I have a distinct memory of walking into an IHOP with my family and asking for hot chocolate. The result was some watered-down packet from Swiss Miss. It was quite the disappointment to real hot chocolate. The kind you make by mixing cocoa powder and sugar to the best proportion and adding to warm milk. I still prefer this to the “double pump” hot chocolate of many coffee shops — you know, where they steam the milk (which is a lovely consistency, admittedly) and then just add a few pumps of Hershey’s syrup.
Similarly, oatmeal is treated the same way. Of the many different options for oatmeal, it’s appalling that so many restaurant produce some instant oatmeal, sprinkle on a few raisins and call it good. Let’s not forget what McDonald’s did – their “FMO” (aka fruit and maple oatmeal ). I have yet to try it but even the ads can’t hide that it just doesn’t do oatmeal justice.
I’ve been known to eat a lot of oatmeal. When I was little, as in when I was an elementary schooler, I had to have so much melted butter there was a ring of it at the edge of the bowl. I took a break for about 15 years and then fully embraced it. There are plenty of varieties to flavor it up — bananas & walnuts, raisins & almonds, cranberries & hazelnuts, etc. I’ve since expanded to steel cut oats, thank you Bob’s Red Mill (a longtime favorite of ours!). I’d say I eat it, approximately 5 or 6 days a week – sometimes as a snack in addition to breakfast. And to make it a little more intriguing, I call them “steel-i-os.”
For that reason and because restaurants do a deplorable job, I rarely order oatmeal out. I’d much rather have a savory egg dish with lots of different vegetables. However, I made an exception at Gravy, a well-known breakfast place on the hip and happening Mississippi Ave in Portland, Oregon. It’s decadent and delicious at the same time as being wholesome and fulfilling. It’s downright comforting.
The first layer is this warm, slightly tart layer of cooked fruit – mine was berries. Then there’s the oatmeal – cooked to perfection. The oats are still perceptible with a hint of nutty flavor. Top it off with a caramelized sugar, like creme brulee. For the looks, they added some more berries and a dash of powder sugar. I could barely finish it.