We’re excited to bring you the first installment in our four-part series on style and food. A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Blake Royer,
who runs a site called The Paupered Chef.
Over drinks at our regular spot off Fullerton Avenue, we philosophized that a man should master a few recipes—ready to call upon in any situation.
Starting today, Blake will produce a tiny cookbook of sorts for us. One recipe for each meal of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. They’ll be constrained by situation (e.g. lunch while working from home), budget (e.g. $5, or maybe what you’ve got in the fridge) and time (e.g. you’ve got 10 minutes to throw an elegant breakfast together before heading to work.)
Our inaugural post would have been impossible without the help of Hannah Lea, another new Chicagoan whose elegance and poise is already catching eyes all over town. She’s got a site of her own that you should run—not walk—to check out. Hannah indulged us by agreeing to be part of the story, and it would have been a failure without her.
First up: Breakfast.
Last night was nuts. Between the dancing
, the toasting and the unexpected requests to sing your famous rendition
of that hit from the ’60s, you’re pretty sure your suit needs to be dry-cleaned. If you remember correctly, someone ended up in a fountain. But the time is now. You’re wide awake, and after a quick glance at the beautiful woman beside you, you realize. You had planned to spend a leisurely day together. But that meeting—the one with the big client—is this morning.
This, of course, makes you seem like an asshole. This is the classic dash. But in this case, it’s no excuse; it’s the way it is. Missing this one isn’t an option. How do you explain yourself? With breakfast in bed. You slip out from beneath the covers and heat the pan.
Introducing your new go-to: the French omelette.
The French have this concept of “to taste.” Just enough to get the flavor of the thing. It’s the opposite of the American way. It’s to savor, not to be full. And if she doesn’t like breakfast—if she doesn’t like eggs—she shouldn’t be in your home in the first place.
A few words from Blake about the art of the omelette:
The French omelette, unlike our American counterpart, isn’t about the filling. In its pure state, there’s nothing but eggs, salt and pepper. Done right, it’s tender, elegant, understated, charming…everything you wish you were as a conversationalist. Making one requires technique. A bunch of gooey cheese and ham won’t be there to help matters, so you just have to cook it well. No pressure.
It may sound counterintuitive, but cook yours first. Not only will it ensure hers is hot when you serve them, it will season the pan. Like pancakes, the second one is always better.
The technique I’ve settled on is to add a teaspoon of water for each egg, which hits the hot pan and immediately evaporates to lift the eggs and make the omelette fluffy. This is an exercise in timing. But judging from what it took to get you here, you’re already a master of that. Unlike scrambled eggs—which are all about patience and coaxing—the omelette is a 30-second, high-heat affair. You can’t hesitate. Pour in the eggs, never stop shaking the pan and have the coffee already made.
The French Omelette
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 grinds of fresh pepper
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (optional)
Time: 2–3 minutes (prep), less than 60 seconds to cook.
Budget: $1–2. These are ingredients you should have on hand always.
(Serves one. Repeat, but don’t double, for two. Omelettes are cooked one at a time.)
1. In a mixing bowl or measuring jar, combine the eggs, salt, pepper, and water. Whisk vigorously to combine.
2. Heat a small skillet between 8 and 10 inches wide, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until drops of water dance on the surface. Add the butter, which will sputter and foam. When the foam subsides, and the butter just begins to color and smell nutty, add the egg mixture all at once.
3. Immediately, begin to shake the pan to distribute the eggs all over the surface and up the sides. Technique varies; some suggest pulling up the sides of the omelette and tilting the pan to let uncooked egg slide under, or using a spatula to gently break holes in the eggs to let uncooked egg run there. What’s important is to never stop shaking the pan. It helps prevent any browning, a sign that the eggs are tough and you’ve overcooked it. Remember, it will keep cooking off the heat. If desired, sprinkle the interior of the omelette with herbs or a little sharp cheese.
4. Using a spatula, fold one side of the omelette one-third of the way toward the opposite side, like the first fold of a letter. Tip the omelette out of the pan with the folded side towards the plate, then roll it onto the dish so both sides are folded under. Serve immediately with buttered toast.
On Hannah Lea: Your Gitman Vintage oxford button-down.
On you: Hanes ComfortSoft tagless v-neck. Three for $11.
When it comes to building a wardrobe, fall should be your favorite time of the sartorial year. You get to pile on layers upon layers: cardigans and scarves; knits, wovens and henleys on button downs on sweaters….I could go on.
Let’s talk jackets—the most important piece. Choices are endless, but in a pinch I’ll go ahead and say you only need one: a nice blazer in a charcoal color.
This is one of the most expensive pieces I first bit the bullet on after I graduated college. But that’s okay: There comes a time in a new man’s life when you gotta. This guy has been my lifesaver, my wool blend charcoal blazer by Billtornade.
|Above: Shrunken wool-blend blazer by Billtornade, baby blue oxford by American Apparel, thrifted striped tie, natural leather belt by Urban Outfitters, 14.5 selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin Denim.
A navy blazer is another solid option. A nice weight with a little sheen never hurt either.
|Above: Blue cotton blazer by Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, oxford button-down by American Apparel, wool tie by BDG, corduroy pants by rag & bone.
Or a camel blazer that looks sick with a nice pair of olive chinos, dark-wash denim and charcoal slacks.
|Above: Shrunken wool-blend blazer by Billtornade, thrifted camel feather suede blazer by Lanvin, cotton navy military jacket by J.Crew.
Or, throw a curveball:
A well-loved leather bomber, a nice wool coat or a cotton hunting jacket.
|Above: Thrifted brown leather bomber jacket, 14.5 selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin Denim, mustard suede derbys by 1901.
Whatever your pick, wear it. A third piece is always nice to have and surely ties the outfit together.
A man should know how to compliment a woman’s appearance. But ask the nearest lady, and she’ll tell you that when it does happen, it too often sounds like an oafish come-on. It shouldn’t need to be said—but we will anyway—that focusing all the attention on her sexuality is out of line. The art of the compliment is not a free pass to get suggestive; it’s an opportunity to make her feel great about herself. Here’s how:
Say it right away. This particular brand of admiration is appearance-based. So as soon as you see her, tell her how lovely she is. Wait too long, and it’ll seem like you’re searching for something to say.
Don’t use a 5-cent word. Avoid anything even remotely similar to hot, sexy, smoking, etc. Don’t make her feel like a piece of meat. At worst, it’s offensive; at best, it displays a glaring lack of creativity. Women are objectified enough as it is. Be the exception. And for God’s sake, don’t say she looks “nice.” It’s like telling a guy he’s “cute”—the most mediocre praise.
Don’t use a 50-cent word. Steer clear of words like ravishing. Beyond the term’s sometimes vulgar connotation, it’s also a measure of grandiloquence that’s probably best reserved for your poetic efforts. Instead, opt for something simple yet charming. Beautiful, lovely, glowing, wonderful, stunning, gorgeous, and terrific are all appropriate; pick one that feels natural.
Be specific. The essence is in the details. Mention what catches your eye. Then say why you noticed it. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe are brilliant examples.
Nicole, that belt looks terrific. The dog-head buckle is so unique; it reminds me of the labrador retrievers my family had.
Love your bag, Jena. It’s classy and low-profile, but you can see how well-made and detailed it is. How long have you had it?
Similar rules apply for the dudes: Make it sincere, and be specific. “That sweater/those wingtips/that tie looks great. I’ve been looking all over the place for something like that. Where did you get it?”
He feels affirmed; you now know where to pick up some new digs.
Mean it. Don’t flatter for flattery’s sake. Be sincere the first time, and you won’t have to repeat yourself to seem genuine. And if you find yourself not noticing things things, work on becoming the kind of guy who pays attention.
Immediate, clear and heartfelt. Then leave it at that.
Photos: Maureen O’Hara and Marlon Brando (used under the Creative Commons license) from Flickr user slightlyterrific. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe. Cam, Jeff and Seth by us.
Cameron lost his Timex and Corter for Japan bracelet in North Carolina earlier this summer. What should he replace them with? Suggestions welcome.
Quickly, to what you may have missed this week:
- If you read nothing else, read this: GQ‘s article on Jesse Thorn of Put This On. It’s one of the most interesting style reads I’ve seen lately, and there’s just too much good philosophy on the importance of dressing well to list here. Here’s some: “What Thorn offers is a measure of practicality and instruction, and allows the average man, without stylist or sponsor, to develop a responsibility for his appearance. He doesn’t consider himself an authority—more like an advocate.” Just read it. (via GQ)
- Earlier, we posted about hand-written notes and why you should be sending more of them. Last night, I had a dream that my favorite pen (the Pilot G2 .38, of course) went off the market. So, a nightmare, actually. Is this the best pen in the world? Yes. But feel free to discuss. (via my overactive dream mind)
- Finally, something useful: Shani Silver, the editor of Refinery 29 Chicago, has some sure-fire ways to win that eBay bidding war you’ve been engaging in over that Gant Rugger shirt you found for cheap. (via Refinery 29)
Okay, that’s all. We’ll be hanging out here this weekend. We’ve heard it’s off the hook.
Dismayed by the fact that we haven’t published anything particularly thrifty recently, Jeff did us a solid and shouldered the responsibility of finding something sweet. On short notice, he smartly chose to focus his efforts at Seek Vintage.
Though a bit pricier (and obviously a better caliber) than Goodwill, the D.A.V., Salvation Army, Village Discount Outlet, etc., Seek almost always yields something affordable and worthwhile. This visit was no exception. He came away with a wool-blend crew neck sweater that’s the perfect palette to catapult us into fall.
On Jeff: Wool-blend retro crewneck sweater ($20, Seek Vintage); indigo button-up courtesy of Topman; rust-colored trousers (sale $20, reg. $70) by Zara; desert boots (sale $50 at Nordstrom Rack) by Clark’s.