Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rachel's Creperie and Cafe

Shop Name: Rachel's Creperie and Cafe

Location: Queen Street, Lancaster

Boo's Rating: 3 1/2 Screams

I've started to run out of ice cream establishments, so I'm expanding the blog to cover anything I feel like "screaming for," but I'll try to keep it food related. That being said, this blog entry will cover Rachel's Creperie and Cafe in downtown Lancaster. Ice cream? Nope. Crepes? Yup. Last weekend we had a serious heat wave- it was fantastic. I woke up early each day to the sun streaming in my face and I was out the door, dying to get some sunshine. I decided to have brunch at Rachel's since they have outdoor seating.

I should make a note here that I don't claim to be a legit food critic. I just happen to really enjoy food. Correction: I love food. Even weird food. I'll try just about anything once. Crepes are a particular favorite food of mine because I grew up eating them. My family is French and I remember both my mom and my memere making crepes when I was a kid. I had high expectations for Rachel's. The menu was pretty extensive when you consider that the main item is crepes. The have breakfast crepes that are kind of like omelets, except it's a crepe that surrounds the fillings. The have sweet crepes, savory crepes, veggie crepes, dessert crepes- pretty much any crepe you can imagine. On this particular day, they also had a roasted red pepper soup with Gouda, so I decided it would be soup & sweet crepes for me. I ordered the soup, an iced coffee and the "Tavern on the Green" crepes. The Tavern on the Green crepes are a pretty special combination, if you ask me. In my house growing up, crepes came with butter, real maple syrup, and maybe a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Simple. The Tavern on the Green crepes had fresh strawberries, brown sugar and sour cream. The combination was divine! Unfortunately, it needed to be, because the crepes were not. The crepes at Rachel's were, in my humble opinion, bland and dry. Crepes should be egg-y, and moist and so tender you can slice through them with your fork- no knife required. The texture of Rachel's' crepes wasn't quite right- they were too tough, and it was hard to cut them. In addition, the flavor wasn't anything to write home about. Maybe I'm spoiled- my mom and memere always made perfect crepes. I'm not saying I won't go to Rachel's again- the soup was outstanding, the coffee perfectly brewed and even though the actual crepes weren't amazing, the Tavern on the Green combo was spectacular. I gave Rachel 3 1/2 screams. (Not bad considering what a crepes snob I am!)

And even though mom will probably kill me for doing this, I'm going to post the family crepe recipe:

Gelineau Family Crepes:
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 well-beaten eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 Tbl. melted shortening

Mix all ingredients well. (A buzz in the blended works.) To prepare: Pour enough batter into a HOT greased pan to just barely cover the bottom. Tilt the pan to cover with batter. Work quickly, turn when just set and cook the other side. Don't over cook. Roll out of the pan and place on a warm dish or in the oven set on warm. Use up all the batter and serve with maple syrup and butter. Note: This batter is best made the night before. At minimum, refrigerate one hour before cooking.

Another great crepes recipe I've found is of course from Martha Stewart. Her recipe is almost a tutorial in how to prepare perfect crepes, so I'll include it as well. (Although, mom says it's sacrilege for me to prepare any recipe other than the family one, so you'll have to make these and tell me how they are.)

Martha Stewart Basic Crepes Recipe:
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 cups whole milk (room temp), plus more if needed
3 large eggs, room temp
5 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Whisk milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in butter. Strain mixture into medium bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 1 day). Batter should be consistency of heavy cream. Add more milk if needed.
Heat an 8 or 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and brush with butter. Ladle or pour 3 Tbl. of batter (for small crepes) or 1/3 cup batter (for large crepes) into pan, turning and tilting skillet to coat bottom evenly with batter. Cook until top of crepe appears set, bottom is firm and golden brown in spots, and center is lifted by pockets of air, about 1 minute.
Run a spatula around edge of crepe to loosen. Slip spatula under crepe, and gently flip in one swift gesture. (If it doesn't land quite right, that's okay; use spatula to unfold, or rearrange it.) Cook until bottom is firm and golden brown in spots, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cover. (The first one will not be your finest.) Repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan lightly with butter as needed (every 2 or 3 crepes). Serve immediately.

If you're intimidated by the idea of making crepes yourself, then head over to Rachel's and enjoy the fruits of their labor. (And may I suggest the Tavern on the Green crepes?)

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