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Soft Eggs and Patty's Eggnest

Tom Armitage | Jan 17, 200211:50 AM

I like soft eggs. Two of the most difficult things to cook correctly, in my opinion, are eggs and fish. This is because both have a very narrow window of time in which they are “perfectly cooked.” To get them right, they must be slightly undercooked when you plate them to account for the cooking that occurs from the residual heat left in the food after plating.

It is especially difficult to get soft eggs at a restaurant. There are several factors contributing to this. One is that many breakfast places stake their claim to fame on huge overstuffed omelets. In order to keep all the tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese, and whatever else from gushing out all over the place, the surrounding envelope of eggs must necessarily be quite firm and sturdy. So it’s almost impossible to get a “soft” omelet at a restaurant. Poached eggs are also a dicey proposition, simply because so few fry cooks are trained to cook them properly. My strategy is to order “soft” scrambled eggs. Even here, the odds are overwhelmingly against getting eggs that are truly soft. At home, I cook my scrambled eggs in a double boiler, stirring constantly, to make sure that they don’t cook too quickly over too high a level of heat. What are the odds of a coffee shop or restaurant taking the time and effort to prepare scrambled eggs in this manner?

I was pleasantly surprised recently by a breakfast at Patty’s Eggnest on North 45th St. I had a scramble with sausage, cheddar cheese, onions, and peppers. The serving size was obscenely enormous. But most importantly, the eggs were genuinely soft, just as ordered. The eggs were delicious, and totally trashed any semblance of self-restraint, as the enormous pile of eggs on my plate grew smaller and smaller. The hash browns were coarsely grated and on the dry side. They were fine, with a light golden brown crust, and probably much healthier than the “wetter” and greasier style of hash browns I prefer. The biscuit was denser than the usual “fluffy” style of biscuit and quite flavorful. The two preserves I sampled, raspberry and orange marmalade, were both yummy. The fresh squeezed orange juice was great. The coffee was Boyd’s. Oh well.

All in all, a thoroughly satisfying breakfast.

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