth, simply orgasmic butterscotch pot de crème.

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