A few weeks ago we were in an area north of Toronto for a family wedding. On the way home that Sunday we decided that since we were already in the area, why not go exploring some of the places that we never get to see. One place that came to mind was Elora, Ontario.
Elora is a historic village 1 1/2 hours north-west of Toronto that is nestled along the Grand River. It is well-known for the Elora Gorge Park and Quarrie, The Elora Festival and The Elora Mill Country Inn and Restaurant. The village has become home to numerous artisans and performers and is a favourite spot for a weekend getaway.
The Elora Mill, at the head of the Elora Gorge, was constructed in 1833. It is considered one of Ontario’s finest historic mills and was made famous in the 1930s by a painting by Canadian Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson. When the mill ceased operating in 1974 it was turned into a lovely country inn and fine dining establishment.
Our original intent was to have lunch at the Inn while looking out over the river, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Still hungry, we started to wander along the shops that back onto the Grand River on Mills St. and came upon a quaint little spot called Cafe Creperie.
After choosing a cozy window seat we were greeted by a charming French gentleman who inquired as to whether we had tried their crepes before. We said that we had not and he just smiled and told us we were in for treat. As we waited I glanced around the room at the warm, rustic decor and small intimate tables. There was a collection of photographic portraits on the walls that showcased Elora’s talented artistic community.
The menu offered a variety of sweet and savoury crepes with wonderful fillings like goat cheese, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, etc. I ended up choosing the Provencal and my friend ordered the Tuscan crepe. Minutes later we were served the most delightful lunch. Let me start by saying I am a crepe lover from way back and I have tasted crepes in Canada and France many times. The crepes that we had this day were the best I have ever had!
The batter was exactly the right consistency and each crepe was topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. It was light and flavourful and so very French. It was a little taste of Paris in Elora, Ontario.
As it turns out; our charming server was actually the chef, Jacques Dion. His warm demeanor, delightful smile and culinary prowess are a treasure to find in this little village. The restaurant often hosts artists works and musical events and contributes regularly to other village events. It is worth the drive next time you are in the area.
Although I was not able to get the recipe from Jacques for his wonderful crepes, I was able to find this one from one of my favourite cookbooks. These Quinoa Crepes with Warm Apples are a healthy option served with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and are vegetarian and gluten-free.
Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes
Makes 6 crepes
2 tbsp. (30 ml) non hydrogenated margarine
4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup (125 ml) brown sugar, packed
½ tsp. (2 ml) ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. (1 ml) ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups (125 ml) low-fat vanilla yogurt
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Prepare Quinoa Crepes (see recipe below).
Add the margarine to a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are translucent.
Add the brown sugar, stirring to coat the fruit, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble.
Add the spices and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the apple slices are tender but not mushy. (Recipe can be made in advance to this point. Cool, refrigerate and then reheat before serving.)
To serve, fold the crepes in quarters and place on a plate. Add a few tablespoons of the apple mixture and a dollop of yogurt on each. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add a sprig of mint to each plate.
Basic Quinoa Crepes
Makes 6 crepes
¾ cup (185 ml) quinoa flour
3 large eggs
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
1 cup (250 ml) organic vanilla soy beverage
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour, eggs, oil and soy beverage for 10-15 seconds, until smooth and lump free. Refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Lightly grease a small 7-8 inch crepe pan with canola oil. Spoon 3 tbsp. of the batter into the pan and rotate the pan around so that there is an even coating on the bottom of the pan.
Turn the crepe after 30 seconds. Crepe will be lightly browned and will be flexible for folding.
Place cooled crepes on a plate lined with parchment pepper to cool. They can either be used in crepe recipes or frozen for later use. Freeze in small amounts, placing a small piece of parchment paper between the crepes and wrapping them in clear plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month.
Recipe from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook edited by Marilyn Smith, PHEc from the Ontario Home Economics Association.