Friday, June 02, 2006

Creperie - Spring Is Here

During the spring break of my Sophomore year of college, I decided, like most young men, that it was time for me to visit Europe. I didn’t want to be trendy (Berlin) or trite (Amsterdam) or classic (Rome) so I decided to visit a small, but rapidly growing French city, about 290 miles east of London. Although mostly known for its art and fashion, Paris, France is city becoming quickly known for its culinary accolades. Whether it’s the traditional fries, toast or onion soup (it’s unnecessary to add the “French” prefix over there), any gourmand will be blown away by this city’s gastronomic offerings. In addition to offering delicious food, Paris is also known for having an excellent selection of delectably cheap food. Whether it’s a fresh baguette slathered with brie or an airy croissant smoothed in fresh fruit preserves, the City of Lights offers its visitors a full stomach, without having any empty wallet. Of all the enticing and economical edibles I sampled, I wound up falling in love with crepes. Both savory and sweet, these (almost translucently) thin delectables can be filled with anything from Nutella and bananas to spinach and egg to chicken and cheese. Usually costing only four or five euros (don’t forget to add an extra euro or two for an Orangina), this collation à la française became a staple of almost all my meals.

Whenever Spring hits, as it did quite spectacularly this past week, I always get a yearning for crepes. Call it silly, but when there’s a crisp breeze and the smell of lovers in the air, I am overwhelmed by the desire to consume these gourmet Hot Pockets. Earlier this week I happened to be in the Lower East Side on my way to Bar 151, when a craving overtook me. Luckily I was right near Creperie, a hole in wall crepe shop known for it fresh made food and its authentic ingredients. It was late in the evening, in between the dinner crowd and the late night snackers, so the restaurant was empty with the exception of the two cooks behind the counter. Although the menu was stacked with classic combinations, like sweet butter with sugar and savory smoked turkey with shredded Swiss cheese, I was in the mood for breakfast (per usual) and ordered the fried egg with shredded mozzarella.

Utilizing both of their sodirs, the cook started cooking the eggs and the crepe at the same time. With the exception of a half-lit cigarette dangling out of his mouth, the cook resembled and contained all the grace and know-how of every Parisian street vendor I had ever met. After the first side of the crepe had cooked to a perfect golden brown, it was flipped, and the egg and cheese were placed on top. The crepe was then folded into a perfect rectangle, left on the grill for about five minutes and then served with no frills on a plastic plate ($9 with a bottle of water). Upon first cut, the excess cheese oozed out perfectly, while the remaining cheese stayed melted onto the delightful crepe. Luckily, the egg had only cooked to over medium, so I used the yolk as an internal dipping sauce. Overall the crepe was sweet and fresh, with the cheese and egg melted and cooked to perfection.

Although fulfilling, the crepe wasn’t filling and the only thing that kept me from ordering another one was price. With the exception of leaving hungry (something I hate doing) the experience was exceptional. It brought fond back memories of crawling through the catacombs, frolicking on the Champs Elysees, and, of course, gorging myself silly on crusty banquettes, buttery croissant and tasty crepes.

Creperie is located at 135 Ludlow St in the Lower East Side, New York.

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