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Mark Moriarty: The two best dishes we ate in NYC, adapted to fit the Christmas brief

New York is a place where brunch has been a thing since long before I was born

Brunch is part of that glorious time of the Christmas holidays when we have free licence to eat whatever and whenever we like. As always, we are trying to stretch our ingredients as far as we can. In my kitchen, certain ingredients would be considered dual players, lining out for dinner on Christmas Day before reappearing in different guises through the following days and dishes.

This is also a great way of reducing your seasonal food cost, much like certain menus would work in a professional kitchen. I fondly remember chef John Wyer’s famed Sunday brunch at Forest Avenue in Dublin years ago. Five courses would be served, starting with coffee and a warm pastry, and on to granola, fish and meat. The menus would be written on Saturday based on what ingredients were left in his fridge. It was the first of its kind at the time and gained a cult following, with bookings harder to secure than Taylor Swift tickets (unless you knew someone in the kitchen!). It was clever, different and a great way of emptying the fridge before a new week. The same principle can be applied to our homes.

This week, we are travelling to New York City for inspiration, a place where brunch has been a thing since long before I was born. I’m talking 1950s diner cooking here, those white mugs of rocket fuel coffee and Elvis still on the jukebox loop. In September, myself and my friend, Ciaran Sweeney, travelled to cook with an old friend, Michael Brogan, at his restaurant in downtown Brooklyn.

We showcased modern Irish food, We were three Irish chefs living the dream in the big city. And we lived the dream so much so that I barely became acquainted with the blow-up mattress I had prepared so beautifully on the apartment floor. The lure of the taxi across Brooklyn Bridge after work was too strong, its sparkling street lights guiding the way to the playground that is downtown Manhattan. Next morning, redemption was found in the local diner, fuelling us to go again: prep, clean, serve, party.


Here are my interpretations of the two best dishes we ate there, adapted to fit the Christmas brief. Hashed potatoes with ham and eggs (I’ve served both a fried and poached egg), and a salmon and cream cheese bagel. The former uses up the leftover Christmas ham and potentially the roast potatoes, the latter uses gravadlax-style salmon, which can also be a really easy starter for the big day. It is basically a fancy term for cured salmon seasoned with dill, lemon and pepper.

The key to the bagel is really thick cream cheese and the only way to get perfectly poached eggs is with really fresh, gelatinous eggs. Hopefully they’ll help you in the same way they did for us on those rainy mornings in downtown Brooklyn.

Recipe: Spicy hashed potato with ham, poached or fried egg

Recipe: NYC style cured salmon and cream cheese bagel with pickled cucumber