“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Where did that line from? I can’t count the number of people who’ve used it on me. All because Don Day doesn’t usually eat breakfast.
It just doesn’t make sense. I mean how could any meal be considered the most important of the day if it’s not consumed with wine?
It’s not that I don’t like breakfast dishes. A bacon and tomato sandwich. Eggs benny. A mushroom and brie omelet. Or a chorizo and peppers omelet. They’re all favorites.
My problem is I don’t like eating breakfast when normal people eat breakfast. I don’t even like waking up when normal people eat breakfast.
I like my first meal around Noon, maybe 1:00 pm. And, as Merriam-Webster simply defines breakfast as “the first meal of the day”, maybe all of those people who criticize my eating habits are wrong. Or maybe not.
It was a recent Saturday when Don Day’s Wife and I were looking for our first meal of the day. We’d been at the Almost Organic Market to pick up clams at La Isla for dinner and it was early. Too early we discovered for Chupalitas to be open for Buffalo wings and beer (teamed with a pack of Pall Malls, a contender for breakfast of champions in my youth).
We crossed back over Ancha de San Antonio, climbed the stairs to Mercado Centro, and walked to the back to Nomada to see what they had on the menu for lunch.
Nomada is a small and simple room. It holds maybe 30 people. Some people think that the restaurant is too dark; Don Day’s Wife thinks that the lighting is perfect. The furniture is mismatched and mostly midcentury modern in style. Some people might not like the furniture; I think it’s close to perfect. The kitchen is open, wide open, and glows like a welcoming lighthouse at the end of the room. I like that as well.
The waiter handed us menus and OMG, there, at the top, was that most important meal word, the desayunos word. I asked Don Day’s Wife for the time (I can’t be trusted with a cell phone). It was 12:15. I looked at the dishes on the menu.
“Let’s order”, I said. “Let’s eat.”
Nomada’s breakfast menu is a little tough to figure out at first. At the top, there are juices and cereal. At the bottom there are some somewhat typical breakfast mains. At the very bottom is the price of $150.00.
What you got for the 150 pesos, I wasn’t sure. But I knew how to find out. We decided to order one green and one orange juice, two of the fruit and cereal, and one main each. When in doubt, go all the way.
The mains were a tough decision. About a ten maybe even fifteen minute decision. Finally, I went for the casserole and Don Day’s Wife went for the croc monsieur, both wondering if the spelling “croc” was an accident or on purpose.
There was no discussion as to who got what juice. I got the green (under the argument of “it’s your favorite color”). Don Day’s Wife got the orange. That was until I raved about how good the green was. The primary taste was cucumber; it was the hint of apple that made it special. The orange was good too, combining orange with pineapple and, perhaps, a little grapefruit. What worked for both was the amount of taste in the juice. Sometimes fruit waters taste mostly of water; these tasted mostly of fruit.
Speaking of amounts of fruit, we counted seven different that came with the cereal. Tart green apple, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, green melon, blueberries and strawberries. And this wasn’t airline fruit. All of it was, at the very least, reasonably ripe.
Now when I made my little list of breakfast foods I like, you didn’t see any cereal. But I liked this version. It included chia, raisins, almonds and oats. There was an OK yogurt (I’d prefer something thicker and unsweetened). And an exceptional honey.
The only complaint came from Don Day’s Wife with the words, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to eat my sandwich.”
And, of course, her sandwich was enormous. You probably know what a croque monsieur is…in simplest terms, a baked or broiled ham and cheese sandwich on brioche. There are a number of variations, including the croque madame with a fried egg blanketed on top. Nomada’s version is quite a variation. The sandwich comes swimming in a cheese sauce with the top just peeking out through some greens (could this be the croc as in crocodile?). It’s incredibly rich. Probably too rich for some. But not too rich for Don Day’s Wife or Don Day when I was given the task of eating most of the second half.
One of my favorite Mexican breakfasts has always been the individual cazuela, the clay bowl with eggs and usually peppers, beans and cheese. Nomada’s casserole comes with spinach and mushrooms keeping the eggs company. And instead of the traditional clay pot, the dish is served in a blue enamelled bowl. I can’t remember the last time I gave kudos to a restaurant for their tableware but, with things like a bell jar lid for their salsa, Nomada’s is a delight no matter what they’re serving.
Marco Cruz, Nomada’s celebrated young chef wasn’t there at that Saturday breakfast. He appears to rarely be there on weekends, probably spending his time at B’ui or his other restaurants. I’ve never noticed any difference in his absence.
Chef Marco’s wife and Nomada co-owner Sofia Antillon was heading up the kitchen for our breakfast. Her smile is almost as big as the portions she serves.
That $150.00 on the menu was the price for everything we ate. I grew up not being able to go out to play until my plate was spotless so I did finish everything. And, for the price, breakfast was a bargain. But there are a lot of people who are not oinkers like me. And I was the only person within easy view that did clean their plate. There are a lot of other mains I’d like to try but, as good as the fruit and cereal is, I wouldn’t want it first or to pay for something I wasn’t going to eat.
If Nomada is going to make changes to its menu, I’d like to suggest one more. I’d love to see descriptions of some of the dishes. There’s a BALT Sandwich on the menu. BALT, to me, is bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato. At Nomada, the A is not for avocado but asparagus. And, before I order it, I’d also like to know that there’s a fried egg on their BALT as well.
There’s another main called Molletes + Tocino. Now I like muffins. And I like bacon. But I would have never thought of ordering it until I saw it being delivered to another table. And I saw the beans and cheese that also topped the muffin.
It was now 1:30 pm and I’d just finished my first meal of the day. I’d just finished what the dictionary calls breakfast. It was almost enough to make me look up what the word sunrise means.
Nomada, Cocina de Interpretacion, is located in Mercado Central, Codo 36, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They are open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, every day but Tuesday.