Americans have no appreciation for the beautiful tones of a didgeridoo. In the heat of a New York summer Archie went out into the
streets with his quality instrument and demonstrated his skills of circular breathing combined with a full menagerie of animal sound effects. He blasted into that didge until his lips blew up like a puffer fish and he nearly collapsed from a lack of oxygen and a build up of CO2. For all his efforts he managed hundreds of curious stares but just 30 cents into the kitty the next stage of his gap year.
Perhaps it was his appearance the New Yorkers didn’t like. Having recently seen him on skype, I can understand that. An old school mate, Webb, had earlier made plans to visit Archie in New York. On the day he announced to Archie that his flights were booked, the two of them came up with an idea that they thought was humorous. They wouldn’t shave between then and the day Webb arrived. The one with the longest beard would be deemed the winner, (there was no prize – that was irrelevant). I didn’t question the plan as I knew there wouldn’t be a sensible answer.
So Webb arrived and settled into Archie’s Brooklyn accommodation and there were many laughs between them about the new looks they were sporting. But there was no suggestion that the game had now been played out and perhaps it was time to move on and reach for a razor. The game is just continuing on with no finality.
‘Since I’ve had this beard, mum, I haven’t been asked for ID once’, said an exuberant Archie. And he certainly put that to the test. On their last night in New York Archie packed up all his possessions (and borrowed possessions including cooking instruments, crockery, utensils, bedding, towels etc) and the two of them got onto the subway and took the train to his auntie’s apartment in the West Village.
Sally said they arrived looking like packhorses and she has no idea how they managed all that gear between them. Both of them were as scruffy as each other – not a hair cut between them since leaving school and now scraggy facial hair to complete the look.
Sally and Mike are quite relaxed so didn’t let it bother them. They took them out to Kingswood for a farewell dinner. With the facial hair making Archie look every bit the legal drinking age, he confidently shouted a round of drinks.
After dinner Sally and Mike took them to Maria’s Crisis Bar. Archie said it’s the best bar he’s ever been to and there’s been a few. So good was it there, that they didn’t even make it to their other farewell party in Brooklyn. They just stayed in that bar with their new-found mates – show singers and theatre people, and belted out songs from musical theatre. Archie apparently sang many from Oklahoma. That’s when Sally and Mike got up and left.
Archie and Webb pulled an all-nighter and stumbled into Sally’s apartment sometime in the mid-morning. Looking worse for wear
she sat them down and made them Eggs Benedict for brunch. It’s the best breakfast to have after a big night – ever. Archie and Webb said their goodbyes, then went to JFK and boarded a Virgin Atlantic flight for Heathrow. With good fortune ever present, the gappies are now residing in Chelsea.
Cost: an expensive version of ‘bacon and eggs’
Degree of Difficulty: 5/5 – because of the timing of all the elements – lots of multi-tasking involved
1/2 cup tarragon vinegar
3 shallots finely chopped
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 organic egg yolks
250gms melted and cooled butter
4 English Muffins, split in half, toasted then buttered
Baby English Spinach leaves
8 rindless bacon rashers
1 tbspn white vinegar
8 organic eggs
1 bunch of chives finely chopped
Cracked black pepper to serve
To make the Bernaise Sauce:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to boil the tarragon vinegar, shallots, peppercorns and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered until reduced by half. Strain and set reserved liquid aside.
Place egg yolks in a double boiler over barely simmering water and whisk to combine. Add 2 tbspns reserved liquid and stir until combined. While constantly whisking, add butter in a slow stream until sauce is thickened and combined. If sauce splits, place 2 tbspns boiling water in a bowl and gradually whisk in split sauce. It will recover!
Cook bacon in a frying pan over medium heat – we like it crispy. Drain on paper towel.
Bring a frying pan of water to a slow simmer. Add 1 tbspn white vinegar. Bring water to a swirl by stirring with a wooden spoon. When slowly simmering, add eggs. Cook for 2 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon. Drain as much water from eggs as possible.
Place 2 muffin halves on each of the 4 heated plates. Top with baby English spinach leaves. Place bacon on top of leaves. Carefully place poached eggs on top of bacon. Spoon Bernaise Sauce on top of eggs. Sprinkle chives on top. Grind pepper on top of dish.