22 Sep Brekkie Sandwich with Green Pesto by Mark Palmer & Anthea White
The Brekkie Sandwich has been with us since the very first day of opening: a true take on an Aussie breakfast sandwich. It continues to be one of our most popular dishes. The perfect combo of eggs, toast, cheddar, pesto, and cornichons.
Recipe + Styling + Photography by Mark Palmer
How are you dealing with these strange times?
We were lucky enough to adapt pretty much straight away. There was an initial week of stressful deliberation as to whether we should close or stay open. We were classified as an “essential business,” so we knew we were allowed to stay open but with restrictions. We had no idea how it was going to be, how the general public would feel, or how many staff members would want to continue working. We knew there was a huge responsibility in staying open. So without much direct guidance from the health department or anyone really (at least straight away), we took every major safety precaution we could to ensure the safety of everyone. Everyone was on edge, and we were still in the “how serious is this pandemic?” phase. It was scary and many employees decided it was too much so they either left, moved away, or self-quarantined. But we were so lucky to have a core group of staff that decided to continue working. They are our rock stars, and we couldn’t have done it without them.
We had fewer customers but each customer was spending way more. I think people were so scared about going to the supermarket that they were happier to order their groceries online and pick it up, curbside, from us. Our retail sales overtook our food and drink sales, so we just kept providing as much as we could. If someone asked, “Can you get flour, beans, a certain vegetable or something?”, the next week it would be available to add to their shopping list. We sold a lot of flour during this time, because so many people were baking and experimenting with making their own bread. I guess we were lucky in the sense that we already had a small grocery-general store in place. We basically transformed our entire front room into a store. We took out all the chairs, repurposed the tables for merchandise, and there you have it.
How important has cooking been for you?
It’s funny. Our name doesn’t mention the restaurant side of our business, but cooking is extremely important to our business and our lives. When we started out, Mark and I created the menu around a few ingredients, and everything was readily available locally (except we did start with avocados and then quickly took them off the menu). He has always been an extraordinary cook, with something magical about his use of spice and umami. I do believe a lot comes from his Egyptian heritage and his mother being an incredible cook. When the family gathers, and this happens a lot, you can’t believe the spread his mother puts on. The table is always filled to the brim with traditional and experimental dishes.
We were so inspired by his role as the gastronome (part cook, part server, part bartender) while working at Buvette, that we follow a similar model here at the cafe. Every cook is gastronome. We have now taken a step back from cooking, and head chef, Nicole Rojas, now creates such incredible dishes inspired from her Cuban heritage and her passion for all things saucy. Plus, we have one of the most hardworking professional bakers on staff, Gabrielle Fuoco. She pumps out so many baked goodies every day. She follows our philosophy of using the best-quality, organic ingredients and creating a thoughtful choice of baked goods.
2 slices rye bread, sourdough, or croissants, cut in half
aged cheddar cheese, sliced
Green Pesto (see recipe)
cheddar cheese, grated
- For the sandwich: Whisk together enough eggs for the number of sandwiches you’re making and enough heavy cream to take the orange out of your eggs.
- Heat an ovenproof pan with butter and sage in the oven, as soon as you can smell the butter, pull the pan out. Add your egg mix, a pinch of salt, and place back into the oven until done.
- Place two pieces of bread on a sheet pan, layer cheese on either side, place in the oven until cheese is melted.
- Take out your cheesy bread, add a dollop of fresh herbed pesto on one side.
- Layer your folded egg (let it drop and fold it to fit onto the bread) on top of the pesto side of toast, add a drizzle of olive oil, and grate some cheese all over it. Add a few cornichons on the side for some tang.
- For the pesto: Grab any herbs that are growing now. We started with cilantro and added ramps at the time of our first conception of this dish.
- Blend in a food processor with enough good olive oil to form a smooth paste, season, and add a splash or two (or three) of vinegar. We use a fiery cider, which has a delicious kick and sweetness.
- This pesto changes completely depending on what we can get. Basil works, of course, arugula and radish shoots, garlic scapes and parsley—it can be anything. It’s also delicious stirred into hot pasta.