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Just what the doctor ordered.

Hangover Helper: The Egg Tart from Free Range in Los Angeles

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[Photograph: Farley Elliott]

How can something so good be delivered in a package so small? You may have been thinking this to yourself (and anyone within shouting distance) at the bar last night as you circled your finger in the air for another round of shots, but now that the sun is up you've got a hangover the size of Texas. (Hint: Texas is big. You can't even find small toast in Texas.) So how can the simple, scrubby little $4 egg tart from Free Range be expected to compete against your needs for a Lone Star lobotomy?

Easy: by being perfect. There's no filler here, no extra greens or dainty fruits. The egg tart from Free Range is exactly what you need to cure a hangover: bread and eggs. Or, more succinctly, carbs and gooey proteins. Top to bottom, the egg tart is maybe two inches tall. You'd be juicing the stats if you said this thing was four inches across. Yet, what more do you need, really? Flaky, buttery, perfectly browned pastry dough? It's got that. A soft-fried egg with enough constitution to stand up tall, but tender enough to bite away smooth with a dabble of runny yolk? IT'S GOT THAT TOO. You could make an argument that the few slivers of green onions are just showing off.

So where can you find this mini powerhouse? Free Range certainly doesn't have a storefront, and they're not pimping their wares in some cramped food lot inside an untagged catering truck. Nope, their operation is as small as their egg tarts, offering a grand total of eight hours per week to catch up with them. Thank the patron saint of weekend benders that one of them happens to be on Sundays at the Melrose Place farmers' market. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Free Range stand is open and ready to feed your sloppy face; nothing earlier, nothing later. It's really the perfect Sunday hangover window. No one with a hangover thinks that 9am is a real time, and if you're not up by 2 p.m. someone should call the paramedics.

Once you're there, you might even consider snatching up a few of the egg tarts, which is a smart enough idea given their size. Then again, Free Range offers a few different fried chicken sandwiches and a small assortment of other goodies, so don't be surprised if you find yourself tempted by other delights once you've outmaneuvered the Bulgari purse crowd at the Melrose Place farmers' market. But believe me when I tell you, the Free Range egg tart is a surefire way to kick your hangover from here to Texas. And there's nothing small about that.

Free Range

Sundays at the Melrose Place Farmers' Market, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
8400 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90069 (map)

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