A few weeks ago Dan and I hopped on a plane and (many hours of no leg room later) went to California. Dan’s work sent him to a conference in Los Angeles and I tagged along for the vacation. It was awesome. The first four days we were in LA I pretended I was a rich housewife, going for runs, drinking smoothies, lounging in the hot tub. Then I’d hop on a bus and head into LA to see the sights. On Thursday when Dan’s conference wrapped up we rented a car and drove down to San Diego.
We had such a good time. In LA we visited museums, saw crazy attractions like the Tar Pits, ate a TON of tacos, and enjoyed the warm, breezy weather. I lunched with colleagues from other Museums, saw exhibits I’ve been wanting to see for years, and walked up the biggest hill ever over and over again. I read and sat by the pool, worked on plans for the Pie Fest, and read some more. It was wonderful.
On Thursday we packed up to go to San Diego, which was a beautiful drive. What is it about the ocean? It’s so magnetic, driving down the coast always feels like an adventure. We woke up Friday morning with a full agenda. First we went to Coronado Island to take in the sights (hello, dolphins!) and watch the Carolina game. On our waitress’ recommendation we drove up to Mt. Soledad, which had the most incredible view. From there we went down to La Jolla to see the SEALS (oh my bacon I died).
That right there is a dolphin jumping. I took probably a gazillion photos of a pod of dolphins before I got this one, but damn am I pleased with myself.
After tearing myself away from the seals we headed to Escondito to visit the Stone Brewery. This was pretty much the whole reason we decided to trek down to San Diego in the first place, and it didn’t disappoint. We love brewery tours, and Stone has a very impressive set up. But better than hearing a schpeal on hops was the dinner afterwards. Stone has one of the most stunning restaurants I’ve ever seen. It’s mostly outside and from the koi ponds that doubled as fire pits and the grounds where a waiter will serve you as you sit on a grassy knoll, it was almost unbelievable. The food upheld the standard of perfection– Dan and I left feeling completely, overwhelmingly blissed out. It was easily one of the best meals we’ve ever enjoyed together.
photo by Dan
After leaving Stone we decided to fight our desire to go to sleep and check out a heavily recommended bar in San Diego, The Blind Lady Taphouse. It turned out to be a great call because they had a beer Dan’s been wanting to try for years. They also had pizza that smelled so good I almost ordered one, despite being overfull of deliciousness.
Duck tacos and yakisoba at Stone
photo by Dan. Also, my hair is blonde again. My father should be pleased.
On Saturday morning we got up and set out for brunch. We headed to a place heavily recommended by the internet, something or other hash house a something. They had an hour wait and I am not that patient (especially not when it comes to breakfast), so on their recommendation we headed down the street to a place called the Tractor Room. I will pause here to confess that brunch is one of my favorite times of the week for two reasons– breakfast booze and breakfast meat. I love these food groups dearly.
The Tractor Room upheld our growing standard for food in California. In fact, it exceeded it. Now, I’ll say right now that (probably because we lived in DC), I am used to mildly overpaying for food, especially brunch. So when I see a flapjack for $12 I think, okay cool. Chalk it up to the brunch movement. But OH MY GIANT FLAPJACK. San Diego doesn’t mess around. Every dish I thought was just overpriced ended up being the most giant portion ever. I’m not complaining. Did you know you can carry leftovers onto a plane? The leftovers from eating out in San Diego fed us for an entire weekend. It was incredible.
Now to get to my point. At the Tractor Room we ordered two things- chocolate chip flapjacks (huge) and a Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict. This beauty below is a biscuit (sitting on top of potatoes because… America), spinach, tomato, fried chicken, bacon, fried cheese, scrambled eggs, chipotle aioli, and green onions. It was incredible. So incredible and so ridiculous that I had to recreate it as soon as I got home. I tweaked some things when I made it (mostly due to convenience), and the results were insane. Just… my goodness San Diego. You had me at seals, but I really did fall in love with you.
See more pictures from our trip here.
Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict
The Tractor Room
1 1/4 cups self rising flour
3/4 cup pastry flour (or cake flour)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp melted butter (for glazing)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder
3 large chicken breasts
1 pint buttermilk
Salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic, chipotle for marinade
1 cup flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic, chipotle
1 cup mayonaisse
2 tsps chipotle powder
Juice of 1 lemon
12 pieces bacon
Peanut oil for frying the chicken
The night before you’re going to make this, place your chicken in a large bowl. Cover with buttermilk. Stir in spices (to your taste). Soak in the fridge overnight.
The next morning start with your biscuits. Preheat the oven to 475(f). Whisk together the dry ingredients. Use fingers to incorporate cold butter. With the butter, you really just have to knead it with your fingers until the mixture has a course texture, like corn meal. Pour in cream. Stir (preferably with a wooden spoon) until dough forms. It’s okay if the dough is a little sticky, you’ll work it out on the countertop.
Sprinkle all purpose flour onto the countertop and scoop your dough onto it. Use your hands to flatten it out. I like to flatten it a little, flip it, and flatten it some more. This method ensures that one side doesn’t get over worked, which is important. If your dough (and this goes for any dough, really) ever gets too sticky and unmanageable, pop it into the fridge for twenty minutes or so. The stickiness is really coming from the butter getting too warm, so cooling it off will allow it to firm up a bit. Using a biscuit cutter (or whatever you have laying around), cut the dough into circular shapes. Place on ungreased baking pan.
Now, I put aside the measuring cup that I used to hold the heavy cream and melt the butter for glazing in that. It just gives it an extra creaminess. Using a baking brush, brush melted butter on top of the biscuits. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Set the biscuits aside. Fry your bacon and set aside.
Heat your oil in a deep pan. Your oil should be 1″ deep. Heat to 350-375. Mix together flour, breadcrumbs, and spices. Take your chicken out and cut each breast in half. Dip in breading and, when the oil is hot, place in the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes each side. Set aside to cool. While these are frying, make your aioli by mixing together lemon juice, mayo, and chipotle.
Time for the eggs. Based on our Tractor Room experience I scrambled the eggs. In retrospect I would prefer a runny fried egg, I think. There’s a lot of dry going on, and the egg yolk would be the perfect accompaniment to the chicken and the biscuit. Next time I think I’ll go that route. If you want scrambled you should whisk together eggs, milk, and spices. Cook over medium heat until scrambled.
Time to assemble! I layered biscuit/bacon/spinach/egg/chicken/aioli/cheese. I think it might be easier to go biscuit/chicken/aioli/egg/bacon/spinach/cheese. Either way, pile all of your ingredients up on plates and dig in!