A new way to crepe
Lala’s puts a Hungarian spin on the French treat
By Susan Reilly email@example.com
Crepes are the Eliza Doolittle of the dessert world.
From humble beginnings as peasant food, the crepe was transformed and elevated over the years to a swish breakfast or dessert for gourmands worldwide.
On Elm Street in Manchester at Lala’s Hungarian Pastries, Ladisau Lala, the owner and chef, gingerly prepares palacsinta (the Hungarian word for crepes) to order.
“We get people all the time asking for palacsinta, so we started making them with a simple vanilla-based batter,” he said.
At Lala’s, palacsinta are served with chocolate, blueberry, strawberry, cherry or apricot filling and then lightly dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
The crepe is sweet, while many of the fruit fillings have a tang, creating a nice balance. At Lala’s, crepes ($4.50) are served as a pair.
Lala explained that palacsinta became popular in his homeland of Hungary among peasants. Even when food was scarce during troubledtimes, most families had flour, eggs and jam made from fruit trees in their yard.
While lacking more decadent ingredients like vanilla and sugar, these early crepes were simple enough to nourish a family.
Crepes may have simple ingredients but they require a skilled hand. Lala poured the batter from a laddle and did not leave the stove, often flipping the crepe in the air to lightly brown it on both sides.
Once it is cooked on both sides, he quickly fills the crepe, rolls, dusts and serves immediately.
“Palacsinta is perfect for a light, sweet breakfast, dessert or late snack,” Lala said.
I couldn’t help but wonder if a savory crepe would be yummy, especially with some of Lala’s schnitzels and goulashes, but Lala disagreed. The traditional batter he uses is truly sweet and a savory filling would be a real mismatch.
Lala’s is a gem of a restaurant. Hungarian cuisine is rooted in Germanic, Slavic, Turkish and Transylvanian dishes.
Hungarian food tends to be a bit spicy, with a strong presence of paprika and black pepper. Potatoes and meats stewed in rich sauces are a staple.
In addition to a lush assortment of sweets, both Hungarian (think Dobos and Minion cakes) and western (peanut butter cookies and banana bread), Lala’s also serves lunch and dinner.
The dinner includes beef, Szekler or chicken goulash ($9.50), Viennese or chicken schnitzel ($10.95) and Transylvanian eggplant ($9.50).
836 Elm St., Manchester, 647-7100
Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.