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TDG: Oh, Crepe!


Fat Guy
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Meet Francis Raven, new contributor and crepe addict . . .

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Be sure to check The Daily Gullet home page daily for new articles (most every weekday), hot topics, site announcements, and more.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Great piece Francis. I've always felt that crepes were an underappreciated part of the culinary landscape in most parts of the world.

What about the crepe batter? Do the places in San Francisco use buckwheat flour as part of the mix? And what are the big sellers, savory or sweet?

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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What about the crepe batter? Do the places in San Francisco use buckwheat flour as part of the mix? And what are the big sellers, savory or sweet?

Francis probably knows more...

but there are a few crepe places in SF, including my favorite, Ti Couz. This restaurant specializes in Brittany-style crepes using buckwheat flour. I think they use buckwheat for savory crepes and wheat flour for sweets ones. They also serve great dry ciders from Normandy/Brittany to go with...

I don't know about anyone else, but I always get savory and sweet when I'm there...

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Yes Ti Couz uses the buckwheat, but the other one (Mission Grounds) uses a regular white flour batter. My favorite creperie in the Bay Area is Tatoutis in oldtown Oakland, which also specializes in the Brittany-style buckwheat crepes. Their "complete" (Gruyere and ham topped with a sunnyside-up egg) is terrific!

Thanks for the article, Francis!

Cheers

Squeat

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I think what we have here is a topic for next years' eGCI! I, for one, would be most appreciative. Yum..crepes!

Yes, I too would like to see a tutorial posted. I have a basic recipe, but a thorough tutorial could be really interesting!

-- Jason

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Great article and really good writing.

I had forgotten about crepes. Crepes were one of those things that I used to do about 30 years ago, like tempura, that were sort of "performance art" parties. For crepes, I would have an assortment of fillings, sweet and savory, and the guests would stand around awaiting the next crepe. Come to think of it... that was kind of fun.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Crepes used to be "morning after" food for me... kind of like dinner, a movie, and four hours of begging was "night before". But, alas, new S.O. now. The new one doesn't even appreciate homemade hot cocoa... she says it isn't sweet enough! :huh:

What sorts of things do people do with savory crepes? I've done the strawberries and creme fraiche. Even better is stewed sweetened rhubarb with sweetened creme fraiche or sweetened sour cream. Also quite delightful is grilled peaches. But, I haven't grasped what one puts with a savory crepe (and I await your answers!).

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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a few ideas...

Just recently made some nice savory buckwheat crepes with a leek, creme fraiche filling as follows:

stew chopped leeks (white part) on low heat in butter for an hour

add creme fraiche and cook a bit until thickened; s&p to taste, pinch of numeg.

fill crepes w/filling plus grated gruyere

Bake until heated through ~ 15 min.

Have also enjoyed sauteed onions and gruyere inside; then drizzled red pepper rouille over the top.

A totally different way I had crepes in Brittany (but very traditional) is buckwheat crepes wrapped around a grilled sausage...

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Years and years ago (I'm talking twenty to thirty years, here), there was a chain in Southern California called The Magic Pan. It was a beautiful, upscale creperie. When you walked into the restaurant, right up front there was this amazing display of a giant revolving heating system. It is hard to describe but the crepe maker stood in the middle, picked up the crepe pan and dipped it into a large vat of batter, UPSIDEDOWN (there were special crepe pans, made deliberately with a lip around the outside of the pan). The maker would then put the pan down above a single flame. As the multiple pans rotated around him/her, by the time it returned to the maker, than that crepe was completed. I would hazard to guess the rotating cooker had a dozen or so burners on it. When the finished crepe completed its rotation, the *chef* would flip the cooked crepe onto a large pile. From there, they were taken to the kitchen.

What I remember most about the restaurant (my mother loved it and we ate at the one in South Coast Plaza often), were a number of things. Crepes aside, they had Potage St. Germain, or Split Pea Soup, but it was served with a tiny carafe of sherry for garnish. I also liked their Steak Diane (made tableside).

Crepe-wise, my favorites were always a combination order of Boeuf Bourguignon (crepe filled with tender cuts of savory beef and mushrooms, topped with a thick, red-wine sauce) and a Country Ham Crepe (this one was filled with their version of Jambon Persille, but fried to light crisp). They also had a number of typical 70s variations of Chicken with Cream Sauce, vegetarian crepes with savory mushrooms, etc.

Then there were the dessert crepes. Magnificent creations! My favorite (my gosh, all these memories are flooding back!), was a Chocolate Mint Crepe. The restaurant would pre-freeze ice cream in blocks approximately 1" wide by 6" long. The ice cream (in this case, MINT), would be wrapped in a fresh crepe which was topped with slightly-alcoholic, heated chocolate sauce, tons of whip cream, and chocolate-mint sprinkles. There were also Strawberry, Raspberry, and Apricot versions of the crepes.

And to think, there are tons more on the menu that I can't recall!

But, to answer your questions about savory crepes, the possibilities are endless!

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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I used to go to a creperie in the old city of Nice. With some hard cider, I'd have ham with gruyere cheese, mushrooms and gruyere cheese, ham with mushrooms and gruyere cheese, or chicken with one of the aforementioned, most often. They also had dessert crepes.

[Edit to say that my favorite dessert crepes there were Nutella, sugar with cinnamon, apples with sugar and cinnamon, chocolate, chocolate with Cointreau, and various other combinations with liqueurs. Reading the article made me feel a little less likely to be ridiculed for admitting to an appreciation of Nutella. :laugh: :laugh: ]

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The Magic Pan. There was one in Minneapolis, on Nicollet Mall, between 8th and 9th. It was there for a long, long, long time, and then was replaced with an ever-changing series of failed attempts at theme cuisine.

I loved the Magic Pan. My mom or my uncle and I had many wonderful lunches and dinners at The Magic Pan.

Interesting that The Magic Pan had a long run, but the follwers in that some location each had very short runs.

Time to do crepes. The kids will ove them, and love making them.

Edited by snowangel (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Fun piece, Francis.

<sigh> Remembering our favorite creperie on Ile St. Louis that introduced us to hard cider with Brittany-style crepes (yes! Gruyere, jambon et sunnyside up egg;-)

And thanks to those who walked us down the Magic Pan memory lane. There were a couple in the Detroit area, too. I remember liking the sweet stuff best - before the taste buds developed their taste for the savory.

Time to get out the buckwheat flour and the crepe pan. And the nutella!

:wub:

But not all at once. :wink:

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We had a Magic Pan here in NJ, too, at the Riverside Square Mall - they served the first split pea soup I ever liked! Maybe it was the sherry.

Didn't they also have a spinach salad with mandarin oranges?

And the beef bourguignonne crepe was almost as good as the creamy chicken one.

I really miss that place.

Some chain restaurants CAN serve good food.

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Crepes, like a great many wonderful things, were done-to-death and fell out of favor. I have always loved them, and served many variations in my catering and restaurant days in the 80s.

Savory crepes were usually filled with some variation of Bechamel sauce (Mornay, Supreme) combined with seafood, chicken or mushrooms. All these were made ahead, then stuffed, rolled, sauced, baked and served as main luncheon dishes or a first course. Favorites were:

Spinach souffle filled crepes with mushroom sauce

Cheese crepes (gruyere cooked filling)

Crabmeat crepes with browned butter and almonds

Crepes soubise (served as a starch with roasts)

Some favorite dessert crepes:

Filled with pastry cream and whipped cream, with strawberry-raspberry sauce, served cold

Baked crepe "stack" with apple and apricot fillings, flambeed, cut into wedges and served with vanilla ice cream (very boozy!)

Lemon souffle crepes (these folded in quarters) with apricot sauce

Rum buttercream filling, baked and sifted with powdered sugar

Thanks for the article and the inspiration...I think Christmas dinner may feature crepes in some fashion.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Thanks so much for all your comments. I had no idea there was such a great community on this board.

Ludja - the traditional brittany crepe that you spoke of around a sausage reminded me of the funny magic pan crepe around a hot dog that i had when

I was young.

The baking of the crepe after it's made also seems very interesting.

I'm also intrigued by the idea of a tutorial on the subject. It's so fun to watch and everyone has ideas about it that are fun to talk about, and some people have the knack and can rally put on a show with it.

Francis

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Didn't they also have a spinach salad with mandarin oranges?

Yes! Yes! I forgot that -- it was at The Magic Pan that I learned I LIKED Spinach! (Well, I was six or seven and hated everything until then...)

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the brittany angle is so interesting,

I love those bowls of hard cider

and oysters

don't get me started on Brittany oysters.... we had a chance to visit an oyster farmer/store in Belon and had wonderful oysters there. The two young daughters were manning the front desk to sell shucked oysters for people to eat. It wasn't really a restaurant, but they had a courtyard w/a few tables. A bottle of chilled Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, chewy bread with sweet butter and fresh out of the water oysters...

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Years and years ago (I'm talking twenty to thirty years, here), there was a chain in Southern California called The Magic Pan.

What I remember most about the restaurant (my mother loved it and we ate at the one in South Coast Plaza often), were a number of things.

Must have been the site of the first egullet gathering. My Mom, a friend and her Mom, and I ate there almost every time we went to SCP...those days ended about 30 years ago. Time flies, thanks for the memories.

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Thanks for that very enjoyable article, Francis.

Speaking of baked crepes, I've enjoyed on a few occasions two different kinds of baked crepes.

Marcella Hazan has a section on crespelle (this is just Italian crepes-- she allows her readers to use her batter or any crepe batter they prefer) in her Essentials book. There's a wonderful recipe for a mound of crepes, filled very lightly with tomato sauce, prosciutto, and mozzarella. This dish is both surprisingly light and decadently rich, as any dish featuring a mound of buttery crepes would have to be.

Then there's Julia Child's mound of crepes, from Mastering the Art. This one features alternating layers of spinach and mushrooms, and three different cheese sauces, including a smothering topping of Sauce Mornay. Nothing light about this recipe. Julia calls it "amusing;" to me it was overwhelming. My wife loved it. I thought it was delicious, but I couldn't eat more than a few bites, it was so rich.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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No-one's mentioned the opening premise of Francis Raven's article: He got a crepe because he had to pee and the creperie wouldn't let him use their bathroom even in exchange for buying coffee. I think that sucks, but should that be discussed in a separate thread?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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