Brunch is brunch is brunch. Once special and rare, brunch is thought to have descended from the after-hunt meals enjoyed by British nobility. It was popularized by American hotels in the 1930s and served to the cognoscenti who could afford to imbibe on Saturday night and sleep through church on Sunday morning. But with prevalence, inevitably, comes predictability. Today, this cocktail-fueled buffet has become as familiar as, well, breakfast and lunch. So how to make brunch special again?
Easy: Put some elegant Basque flavor in the brunch business. Not only did the Basque, stemming from coastal northern Spain, also love to hunt (and likely had similar spreads afterwards), they created the renowned dish of baked eggs that’s so good even Alain Ducasse has a version.
They’re masters of the movable feast, otherwise known as pinxtos, which you eat little by little in a number of different locations throughout the day or night. They also happen to be a warmly welcoming people, as if they invented hospitality. Plug these ingredients into an equation, and the sum could easily be a Basque-inspired holiday brunch that stands out from all other mid-day meals served in any other country.
“A holiday brunch is a chance to get away from the ordinary, and create something [that] becomes talked about,” says Havana-born and Basque-raised Alejandro Muguerza, founder and co-owner of Le Basque Catering and Productions in Miami. “They are occasions that require special care. [Brunch is] an opportunity to dust off and bring out your most treasured serving pieces, a set of china you found at the back of an antique store, beautiful linens that never seem to get used, or a favorite set of glassware. As daunting as the effort may seem, don’t hold back. In fact, go completely all out.”
To that end, Muguerza also recommends forging centerpieces from “highly polished silver and glass containers” as well as picture frames, decorative boxes, books, sculptures and even lamps – in short, any objects that represent you. Mix in neutral flowers and seasonal fruit for a look that resembles a still life such as an Old Master might have painted. “These details reflect your personality and will go a long way to create an atmosphere that welcomes your guests warmly to your home.”
Next, what to serve at your Basque-style brunch...