I spent the last two weekends with my family and friends. (Weekends with my family and friends are not exactly relaxing. It involves a lot of drinking and very little sleeping.) The first weekend was a snowboarding/skiing trip in Breckenridge/Copper Mountain. The second weekend was a baby shower in San Diego.
We planned a day of eating and shopping for one of the days I was in San Diego. We started the day off with brunch. My friend Kellie wanted to try a restaurant featured on an episode of Bobby Flay's Throw Down. The five of us met up and walked over to Cafe 222. (We were looking for Cafe 211. Don't ask. It's a long story.)
The restaurant is really close to the convention center and the convention center hotels. I could see the Marriott from where we were sitting. As I sat there, all I could think of was the day I was standing on one of the Marriott's balconies, looking out towards downtown San Diego. And as I was typing this post, I remembered taking pictures from the balcony. I searched through my gmail account for the pictures. I have a picture of Cafe 222 in one of my pictures. The pictures were from August 2005!
We walked by Lion Cafe on the way to the restaurant. (I think it is the only Lion Cafe on the mainland.) I had to grab a cup of my toasted coconut coffee. When we arrived at the restaurant, the girl told us the wait was 20 minutes. We waited 25 and went to ask if it would be much longer. We were hungry. The girl told us it would be another 20 minutes. We ended up waiting over an hour for a table.
By the time we sat down, we had memorized and mentally reorganized the menu. We even memorized the daily specials. When our waitress came by to take our drink orders, we were ready to order our meal. Kellie wanted to try the peanut butter banana french toast because it was Bobby Flay's favorite. I don't ever think about ordering stuffed french toast. I like my french toast unstuffed and made with either challah, brioche or soft french baguettes. The peanut butter banana french toast was delicious. I'm glad Kellie ordered it.
When I returned to Denver, I decided I wanted to make it so I looked for the recipe. I was in luck. The recipe from the restaurant is posted on the food network website. I printed it out and made a shopping list.
I did, however, make a couple minor changes to the recipe. I thought heavy cream was a bit too decadent so I compromised by using half and half. (I use 2% milk for my usual french toast recipe.) I also added a tablespoon of flour to the dunking mixture because a few reviewers said their french toasts turned out too mushy. It is trick I use to ensure I get fluffy and not mushy french toast. I used both wheat and white bread to see if it made much of a difference. (Our french toast at Cafe 222 was made with wheat bread.) Both tasted great.
Peanut Butter Banana Stuffed French Toast from Cafe 222
- 6 slices day-old white or wheat bread (I used four slices of wheat and two slices of white.)
- 1 to 2 ripe bananas
- 8 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- Honey, for drizzling
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half instead of cream.)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Dash salt
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- Butter or oil, for frying (I used a combination)
- Powdered sugar, for topping
- Maple syrup, for topping
Remove crust from bread. (I didn't remove the crusts. The restaurant didn't either.) Lay bread out on counter and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on each slice. Peel banana and slice enough to cover every other piece of bread. (You will be making 3 complete sandwiches). Drizzle a small amount of honey on each piece of bread that does not have banana on it. (These are the tops). Place honey drizzled piece of bread on top of a piece with bananas on it to make a sandwich. Repeat until you have made 3 sandwiches.
In a shallow medium sized bowl, gently whip, by hand, the eggs, cream, vanilla, rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and flour.
Heat skillet to medium heat, around 350 to375 degrees F, or until butter melts and begins to sizzle. Dip 1 sandwich at a time into rum batter and place into skillet. Cook until golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes before turning) on each side. Remove from skillet and cut in 1/2 diagonally. Top with powdered sugar, butter and maple syrup.
I love the melted peanut butter, the runny honey and the sweet bananas. It is so good you don't even need syrup.
The three pictures below are from Cafe 222. I took them using my phone. I love eating with my girl friends. They kept rotating the plates in front of me. I ate whatever was placed directly in front of me.
The potato pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream.
The All-American is in the foreground, the spinach and swiss scramble is on the green plate on the right and I think the cornmeal waffles are behind the waters.
And this is the the famous peanut butter banana stuffed french toast.
Pictures from Cordelia Ann's Shower:
I didn't take pictures of all the food. There were three tables overflowing with food.
My friend is so creative.
My brother took me out to lunch before dropping me off at the airport. He wanted Shanghai-style dumplings at Dumpling Inn Restaurant but they are closed on Mondays so we went to Mr. Dumpling Restaurant instead. The restaurant was very nice but the service was slow and the food was just so so.
For a restaurant with "dumpling" in its name, I expected little packets of heaven. I didn't get what I was expecting. We ordered several varieties of dumplings to try. The dumplings came out in a tower of stacked metal steamers. The server did not identify the tiers of dumplings for us so it was like picking from a box of mixed chocolates. Each dumpling was a mystery. The texture of the dumpling dough was thick and gummy. The fillings were underwhelming. They were not offensive but just underwhelming.
We ate most of the dumplings before I remembered to take pictures. The soup dumplings were very interesting.