I always thought I was a Big City Person, but these last few weeks in San Francisco have surprised me a fair number of mildly shocking observations that shouldn't have been all that surprising. I blame the influence of TVs and movies — years of watching the Sex and the City girls go out for nightly cocktails, or Monica and Rachel from Friends living in that gorgeous 2-bedroom corner unit on their chef and waitress salaries apparently left some sort of impression. I mean, let's face it — every TV character who lives in New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles seems to have a spacious, loft apartment with bountiful natural light and a closet full of designer clothing. And that's just really not real life... at all.
But since moving back, there are a couple of truths I've noticed in the last few weeks that I'd like to share about Big City Living. You know, the stuff that the books, movies, and TV shows all seem to gloss over because they are boring and unglamorous:
1. 90% of the people who live in the city wear comfortable shoes.
You know how everybody in the the freaking shows and movies is always running around wearing 6-inch stilettos? Yeah, no. My sturdy, comfortable ballet flats were inadequate for the hills of Noe Valley; to scale those hills in anything more than flats would be cruel and painful. Real Big City Dwellers (at least those in San Francisco) wear running shoes with their hip outfits. It's true.
As for all those wearing heels? They take taxis.
2. Similarly, everybody seems like they're carrying 2 to 4 different kinds of bags at any given moment.
Is this a San Francisco thing? Because bags here cost 10 cents? I'm being serious. Everybody, including the folks decked out in designer clothing and expensive accessories, is carrying a variety of different bags at any given moment, usually ranging from an expensive purse, a backpack, tote bags, and reusable grocery bags. What gives.
3. Nobody eats breakfast.
You know how the Sex and the City girls were always grabbing breakfast together, or the Friends gang were always hanging out in that coffee shop together? Ain't nobody got time for that here. Even brunch, which is a much revered meal everywhere else, seems to be reserved only for three-day weekends or when friends from out of town are visiting. Otherwise, the line's just too damn long. People got code to write, ya know, bro.
And even though I've only been here for a month and change, I assimilated on the first two points fairly quickly. I walk around with an extra bag or two stuffed into my formal leather purse (just in case I need to go buy groceries after work, okay?!), and spent most of my first paycheck on buying comfortable shoes. All that's good and well, but... I still can't quite get my head around the breakfast thing! How can you not eat breakfast?!
Which brings us to these miniature crepes. These crepes are my ode to breakfast, and taking the time to enjoy the most important meal of the day (even though that's apparently not true). I made these crepes back in Portland a few months ago at the start of the spring, when the last of the winter citrus crop was still around to yield blood oranges at the same time rhubarb was just coming into season. Together, blood orange and roasted rhubarb make a bold, full-bodied, and combination that's pretty hard to beat.
So eat your breakfast, kids!
Some baker's notes:
- Did you know that you don't need a crepe pan or a crepe spreader to make crepes? I know that a crepe spreader will make your crepes thinner and crispier, but the crepes that I had in France were actually a little bit spongy. These crepes are more like that — thin and slightly spongy in the middle, crisp and crunchy on the outsides. All you need to make them is a nonstick pan with a handle. However, to get perfectly round miniature crepes, I used a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter (the smallest shape from this cookie cutter set) to mold the pancakes into their perfectly shapes. You can also get creative and use other shapes like hearts and animals — Amazon has a wonderful collection of actual pancake molds that you can choose from.
- If blood orange is no longer available, feel free to swap out the fruit with any other kind of citrus! Regular orange and lemon would also work beautifully with the rhubarb.
- 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice
- zest from 1 blood orange
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of kosher salt (around 1/8 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F).
- Place 1 pound chopped rhubarb in a glass 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice, and zest from 1 blood orange — don't worry if the sugar doesn't dissolve, you should end up with a thick, grainy syrup. Drizzle over the rhubarb and use a rubber spatula, tossing the fruit until all the rhubarb pieces are covered in syrup.
- Roast in the preheated oven until the rhubarb is very tender and the juices are syrupy, around 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 large egg and a pinch of kosher salt until uniformly yellow.
- Add about half of the flour (around 1/4 cup) to the eggs, whisking gently into the eggs. The batter will be a little lumpy, but that's okay right now. Add about half of the milk and continue whisking. The milk will thin out the batter. Alternate between the flour and milk until you've added it all. Continue whisking until smooth — be careful not to overmix, it should only take a minute or two.
- Once the batter is smooth, add 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and whisk again until the butter is just incorporated into the mixture. Cover the batter and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Once the batter has chilled, heat a medium (at least 8 inches) non-stick skillet pan on medium heat. The surface of the pan needs to be pretty hot to make crepes — test its heat by adding a drop of water to the hot pan. If the water sizzles and bubbles and evaporates, the pan is hot enough. Place your pancake mold on the pan and pour about a teaspoon of batter into mold, twirling the pan gently so that the batter fills out the mold. Continue cooking until the crepe has set and the edges begin to crinkle up — a set crepe will usually slide around the pan when it is ready. Remove the mold, slip a spatula under the crepe to flip it over and continue cooking for another 20 seconds, or until the crepe's surface has browned. Repeat the process until the batter is finished, allowing the crepes to cool on a wire rack completely.