Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona

I just didn’t have Tucson pegged as one of America’s foodie meccas.  I am not entirely sure why not.  Maybe because I’ve never heard Tucson mentioned much in connection with food.  Thinking about it, I’ve never heard it mentioned at all.  So imagine my {utter} delight when I was completely wowed by a fantastic foodie mecca this morning.  Or, as John Dillinger so famously said in 1934:  “Well, I’ll be darned”.

I was perusing Urbanspoon Tucson last night, hoping to pick out a sweet spot for breakfast & during my virtual poking around I fairly randomly checked out a couple of  menus.  On my second menu I only managed to get down to the third item before I’d made my mind up exactly where I was headed at 6:30 am: Cup Cafe at the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson.  Here’s the magic words that had me drooling:

  Cast Iron Baked Eggs - two eggs, ham, leeks, and Gruyère cheese, baked in cream, with fines herbes

Absolutely no need to read one more word on any other menu.  I immediately wanted to go to bed early so that morning would come quicker, bringing with it those delicious-sounding Baked Eggs.  I didn’t, but I {really, really} wanted to.

Just like yesterday’s lunch I drove straight to Hotel Congress like I actually knew where I was going.  I think I was on auto-pilot with my nose steering me like a guided missile heading towards its yummy target.  I swear I could smell the leeks before I even got out of the condo driveway.  I rolled up & parked right in the courtyard behind the hotel.  I was expecting it to be busy, being 2 days before Christmas, but Cup Cafe was almost empty.  I did arrive 2 seconds after they opened up the doors.  Maybe that was why.

First up:  hot chocolate.  Beautifully served with cream & chocolate sauce on top.  Hey, it’s Christmas week, of course I want the cream & chocolate sauce.  It arrived at my table in record time & was warm & delicious with its hint of cinnamon.  That was a lovely festive surprise.

Winter Warmers served up at Cup Cafe

 My Cast Iron Baked Eggs arrived at an amazing speed.  I was surprised all over again.  They came cradled in their very own cast iron skillet which registered a temperature of at least 3 thousand degrees.  Along with the Eggs came a cup (how cute!!) of chunky potatoes, onions & bell peppers.  The whole thing looked awesome.  I couldn’t wait to get started…but there was that 3 thousand degree thing to deal with.  Patience was definitely a virtue this morning.

Potatoes served with the breakfast entrees in a cup...at Cup Cafe

My patience was aided by contemplating Jenny Holzer’s Pearls of Wisdom which covered an entire wall.  Such quips as “Enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway” and “Emotional responses are as valuable as intellectual responses”.  Way to start a Thursday!  If only you knew where my head had been on Wednesday. 

 As soon as the molten Gruyère cheese had cooled just enough to not blister my lips on contact, I dug right in.  Heavens to Betsy.  Cup Cafe, if you were in Seattle you’d be giving the Baked Eggs served up at Cafe Presse a run for their money, even though they are utterly different.  Who knew two versions of Baked Eggs could be so downright diverse, but equally as divine?  The only thing that might give Cafe Presse the edge is the fresh baguette & butter to sop up all that runny, eggy goodness.  Cup Cafe’s bread offerings could do with a little upgrade.

 

Cast Iron Baked Eggs: Oh my, can breakfast really be this good?

 

The eggs, by the time I had exposed them from underneath their sumptuous cheesy, leeky, hammy, creamy, herby blanket, had yolks that were a little harder than I would have liked, but when you serve eggs in a skillet at 3 thousand degrees its understandable that they just keep on cooking right there on the table.  Yes, I am being picky…desperately trying to find anything that was not perfect about this skillet full of deliciousness.  I made it last as long as I possibly could.  I could {very} easily have eaten another skilletful right then & there.

 As I sat there savouring the last morsel of magnificence in my mouth I realized that it was the day before Christmas Eve.  That was all the reason that I needed to follow my divine Baked Eggs with Double Chocolate Pudding.  Cup Cafe are famous in Tucson for their pastries, so really, I didn’t have a lot of choice now did I.  Miss Connie will be {very} proud of me.  Miss Connie thinks each & every meal should include dessert.

Double Chocolate Pudding - perfect with breakfast

 Sitting in the window of Cup Cafe with a cup of Double Chocolate Pudding watching the sun peek over the Catalina Mountains was just delightful.  I can’t think of many nicer ways to start a day.  It will be a {very} long time before I forget my first Big Breakfast Adventure in Tucson.

Bon appetit indeed!

Update:  I confess.  I went back to Cup Cafe today & despite almost being wooed away by their Croque Senor (which according to barman extraordinaire Dustin is a huge Croque Monsieur with 2 different types of cheese added on top… sounds horrible, right?) I ate those Cast Iron Baked Eggs all over again.  Hey, I am only in Tucson for a week, and who knows when I will be back?  Maybe never.  So I gotta get my fill of these Baked Eggs while I can.  This time I dispensed with the hot chocolate & the Double Chocolate Pudding & swapped out the sourdough for an English muffin.

Dustin ceremoniously presented my scrumptious skillet in front of me.  5 minutes later he came back to my end of the bar, took one look at my un-touched eggs, leaned over & commented:  “Yep.  The only bad thing about those Baked Eggs is waiting for them to cool down enough to eat them”.  You read my mind, Dustin.  Seriously, I could eat these Baked Eggs every darn day & be perfectly content.

Perfectly.

Sat there at the Cup Cafe bar with my perfect breakfast, I was whisked back to my first ever Baked Eggs.  Every once in a while my mother made Baked Eggs.  Maybe twice a year, maybe only once.  She used to grill bacon and then cut the rashers up into small pieces & sprinkle them on the top of the eggs just before bringing the dishes to the table.  I can still feel the joy that the sight of those little pink ramekin dishes brought to me.  I can see those dishes in my mind right now.  I expect that they still survive in my mother’s kitchen to this day.  The more I ponder those little pink dishes the more I think that my mother’s Baked Eggs may have been when my love affair with double (heavy) cream began all those decades ago.

“Well, I’ll be darned”.

Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Foodie Favorites of 2010 » Foodie Footnotes - [...] Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona [...]

After Weeks of Taunting » Foodie Footnotes - [...] be so entirely different in different restaurants.  I love them all.  This was no exception.  Baked Eggs just make me [...]

Amanda @ oven&apron - I loved your post on the baked eggs at Cup Cafe! I’m from Tucson originally, but just went to the Cup for the first time a few weeks ago and I ordered the baked eggs. They were so good! Since I had them, I’ve been itching to recreate them in my own kitchen. I’m working on a recipe right now, and if you’re interested, you can look for the post on my blog next Saturday!

carrie - I think I love you, Amanda!!!!

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