Thursday, September 18, 2014

Crêpes à GoGo: Yorkville's French Connection

Tucked away on the corner of Yorkville Ave and Yonge St, Crêpes à GoGo is a cozy Parisian-inspired boîte, where francophone crêpières prepare sweet and savoury Bretonne-style crêpes to a dedicated cult following six days a week, and there's a line up all the time! Two crêpe stations are in constant use, and all the crêpes are made to order — however the service is fast, the staff are even nicer so it's definitely worth the wait. Tres delicieux et vraiment Parisian, Crêpes à GoGo is the loving creation of effervescent and enigmatic Véronique Perez, or "GoGo" as she is affectionately nicknamed. Born on Île de la Réunion off the coast of Madagascar and raised predominantly in Paris, Véronique became a master crêpe chef purely by accident when her brother found a beautiful crêpe maker and brought it with him to Canada. When she couldn’t sell it, GoGo decided to put it to use and set up a crêpe stand at Toronto's Harbourfront. It was a roaring success. When a closet-size space on Bedford Ave came on the market shortly thereafter, she grabbed the opportunity and opened Crêpes à GoGo. Forced to move 5 years later when the building was being demolished, Véronique quickly found a new home at 18 Yorkville. "In Hebrew 18 is 'chai', which is 'life," and she said, "That’s for me!" 

The well worn and retro Crêpes à GoGo menu featuring Chef Véronique on the cover

With a tempting selection of over 30 sweet or savoury crêpes to choose from, there's something for everyone. The Parisienne with scrambled egg, swiss cheese, mushrooms, red onion and dill is a popular favourite, as well as the TomTom with scrambled egg, smoked salmon, tomato, sour cream and dill, and Crêpe Mademoiselle with goat cheese, red onion, smoked salmon and maple syrup. For dessert, many are hopelessly addicted to Véronique's signature Crêpe Tartinade made with her homemade Nutella-style sweetened hazelnut chocolate spread with thick slices of banana. Most the crêpes are presented in a distinctive square Bretonne-style fold within a small paper bag, whereupon the server tears down the paper bag's edges, looks you in the eye, and says, "Bon appétit." 

A small cup of Limonana is served to each guest, a refreshing mix of lemon juice, mint leaves and organic cane juice in a filtered water base

Caffeine-free, low sugar and low calorie, Limonana was created by Chef Véronique 
and is marketed across Toronto 

The charming francophone crêpière making our crêpe Parisien 

Le Parisien Crêpe with with scrambled egg, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, red onion and fresh dill 

The 'Tartinade' Crêpe made with Chef Veronique's signature nutella-style spread, 
and garnished with fresh banana

Crêpes Mademoiselle
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Véronique Perez, owner of Crêpes à GoGo

3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups whole milk
2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 cup barley flour, sifted 
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pan
7 oz each of crumbled goat cheese and thinly sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup each of thinly sliced red onion and pure maple syrup

In small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, barley flour, sugar and salt, then slowly whisk the egg mixture into the dry mix until combined. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil, and if the batter is lumpy, pass through a sieve. Cover and rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high. Dip a ball of paper towel into the oil and rub into the pan. When hot, ladle 1/3 cup batter into the centre of the pan and quickly tilt and swirl pan to form an even layer. Cook until the top is no longer wet and edges are papery, about 60 seconds. Carefully flip the crêpe and continue to cook it until browned, another 30 seconds. Repeat until the batter is finished, stacking the crêpes on a large plate.

To make the Crêpes Mademoiselle, lay out 4 crêpes, wrapping and refrigerating the remaining crêpes for another use. Divide the goat cheese, salmon and onion into 4 equal portions. Working left to right, sprinkle the goat cheese to form a 2-inch band along the diameter of each crêpe. Top with smoked salmon and onion, and drizzle 1 tbsp of maple syrup over the filling of each crêpe.

To serve, fold the bottom of of the crêpe over the filling, bringing it 1-inch short of top to form slightly irregular half moon. Working from bottom, roll the filling over itself, and cut in half. Serve at room temperature.

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