It's different - or so we're being told: breakfast at Le Vatout is not your usual fare. We're not big fans of sugary stuff and I, Dominika, tend to serve what we would eat: Savory food in generous portions, full of flavor, and fresh, fresh, fresh. As the "chef" I'll be the first to tell you that I've had no formal training and that I don't like to follow specific recipes. To me cooking, like art or writing, is a creative experience. In other words, I like to make it up - inspired by ingredients like herbs and veggies from the garden; by you, our guests, your wants and needs; or by my childhood memories. What follows here is not a menu, but an example of what happens when inspiration strikes.
> Broken Eggs
"Gemalte Eier". That's what my mother used to call them, eggs that have their yolks disturbed just enough so that they look as if they're painted. I like to serve them with a generous sprinkling of fresh rosemary and bits of Prosciutto di Parma gently sauteed in butter and in olive oil. Delicious with Aroostook whole wheat toast and perfect with slices of fresh tomato from the garden.
Yes, oatmeal. Good and solid, nothing fancy, just like life in Maine. During the fall, I prepare it with apples from our garden, but it's perfect served with any fruit on any coolish day. Plain rolled oats meet nuts or seeds, sometimes goji berries, sometimes raisins, sometimes a little cinnamon, but always maple syrup for a taste experience that is sweet and creamy, enhanced by nutty and balanced out by tart.
When I discovered Morse's "Nürnberger Rostbrat-würstchen" I knew fate had struck. They are the real thing, savory and smoky, with a flavor I never found this side of the Atlantic. Usually, I team them up with fresh fried Maine potatoes and then fold scrambled eggs around it all. Great with chopped fresh sage or thyme, always a little parsley, these sausages are out of this world!
> Cheesy Eggs
They're an omelette; no, actually they're more like a frittata; or maybe they're just eggs allowed to slowly come into their own. A favorite of our vegetarian guests, cheesy eggs tend to involve fresh veggies from the garden - patty pan, zucchini, or asparagus - cubed pepper jack and herbs: parsley and chives, maybe some dill, maybe some tarragon. Served with toasted multi-grain bread, they're our favorite, too!
> Buckwheat and Blues
... and twice-smoked bacon - what a breakfast treat! Pancakes at Le Vatout tend to be huge - the way I had them in my childhood in Westfalia. They're usually made with buckwheat and I can make them gluten-free. Topped with a generous helping of Maine blueberries and chopped walnuts, each one is a meal. Add a couple of thick slices carved from a slab of German bacon and prepare to swoon.
> Sunshine Shrimp
It took a stroke of luck to create the perfect marriage of breakfast eggs and Pandalus borealis, those delicious, storied shrimp from Maine. Of course I use fresh herbs - sometimes scallions, sometimes cilantro, sometimes dill - but the secret is a squirt or two of Tennessee Sunshine, a hot sauce introduced to us by one of our guests. Zesty and full of flavor, it adds a little punch to this symphony of sweet.
"Growing up in postwar Germany, I was surrounded by the joy of food.
My grandmother’s delight in a slice of fresh, crusty bread slathered with butter and honey, my father’s excitement over the fragrance of our foraged chanterelles,
my mother’s face as she tasted her perfect duck gravy, my grandfather’s
pride in his gooseberries, my aunt’s smoked eel… Food was an experience.
Food had a story. It was beautiful, immediate, and it had heft..."
— Dominika Spetsmann
(From the introduction to Cecily’s Apples, a collection of stories inspired by food)