Carb-free Eggs Benedict… and where to eat them in New York

Eggs Benedict

Photo by Natalie Downe — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

New York City is indeed a city that never sleeps. But it certainly eats. For three weeks, from July 7th to July 26th, the Lincoln Center Festival will be taking place in eight different venues with hundreds of renowned artists and ensembles from dozens of countries.

Whether you plan to make it to a handful or a heaping of these performances, you’re going to need to eat, and there’s no better place than Manhattan to do so. As any Manhattanite worth their weight in savviness will tell you, brunch is your best bet. Refills of coffee, fresh juice, baskets of pastries and savory main meals — if you play your cards right, you can get two meals for the price of one and head off to Lincoln Center on a happy stomach.

One staple on the brunch circuit, (and a personal favorite) is Eggs Benedict. Gastronomic history has it that Eggs Benedict was the invention of a finicky epicurean, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, who supped every Saturday at Delmonico’s in New York, the first fine dining establishment to open its doors in the United States in 1860. After trying every item off the menu, Mrs. Benedict uttered a timeless expression of disenchantment that restaurant workers have heard from fastidious old women since the dawn of time. “Haven’t you anything new to suggest?” After ruminating with the head chef, Charles Ranhofer, Mrs. Benedict decided what she really felt like was poached eggs on top of a toasted English muffin with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce, and a truffle on top. Well! You can’t blame a women who knows what she wants — especially when it leads to one of the greatest brunch dishes of all time. (Minus the truffle. No need to show off).

If he was still around to disagree with this version of the story, Lemuel Benedict certainly would. In 1894, Benedict, a Wall Street broker, staggered into the Waldorf Hotel with a history-making hangover and promptly ordered “some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs and a hooker of hollandaise sauce” from the legendary chef, Oscar Tschirky. Impressed, Tschirky made several gourmet changes before adding the meal to his luncheon menu with the name, Eggs Benedict.

As the French would say, peu importe the validity of these stories, what really counts is that Eggs Benny has a little bit of everything for every hungry person. (Except for vegetarians, alas!) This week, we’re cooking up a sophisticated version of Eggs Benedict that will delight your inner foodie as well as the glutton by his side. Artichoke Benedict replaces the traditional English muffin with an artichoke bottom (thus replacing carbs with antioxidants, and ho-hum with hey-there). The recipe I’ve chosen has useful tips and photographs to help you assemble this elegant take on a breakfast staple.

Finally, several standouts where you can brunch it up before heading to Lincoln Center: Belleville in Park Slope (bring your beret), Balthazar (star sightings with your scrambled eggs!) and Cookshop for organic, grass-fed fare.

Find other cultural munchies in Manhattan.

- Courtney Maum

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