A centuries-old breakfast dish that combines eggs, bread and syrup will be all the rage in Amherst between March 27 and April 3 when the town celebrates its annual French Toast Fest.
Seven chefs from seven Amherst restaurants will be preparing seven different gourmet French toast dishes that will tantalize the taste buds during the seven-day festival.
Birkinshaw’s Tea Room & Coffee House, Bliss Crystal Café, Breakfast at Brittney’s, Portlander Jamaican Restaurant, The Old Warehouse Café, Savoie Kitchen and Starlite will be creating the dishes for the festival that is being hosted by the Town of Amherst and sponsored by Dayle’s Grand Market, Maritime Pride Eggs, Weston Bakeries and Hidden Mountain Maple Farms.
In addition to gourmet French toast dishes, some of the restaurants will have also have French toast-inspired baked goods or lattes.
Those purchasing a French toast special at any of the restaurants will receive a ballot for a chance to win a maple-theme prize of a turned maple bowl filled with maple products. Folks may also post a photo to Instagram or Facebook of them enjoying their gourmet dish using #FrenchToastFest for a chance to win a sweet treat.
During the festival Hidden Mountain Maple Farms, who are supplying each restaurant with four litres of maple syrup, will host a taffy-on-snow tasting event at Dayle’s Grand Market. Hidden Mountain will also have a pop-up shop at Dayle’s where folks can buy maple syrup and other maple products.
Maritime Pride Eggs and Weston Bakeries are also making sure local elementary students have the opportunity to dine on French toast during the festival. They have donated eggs and bread to the schools so they can create the meal. West Highlands is using its donation to offer a cooking class for its Primary to Grade 2 students, while Cumberland North and Spring Street Academy will host a French toast lunch for their entire schools.
“We are so pleased to work with amazing businesses here in Amherst whose generosity allows our local schools to participate in celebrating French Toast Fest,” Cheryl Laliberte, Town of Amherst’s community well-being manager, said.
“We are equally excited to have seven great restaurants participating in the festival. I am looking forward to tasting their French toast creations.”
The first French Toast Festival was held three years ago. Home to an egg factory, bread factory and surrounded by sugar woods, Amherst is excited to once again celebrate one of the world’s most popular dishes.
According to the Neatorama, Breakfast Shoppe and NDTV websites French toast was the creation of an Albany, N.Y., innkeeper named Joseph French. The sites state French was the first to combine eggs and bread to make the tasty breakfast, but when he advertised his new dish, he called it French toast instead of French’s toast because he had a limited knowledge of grammar and failed to use the apostrophe.
The websites urge caution in believing this “legend” as there are records going back centuries that refer to meals made from bread soaked in eggs or milk. One of them is the Apicius, a collection of recipes from the early 5th century AD. It notes the dish existed during the days of the Roman Empire.
The websites also note that during the 15th century, the dish – known as “pain perdu” – was a culinary rage in the court of King Henry V of England. Pain perdu is what the French call French toast today.
According to the Wonderopolis website pain perdu means lost bread, and it was called lost bread because people originally made French toast from stale bread in order to make use of bread that would otherwise have been thrown away.
The Breakfast Shoppe’s website says the phrase French toast first appeared in print in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink in 1871. It also says the meal made from combining eggs and milk has several different names around the world including German toast, eggy bread, French-fried bread, poor knights of Windsor and Spanish toast.
(Photo credit: Birkinshaw's Tea Room & Coffee House)