Sunday brunch, Sokorelli style

I've never been big on brunch. I prefer to have my morning meal (which I like to call by its proper name: breakfast) in my peejays at home. Sometimes I'll experiment a bit with sweet breakfast treats, or Daniel will make his signature cheesy scrambled eggs, but most mornings, I can be found eating one of two meals.

The first stars two slices of spelt bread, subjected to 1.5 rounds of toasting in my tomato red toaster, followed by a one minute resting period that completes their transformation to crackly, crunchy toast. Each slice is then slathered with creamy, all natural peanut butter, and topped with overlapping layers of banana rounds that I smush slightly into the nutty swirls. Washed down with a glass of cold 1% milk, it's pure bliss.

The other option starts with a small handful of chopped onions sauteed gently in olive oil until nice and tender. I then top the browned bits with two beaten eggs, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and wait until the edges harden slightly along the pan before giving the mixture a few nudges and flips with a spatula, creating thick and fluffy curds -- a messy omelet if you will. Finally, I slide them onto a plate alongside sliced avocado, a delicious combination I first tried in Tulum, Mexico. Served with a glass of freshly squeezed OJ (squeezed by yours truly), it's a more labor intensive, but equally blissful breakfast.

I take all my meals every day very seriously, but I'm most protective of breakfast. I find that whenever I have it at a restaurant, the toast is just never toasty enough (or the edges are burnt black), the scrambled eggs consist of lonely little curds devoid of any fluffiness or real flavor, and milk for coffee or tea is never served hot. Which is why I prefer to have breakfast at home, its delicious simplicity so very soothing.

Since we don't do brunch with many of our friends too often, I was surprised when Mark and Allison (who we like to refer to as the Sokorellis, a playful combination of their respective last names) invited us to their apartment for a morning meal a few Sundays ago. Having been treated to Mark's mean meatball subs and Allison's bevy of baked goods on many occasions, I was hopeful that they too were believers in the beauty of a good breakfast.

Breakfast began with mimosas, freshly baked muffins and a bowl of juicy berries. The muffins, flecked with bits of banana, were perfect on their own, though a few smears of butter didn't hurt either. I easily could have eaten a few, but when I found out we'd be having Croque Madames from Food Network's baroness of butter, Paula Deen, I knew I needed to save room.

Daniel and I sat at the table nursing our mimosas while Mark and Allison set to work at the stove, juggling three different pans, thick pats of butter sizzling in each one. Allison stuck to the sandwich side of things, buttering slices of soft, white country bread before piling them high with layers of ham and cheese while Mark diligently fried eggs, timing the finish of each one like a pro.

Since these fancy sandwiches should be eaten as served, I was the lucky recipient of the first one. To say these were good would be an understatement. They were hot, salty and truly amazing, with just a hint of sweetness that I suspect came from a sneaky swipe of mayo.

Once everyone else had been served their gourmet grilled cheese and a few links of sausage, I was almost finished with mine, completely full, but unable to stop eating. I'm a champion at cleaning my plate and today would be no different.

We spent the rest of the day digesting in Prospect Park, the Brooklyn version of a beach. Daniel and Mark kicked around a soccer ball, while Allison professed her love of Diet Dr. Pepper. I will admit that I had a few sips since we had forgotten to pack water, which only helped to further confirm that I do not like soda, especially diet ones which are chock full of freaky ingredients I've never heard of.

We played a couple rounds of cards, of course encouraged by Daniel who takes any type of game, especially Canasta and Cranium, quite seriously. We had originally planned to be back at our apartment by 3pm, a ton of last minute weekend to-do's still attached to our fridge, but when Allison and Mark casually mentioned that they'd be barbecuing for dinner, our ears perked up. A mention of homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert helped us push off any remaining chores till Monday.

After a group trip to C-Town, Mark fired up the grill, Daniel quickly whipped up a blue cheese sauce for some steak, Allison started working on her chocolate chip cookies (a secret recipe that can be tasted by ordering a batch from her recently launched Sweet Cookie Company), and I began searching Web MD to find out if some lingering sniffles were in fact a cold or just allergies.

When Daniel went outside to help Mark grill the meats, I manned the stove, stirring his velvety blue cheese sauce, sneaking just a few tastes, while Allison added mashed bananas into the cookie batter, curious to try a new combination.

Once the cookies were in the oven, she and I tried to ignore our grumbling stomachs by leaping around the apartment to the theme song to The Hills, a show that Allison loves as much as I dislike diet Dr. Pepper. For a moment, I envisioned the four of us buying a Brooklyn townhouse and all living together, just like senior year at Lafayette, though luckily these days, our taste in food is much better. I'd even be willing to eat breakfast with them every morning, as long as they'd wake me up with homemade muffins, croque madames and mimosas.

When Mark and Daniel brought in a plate of piping hot meat, I was in the process of renacting how fast I sprint to Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone in my Monday morning spinning class. Once some Magic Hat #9 beers had been cracked open, we each piled our plate with pieces of salt-crusted steak, some scoops of Daniel's creamy sauce, chicken breasts that had taken an overnight dip in Mark's homemade marinade, super sweet corn on the cob and steamed green beans and carrots.

Allison had unfairly finished her new cookie creation about a half hour before dinner was ready, but forbid all of us from touching, let alone looking at the saucer sized treats until right at 10pm as Entourage was starting. I, either in my excitement about the cookies, the show, our endless day of eating, or maybe a little bit of everything, managed to spill my glass of milk all over myself and the couch, before even having a bite.

After moving to a safer seat at their dining table (though conveniently closer to the cookies), I broke off my first piece, loving how the moist gooey crumb was balanced by crisp, buttery edges. Allison and I agreed that they could have used a bit more flour or possibly even some oats since the smashed fruit had made the batter a bit more moist than usual, but aside from that, the bananas blended beautifully with the warm chocolate chips.

Finally, at 11:30, exactly 12 hours since Daniel and I arrived for our first meal of the day, we hopped on our bikes, bloated, but relieved to have a mini workout on the short ride back to our apartment. I'll always be protective of my breakfast eating rituals, but should the Sokorellis whip up any more world-class brunches followed by impromptu barbecues, I'll be sure to bike right over.

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