The Cloer Crepe MakerSaturday, March 10, 2012
Our waiter was very tall and very German. He offered us a wine list which included only Chilean wines. Since we were patriotic Argentines proud of our local wines we demurred on his offers and opted for beer. For dinner we had soup, salad, tallarines (a form of spaghetti) and for the main course we had very large bifes a caballo ( an Argentine cut of meat with a fried egg on top). For dessert we had German panqueques (thinnish pancakes that went over the rims of large platters in which they were served. On top they came with a concoction of butter, apples and brown sugar. We finished it all off with strong expresso.
There is something about youth and how youth can communicate without the need of words. Our waiter asked us if there was anything else. We all looked at each other and then in unison, we said, “Serve it all, all over again.” We ate twice.
In spite of all that food the beer had taken its toll and we were all giddy with pleasure. We were a happy bunch. Since this was Argentina in the mid 60s there were still quite a few small Fiat 500s and 1500s on the street not to mention the odd three-wheeled Messerschmitts and Heinkels (not sure if both were three-wheelers). Every one of those cars that we encountered in the dark streets back home we picked up and placed it on the sidewalk in transverse position, behind a tree, to make it more difficult for the owner to move in the morning. We thought this was very funny and we laughed loudly.
I think it may have been then when I developed a taste for pancakes and all their variants.
In the late 80s when I returned to Buenos Aires I made sure I went back to the confiterías on Calle Corrientes and ordered panqueques (like the German variety these were large and thin) with butter and dulce de leche.
Since that time I have avoided eating or making the thick variety. I thin my pancake mix as much as possible and with a stove which I have levelled as best as I can, I make pancakes that almost rival crepes.
But if the batter is too thin, they run to one end of the pan or are impossible to pick up with the lifter even if the pan is of the best Dupont non-stick surface.
My granddaughters love my pancakes (my wife Rosemary doesn’t) so it a treat for them (and for me too, as it gives me the excuse to make them) when they come for breakfast or I make pancakes for an afternoon tea (the girls will usually drink thick and sweet Mexican chocolate). I like my pancakes with either confectionary or regular sugar with plenty of unsalted butter of the cultured kind. The girls like theirs with brown sugar and cinnamon.
A special treat is to go to the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library for an afternoon. The girls know that I will take them across the street to the crepe place on Robson run by, I believe, a French-speaking Tunisian who makes excellent lemon crepes. By the time we have consumed one crepe each, the bill is close to $20 and we resist ordering more. I have always left the restaurant with pangs for more crepes until I cannot have one more, but money talks.
On Thursday I purchased ($50 at London Drugs) a Cloer crepe maker that works every time without fail. That Thursday evening Rosemary had one and I had an even dozen. I improved the Tunisian’s recipe by using a real lemon (not Real Lemon) and putting a small amount of vanilla into the basic crepe mix.
Lauren came today at 2, ready for her crepes. We both indulged. We kept some batter in the fridge and in the evening, before our Saturday movie we treated Hilary with some lemon crepes. Of course, Lauren and I both had some, too.