Our friend, the expert, Louise “Weezy” Leonard; winner of the The Taste 2014, and accomplished chef and food stylist, has created quite the stir in NYC with her “Weezy Like Sunday Morning” Brunch at The Spring Lounge. Just as winter was seriously bearing down on the East Coast, Weezy escaped to bring us the first ever “Weezy Like Sunday Morning Brunch – West Coast Edition”! Lucky for us West Coasters, because a Louise brunch throw down is not something you want to miss. The brunch doubled as a belated 45th birthday celebration for the hubs, Mr. Weezy. With a spicy Bloody Mary bar, whiskey soaked smoked salmon, homemade giant pretzels with a plethora of smears and spreads, bbq asian chicken wings dipped in to-die-for sauce, and a chocolate stout cake with a potato chip crown?! It was a meal for the history books.
Let’s hear what Louise has to say about it!
HW: Tell us about your brunch in NYC; Weezy Like Sunday Morning. How did you get started? Is there a theme? What’s the skinny on fatty brunch?
Weezy: Friends of mine own and operate one of NYC’s few remaining old-school dive bars, The Spring Lounge. This place is open 365 days/year, 7 days/week, 8am-4am. These joints are hard to come by anymore and the Lounge has been my go-to hang for 20 years. I’d been wanting to do a pop-up brunch for a while and finally asked my buddies if I could come set up in the back on Sunday mornings. There’s no kitchen there, so I go down and dirty and cook with hot plates, a hilarious table-top steam table that looks lie a hot dog cart and a $20 Presto griddle. I usually go for a theme – the last one was a Bowie tribute brunch featuring a drink called The Black Velvet Goldmine (Prosecco, pomegranate liquor, Guinness and gold stars sprinkled on top) and a killer gooey egg sandwich called The Young American Breakfast Sandwich (bacon, egg and American cheese, arugula and tomato chutney). We packed it in and everyone jammed to all the Bowie classics while stuffing their faces and getting drunk. That’s pretty much what I try to accomplish with my Weezy brunches – full Sunday Funday gluttony!
HW: Let’s talk about the food. We know you like to cook with booze, is this a regular feature of the Weezy like Sunday Morning Brunch? Tell me about the chicken wings. What is in that insane sauce???
Weezy: Yeah, I’ll admit, I’m a booze hound! I worked as a bartender for many years so I’ve always considered beer, wine and spirits awesome ingredients not only for drinks, but also food. And the more recipes that call for alcohol, the bigger one’s booze stash becomes, which is an added perk. My Weezy brunches are typically boozy – there is always a specialty drink, loads of beer and wine. The chicken wings were dry rubbed overnight, grilled, then basted with a sauce of soy, honey, sambal, tamarind, lime juice, sesame oil and beer. You really can’t go wrong with it!
HW: What about the salmon and smears…What’s going on there?
Weezy: Sienna, you like to remind me that I’m a cat, considering my love of all things fishy and it’s true. I also loved cured, smoked and pickled food, so gravlax has become something that I make regularly. Ryan is also part Swedish and every year at Christmas time when we visit his parents in Miami, I bust out the gravlax for our smorgasbord. For this party I cured salmon with rye whiskey, molasses, salt, fennel and dill. The 4 smears were good ol’ Philly cream cheese mixed with a variety of savory elements; there was sesame miso, jalapeno scallion, sundried tomato rosemary and lemon black pepper.
HW: These days, it seems like you can find a bloody mary with a whole fried chicken hanging out of it if you try hard enough. What do you like to include on your Bloody Mary Bar in the fun garnish arena? Do you have a signature mary mix? Care to give us a hint?
Weezy: If you google image “crazy Bloody Mary”, the images with the whole fried chicken, cheeseburgers, etc. are mostly from a place in Milwaukee, WI called Sobelman’s. I grew up there and I can say with authority, Wisconsinites take their Bloody Marys SERIOUSLY. It goes back to the fact that much of the industry in Milwaukee was brewing and factories and people worked around the clock. There are also a lot of bars in Milwaukee due to the fact that it was settled by Germans, Poles and the Irish… people who know how to drink! Morning beverages were (and still are) a big part of the culture. We Sconnies don’t have rules about the time of day to get your drink on. For me it’s crucial to make the mix and the musts are tomato juice, horseradish, worcestershire, lemon, black pepper, ground celery seed, and tabasco. I also add a liberal amount of brine, either from a jar of pickles or pepperoncinis and sometimes I get frisky and add mustard or balsamic or a splash of dark beer. The garnishes should be plentiful: all things pickled – cukes, radishes, okra, dilly beans, garlic, onions, etc., celery stalks, romaine leaves, cheese, cured meat, hard boiled eggs, shrimp, oysters. It should be a meal in a glass, in my opinion.
HW: Everything you cooked was UNBELIEVABLE but for us, the show stopper was the RIDICULOUS soft yet crunchy, perfectly sour and chewy and everything heavenly pretzel. What the hell, girl?!
Weezy: Those bitches are delicious, aren’t they? The key to a real homemade soft pretzel is boiling them first with a crazy amount of baking soda, then baking them. Without the baking soda boil, they just taste like bread sticks and that deep golden crust doesn’t form. I like to make an “everything” mix like you would find on a NY bagel and serve them with grainy mustard and a warm cheese dip. And most importantly they taste amazing with a beer and Bloody Mary, simultaneously. It’s the Breakfast of Champions!
HW: Thoughts on a cheese platter?
Weezy: As a native Cheesehead, I have many thoughts! I go with one soft, one cheddar, one blue and one hard and from a mix of cow, goat and sheep’s milk. For example, a great platter would be a triple creme like St. Andre, Hook’s aged cheddar, Fourme d’Ambert blue, and Beemster aged Gouda. Garnish it with a variety of fruits, chutneys, olives and nuts and make damn sure you take the cheese out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. It needs to be room temperature.
HW: In certain circles your Chocolate Stout Cake is famous. How did you come up with that recipe?
Weezy: It started with my love of beer and what better way to leaven a cake than with beer! There are loads of recipes out there for Guinness cake, but I wanted to make mine with a chocolate stout. I love the Rogue Brewery out of Newport, OR and their version is delicious. Also my friend Sebbie is the cover girl on the label, so of course I had to use that beer. For the chocolate frosting I figured some bourbon wouldn’t hurt one bit. Then it got crazy with the garnish… potato chips, sometimes pretzels or peanuts – like a bar snack cake.
HW: We hear there might have been a teensy little snafu concerning the birthday aspect of this West Coast Weezy Brunch…..Is there anything you need to get off your chest about your husband’s birthday and if so would you like to make any public statements here 😉
Weezy: Bad wifey moment: Ryan’s BDay was January 14 and I forgot it… for the 2nd year in a row!!!!!!!! Thus the epic party!
HW: We think you made up for it. What a meal!
HW: Are you considering bringing us a regular Weezy West Coast experience? PLEASE SAY YES!
Weezy: YES! Hide the children! Weezy Like Sunday Morning blazing the West Coast!