Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Crepe Place, Santa Cruz, CA

I have a wonderful, amazing, and beautiful girlfriend who is perfect in all ways except one, and that one thing is food, or rather our disagreement on what makes it good. Not that our tastes diverge totally. Often times we can decided upon where to eat, Thai, Japanese, Italian, almost communing our desire for a particular genre with an almost telepathic transfer of thoughts and on my part barely auditory grunts. Our conflict occurs when our food is delivered, placed before us and we take that first bite. Across the table we eye one another and an unspoken question arises, who has ordered the better dish today. It does not help matters that we each have our individual preference. I tend to go with spicier foods that have one overriding flavor that raises the overall taste of the dish. I am a bit of a purest in that respect. She tends to get food that has an even balance of flavors that don’t overpower but instead work together to empower the dish as a whole. With that in mind we entered the Crepe Place in downtown Santa Cruz for all appearances ready to enjoy a simple afternoon meal.
As both of us had not been there for at least five years we entered the establishment, a slightly ram shackled but homey façade of wood and glass, with a sense of nostalgia. We had both frequented the place in our college days, sampling from the many different crepes offered there. Back in those days I preferred the heady taste of meat to the point where I was almost a total carnivore, but at the Crepe Place I had always ordered the Special Salsa Crepe, a sultry crepe overflowing with avocado, onion, black olives, green chilies, tomatoes, white cheddar cheese and garlic, topped with green chilies salsa, sour cream on the side and by me often forgotten. Just reading the description made my mouth water. My girlfriend prefered The Crepe Gatsby, feta and mozzarella cheese, sautéed chicken breast, sun dried tomatoes pesto, spinach, fresh mushrooms, scallions, tomatoes and garlic, sprinkled with Romano cheese. As we ordered we eyed each other from across the table, a smile playing on both of our lips, then my girlfriend did the unexpected, she ordered an appetizer.

Often I am the person in the relationship suggesting the very American habit of ordering food before your food gets there, a warm up meal if you please. I couldn’t tell at first what her plan was, but the description of the dish threw me for a loop. She ordered a Brie and Pesto Crepe, with a side of marinara sauce. At this point in our culinary adventures I had enjoyed pesto in only a few dishes, mostly Italian, and had not learned the true value of the small flavored herb she seemed to so enjoy so much. After the waitress had taken our order I gnawed on a piece of honey bread and waited for my clam chowder to arrive. A delicious concoction, New England white my preference, but with a slightly overpowering flavor of celery which threw of the flavor just enough for me to notice. Finishing my soup the Brie and Pesto Crepe arrive and I found myself hard put not to inhale it like a cheap quesadilla. The marinara sauce gave it the perfect kick of flavor, almost like small fluffy pizza, and I had to physically restrain myself from grabbing the last piece.
Touché, I thought to myself. The spiciness of the appetizer would throw off my palette for my crepe. Across the table my girlfriend smiled, but I could see through her like a flimsy night gown. I would not be beaten. Just as the thought entered my mind the main course arrived. My crepe was everything I remembered and more. I raised piece after piece of cheese laden, pepper dripping crepe to my lips and smiled, the sheer size of it insuring that I would not be hunting down a burger later on that night. I didn’t know how much I had missed the Salsa crepe until it had disappeared, but not before I traded a piece of it for my girlfriend’s crepe.

Pausing briefly to sip a bit of iced tea I placed some of her Crepe Gatsby upon my tongue, and paused. It was the perfect mesh of flavors, and with the natural sweetness of the crepe itself it took a great deal of effort to smile at her as I consumed the rest of that bite. Across the table my girlfriend looked over at me with a weary smile, but I could see through her practiced lassitude. She had won this round, but the war was far from over. I sighed to myself as I finished off my crepe and then proceeded to eat what was left of hers, solaced by the thought that defeat had never tasted so sultry.