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[Published previously, this story describes Eggs Benedict and Hollandaise, as made by Chef Darryl Howie. Darlise Café will re-open for take-away/pickup this Friday (April 24). Please check their website for important Covid-19 information and details about access due to nearby road closures.]
33A Queen Street South
Kitchener, Ontario N2G 1V8
The popular breakfast Eggs Benedict is a unique dish: it’s essentially poached eggs served with an egg sauce. It’s delicious and satisfying in its creamy richness with a hint of lemon.
A chef who makes the classic sauce that forms the centre of the dish – Hollandaise – is Darryl Howie of Darlise Café in downtown Kitchener.
Howie and his wife and business partner Liz own and operate the breakfast and lunch restaurant that’s across from the Walper Hotel on Queen Street – and have been doing so now for three-and-a-half years.
The pair previously owned and operated The Rum Runner pub, formerly downstairs at the Walper, for several years.
Howie attended George Brown College for his formal culinary education and would describe himself as trained in classic French cookery. Notably, he worked with the late Janet Lynn Leslie of Janet Lynn’s Bistro, now in Belmont Village.
He’s also been an executive chef at Ali Baba Steakhouse and The Walper Hotel and has worked at Talisman Mountain Resort, Del Dente and the Charcoal Steak House.
Among other breakfast and lunch dishes, Darlise serves six Bennies ($10-$13), including all-day breakfast.
Howie handles the distinguishing feature of Eggs Benedict with aplomb: Hollandaise, a French Mother Sauce, holds together not because of a binder such as flour, but because it is an egg-emulsified butter sauce.
You can thicken sauces by adding proteins and starches to them, or you can thicken them by filling their water molecules with fat. Sneaking one liquid into another is the emulsification.
Howie is an expert at it; he will make four or five batches of Hollandaise for a busy Saturday breakfast service.
“I separate the eggs and add Tabasco, Worcestershire, lemon juice and salt and pepper, and I cook it over an open flame. I then add the clarified butter and adjust with salt and pepper,” says Howie.
Rookie Hollandaise makers use a double-boiler or a large bowl sitting on a pot of gently boiling water, rather than on open flame.
As for the clarified butter, whole butter (especially Canadian butter) is watery and thins the egg yolk and therefore takes more whisking. Clarifying the butter separates the milk solids and leaves you with butterfat, which, along with heat, thicken the Hollandaise.
Fluid mechanics aside, Eggs Benedict includes a nice soft, runny poached egg cooked for about two-and-a-half minutes so it oozes nicely and blends with the pea meal bacon, English muffin and Hollandaise.
Add to that Howie’s potato pancake.
He cooks the potatoes with skins on, cools and peels them. He then adds caramelized onions, salt and pepper, garlic, some sugar and parsley. “That is bound with chickpea flour and eggs, so they’re gluten-free,” he says. “It’s my own recipe.”
In a busy restaurant, dishes that come together quickly are important; for veteran cook Howie, that includes classic eggs with an egg sauce.
“Benedicts in general are really easy once the Hollandaise is made,” he says. “I like Bennies.”