Off The Griddle With Ihopapotamus at…Norma’s (at Le Parker Meridian)

Norma’s at Le Parker Meridian Hotel is dedicated to slinging food that is the stuff of Sunday fever dreams. A waffle stuffed with fruit, topped with crème brûlée to serve as foundation for yet another heaping of fruit. French toast, stuffed with cheesecake and then rolled in coconut before being smothered in an orange drizzle and served a la mode. 

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(photo from google maps)
But this blog does not challenge your ability to create battered toast! Nay! So to the pancakes! Or more precisely, the flap jack! Which is just a thicker pancake!
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(image from Norma’s)

This Ihopatopamus has a profound weakness for macadamia nuts, so the choice was easy: Norma’s irresistible banana-macadamia nut flap jacks topped with whipped banana brown sugar butter. 
Don’t let the 90-character description throw you, the mad genius of the toppings is not to obfuscate a poor pancake. Norma’s isn’t just shock and awe. The flap jacks were springy, moist, and most importantly, held their own against the whipped banana brown sugar butter. The flap jacks tasted on the savory end of banana bread; their lack of (comparative) sweetness served as counterpoint to the whipped banana brown sugar butter. Actual slices of banana were baked into the flap jacks, lifting the palette out of all the butter and sugar just long enough to make you miss them.

(pic from foodspotting.com)

The whipped banana brown sugar butter is as good as it sounds. The fat from the butter lends generous depth to the whipped banana and brown sugar. 
But the nuts are the best part. The whole plate party is topped with whole macadamia nuts and pecans.  The nuts lend a nice crunchy texture and give the entire dish a protein kick that makes it feel fulfilling without weighing (or slowing) you down.
Not to say you won’t need to breathe afterwards. The plates at Norma’s are delivered with a wink and a smirk, as if the staff is saying, “Give it your best shot.” I fasted the morning of, didn’t sit down to eat until 2:45 in the afternoon, and still found myself defeated. 

(portion of Saturday/Sunday menu from Norma’s)

Like the velvet-curtained Burger Joint across the lobby, Norma’s at Le Parker Meridian does unpretentious food with the kind of flair and execution you’d expect from any restaurant claiming prime real estate in a nice Manhattan hotel. Befitting its digs, Norma’s isn’t cheap. The banana-macadamia nut flap jacks run $23 and that doesn’t include coffee or tea (both are $7 as a buy-in and delivered in a bottomless personal french press). 
There are people who will say that no pancake is worth $23. I was one of them. But what Norma’s does is not just sell breakfast, they sell an experience. From the zany, why-didn’t-I-ever-think-of-that food to the contemporary, sleek decor, Norma’s and its ever-chipper staff are fantastic, memorable, and unquestionably unique. Go have yourself an experience.
4.5* out of 5 Paul Bunyans: 

* The flap-jack itself was worth a 5/5, I tasted their nutella-stuffed pancakes and I’d give it a 3.5, 4. The entire place is probably a 4.5, detracting only for the price and near constant up-sell they try and get you with on drinks

My Big Fat Greek Pancakes

So, actually, these pancakes aren’t really big or fat at all, but they are delicious.

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Get the original recipe here and see what I did over at my recipe box. These pancakes get their great flavor from some Greek yogurt and olive oil.  The yogurt keeps the pancakes fluffy and moist and also gives them a slightly tart flavor.

I thought the pancakes were just okay plain, but with the honey and cinnamon topping, they were really good.  They were still pretty light, but with the added sweetness and flavor profile, they stood out a lot more from other yogurt-based pancakes I’ve made before.  Definitely give these a try when you’re in a Mediterranean frame of mind (or if you’re just looking for a tasty breakfast/snack).

3.75 out of 5 stackies:

The Blintzes Are Coming! The Blintzes Are Coming!

Hey everyone!  You’ll have to excuse my late posting, but I got totally caught up in some intense Mother’s Day cooking (for my mom) and the ‘ol pancake post was the victim.  Since Shavuot is coming up this week, I thought I’d follow my friend Josh’s mom’s excellent blintz recipe and whip up some of these awesome (kosher) pancake bundles of deliciousness.

The recipe is really easy to follow and I made the crepes (blintz skin) without any hassles (no torn, burnt, or otherwise maimed crepes).  I did choose to make the crepes just a tad thicker than I would normally since I knew these would be filled and rolled, and I just wanted something that could take some manhandling.

(a blintz mid-stuffing)

The crepes themselves are very plain, and even with the farmers cheese filling, they’re not very sweet.  I made mostly “regular” blintzes with just the cheese filling and ate them with strawberries.  I also made 1 “fancy” blintz by adding a layer of jam on top of the cheese.  I liked the blintzes both ways, but my roommate was staunchly opposed to anything with more than just the cheese filling (which I found to be a little plain).

All in all, I thought the blintzes were really good.  They were a little greasy (you basically cook them in butter twice) and the filling was a little grainy (which really is just the inherent texture of farmers cheese).  At first I was worried I had done something wrong, but my roommate, a seasoned blintz-eater, assured me that mine were authentic.  I would definitely give this recipe a try, the blintzes are fun to make and plenty filling.

3.75 out of 5 stackies: 

Churro De Mayo

¡Feliz cinco de mayo fanqueques! (that’s Spanish for Happy cinco de mayo fancakes…obvs)

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So I just realized yesterday that cinco de mayo was today and churro pancakes were the first thing I thought of! I looked around on the internet a bit, but I wasn’t completely sold by anything I saw, so I figured I would just wing it.  (Here’s my recipe, it’s pretty awesome if I say so myself.)

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No, seriously, I went through two iterations of this recipe, and I finally got it: that crunchy exterior of a churro, the soft fluffy inside of the perfect pancake, and that all-over cinnamon-sugar excellence.  Here are some things you make sure you do:

  • let the batter rest before you use it – the ingredients will do their own cooking magic thing and the pancakes will be really fluffy
  • make sure your oil is hot before you start, but don’t keep the stove too hot as you cook – you want the outside to get crispy but you need to keep the pancakes cooking for a few minutes so that the insides get done
  • top off the oil! I added more oil to the pan after ever 2 pancakes!
  • make sure you use caster sugar – it’s finer than regular granulated sugar – if you use granulated sugar (which I did the first time) the pancakes will taste sandy.

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Heed my directions pancake grasshoppers, and be prepared to stuff your face.

4.25 out of 5 stackies:imageimageimageimageimage