October 19, 2006

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A new way to crepe
Lala’s puts a Hungarian spin on the French treat
By Susan Reilly  news@hippopress.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).

Hungarian Crepes
Lala’s Hungarian
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.



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C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
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Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
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Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

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Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
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The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
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