Photo by Tenaya HillsIt was an overcast day—it didn't matter. I was in San Clemente, Orange County's own Spanish Village by the Sea, about to eat at La Galette Crêperie, a recently opened French bistro a jog away from the San Clemente Pier and the shimmering Pacific. Comely lasses hiked up and down Avenida Victoria; the Amtrak Surfliner swooshed by every half-hour or so on the nearby tracks. Life was pregnant with beauty, and I hadn't even knifed through one of La Galette's luscious, filling crepes.
I vowed to order just one of the 17 crepes available—there was a dinner to attend later. But theory, as usual, withered in the heat of reality. The Kansas City Chicken crepe beckoned with its promise of heartland-meets-Left Bank fusion: roasted chicken and caramelized onions tinctured with a maple BBQ sauce and sprinkled with Jack cheese. A couple at the table next to me shared the Chicken Fuji; the scent of its namesake apples was powerful from even five feet away. But I was going to eat just one crepe today, I promised myself, so I settled for the croque monsieur—wonderful. Multiple cubes of lightly salted Black Forest ham stuck to the silky buckwheat-flour crepe skin thanks to the welding powers of a mild, melted Gruyere. An accompanying meaty béchamel sauce further burnished the bucolic splendor of the crepe.
I finished the croque monsieur and wanted gelato—no more crepes. But La Galette's young, smiling waitress wouldn't allow it. "Do you want a sweet crepe for dessert?" she suggested kindly. The sea breeze whipped into my face; teenagers passed each other with laughs and glances in a courting ritual centuries old. How could I deny myself pleasure right now? I asked for the PPV crepe, hoping its take on pear would finally convert me to the blasted fruit. It was a gorgeous day, indeed: inside the crepe were whole slices of candied pears marked with thick, sugary mascarpone. A dollop of whipped cream sat to the side, but even more rewarding was the spray of vanilla sauce on top of the crepe. In the United States, vanilla is synonymous with bland, but La Galette's sauce was bold and stinging, a small miracle that further confirmed San Clemente as our city of God and La Galette as its Pearly Gates.
LA GALETTE CRÊPERIE, 612 AVE. VICTORIA, STE. E, SAN CLEMENTE, (949) 498-5335; WWW.LAGALETTECREPERIE.COM.
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