This is the perfect time of year to have National Oatmeal Day! The days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting colder, and there’s nothing like starting your day with a big bowl of steaming, hearty oatmeal 😀 Makes me feel like a kid again! Oatmeal is the broad term for any ground oat groats or the stew-y porridge that’s made from the groats. In order to separate the groats from the rest of the oat plant, the groats are de-husked, then heated and cooled very quickly, and it makes the slightly nutty flavor you taste in your oatmeal. Then again, you can’t taste that nuttiness if your oatmeal is covered in sugar and fake maple flavoring–like it came out of a freeze-dried package with an old man’s face on it. (You know what I’m talking about.) While it may technically be oatmeal, you lose a lot of the nutrients and natural goodness of the oats, and the flavors and texture that people love about oatmeal get lost in the artificial flavoring. (And coloring–I remember they used to make an instant oatmeal that turned bright purple when prepared!)
If you want to celebrate National Oatmeal Day today, stick to the more natural versions of the grain and go for old-fashioned steel-cut oats, that take a while to cook and soak in hot water and milk, and season it with just a little salt and brown sugar. Or go for one of the many yummy foods that include oatmeal in their preparation, like rolled oatmeal pancakes or the fantastic oatmeal raisin cookies at Milk & Cookies or Levain Bakery. Or, if you went wild food foraging yesterday for Wild Foods Day and accdientally stumbled through a patch of poison ivy, lol, dump a cup of steel-cut oats into a bathtub and have a long National Oatmeal Day soak 😉
Or you can check out one of New York City’s latest specialty restaurant, OatMeals. Like Rice to Riches and S’MAC before it, OatMeals takes a well-loved American comfort food–oatmeal porridge–and makes it not only the highlight of their restaurant, but the only thing on the menu. You wouldn’t think that a place that only sells oatmeal would last, but people love the idea of getting high-quality, delicious oatmeal that they don’t have to make themselves and doesn’t come out of a paper envelope. Locally-sourced steel-cut oats are always on the menu here, and they’re served with any combination of dozens of toppings: fresh fruit, nuts, candy pieces, and spices all adorn the toppings menu. The best part of this place, however, are the savory toppings that you’ll never find listed on a grocery store oatmeal box: stuff like pesto, cheese, and even bacon help elevate the humble oatmeal and show that it can be much more than a sweetened mush for breakfast. OatMeals also sells oat pastries, like oatmeal cookies, but more varied selections like croissants, cinnamon rolls, and truffles will have you amazed that such wonderful breads can be made from oats. Owner and chef Samantha Stephens definitely proves with OatMeals that there’s more to oats than what the Quaker man would have us believe.
120 W 3rd St (between Avenue Of The Americas & Mac Dougal St)
“”Oatmeals” is the first of its kind – a café where oats rule, and where as they say, they’ve put a modern twist on an old-fashioned favorite. Owner Samantha Stephens tells Eyewitness News to think of the steel-cut oats as risotto or as a blank slate. “Oatmeal is just a really nice flat base that you can do a lot with flavor-wise,” Stephens says. Then things get interesting. You get to build your own bowl in “papa”, “mama” or “baby” size portions. The toppings are endless – from sweet to savory. There are dollops and drizzles of truffle oil, maple syrup and caramel.””–ABC News
“OatMeals owner Samantha Stephens unleashed her playful paean to the famously healthy grain in a small shop on West 3rd Street, where she tops a hearty blend of steel-cut and stone-ground oats with add-ons like bacon, pumpkin, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and extra-virgin olive oil, as if her métier were salad, not cereal. This is not as outlandish as it sounds. Recently, there’s been a growing interest in oatmeal’s savory side (think congee), coupled with the notion that combining the super-grain with fat and protein renders it healthier still. Another welcome development: chefs’ desire to source locally grown, high-quality groats, or whole hulled oats, and to treat the cooked cereal as a blank canvas for bold and sumptuous flavors rather than spa food.”–Grubstreet
“Stephens concocted some of her own recommended combos, our favorite being the Figs and Gorgonzola. “You see salads topped with figs and gorgonzola, so why not oatmeal?” Amen, sister. The dried, jammy fig bits swirl with a tangy-sweet balsamic vinegar glaze and the gorgonzola crumbles practically melt into the oatmeal. Another favorite was the Shaved Parmesan with olive oil, flaky sea salt, cracked pepper, and a fluffy pillow of parmesan on top. Spoon some up and watch all the cheese shreds hang over like a weeping willow. It’s like a comforting bowl of cheesy risotto, just with oats. Are you feeling Canadian? Bacon bits, sharp cheddar cheese, roasted apples, maple syrup, and sea salt is another popular order.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Forget cheerios, bagels and donuts! Who wants a plain, boring bowl of breakfast, when you can have the crazy, creative, delicious concoctions at OatMeals?! I love this place! This new twist on oatmeal is exactly what I’ve been craving in the morning, afternoon, and even the occasional evening. The staff is super friendly, and you will instantly feel like family when you’re there.”–Alexa E.
“Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast food but I came here for the dinner oatmeal. I had a pesto, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil and cheese combo – just like my Mom used to make. Great to have a tasty, filling and healthy meal like this. I also enjoyed sitting in the window and watching the evening crowd walk by. Now that it has passed my evening test, I’m sure to come back at the traditional morning time. This place is so appealing that I will leave my subway mid-trip to work, get some oats, and continue to the office. My tummy will thank me!”–Steve R.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!