The clouds and cool weather combined with Gluten Free Girl’s recent post had me craving porridge – something I hadn’t had in over a month. Now, that might not seem like such a big deal considering it’s been summer but every week, for the past two years, I’d walk to my favourite cafe every Sunday and order their porridge. And since it’s a long way back to California, I’ve had to go without.
The porridge at the cafe wasn’t just porridge; it was an eating experience. The cafe was inside a courtyard, outside, quiet and tucked away. There was a big celebretiy that would eat there every week just like I because it was unpretentious, hearty food and a true experience without hassle. This was a rarity in LA.
But how did porridge become an experience? And for only $6? Simple.
The proridge would arrive in a simple white bowl, on a platter that had a little silver container for warm milk and a side of cut strawberries and bananas – always fresh. Then a little container with three bowls would come along that hosted brown sugar, shredded coconut and raisens. With a side of the best coffee ever, this simple little meal become a pleasure that would always take me ages to eat and enjoy. It was my weekly break in which I could relax and leave with a full belly.
It was never the same at home even though I used great oatmeal (like McCains in the tin – the slow cooking 1/2hr kind). I made sure to use bottled water just like at the cafe and I made sure to get fresh strawberries but I always came up empty.
I realised I hadn’t take the time to set the scene as they did. So today I took my bike to the market, loaded up on some goodies and came home to make the porridge. In a special bowl was the shredded coconut, raisens and brown sugar (even though I don’t like raisens!). I warmed the milk, cut the banana’s and strawberries and made the porridge.
The table was set, coffee was brewed and when it came time the porridge was loaded up with goodies. I sat down to enjoy the meal (the first time since moving in) and relaxed. Ceramony with simple, good food.
Usually at 4 I make tea and sip it whilst continuing to work but today I took a break. And I realised that breakfast is sometimes best in the afternoon and that sometiems the best way to recapture an experience is to capture its spirit. And I did.
Good Old Fashion standby recipe:
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 & 1/3 cups water
Pinch of salt
1 medium apple, coarsely grated
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup milk
½ teaspoon butter
1. Combine the oatmeal, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
2. Add the grated apple and lemon juice and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the milk and butter. Stir well and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately, perhaps with a sprinkle of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.
(PS: The cafe is Cafe Dana on 11th & Montana Ave in Santa Monica. Look for the faded pink umbrellas and blue awning on the street. And if you meet the owner who is beautiful, kind and blonde, tell her how much I miss her.)