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Wine & Dine
May 14, 2005

Crepes With Sizzle

Text by Sumitra Senapaty

Any visit to Paris must include indulging in the deliciously fluttery French pancake or crêpe. Verve samples this delicacy, stuffed with various fillings and recommends her favourite crêpe haunts in the French city

Smoky, yes, but that’s typical of a Parisian restaurant, n’est-ce pas? It is almost midday as I wade my way through the artist/portrait-seeker melee congregating around the local Montmartre crêperie. Here, crêpes as large as frisbees are stacked up like pillars, the favourite fillings being nutella, tuna and sausage.

I stop by to watch someone pour dough on a hot black griddle, then lift the pancake off the heat just as small brown bubbles start to form. Crêpes actually flutter as they cook; that’s how delicate they are. And delicious – Paris will never seem complete without this universal delight. Nowhere is French sophistication more evident, at least in the culinary world, than in pancakes. French pancakes, or crêpes, are thin, delicate and suave, right at home even at the hippest of dinner parties and, be warned, there’s no way to stop at just one.

They just seem right day or night, sunshine or rain. Crêpes have made more comebacks than ever with an awesome list of dessert crêpes, from apple cinnamon topped with caramel sauce and pineapple, grilled almonds and sultanas to strawberries, topped with raspberry sauce and whipped cream. “Crêpes are in vogue,” says chef, Guy Pommelet, of Café Terminus on Rue Saint Lazare. “They can also be served as a side dish for a main meal with various fillings such as mushrooms in cream sauce or spinach ricotta.” Montmartre crêperies and fine dining restaurants such as Café Terminus are as different as sugar and spice, yet a powerful principle unites them: the idea that nothing beats a paper-thin pancake.

It does seem like the French perennial is back, though a bit differently. Indeed a new way to eat and a chance to get away from the fast food craze.

79 Blvd Montparnasse (6th).

My preferred crêpe is chicken and cheese.

Oroyana

36 Rue Mouffetard (5th).

Terrific, crowned with an extra dollop of nutella, on top.

The Petit Grec

68 Rue Mouffetard (5th).

A basic crêperie, you can invent your own concoctions here.

THE CLASSIC CREPE SUZETTE

Ingredients

For the Crêpe Suzette: 1 medium orange, grated zest only and 1 tbsp caster sugar mixed into basic crêpe batter (250 gms plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp sugar, 250 ml milk, 2 eggs lightly beaten).

For the sauce: 150 ml orange juice (from 3-4 medium oranges), 1 medium orange grated zest only, 1 small lemon grated rind and juice, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 3 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau (brandy will do), 50 gms unsalted butter, extra Grand Marnier, for flaming.

Recipe Courtesy Delia Smith, cookery writer; BBC’s culinary expert.

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