When I was nine, my aunt and uncle took my sister and me on a vacation to Hawaii. Having children of my own now, I can't explain this behavior, because the last thing I would want on a vacation is more children around. Especially when I had my own firstborn infant in tow, as my aunt did, and when the extra children weren't particularly helpful with said baby, as we weren't.
In any case, I'm glad they took us, and several memories stand out from the trip: my one and only visit to Pearl Harbor (and a flea market being held there); my aunt being bitten by a fish while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay; sunrise on Haleakala (where I missed every shooting star on the drive up), and breakfast at King's Bakery in Honolulu.
The meal at King's Bakery is last-but-absolutely-not-least in that that list. This was back before their round loaves of "Hawaiian" Portuguese sweet bread were found in every grocery store. Back when they were just a place known to locals and former locals like my aunt, who had gone to the University of Hawaii. Which means we tourist nieces were completely unsuspecting of the culinary treat that lay ahead of us.
I still remember the fresh, ripe papaya half that strangely did not smell of gym socks, like every papaya I've had since. And I remember the French toast. W-o-w. Sweet, eggy, fragrant. Like no French toast I've had since. Which is why I've decided it'll be our Christmas morning breakfast this year. The cinnamon rolls I usually labor over have been rated "just okay," so they're off the list forever. I also looked at a half-dozen strata recipes and pictured the faces each child might make, based on that strata's ingredients. Not worth it. Let's stick with eggs, bread, sugar, and milk, for a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
4 Large eggs
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Butter
1 loaf of Hawaiian or Portuguese sweet bread
Slice bread crosswise so that each slice is about 1-inch thick. Cut larger slices into halves or thirds, if desired. Set aside.
In a shallow mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix occasionally to ensure it's well-blended.
Quickly dip slices (do not soak) in egg mixture and cook in frying pan until golden brown on both sides.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm coconut or maple syrup.