A couple of years ago, I was perusing Grubstreet and stumbled upon a magical happening called Pancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company. The flavors have varied over the years but all stay in the general range of some sort of special fruit component and all come with their amazing melted maple butter. Last year I didn’t have any of them, due to time restraints and not being able to afford the $15 price tag nor the calories. But this year, I threw caution of the last two to the wind, and since Clinton Street Baking Co. is a 10 minute walk from the Serious Eats Office, I went not once, not twice but three times. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
Note: Serious Eats, being Serious Eats, of course did an awesome feature on this. If you want to see descriptions and gorgeous pics, click here. If you want to see that and my shaky iPhone photos, keep reading!
A couple of other notes: I’m very VERY serious about pancakes. My standard is my dad’s pancakes from my childhood – crisp edges, firm and not too cakey, but still somehow melt in your mouth. I don’t understand the mechanics behind a perfect pancake and I really don’t want/need to. I just know that my standards are very high. My 3 favorite pancakes in the city would be the Ricotta Pancakes from Five Leaves, (a post that I think I lost…) the Pancakes at Cornelia Street Cafe and, Clinton Street’s Pancakes in any form. Thing is, I actually don’t really like my pancakes adorned with anything. I don’t want fruit or chocolate or cream or dulce de leche (blegh) getting in the way. Good quality maple syrup and butter, yes, but I’d actually rather eat my pancakes plain than have them with pancake syrup (Aunt Jemima, I’m lookin at you) THE HORROR. But the truth is, I’ve realized it’s not that I don’t like the additions, I think I just associate them with bad pancakes. I think places think if they are throwing in chocolate chips or banana, they can make the pancakes crappy and no one will notice. Take Bowery Diner for example, which just opened. They have a pretty good menu, the burgers and egg dishes and milkshakes are all great. When it came to the pancakes, Ed Levine, (the man the myth the legend and my boss), passed up orders of passionfruit syrup and bacon/maple combos and confidently told our eager waitress that he would need to try these pancakes plain, to determine their worth. Ed, like me, was not a fan of the pancakes. They were dry and bready and flavorless. Yes, cover them in custard and bacon, they taste great. So would cardboard. THIS is why I respect Clinton Street Baking Co. so much. Their pancakes in their purity are DELICIOUS and the pancakes specials are just pleasant enhancement, nothing trying to get in the way or cover up. OK. Long-winded pancake rant: end.
ONTO THE PANCAKES.
Round 1: Almond Frangipane, fresh raspberries, toasted almonds, raspberry sauce, with Giavanna and Jason
These were probably my favorite pancakes of all. Crunchy, delicious frangipane, tart raspberry sauce and toasty almonds. Giavanna and I split them and I still felt sick for the rest of the day. WORTH IT.
Round 2: Japanese pumpkin pancake, pumpkin seed streusel, warm maple butter with Christine
My (favorite) coworker Christine just had her last day at Serious Eats. During her last week I awkwardly teared up in public 3-4 times. I still am not sure how I’m going to get through the day without interrupting her day with some nonsense I felt was important enough for her to stop doing her very important work and make her listen to. Miraculously, she agreed to meet me on that next monday for pancakes! Since it was lunch time, we also ordered a delicious Spanish scramble, which involved eggs, chorizo, cheese, onions and other goodness. Splitting both made for an extremely satisfying if not decadent meal. Just casually treating Monday afternoon as if it were a Saturday morning. Had to happen. Oh! The pancakes. That pumpkin seed streusel was sweet and sugary and delicious, balancing out the almost savory pumpkin. Yum
Round 3: Banana Pancakes, Bavarian cream, toasted coconut warm maple butter with Erin (and baby Miles!)
Erin, who I’ve talked about before, is super talented AND has an adorable baby! We were actually wary about ordering these pancakes. Like I mentioned before, I don’t like all kinds of creams and biz on my pancakes. But, in the spirit of the month, we went ahead and split this and the Southern breakfast (Eggs, sugar-cured bacon, cheese grits, fried green tomatoes) WOW. The Bavarian cream was actually just this side of too much (this side being, that it wasn’t too much) and all elements worked together fantastically. The highlight of the meal, I have to say, was the sugar-cured bacon. Just a light Tuesday morning breakfast, no big deal.
The moral of this story is, I LOVE PANCAKE MONTH!!!! But I need it to be over because my pants are tight and I’ve spent too much money on … pancakes …WORTH IT.