Discovering Melbourne's creperies

Fran Fogarty 21 January 2009

Disclaimer: I love bread. I really do. But sometimes crepes are such a lovely alternative. Light, fresh, savory or sweet- really, what's not to like? Combined with the fact that they are French, it's not surprising that they make you feel a little exotic eating them.  And isn't there a saying ‘French woman don't get fat'?

The French traditionally serve crepes on February 2 - La Chandeluer (originally Virgin Mary's Blessing Day).  The French believe that you can become rich within the year, if whilst holding a piece of gold in your right hand, you catch a crepe in a frying pan with your left.

This tradition may not have continued into Melbourne's crepe culture, but gold coins aside crepes are taking off in the city. And why shouldn't they? They're quick, cheap and oh so tasty. They can also be breakfast, dinner, lunch or desert. Even as an afternoon snack or a morning treat, they go with champagne, coffee and tea.

The city serves them up in different ways too. Tucked in a laneway, out in the open or at a bona fide restaurant, the method of crepe delivery differs with each location but succeeds each time. Le Triskel, Concorde Creperie or AIX Café Creperie Salon are unique creperies in their own right and despite similar menus, the crepes from each proved to be as different as chalk and cheese.

Le Triskel is unabashedly French. AIX is unabashedly Melbourne. Concorde Creperie isn't identity-fussed as it really just consists of two mates just hanging out in the sun, serving beautiful food to those who take the time to stop.

What I love is the way the crepes are cooked and their method of delivery. All three venues use the traditional method: hot plate, wooden spatulas and a light batter. To watch the creation of the canvas though is wonderful. It's an art to gaze whilst the batter is poured onto the hotplate, quickly spread with a wooden spatula and then flipped. In the words of a famous Australian—Darryl Kerrigan "it's what you do with it"—The simple crepe is transformed with flavor by adding a touch of something. A little goes a long way with a crepe.

Crepes are an unassuming canvas in which to delight the senses. Unlike bread, they don't distract you with variations or subtleties. The batter is always the same, leaving the fillings to paint the picture. Lemon and sugar, vegemite and Swiss cheese or smoked salmon, served with crème fraiche, dill, rocket and lemon. The humble egg, almost compulsory on the breakfast menu, can be teamed with jarlsberg cheese, parsley or gruyere and mushrooms. Prosciutto is served as is, just cooked by the heat of the crepes, delicately pared with mozzarella or mushrooms.

That's the beauty of crepes. They can be whatever you need them to be. A meal from a restaurant or a street-food snack snatched from a hole in the wall, Melbourne's crepes cover all bases.


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