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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: December 20, 2013

French toast: A dish with humble origins gets fancied up in Portland

Written by: Susan Axelrod

The beloved breakfast/brunch dish we know as French toast has lots of other names: among them, nun’s toast, eggy bread, pain perdu (in French), arme ritter (in German) and in England — where they tend to like silly-sounding, multi-word names for things — Poor Knights of Windsor. (If you’ve ever had the good fortune to visit the English villages Stow on the Wold or Weston-under-Lizard you know what I mean).

But back to French toast, which despite what some folks think, is not French. Food historians maintain that the dish was “invented” in medieval Europe, as a means of making otherwise stale and inedible bread into something tasty and filling. The hard, crusty bread could be “revived when moistened with milk and enriched with eggs. The traditional method of cookery was on a hot griddle prepped with a little fat.” according to foodtimeline.org. Sound familiar?

The beauty of French toast is that in its simplest form, it can be whipped up quickly for a more-festive-than-usual breakfast, even on a weekday. But it can also be stuffed with fruit and cream cheese, given a crunchy coating or even, as at The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth, morph into a something else altogether — simultaneously rich and ethereal. (It’s good for you too — look there’s fruit! ) Here is that delicious, award-winning dish, plus a few more out-of-the-ordinary French toast creations served at restaurants in and around Portland.

Out-of-the-ordinary French toast

Bananas Foster French toast

20 Milk Street, Portland Regency Hotel, 20 Milk St., Portland


Granola Crusted French Toast

Bintliff’s American Cafe, 98 Portland St., Portland


Blueberry and mascarpone-stuffed brioche with caramel sauce and spiced creme anglaise

Porthole Restaurant, 20 Custom House Wharf, Portland


Press Herald file photo

Creme brulee French toast

The Good Table, 527 Ocean House Rdad, Cape Elizabeth


Let’s do brunch

Whether it’s fuel for an active day, a way to keep the party going or hangover cure, brunch is a key component of weekends in Portland. Take a gander at our handy guide:

Brunch: 28 places to do it right in Portland


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