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It’s that time of year again where we prepare ourselves to toss the frying pan and celebrate what is traditionally the start of lent (AKA eat as many pancakes as possible day). However, where I come from in Italy Pancake Day is simply known as Martedí Grasso or ‘Fat Tuesday’ and is the beginning of Mardi Gras, but there is isn’t a pancake in sight! In Italian culture pancakes are a popular staple food that are eaten all year round, as historically country dwellers had eggs, milk and flour freely available and used all kinds of left-over food as delicious fillings.

As with everything in these exciting and revolutionary times of food, pancakes are fast being reinvented through fusion cuisine and gourmet makeovers using wild and wonderful alternative ingredients. Where previously these simple but delicious treats of batter have been mostly eaten once a year on Shrove Tuesday, UK restaurants and caterers are increasingly incorporating them into their menus as an all year round dish – versatile and an ample base for creative culinary experimentation.

For some Pancake Day inspiration and to get you thinking out side of the traditional lemon and sugar coated box, here are a few hot pancakes I think are pretty special from around the world.

Sourdough Pancakes
Ever tried pancakes made with sourdough batter? One for gluten free foodies and perhaps Americans, but still deliciously alternative. State Bird Provisions in San Francisco has an exceptional offering with sauerkraut, pecorino & ricotta.

Okonomiyaki Pancakes
Meaning ‘what you like cooked,’ this Japanese street-food staple from Osaka are pancakes made up of a variety of ingredients, toppings and batters including cabbage, pickled ginger, pork and noodles. For some of the best in the UK check out Okan in Brixton Village.

Breakfast Pancake
Breakfast is big news in the UK and best done with a pancake twist in London based The Breakfast Club, which has an almighty all American breakfast pancake with eggs, sausage, home-style fried potatoes, streaky bacon and maple syrup (if you dare take it on!)

Injera Pancakes
The national dish of Ethiopia and traditionally made with teff flour, the Injera is used as a base for stews and salads which are poured on top. Small pieces of the Injera pancake are torn off and used to grasp the stews and salads to eat, and the pancake soaks up the juices and flavours of the food on to. What I love most about this pancake cuisine is how Injera acts as an eating utensil, plate and table cloth. One Injera can be shared with multiple diners, making it a truly social-able way to eat pancakes. Delicious and hearty, the best place I have found serving Injera pancakes is Menelik by Kings Cross.

Gourmet Pancakes
In a lovely pancake related promotional event, Telef is setting up the first London shop window restaurant in John Lewis. The Ingenio Restaurant will open its doors on 3rd and 4th March only and serve ‘Gourmet’ pancakes with caramelized onions and goat’s cheese, fresh off the hob for diners who have pre-booked.

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