What: The Croque Madam
Where: Bouchée Café and Deli, 72785 Highway 111, Palm Desert
How much: $12
Info: 442-666-3296; www.boucheecafeanddeli.com (menu out of date)
Why: The cheese ties everything together.
Breakfast is my favorite meal … when it’s done well, that is.
When it’s not done well, breakfast can be boring—or even off-putting. We’ve all ordered a basic “American breakfast” at a restaurant before, and instantly regretted it when we received a piece of dry ham, greasy and uninspired potatoes, and underseasoned eggs.
But when it is done well … wow.
The breakfast I recently enjoyed at Bouchée Café and Deli was, indeed, done well. Never mind that the croquet madam is actually on the lunch menu; seeing as this delight includes classic breakfast ingredients like ham (which is decidedly not dry), cheese (imported Gruyere!), egg and bread, in addition to Dijon mustard and a mornay sauce (more dairy!), this is a breakfast dish. Right?
All of those ingredients combine to make a sandwich-ish thing that is both soft and crispy at various points; flavorful yet packed with subtlety; and bright yet somehow earthy at the same time.
The thing that ties all of these ingredients together is the cheese: When it’s cooked like it is in this dish, it manages to go perfectly with all of the other ingredients. The saltiness allows it to stand up to the ham, for example, while its softness manages to complement the bread and the egg, and the sharp flavor of the high-quality import matches nicely with the mustard.
After eating the croque madam and the simple yet pleasant side salad, you won’t feel full—but you will feel satisfied.
That is, you’ll feel satisfied until the next morning, when you stare at your breakfast, whatever it may be, and realize it isn’t going to taste as good as yesterday’s croque madam did. Sigh …