ake up little Suzett
Philip Parr cuts the crépe on the Edinburgh and Glasgow pancake places.
()n one of her Slls' journeys through provincial France. EliZabeth David. in her own inimitable fashion. told of the Breton passion for crepes. ()ne. filled with cream drowned in kirsch. reduced the doyenne of lucidity to temporary speechlessness. Such a response to the humble pancake shows what can be achieved when using a little more imagination than the syrup and lemon of Shrove Tuesday.
Worries over cholesterol levels and high blood pressure generally need to be relegated to the back of the mind ifyou're to indulge in the rich mix ofeggs. butter and cream. There are. though. several ways in which one can enjoy crepes with a clear conscience. David herself(together with the (‘ul-De-Sac restaurant in Glasgow) advocates the use of buckwheat flour for that authentic Breton taste. This gives a distinctive and less stodgy consistency but Henri ()riol. ofl.e Sept in Edinburgh. is protective about the traditional appetite filler.
‘We just use ordinary flour.‘ he
says. ‘because there's so many fillings that are not complemented by buckwheat. There are a lot of restaurants who have no idea how to make crepes properly — they use the wrong recipe. make them the wrong shape or whatever.‘
Le Sept is one of the very few restaurants which actually specialise in crepes. Naturally enough. there are conflicting ideas of why this is the case. The manager of L'Auberge. which only occasionally offers a Crepe Suzette as dessert. believes that crépes as a main course are passe (and L’Auberge would never stoop to unfashionability). In Glasgow. one restaurant owner greeted myenquiry with ‘What . . . in Glasgow? You must be joking.’ M. Oriol. on the other hand. has a simple explanation. 'Well. it‘s obvious why there aren‘t many other crepe restaurants — they know that they cannot compete with us.‘
Apart from the occasional restaurant running the gauntlet of unfashionability. one is left with The Pancake Place. [I may serve crepes. it may be positioned on every high street and it may be doing less untold harm to the stratosphere than certain other fast food chains. but it can hardly be described as haute cuisine. By some odd marketing ploy. 'l'he Pancake Place has decided that everything tastes fantastic in the
same (sweet) crepe. Sugary chilli con carne is a bizarre experience. but not necessarily one that you‘d like to repeat.
The dearth ofchoice is somewhat difficult to fathom considering the versatility of the basic recipe which. with a modicum of alterations. can be used at breakfast. dinner or dessert. l.e Sept has featured curried vegetables and haddock and shrimp amongst its main course fillings. in addition to the more expected cheese and mushrooms. Desserts can be equally unlimited although creamy fillings tend to be slightly more indulgently nmuthwatering than anything remotely health conscious. And that. basically. is the charm of the crepe — it may be doing untold damage to your arteries but it tastes fantastic while it does it.
Pinch oi salt
Mix together ingredients and pour as little batter as possible (about one tablespoon) to covera very lightly greased pan. Cook on a medium-hot heat tor one minute each side.
1009 Buckwheat Flour
1 tablespoon Plain Flour 2 Eggs
75ml soured cream Pinch of salt
Prepare as basic recipe.
309 of sugar to add to the basic recipe. 180g Unsalted Butter 250g Granulated Sugar 2 Oranges 155ml Curacao 6 Large Lumps of Sugar 125ml Orange Juice 75ml Grand Marnier Make the pancakes as in the basic recipe adding 30g of sugar. Mix 90g of butter, 60g sugar, the grated rind of one of the oranges and 30ml of the curacao. Spread on the pale side of the crépes. Fold in hall and then hall again to make wedges.
Pare the rind ol the other orange into a continuous strip (as when peeling an apple) and put it into a trying pan with the sugar lumps to caramelize. Add the rest at the butter, sugar, orange juice and curacao. Bring to the boil untll syrupy and discard the sliver of orange peel. Add sections at orange. Put in the crépes, coating them completely in the liquid. Warm the Grand Marnier in a pan and ignite. Pour overthe crepes, wait until flame dies and serve.
741i); List 13 — ZbJuly 1996*