Le sarrasin ou le blé noir

by jemma margaret

If you were to ask me about my favorite restaurant in Paris, I would take you on an ugly walk through the working class (though still fabulously unaffordable with respect to real estate) 11th arrondissement to a little Breton crêperie called West Country Girl (named after this song).

If you’ve come to visit me, then we’ve been there. If you’re coming to visit, then we shall go.

Yes, I know. A crêperie? Don’t I realize the restaurant was invented in Paris?

There is a blessing and a curse that comes with being an enthusiastic cook. The more you learn to make, the less you are inclined to eat out (and why my favorite restaurant in New York is probably a doughnut shop). And it turns out that galettes, savory buckwheat cakes, take much more careful mastery than their American cousin’s pancakes. The real deal is only buckwheat, water, and salt. Oh yeah, and heaps of lovely Breton butter with which to cook them in. The result when done properly achieves a crispness that should make so called Belgian waffles weep in shame at their floppiness (whatever happened to crisp waffles with small squares? why did they go out of fashion?).

Not only does WCG succeed by mastering a difficult culinary art and offering their wares at a very reasonable cost, but it also passes the “does not exist in New York” test. That is not to say there aren’t crêperies in New York–there are. Some of them even serve buckwheat crêpes (one would think with the recent obsession in gluten-free eating that this would become de rigueur), but none that I can find specialize in the sardines, cider, oysters, and butter that is the food of Brittany.

For someone who on occasion dreams about making food for money in Brooklyn, this is perhaps a worthy cause. The flip side (pun intended!) to such an endeavor would be learning how to make galettes at home. And if I then learned where to buy good cider, well, I might need to find a new favorite restaurant.