Yael highlights two favorite breakfasts from her winter break travels. Spoiler alert: it’s fabulous and European.
After my classes ended in Paris, I met my friends (and Barnard 2014 students) Cassie and Heidi on an early-morning train to Charles de Gaulle Airport for our flight to Florence. I hadn’t gotten too excited in advance because of how stressful the couple of weeks leading up to the trip had been, but as we flew over the green, vineyard-studded hills of Tuscany I found myself grinning uncontrollably. I love Italy. My family is one-quarter Syrian and three-quarters Eastern European, but we consider ourselves honorary Italians because we visit Italy so often and cook Italian food at home.
Our very first stop after dropping off our bags was the excellent Gelateria dei Neri, and I’m going to remember their ricotta and fig gelato for a long time, but I was also particularly excited for breakfast the following morning.
After three and a half months of terrible Parisian coffee (surprisingly, French coffee is about as tasty as dirty dishwater) I couldn’t wait for the familiar ritual of walking into a corner bar/café for a morning cup of proper, well-pulled Italian coffee. When they’re not in too much of a rush, Italians drink their morning espresso or cappuccino with something sweet—a crispy sfogliatelle with ricotta filling, sweet brioche rolled around a pat of marmalade, or my favorite: a cream filled, sugar-dusted bombolone (doughnut). We went back to the same café down our block all three of the mornings we spent in Florence. And I savored every sip of coffee and every bite of bombolone.
A few days later, I flew to Madrid…
and headed to the train station to meet my family, who had flown in from New York the day before. I saw them waving from the balcony as I walked out into the atrium, and when I stepped off the moving ramp on the second floor my three younger siblings all tackled me at once. It was wonderful to see them again after so long.
In contrast to Italy, it was my very first time in Spain. The coffee was very good (not as good as Italian coffee, but very good) and their cream-filled doughnuts were decent (not excellent) but eventually we figured out the best Spanish breakfast—toast with tomato pulp and olive oil.
Spanish cafes toast halves of soft, fluffy rolls and serve them with little bowls of odd-looking but delicious fresh tomato pulp and fruity Spanish olive oil to drizzle on top. It was one of the most refreshing and satisfying breakfasts I’ve had.
Now I’m back at home, where I go to the gym and refuel with breakfasts of Greek yogurt with granola, and while it’s good to be back after four months, I do miss Europe. Since I don’t live in sunny Andalusia, I suppose I’ll have to wait a while for sweet in-season tomatoes to use for my own tomato-and-olive-oil toast.
Written by: yaelwiesenfeld