Monday, May 19, 2008

Rachel's Creperie: Crepe La Vie!

When I was in Paris, I fell in love with a crepe stand just around the corner. It was just big enough to hold two round cast iron hot plates, “the crepe guy,” and his ingredients. Every morning, I would roll out of bed and walk over to the stand for my oeuf et fromage (egg & cheese) crepe. Then I would sit on the ledge of a beautiful fountain across the street and watch the city wake up.

All these memories came flooding back to the forefront on an overcast Saturday morning at Rachel’s CafĂ© and Creperie. It’s a charming little place that’s laid-back and smartly decorated with Parisian effects. Although doing a brisk business, there’s no rush; there’s no crowd—it almost seems as if one could actually relax and take her time to read the newspaper and sip at coffee for a few moments after finishing her meal. In this day and age of efficiency and speed, that’s decidedly refreshing.

Among the things that Rachel’s does well, it’s managing the expectations of the guest. There’s a sign on each table that basically says, “Chill out, your crepe is coming, but we’re making it fresh and only for you, so it’s worth the wait.” Okay, it’s much more eloquent and polite than that, but I only get so many words here… The point is, it’s a smart business practice and let me tell you, it is definitely worth the wait.

I ordered, what else, but the oeuf et fromage crepe. I chose brie cheese for its subtlety and melty ooziness, and being the carnivore that I am, threw in some sausage ($6.50). One of the things I loved about my French crepe was that it catered to my rather fastidious eating habits. I like to make sure every bite has a balance of everything within that particular dish. The egg and cheese would be spread right up to the edge of the crepe so that every single bite was balanced, from beginning to end. Rachel’s pays attention to this detail, and I was pleased to see the egg peeking out from behind the crepe’s edge.

My first bite elicited an “Mmmm,” which my husband was quick to point out. Not crunchy, but not soggy, the crepe was the perfect consistency. My second bite, apparently, resulted in a louder and more definitive “MMMM,” paired with head nods and a furrowed brow, as if the crepe and I were beginning to understand each other. By the time I was in the middle of it all, I was happily exposing the cross-section of my crepe, along with all my bite marks, to point out how much sausage they managed to fit into all the layers. Quite generous, and quite delicious.

My husband ordered the Strawberry Cheesecake crepe ($6.50) off the Dessert section – a graham cracker-infused crepe with sweetened cream cheese, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. Dessert after meals be damned. This may just turn me into a dessert-eating fiend all day long. This crepe is enormous. It comes out all puffed up, full of whipped cream, with additional whipped cream on top. Every bite is fluffy, light and decadent. And with the freshest of strawberries, it’s at least a little bit healthy? Not really, so go in knowing you’re about to indulge and do me a favor, don’t feel guilty about it. The French sure don’t.

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