Off the Griddle with Ihopapotamus at…Meli-Melo

Full disclosure in two parts: I am the vaunted C, of “my roommate C” fame. Also, I used to work at the place I will be reviewing.

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Meli-Melo is a creperie in Greenwich, CT. If you count crepes as pancakes, then this place is very committed to the cause. It has savory, sweet, and the notorious flambe. Back in the old days it was a tiny speck of a restaurant with 10 tables, but it expanded a few years ago so you can bring all your crepe-loving friends. 
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When I worked here I obviously built a repertoire of favorite crepes; when it came time to write a review, I had trouble deviating from what I know and love, so I ordered the classic Spring crepe:
This crepe is a tricked-out version of their classic ham-and-cheese, with the addition of asparagus, artichoke and some mesclun salad. The crepe has a nice nutty buckwheat flavor, the cheese is present without being overwhelming, and the ham is better than your average supermarket ham and adds a nice salty touch. The homemade vinaigrette on their salads is one of my dream salad dressings. My only suggestions would be to increase the number of asparagus spears and to use fresh artichokes instead of marinated.
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I cannot leave a fair review of Meli-Melo without mentioning all the other great things going on there in addition to the crepes. They have a rotating menu of homemade soups and they are pretty much all delicious. Their French onion is the standard against which I judge all others, and M is obsessed with their mushroom barley. Their croque monsieur is where you want to go for a cheese overload (in the best possible way). They also make their own ice creams and sorbets; their mint chocolate chip actually tastes like MINT and not toothpaste. Yes, you can get a scoop of ice cream (or two or three) on top of a crepe. They have a juicer and you can get almost any combo of fruits and vegetables imaginable. I wasn’t sure if this counted as a “drink special” so I didn’t get anything. Also they are BYOB so no mimosas will be made from their delicious fresh-pressed orange juice.
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All in all, nostalgia may be getting to me but I think Meli-Melo is a worthy pitstop for any crepe-head. I worked there six days a week for about two months (woo summer job) and one of the perks included bringing dinner home every night. Between the expansive menu and the care that went into the ingredients and preparation, I can honestly say that I never got sick of the food. And neither will you!
4.25 out of 5 Paul Bunyans: imageimageimageimageimage

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The Pancakes and the Pea(s)

Behold, savory pea and scallion pancakes topped with smoked salmon.  Get ready for some delicious pancakes…seriously, so good. 

(Get the original recipe and directions from Bon Appetit and my version at my Recipe Box!)

These pancakes sort of remind me of the classic bagel with lox and cream cheese but in pancake form.  There’s a healthy level of saltiness in both the pancakes and the smoked salmon that makes the flavor of the fresh peas pop.

The pancake process itself is very straightforward but instead of using frozen peas, when I saw fresh peas at the grocery store, I decided to shell my own.  I confess that I used to (and still do) love Anne of Green Gables, and I remember several passages where she would be shelling peas or picking them for stones, or something equally Green Gable-y, so I was pretty excited to shell these peas. My second confession is that I did enjoy shelling peas and I definitely pretended to be Anne while I was doing it…

The only thing I can think of to “improve” these pancakes would be to add more scallions – but I’m sort of a scallion-fanatic so a normal person would probably be perfectly happy with the level of scallion in the recipe as-is.

4.25 out of 5 stackies: 

duck…duck…PANCAKE!

Happy Father’s Day! Today’s duck fat pancakes aren’t particularly father-y (or fatherly?) but I’m pretty sure that dads love things cooked in fat, so they should love these pancakes!

The original recipe is from bon appetit and you can find my scaled-down recipe over at my recipe box.  Before I made these, I wasn’t really sure what they would taste like or whether I’d be able to tell that they were cooked in duck fat (as opposed to some other type of oil/fat) at all.

(duck fat)

The outside of the pancakes is super crispy and delicious, and there’s definitely a savory component to the pancakes from the duck fat that you can taste (before you drench them in maple syrup).  Once you crunch through the outside though, the interior is fairly dense and cakey.  Oh, if you don’t have access to duck fat, the original recipe mentions that you can also use clarified butter or ghee…I just happened to be the lucky recipient of some duck fat after my roommate decided to cook an entire duck (yeah, that’s just how we do!)

When you mix up the batter, you’ll notice that it’s super thick, so make sure you cook the pancakes all the way through (sort of a low and slow method…except medium-low and moderately slow).  Also, be super careful when you’re flipping the pancakes, I definitely have a few duck oil burns on my arms from reckless pancake flipping.  Top these puppies with some nice warm maple syrup and you’re good to go!

4 out of 5 stackies: 

Dunkin’ Dough-cakes

In honor of National Doughnut Day (this past Friday) and the recent Cronut craze, I decided Think Pancake should get in on the action with some Doughnut Pancakes.

The recipe (originally from Cooking Classy) is really easy to follow and these were a fun plateful to whip up.  The batter is fairly thick (especially after you let it rest) which helps to keep the doughnut shape instead of puddling into your standard pancake circle.  

By the way, these dough-cakes…ARE AWESOME. They taste just like donuts, especially with the glaze, but aren’t overly heavy and won’t make you feel gross afterwards, definitely a winner.  In addition to the glaze, I used whatever toppings I had around the house including some chocolate syrup and chopped walnuts – the chocolate syrup was a bit much for me, I preferred the dough-cakes with just the glaze, but definitely experiment with whatever you have in the kitchen (sprinkles, fruit, etc.)

Oh, and just one cooking tip: the pancakes burned pretty easily, so try to cook them on a low to low-medium heat and monitor them constantly.

4 out of 5 stackies:

 

Cuckoo for Cocoa Crepes!

Well, I’ve done crepes, and I’ve done chocolate pancakes, so I thought it was high time for some Chocolate Crepes! (The original recipe is from Leite’s Culinaria.)

I decided to pair the crepes with some olive oil and honey glazed pears and folks, get ready, because this is a breakfast you’ll remember! The crepes themselves are not very sweet (you’re using dark chocolate after all) so more than anything, you get a rich dark cocoa taste that’s kicked up with some powdered sugar and the pears.

(freshly melted chocolate waiting to meet its batter match)

You can use these crepes as a vehicle for anything, that goes with chocolate – chopped strawberries, sliced apples, marshmallows, a scoop of peanut butter, a dollop of nutella…more chocolate (the original recipe also has instructions for a chcolate ganache)!  Whatever you use, though, try to use the “soft” version – I tried the crepes with both cooked and raw pears, and the cooked pears definitely paired better (pun totally intentional).

4 out of 5 stackies: