Day 233 – National Bavarian Crepes Day

Today’s celebration just didn’t make sense to me and in truth, I may have taken a few liberties to call it a day. Today was Bavarian Crepe Day which seemed festive enough, it just came down to understanding what a Bavarian crepe really is. There wasn’t much information on it. Even the holiday sites I use as reference for this quest were vague in their definition. They told me what a crepe is but gave no mention on what makes one Bavarian. Would it have to come direct from Bavaria? I’m not even sure I know where that is – is it Germany? (It is, it is one of the sixteen German states with Munich as its capital.)

A crepe is a French creation and, to put it simply, it is a very thin version of a pancake or a batter that has been fried in a pan. They’ve been around since the 13th century when buckwheat flour was introduced into the Brittany region of France. Since then, they’ve become a bit of a fixture in French culture. When you walk the streets in France, you are not only surrounded by creperies but also street carts that make your crepes to order. They are a fascinating thing to watch being made. The batter is spread out thinly across a giant round pan and the crepe maker combs it out across the entire pan so it is smooth and evenly cooked. Then they slowly flip it over.  It’s a skill that takes time to master but a show stopper for anyone watching. Crepes are usually topped in fresh fruit, maybe some powdered sugar or whipped cream, and sometimes chocolate or Nutella. They are pretty versatile and can be made sweet or savory. That’s a French crepe. But how’d we get to Bavaria?

I did find one holiday website that gave me some insight into what makes a crepe Bavarian. According to web-holidays.com, the main difference between a Bavarian crepe and the classic French crepe is that the batter is used right away rather than letting it rest before using. Well that doesn’t seem like it makes it uniquely Bavarian. Are Bavarians known for being impatient – they have to use the batter right away? Seems odd. The website also hypothesized, as I had too, that Bavarian crepes are stuffed with Bavarian cream which is a pastry cream thickened with gelatin rather than cornstarch which is then lightened with whipped cream just before it sets up. That version I can believe. We’ve all see Bavarian cream in doughnuts and cakes. I have a vague familiarity there and I can see how it would be good in a crepe. I started to believe that I had figured out what a Bavarian crepe was, although I still had the problem of having to get one.

I respect the crepe and I know to make a proper one, you kind of need the right equipment.  You need a crepe pan or cooker which is like a griddle pan but it does not have edges so you can make the crepe super thin and not worry about it bunching up along the rim of the pan. Plus you need a crepe spreader to smooth out your batter so it is thin and even across your pan. You also need a crepe spatula to help you flip your crepe at the right time. This has to be thin enough to get underneath, but also long enough to flip the whole crepe.If you want it done right, you have have the proper gear and I did not. I then looked to the internet to find a place where I could have a professional make me a crepe.

There are always a few creperies near your bigger cities as it seems those areas always have crowds that appreciate the finer things in life like crepes. Naturally there were a few spots in Providence that specialized in crepes and they looked delicious. But then I found a place in Barrington, RI that also specialized in crepes called Crepelicious. Barrington is about 15 minutes closer to our house than is Providence and you also don’t have to deal with Providence traffic, etc., so I was pretty excited to find this spot. The menu online looked good and they were open on Tuesdays at 11. I had an appointment this morning in Middletown which meant that I actually had to get dressed (you know, pants and dress shirt, that whole rigamarole), so after that appointment, because I was dressed for success, I made my way to Barrington. Apparently I was dressed for crepes too.

Crepelicious is on Maple Avenue which is right off of Route 114 which seems to be the shopping district in town. It was a busy street but they have a parking lot behind the building which made it easy to stop. It is housed in a building that I am pretty sure used to be a house and it looked pretty homey and inviting. When I walked in, I was greeted instantly with a warm hello and I took a few minutes to look over my choices. This was where my dilemma came in because they didn’t offer any Bavarian style crepes, but then again why would they? In the end, I was ok with this. I was making the effort here. I was celebrating a new food that I had not celebrated before. I went out of my way to discover a cool new spot to enjoy it. I even got all dressed up for the occasion. The search for a Bavarian Crepe seemed to be a fool’s errand. Why not enjoy what was in front of me. For the record, I did ask if they had any kind of Bavarian cream available.  They did not. I instead opted for a crepe with strawberries and bananas and some whipped cream on the side. I was going to imagine that the whipped cream was made in Bavaria. Plus I had a nice fresh made cappuccino to go along with it.

There was one person working the counter and taking the order while another woman was manning the crepe maker. I watched her work for a few minutes, gently spreading the batter over this big round griddle. She watched it closely gently playing with the edges testing to see if it was ready to flip. When you cook anything thin, it cooks fast. Really fast. And for anyone that has ever burned a pancake, you know how fast it can go from cooked to burnt. That makes cooking a crepe a challenge. My crepe maker was an expert though and she patiently monitored it cooking with expertise and care. I think she’s done this before. I didn’t see her finish it up, but it would have been nice to have seen how she folds it up and stuffs it. It looked great when it arrived at my table.

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The crepe was nice and sweet. It was as tasty as a pancake with that sweet fried batter flavor, but it had a crispness to it as well as the outside of the crepe had cooked on the crepe pan. The powdered sugar on top gave it a little more sweetness that was a nice touch. Inside, the strawberries and bananas were nice and flavorful. The strawberries were sweet and ripe and just starting to break down as they were probably sprinkled with some sugar. That gave the filling a little bit of a strawberry syrup to it. The bananas were perfectly ripe as well and full of good banana flavor which teamed well with the strawberries. The whipped cream was a nice touch too. It was fresh and chilled and worked with every bite.  I could see where some Bavarian cream would have been nice here too. The heavier cream would have given the crepe a bit more substance and the custard-like taste would have upped the flavor. Regardless, the crepe that I was served was perfect and it was a great lunch. Plus it was a nice coffee too.

I’d recommend this spot to anyone. It was comfortable inside which made it nice too. There were three or four other tables while I was there and everyone seemed to be pretty happy. If I were to try them again, I would sample some of their savory options like a Bacon, Egg and Cheese crepe or even a Pepperoni Pizza crepe. They seem to know what they are doing. I didn’t know this, but apparently they were named best crepes in RI by Rhode Island Monthly. Maybe I wasn’t eating a Bavarian crepe, but I was definitely enjoying an award winning crepe.

I may have failed at celebrating a Bavarian Crepe today but I can at least say I tried. I really did. I’m still not totally convinced that this is not a made up thing – some kind of urban myth like the chupacabra. I did celebrate the crepe however, so that was something. I found a great new spot for all your crepe needs (excepting Bavarian) and I got to enjoy the fine skills and craftsmanship it takes to make a good one. I really enjoyed it and before I get down on myself for not nailing this celebration today, I have to realize that this is what the quest is truly about. Enjoying. Appreciating. Discovering. So in that sense, I really nailed it. Just don’t tell the Bavarians.

Next Up: National Chip and Dip Day 

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