Eggs, bread, and cheese: These are the minimum components to a simple breakfast sandwich. Add a little salty piggy protein or a vegetable for complexity and you're going above and beyond. The Sunday Special breakfast sandwich at Marla Bakery executes on each of the aforementioned pieces with great technique and thought, resulting in a harmonious sandwich that practically sings to the stomach.
Let's start with the egg. A perfectly poached egg is a pain to achieve, but Marla Bakery pulls it off precisely: warm, runny, yolky goodness encapsulated in the set-yet-soft whites that are trimmed down to a T.
The bread comes in the form of an English muffin, but this is no Thomas. Marla's version is made in-house. It's light. It's fluffy. It's buttery ... it's just right. The muffins are smartly recycled into breadcrumbs that dot the sandwich.
And because simply slapping a slice of cheddar on this sandwich would be way too easy, Marla instead drizzles it with a sauce mornay, aka a béchamel with cheese. In this case, Marla uses a sharp white Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. But the beautiful thing is the unexpected airiness and lightness about it all. You don't get the mouth-coating heaviness you'd expect out of a sauce made of flour, butter, cheese, and milk. It's brilliant.
The detail-driven technique continues with the asparagus: first blanched, finished in the oven, and finally tossed in a kumquat vinaigrette. The house-cured ham — pork loin brined in coriander, rosemary, salt, sugar, and garlic for five days, then cooked sous-vide — adds the ideal salted protein element that elevates and completes the whole thing.
One bite is all it takes to get a taste of each of these carefully prepared ingredients. The crunch of the asparagus, the richness of the poached egg intermingling with the mornay and the lovely little briney slice of ham all nestled between those fluffy buttery muffins. Oh sandwiches, you are so convenient.
But don't expect to get this same exact sandwich the next time you go. The chef behind Marla Bakery, Amy Brown, hails from Nopa and carries the restaurant's in-season-and-in-kitchen cooking mantra with her. The sandwich's mainstays are the muffin and the egg, but everything in between changes often based on what's available and fresh. This is a good thing. Past sets have included bacon and fava green pesto, or ancho-rubbed pulled pork with green garlic cream.
Whatever permutation of breakfast sandwich you end up with, know that the attention to deliciousness will be there.