I mentioned, briefly, in yesterday’s post that I had brunch, this past Sunday, with a friend’s daughter and her boyfriend. We went to the Thompson Diner, one of the restaurants in the very trendy, luxury boutique hotel that opened not all that long ago, in Toronto. I suggested it because they serve a good breakfast; and, in particular, their pancakes are outstanding.
Don’t believe me? Think a pancake is a pancake is a pancake?
Well, feast your eyes on this stack. That’s what I ordered. Blueberry pancakes. Yes, they are that huge. The size of a dinner plate. Each one is close to a quarter of an inch thick. And you get three in an order.
Crammed, and I mean crammed full of fresh blueberries. Topped with even more, and a light dusting of powdered sugar. I had to have a side of crispy bacon. After all, what are pancakes without bacon? And good maple syrup. Real maple syrup.
The Thompson Diner’s pancakes are the lightest, fluffiest pancakes I have ever eaten. Trust me on this. But even so, it is impossible for one person to finish the whole order. I’ve been there three times now, and the most I’ve ever eaten is half.
Pema and John shared something called the fat American. Two pancakes. One stuffed with turkey sausage. The other stuffed with bacon. Served with a fried egg on top. They said it was delicious; and between the two of them they polished the whole thing off. In no time flat.
It got me thinking.
So many different cultures serve versions of pancakes. The french have crepes. Also delicious, but the batter is so much thinner. In fact, it’s all about how thin the crepes are. And, of course, they’re filled, not served as they are. You can order them stuffed with everything from cheese and ham, to ragout, to vegetables and even fruits and chocolate cream and flaming brandy for dessert.
In the Brittony region of France, the crepes are still very thin, but they are large and usually made from buckwheat flour. Fillings can be savoury or sweet. The filling is placed in the middle of the crepe, and then all four sides are folded over. The finished ‘product’ is then square in shape, rather than round.
At one time there was a restaurant called Crepe Bretonne, in Montreal. I loved going there. They had the best onion soup. And a terrific salad made with Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, apples and cubes of emmenthal cheese, gently tossed in a very light vinaigrette. They had about forty different fillings for their crepes, but my favourite was cheese (emmenthal), mushroom and sausage. They also sold cider. The alcoholic kind. My grandmother once got really tipsy, because she drank her glass (and several more) way too quickly. She didn’t realize how potent it was.
One of my favourite West Indian dishes is called roti. It is essentially a large, flat pancake a lot like the Bretonne crepes. But it’s made out of chick pea flour. And in it, is curry of all different types. Chicken. Beef. Goat. Channa (chick peas). Potato. In all the years I’ve been eating them, I have never deviated. I always get boneless chicken with extra hot sauce. Washed down with either a bottle of Ting (carbonated grapefruit drink) or coconut water. So good. I could eat them every day.
In India I was introduced to dosa. You can get them in most parts of the country, but they originated in the South. Same principle as a crepe, but it’s made from rice batter, and served very crisp. The one I liked the best was a masala dosa, which is stuffed with spiced potatoes. Delicious.
Jewish people love their blintzes, with cottage cheese fillings and toppings of sour cream or hot blueberry sauce. I had a great aunt who made the most marvellous blintzes. They were small and light; and the cheese filling was just sweet enough, with a dash or two of cinnamon for a little extra zing.
And then, how could I forget about the lemon ricotta hotcakes they serve at The Four Seasons Hotel here? They’re both slightly sweet and slightly tart, and come with hot blueberry sauce on the side. Truly, they melt in your mouth. And just thinking about them makes me want to rush right over there and have some.
Right now. Maybe I will. Ta ta …