Ode to brunch

by Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca

I recently attended one of those raucous, close-down-the-hall wedding receptions for which I was lucky enough to have been seated at the "fun" table that was packed with friends and located in the primo spot right next to the freely flowing bar.

Though it would eventually take me two days to recover from the festivities, the one thing I did look forward to the following day was enjoying a solid brunch from a local diner. In this case, it ended up being an East End joint's Filipino breakfast of tapsilog: thin strips of fried garlic-marinated beef served alongside steamed rice, over-easy fried eggs, a small salad and a vinegar-based dipping sauce.

My love of a late-morning meal (I've never been an early riser) was probably born out of dim sum, the kind of treat my parents agreed to on weekend mornings and still a favourite. The leisurely pace of the meal and the relatively simple, familiar foods usually offered at brunch are elements I've grown to cherish.

Stuffed French toast can be fussy at home, but it's easy when your local diner makes it for you for brunch. (Canadian Press).

It's often the meal where my friend Julie, who now lives in Manhattan, and I truly get to catch up — either when she returns to Toronto or I travel to New York. Sometimes, we're even sitting next to celebrities like Ricky Martin!

I sometimes worry I spend way too much time planning brunch while planning my overall vacations. While most people focus their plans on sights to see, looking for places to eat great meals, including fantastic brunches, tops my list.

My colleague Andree's recent post about a Halifax gem has inspired me, for instance, to figure out how soon I can squeeze in a trip to Atlantic Canada (Her image of eggs Benny with homemade hollandaise on a sweet potato biscuit will haunt me for days).

A highlight of a trip to Hawaii was a luxurious beachside brunch I had in Honolulu and if I ever get to visit Los Angeles, I already know one brunch I'd like to have: fried chicken and waffles.

Brunch is also where I celebrate birthdays: eschewing a late-night bacchanal last year, I trotted off to the backyard patio of a beloved resto-pub on the Danforth with a large table of friends. I returned with my partner and a close pal this year too.

Do you brunch? Do you consider it a habit or more of an indulgence? What's your favourite brunch spot?