Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Chocolate by the Bald Man' and a Good Omelette

Max Brenner in NYC
Yesterday, I met a friend who was passing through the city for work at Max Brenner off of Union Square to say hello and catch a cup of coffee and some breakfast before me moved on with our own day's agendas.  I often pass by and wonder what the story is with a place whose subtitle is "Chocolate by the Bald Man" and it seemed it could be a great spot to meet a fellow adventurous foodie friend.  The fragrance of chocolate rolls out of the heavy wooden doors to the passers-by and the window displays are quirky.  Those things are enough to pique my curiosity but for some reason I had never gone in to check it out until yesterday.
A simple bowl of granola.

We walked in and were immediately enveloped in an invisible chocolate-scented cloud. Whoa.  We walked past big barrels of dark, milk, and white chocolate being mixed with a paddle.  There were brown pipes along the ceilings and walls and we wondered if there was actually chocolate flowing through them.  Probably not, but the effect was pure delight.  I commented at a point that I felt like I was in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.  Everyone was friendly and the pastry case was filled with everything from chocolate and roasted marshmallow dessert pizzas to big plastic syringes filled with their own house-made chocolate ganache made to be injected directly into a choco-holic's mouth (only $3.95, by the way!)  There were cookbooks, souvenirs, and assorted chocolate novelties, as well as serious and straightforward chocolate wares.

A light breakfast complete with chocolate
The novelty was entertaining but, both of us ended up ordering more practical fare, a spinach and goat cheese omelette for me, a bowl of fruit, granola, and yogurt for my friend.  When the food arrived, alas, there was a well-sugared biscuit with a bowl of chocolate dipping ganache next to my omelette.  The granola was placed before my friend in a huge stemmed chalice-type thing, complete with shaved chocolate all over the top and accompanied by a sugared biscotti.  This place was a crack-up! 
The food turned out to be pretty good, not the best I've ever had, but totally passable and the coffee was good.  Prices were very reasonable.  The place is definitely a novelty in which groups would have fun and it would be great for entertaining friends and family who are visiting from out of town.  This chocolate fantasy was definitely a perk in my quiet January week.  There are also locations in Las Vegas and Philly if you are interested in checking those out. 

Spinach and Chevre Omelette a la Max Brenner

What is unique about this omelette is that the eggs and chopped spinach were incorporated together and filled with creamy, delicious chevre (as opposed to the spinach as part of the filling and plain eggs.). I thought it was a nice variation.  Here is how they did it if you are interested in trying it out!

2 large eggs
1 cup minced spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter
3 T chevre

Whisk together the eggs, minced spinach, and salt and pepper.    Heat the butter in a non-stick pan and swirl pan to cover the bottom of the pan.  Pour egg mixture into pan and turn heat to medium-low. When egg is about halfway cooked, dot the chevre in the middle and fold the egg over.  Cover and cook 2-4 minutes, until eggs are cooked through and chevre is melty. 

(opt.) Serve with chocolate sauce and a biscuit for dipping...

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