The fluffy souffle should be eaten while hot.

“CRACK a little off the top and pour out its contents. Rinse it with water, pat dry and you’re ready to paint it however you like,” instructed my Sunday school teacher one Easter weekend when I was only 8.

Unlike all the other paint-spattered children my age eagerly putting their colourful marks on the shells, I reached out instead for the cup that contained the discarded egg yolks and asked innocently if I could have a frying pan instead.

My bemused teacher laughed heartily in response, patted my head and walked away. Surprisingly though, I went home that day laden with a Tupperware filled with enough eggs to feed a family of five! Admittedly, I can’t draw or paint to save myself. Hence it always baffles me why people would bother painting egg shells to commemorate Easter when they can just savour its delicious contents instead. Prettily-painted egg shells or a delightful plate of omelette? I’d pick the latter any day.

And why are eggs associated with Easter anyway? Maybe I’ll brush up on the history later. For now, I’m more interested to fuel up on eggs for inspiration. An invitation to check out The Hermitage, an all-day dining outlet in Plaza Arkadia at Desa ParkCity, KL that prides itself on its diverse egg-at-its-core creations seems most timely. Especially with this being Easter weekend.

“Eggs are versatile and make the perfect comfort food. What people are unaware of is that eggs can be a filling dish when paired with the right ingredients,” begins Casey Chong, head of operations and co-founder of The Hermitage.

“Besides being a main meal, eggs can easily be turned into a delectable dessert if you know the right techniques!” chips in Simon Teing, the outlet’s head chef, as he busies himself whipping up a fluffy soufflé for a customer.

Painted in eggshell-white (no pun intended) and outlined with soft Tiffany blue, the restaurant is actually a duplex outlet and, as its name suggests, is a hidey-hole of sorts for anyone wishing to escape from the bustling world outside. While you’re in this cosy sanctuary, a comforting plate of eggy delicacy may be just the boost you need. A bowl of its signature soufflé at the end of a hearty meal is a great way to cap off your little escapade.

All you need to do after that is to head home, curl up in bed with a good book and call it a day!


Chef Simon Teing (left) and Casey Chong, head of operations and co-founder of The Hermitage.

NEW LIFE, NEW BEGINNINGS

The humble little ovoid that features in our everyday life is a lot more significant than we think.

Scientifically, the egg — with the right care and correct temperature — will bear a chick from its gelatinous contents. In religious context, the egg is said to symbolise a new life encased in a protective tomb.

This points to how Christ was miraculously resurrected from the tomb on Easter day, three days after his death on Good Friday. When the egg is cracked, the empty shell symbolises the empty tomb that Christ left behind. Hence, eggs became synonymous with Easter celebrations.

However, there are some sources that cite that the consumption of eggs may just simply be a practical way of disposing the surplus which is an inevitable result from the practice of Lent (a month of fasting on the Christian calendar prior to Easter where eggs, meat and dairy are forbidden).

To prevent unnecessary food wastage, families in the olden days, prior to the invention of the refrigerator, would hard-boil them. For this reason, the Spanish dish hornazo (a meat pie made of flour and yeast, stuffed with pork loin, spicy chorizo sausages and hard-boiled eggs) and the Hungarian potato casseroles containing slices of eggs were consumed on Easter day.


Buttery croissants with salted egg yolk butter.

In other parts of the world, eggs would be stained with red colouring to depict the blood of Christ shed during His crucifixion (better known as Paschal eggs). This custom was only officially adopted by the Christian church during 1600s as a form of blessing for the consumption of food as opposed to being a mere decorative custom, not unlike the Easter rabbit.

The influential 19th century folklorist and philologist Jacob Grim speculated in the second volume of his Deutsche Mythologie that the folk custom of Easter eggs may have stemmed from the springtime festivities of the Germanic goddess known in Old English as Eostre (a probable namesake of the modern English “Easter”).

The festivities marked the beginning of spring and many of today’s Easter egg activities are said to have been influenced by its rituals. However, the quaint custom and ritual of hand-painted eggs gave way to a chocolatier version with the first solid chocolate egg being produced by Fry in 1873. This changed how Easter eggs were viewed and consumed from then on. To date, Cadbury is the largest Easter chocolate egg producer in the world with 500 million Cadbury Creme eggs made every year globally.


Creamy scrambled eggs with black truffle aromatic.

EGGY COMMEMORATION

The yellow yolky goodness — which I personally feel is more delicious and healthier than its chocolatey brother — is certainly celebrated at The Hermitage.

“The idea of being able to serve up eggs in new and interesting ways to our customers always excites me,” confides Teing, adding: “Especially if I can infuse premium ingredients that people may be surprised to discover, such as braised ox cheeks for our ever-popular Brekkie Rossini dish, at affordable prices.”

The Hermitage may be a newcomer in the food industry (only four months old to date) but the restaurant is quickly becoming a forerunner in churning out eye-catching and Instagrammable eggy meals.

Their dishes are unique — the savoury profiterole for one, which is stuffed with soft-boiled eggs, avocado and cured salmon — and feature eggs in various guises including duck eggs, salted eggs in addition to the ubiquitous Omega-3 eggs. Try their mouth-watering buttery croissants paired with a slather of rich salted egg yolk butter and savour the richness. It’s eggstatic!


Savoury profiterole stuffed with soft-boiled duck egg.

“Typically, Malaysians consume the usual fried egg, soft-boiled egg or omelette for breakfast,” shares Chong, continuing: “So what we’re trying to do here is show them that eggs are more versatile than they think. There are many more ways to consume it. Plus, eggs aren’t just for breakfast. They’re good for the whole day!”

The affable Teing adds: “I believe that eggs are the easiest to cook and anyone can whip up a decent fried egg without breaking a sweat. However, it’s also the easiest ingredient to get wrong if you’re not careful or focused. For example, a big no-no would be cooking them on too-high heat.”

Restaurant-worthy egg dishes aside, I’m quite happy to settle for the perfect bulls-eye, paired with a bowl of steaming hot rice and completed with a drizzle of sweet soya sauce. That to me is simply the most egg-cellent meal for all of us anak Malaysia!

su-lyn@nst.com.my


Two poached eggs sit side by side with slow-cooked ox cheeks.

The Hermitage

Where F-G-7, Plaza Arkadia, Persiaran Residen 3, Jalan Intisari, Desa Parkcity, KL

Website facebook.com/thehermitagealldaydining

WAYS TO ELEVATE YOUR EGGY MEALS

SCRAMBLED EGGS

Truffle oil and cheese! The two premium ingredients that put the word “rich” into your favourite morning dish. For a meatier alternative, try adding minced beef or pieces of crispy bacon. If you prefer a more exotic twist, use it as taco fillings or roll it in tortillas.

HARD-BOILED EGGS

Scoop out the yolk, mash it, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and then pipe it back into the egg whites. Voila! You now have a more sophisticated version of the devilled eggs. If you’re lazy, just mash it with mayonnaise and slather the mixture on a slice of baguette.

OMELETTE

Adding premium ingredients such as porcini mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes or smoked salmon to your beaten eggs is one way to elevate the humble omelette. If you prefer a bite-sized version, bake in muffin trays filled with the ingredients of your choice.

POACHED/SOFT-BOILED EGGS

Use duck eggs instead of the common chicken variety! If you still prefer chicken eggs, lay it on a bed of avocados and pair with smoked meat instead of the usual toast. You can also toss it in your salad as a great substitute for salad dressing.

SUNNY-SIDE UP

It’s a good topping to add to a savoury non-tomato based pasta. You can also put it on hot rice with a slab of foie gras butter and a side of grilled meat. Why not crack a couple onto a piece of pizza dough, add in your favourite meat and greens and bake it in the oven? It’s an ideal meal to share with friends and family!

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