Unlike most kids growing up in the 80s and 90s (or even the 60s through to eternity, for that matter) I was not brought up on a steady diet of Dr Seuss books. So different was my diet -both in the culinary and literary senses -that a mention of Green Eggs and Ham would have conjured up not affable, whimsical creatures with fur in funny places, but rather a repository of unrelated associations including black, gelatinous ‘hundred-year old’ eggs, early Marxism and truly awful spam. So it is safe to say that I certain would not have liked the sound of green eggs and ham (certainly not, Sam-I-Am!).
However, fast forward several decades, and much to my surprise and amusement, I have found that the good doctor has well and truly lodged himself in both my stomach and my vernacular. These days, I find myself saying ‘green eggs and ham, please’ at cafes around town with such regularity that I wonder whether I might one day find myself at the fish stand at the Hamilton Farmers Markets trying to decide between three fish and blue fish.
Green Eggs and Ham has been a fixture on the breakfast menu at Scott’s Epicurean for as far back as I can remember. Considering the ever-changing nature of their eclectic offerings, I have always thought that the ability for this one dish to hold fast on the menu to be a testament to the strength of its character. Perhaps like the little dish that could.
I ordered the Green Eggs and Ham the very first time I tried out Scott’s. I guess you always do go for the known over the unknown (even if you, like me, had only ever really heard a handful of references to the thing in question), and in an amongst the melange of exotic-sounding, tongue-twisty breakfast options, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ was a shining beacon of familiarity.
Since that first time three years ago, I have been a firm fan. I have, of course, deviated at times to try almost everything else, like the aglio olio (stunning and also green!), the delicious Pad Thai, and the bubble and squeak (great for a hangover). I confess to loving the healthy breakfast with the salmon gravlax, and the simple poached eggs on toast is always a winner. Green Eggs and Ham, however is special. The ‘green’ eggs, creamy and scrambled, are flecked with specks of parsley (for the green, of course) and the bacon that comes on the side (the ‘ham’) is cooked to crisp perfection.
With its century-old premises (a prominent jeweler’s in another lifetime), replete with high, ornate ceilings and impeccable service, it is not hard to see how Scott’s would be high on Hamilton’s list of must-eats in the CBD. And the first thing I would recommend to all first-timers at Scott’s? The Green Eggs and Ham, of course.
A block or so down from Scott’s, on the corner of Hood and Victoria streets sits the flagship cafe of the Momento empire. Rumour has it that this was the original site of the legendary Paul’s Book Arcade before it moved to what is now Metropolis Caffe (a Hamiltonian icon in its own right). I have yet to verify whether this is fact or fiction (heh, pun not intended), but the matching checkered floors at both establishments may possibly offer a clue.
Despite my obviously slick sleuthing skills, I have to confess I am not entirely sure when Green Eggs first appeared on the menu at Momento, despite the fact that I have hung out there for countless coffees, the occasional wine, and many cheeky conversations with Dan the barista (before the Great Reshuffle of 2013 which saw him defect to Milk and Honey to replace Liam who moved on to the new Chim-Choo-Ree).
Ever since coming across Green Eggs on the menu quite by chance, this has fast become a favourite Hamilton breakfast offering, particularly for the (very small) health nut in me. While the meal does not come with ‘ham’, the incorrigible carnivores amongst us can definitely order a side of bacon to go with it. The eggs come poached and white, while the ‘green’ is achieved by a coterie of viridescent seasonal vegetables like spinach, asparagus and courgette which are -in an unexpected twist -stir-fried, Asian-style. The star of the dish is without a doubt the generous helpings of soft, wholegrain bread which deliciously and expertly soaks up the egg yolk and vegetable juices. Heaven!
To be fair, I should not be too surprised that Green Eggs and Hamilton is such a natural combination. While I am totally late to the party on this, it seems that 17 years ago, in 1997, local student radio station ContactFM (@contactfmnz) released a compilation titled Green Eggs and Hamilton to celebrate their 21st birthday, which featured a whole selection of independent local music, including the likes of Rumpus Room and MSU (which, surprisingly I had heard of!).
So, Hamilton, thank you for getting me into Green Eggs and Ham. I guess it really is never too late for me to add to my childhood memories.