Vive Brittany!

My grandmother was not the kind of woman to drink in the pantry. If she fancied a gin and tonic, I know she would have enjoyed it in full view of the neighbours, regardless of any male or moral intimidation. But for those who hid from Hoover or tippled in the company of gangsters, the William Barnacle Tavern in the East Village would have been the speakeasy to find refuge during the Prohibition era.

Bullet holes in the basement and the artful consumption of absinthe in the bar would normally be atmosphere enough, but an outspoken Bretan and his gossamer thin crepes have stolen the show. Operating out of a miniature kitchen next to the bar and with a letter-box opening to the street by which you can crouch to place your order, Jean produces delicacies which defy the chaos of the space. Actually he doesn’t produce, he performs. With the antics and speed of a circus performer he proclaims the superiority of all things Breton ( including himself ) while  whipping up crepes nonstop. Strawberry with salted caramel sauce, crepe suzette ( it is not from Brittany but it is nevertheless quite good ) and the popular egg, ham and cheese combo are all made with his secret family recipe. Apparently Dominic Ansel, the creator of the cronut was from Brittany – how else could he have created such a masterpiece? And those crepes in Paris – poo poo! – they are nothing like the buckwheat beauties from Brittany!

Celtic connections make the crepe a cousin of the Cornish pastie rather than a child of Marie Antoinette. Served with apple cider from Brittany the relationship becomes even tighter. A bit like my clothes after all that whipped cream. But if you are going to indulge in something prohibited, or even in the case of absinthe, illegal, then follow Grandma’s lead and do it with style…

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9 Responses to Vive Brittany!

  1. Lyndl Marshall says:

    Well, didn’t you have a grand time! A true adventure- brava!

  2. Chrissy Hirst says:

    You know what they say….absinth makes the heart grow……..I thought this was banned in France?

    • Very good Chrissy! Yes, absinthe was banned from being made here in 1912 – I’m not sure about France. But there is a wonderful place in New Orleans with a water dripper that has indented the wooden bar from years of continuous dripping for absinthe service. Might be worth adding to your list for an apres jazz tipple…?

  3. Winnie says:

    Ooh la la! Fantastic and delicious! X

  4. Sandy Dee says:

    Love the post – the tavern sign and the expression on the mad chef (now that is a real character). Marie Antoinette was more likely to inspire apple strudel than anything else – she was Austrian after all!

  5. Terry Lee says:

    What a fascinating report and equally interesting photographs. The crepes and the absinthe warmed a wintry heart down under. We’d love to have that ‘outspoken Bretan’ here making his magic for the blokes and gals at the local Kerang Football & Netball Club. He’d fit right in for sure – more so if he brings along a few crates of absinthe too.

    Greatly enjoyed your words and images.

    Kindest of regards.

    • Thank you for your generous comments as always Terry. I am sure our outspoken Breton would have a ball in Kerang. At the rate he is making crepes, he will probably be able to retire there before long. And I don’t think he would go anywhere without bringing a drink or six, so stand by…!

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