Two weeks ago I attended a demonstration of crêpe and galette-making at La Bigoudène Café in the nearby town of Saint-Denis.
The café is located next to the Basilica of Saint Denis, and from the café’s terrace one has a nice view of this historic edifice. Upon entering the café, I joined the group that was listening to the proprietor, Rudy, giving a presentation on the fine art of making crêpes and galettes.
The first thing I learned was that these pancakes are a Breton tradition. Indeed, “Bigoudène” is the name of an area that lies in Brittany on the westernmost part of mainland France.
Rudy talked first about the galette, a thin pancake that is made from buckwheat flower, called blé noir or sarrasin in French. Despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat and, moreover, is gluten free. He cooked up a batch of galettes on his griddle and distributed them to each of us. I liked the savory, nutty flavor of this pancake.
Rudy then talked about crêpes, a thin pancake made with ordinary wheat flour. Wheat flour produces a pancake that is soft and chewy and more malleable than buckwheat. The crêpes Rudy distributed were flavored with sugar and butter. These are the type of pancake that Americans are familiar with when they purchase them from crêpe stands in Paris. Rudy then cooked up another batch flavored with chocolate. Delectable!
During the preparation of the pancakes, I noted that Rudy used three large, round griddles: the first for cooking the pancake on one side, the second for cooking the other side, and the third for adding finishing touches (butter, sugar, chocolate, jam…). This is a nice set-up, because it permits the cook to work quickly. At most crêpe stands there is room for only one griddle, which slows down production considerably.
Rudy served cider with the pancakes, a Breton tradition. This particular cider was produced from pesticide-free and herbicide-free apples by a family-run enterprise called François Séhédic, located in the commune of Fouesnant in Brittany.
Apart from my enjoyment of the crêpes, galettes, and cider, the presentation was enlightening for me, and I was happy that I had made the effort to take the metro out to Saint-Denis to visit this café.
11, allée des 6 Chapelles
Place Pierre de Montreuil
Telephone: 33 (0) 1.56.34.00.04
The Bigoudène Café is on Facebook.
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