The lowly egg

While many restaurants are closed, or their chefs, “resting,” I decided to write about a food dear to my heart – the lowly egg. There are three great breakfast countries, IMHO – the States, Britain, and Mexico. Mexican eggs are full of flavor and their yolks a lovely deep orange, often due to the addition of marigold petals in the chicken’s diet. Fried eggs are a fave of mine: eating them is easy, ordering them, not so; huevos estrellados are sunny side up, huevos estrellados volteados, over easy. I’ve also heard huevos tiernos – tender eggs – and huevos buen cocidos or duros if you want them well done. Good luck!
With eggs, you think bacon, and for me, El Colera has the best bacon in town. I also like them at the Vallarta Factory with a dollop of their fine refried beans. Order them sin sal though, as the chef has a bit of a heavy hand with the salt shaker. This is a problem in general with eggs here, especially scrambled eggs. Adding salt while you are cooking them makes them hard. I do them in a saucepan with lots of unsalted butter (I use Lurpak) stirring very slowly with a bit of cream – just add fines herbes – et voila! I think scrambled eggs are best at buffets in Vallarta as they steam under the covered domes (try De Cantaro’s lavish weekend brunch!).
We Brits adore poached eggs. I once spent a fortune on an egg poacher (sacrilegious I know but I can’t do the dropping-into-water method) and lived on them quite happily for months. Here they usually turn up in Eggs Florentine (The Pancake House) or Eggs Benedict which seems very popular in Puerto Vallarta. They’re a fetish in New York where they have a celebratory day in April (if you visit don’t miss them at Balthazar). Eggs Benny is a deceptively tricky dish to pull off, the four components must jive, otherwise the whole enterprise collapses. Eggs must be perfectly poached, Canadian bacon is the best, English muffins the essential breadstuff and the hollandaise should be made at the last minute. Bechamel is often used in Vallarta instead of hollandaise which will not do, you have to have that lemony tang. La Traviata does a good one, La Palapa adds chipotle to the sauce, and I do enjoy Vitea’s version with smoked salmon. I wish there were more smoked salmon/egg combos here – creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon is heavenly!
I must mention some of the great Mexican egg dishes – Huevos Rancheros (Coco’s Kitchen), Huevos Motulenos originally from Motul in the Yucatan, delicious with its black beans (Hacienda Carlota), Huevos Divorciados with its pretty red and green salsas (Bistro Co-Exist) and the ubiquitous chilaquiles with a fried egg on top.
Leaving the best for last – the omelet! It’s not just for breakfast anymore. I often eat them at lunch, and two seared into my memory, are the chicken liver omelet at the now-defunct Iron Horse in San Francisco and a cheese soufflé one in a tiny village in Wales – proving you never know where you will find phenomenal food! Lots of restaurants here have inventive variations (Fredy’s Tucan or El Andariego). And so as my word count (and cholesterol level) are getting dangerously high, I’ll make a speedy eggzit!