At Maggie’s – T is for Technique

It was an odd morning to be sure. It had rained heavily the night before and the power on my block went out sometime mid-morning. Not strange occurrence for Vallejo as sometimes the odd, old bits of our fair city, well, just break. Turns out the power wires had touched a tree top, just up the street from me. Odd, I thought, heavy rain and a tree fire. All was well in an hour’s time but in the meantime, still without my morning meal and the coffee pot not working, I decided to troddle off to someplace new as is my latest want.

 

It turns out I wanted to go to Maggie’s on Benicia Road. Now here was a corner of Vallejo that I had rarely visited. Actually I have one story to tell about thispart of town. Half a block down from Maggie’s is a Starbucks where I met a Match date once. Nice lady, odd story. New to online dating at the time, I was then and am still now, open to a safe environment for meeting. A coffee is as safe as it gets I believe. Actually the real fear should be that I am more interested in that deep rich cup of smooth blackness than my date. (Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.) The woman I met was charming, a teacher as I recall, and we had a pleasant conversation. No spark so it ended there. Still a pleasant time. The weird part was that there was another woman across the café sneaking peeks at us. I caught her on several occasions looking in our direction. I imagine that this person was my coffee date’s Safety. Totally understandable, yet I tell you, it was weird to be peered at with regularity. I can somewhat imagine what it must be like to be a celebrity.

 

Other than the occasional tank of gas, was really the only time I have been to that part of Vallejo. My loss! Maggie’s has been there for over 50 years and the current owner for over 30. Now let me tell you that I have studied cooking and have spent some time catering as well as working in restaurants. Those who know me, and have braved sharing a kitchen with me, will tell you I am a bit of perfectionist when it comes to technique. Where I learned to cook we did not study What to cook, as in recipes, we studied How to cook. Meaning that we focused on technique. How to bring the most flavor and texture out of the food item we were working with. This guy, I do not even know his name, dis guy, dis guy at Maggie’s, after 30 years of standing at the grill, has got his technique nailed.

 

This particular morning I ordered Chicken Fried steak and eggs, sunny side up if you please. My breakfast came with biscuits and gravy and a side of hash brown potatoes. The biscuits were a delight and the gravy superb. But Dear Lord, let me tell you about these potatoes. Now I cannot be absolutely sure that these were homemade fresh hash browns, but I did see him blanch fresh French Fry cut potatoes to be fried crispy at service. {Check mark 1 for good technique: French Fried potatoes should be blanched, cooked halfway, in oil around 300 to 350 degrees F. Let sit, kept fresh, then fried at 365-375 degrees F at service. This makes them super crispy.}  The hash brown potatoes were the crispiest potatoes I have ever had. I believe that he made them from fresh potatoes because the outside texture was perfectly brown, firm and crisp, and the surface was almost flat. {In my experience a flat surface occurs  because of the extra starch that unblanched fresh potatoes bring.} In any case they were absolutely the best hash browns I have enjoyed to date.

The eggs were a tender sunny side up and the chicken fried steak was everything I expected. I decided to return a few days later to try the Corned Beef Hash and eggs. Again the potatoes were perfect, and the hash had the same super crunchy texture. Now for those in the know, and those of you not in the know, starch and meat, while both having a crunchy outside texture when cooked, are actually the result of two different and separate reactions. When starch browns, as a result from contact with heat, we refer to this as caramelization of the carbohydrates/sugars. When meat browns, we refer to this as the Maillard reaction which gives the meat that lovely “Yummy” flavor. (Yes, yummy is a technical term in cooking.) Maillard was the name of the scientist who discovered this reaction. For you purists, there is some protein found in many flours and starchy vegetables, and some slight carbohydrate found in meat so there are some combined reactions, both caramelization and Maillard.

Back to breakfast. As I said, the hash is exactly what I wanted and crispy too! The eggs the same and even my English muffin was perfectly toasted. For the many years that I have resided here in V-Town I have wanted for a local place to enjoy my first meal of the day. So, it is possible that one odd morning or the other you may find me sitting quietly at the counter in a bit of a caramelized daze. As for dining at Maggie’s? I suggest that you go by soon as the chances are good that I will never write about them again. This is so I can be assured a seat whenever I stop in. The place is small with maybe 8 tables and a number of stools at the counter. Please be patient when you stop by, the food is worth the wait. The walls are covered with movie memorabilia and a juke box is on constant play. Take cash and a hearty appetite, I say.

 

Coffee: Coffee was good, not remarkable. I did enjoy sitting peacefully, though, after my meal and did so with a warm up.

 

p.s. I couldn’t stop humming Maggie May the entire time I was there.

 

Oh Maggie I couldn’t have tried anymore

You lured me away from home, cause you didn’t want to be alone

You stole my heart I couldn’t leave you if I tried

 

In 1971, when Rod Stewart released Maggie May, I was but 10 years old. Not such a memorable age, other than I was 10 rather than 9. I could though, count my age with 2 digits or on the 10 on my hands. Not something I able to do anymore.  Don’t know why I shared that.

 

Thanks for taking the time to indulge me with a read. Please follow my Facebook page The V-Town Social Club and don’t forget to stop in my website http://www.the-v-town-social-club.com

 

Eat Well and Smile Often

 

 

2 Replies to “At Maggie’s – T is for Technique”

    1. Thanks to Tom’s positive review, I went to Maggie’s on Sunday 04/15/2018 to see for myself. I have to say I agree! I had a great, simple breakfast of ham and eggs and the hash browns were indeed – perfect! I’ll be going back again soon. Thanks, Tom, and keep up the reviews!

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