“I just love when people leave with a smile on their face. It’s all about giving something back!”
There are few things in life more alluring than a perfectly golden, buttery, soft French crêpe. Nibble on hot off the griddle crepes smothered in melted Nutella and topped with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar for extra sweetness, and you’ll find yourself in food heaven! Whether you’re a lover of French cooking or more of a traditional Irish grub devotee, there’s no denying the hold this simplistic meal has over us all.
Eating a crêpe feels so wonderfully Parisian, so magnifique and talk about versatile! A universal food that has a surprisingly extensive repertoire of recipes or “crêcipes” if I may! Crêpes take on any form – be it stuffed and savoury or sweet and simple, and unlike their thicker American breakfast cousins, they don’t limit themselves to one particular sitting –You want crêpes for dinner? No problem! We have the French aficionados to thank for the invention of the crêpe that has eventually found it’s way into Ireland’s culinary history. And there is one such crêpe vendor who makes this delicious French delicacy in a vintage set up that transports you across the waters to the Champs Elysées.
The Crêpe Wagon
Lesley Donnelly is the owner of the family run food business The Crêpe Wagon. Lesley has been baking all her life. Originally a nurse, Lesley’s family and friends always knew that she had a special talent when it came to food be it growing, sowing her own fruit and veg or whipping up a storm in the kitchen! Her family believed that this passion could not go to waste. When her brother Brendan, a master carpenter stumbled upon an antique wooden wagon with two wheels, an idea sparked in their minds. With a little tender loving care this could be transformed into a portable vintage style food stall. A bicycle, two hot plates and one imported golden canopy from France later and their wagon was just about to get going.
Lesley experimented with her own crêpe batter time and time again and eventually decided on a mix that is one of the best out there (I can vouch for this!). Now the perfect mixture was one thing, but the ingredients had to be the best too and what’s better than home grown Irish produce?! “Both the quality and the quantity ensures a happy customer”.
According to Brendan, “Dad is a genius. In the Donnelly household it’s always been about growing our own veggies”. Leslie mentions that they have their very own polytunnel (think of a portable greenhouse, and an essential to any gardening enthusiast) used for growing seed, basel, spinach and strawberries and an orchard for plums, pears and apple trees. Planting and growing has been center to their family life and that’s why everything at the Crêpe Wagon is homegrown, homemade and delightfully seasonal.
“I just love when people leave with a smile on their face – that’s my ethos. It’s all about giving something back.”
I think we can all agree that pancakes are too good for once a year mega session on Shrove Tuesday. Crêpes are for the every day average Joe but Leslie reminds me that we can get fancy with all manner of stuffings and sauces and can partner a crêpe with anything from spinach to Nutella, what other food conduits can claim that?!
The batter is spread thinly on the griddle with a special trowel using a confident flick of the wrist. It is then folded and stuffed with a voluptuous variety of fillings that saves your stomach and your sanity! I started with a sweet one – because dessert should always be eaten first in my opinion – loaded with white chocolate squares, fresh juicy strawberries and smothered with Nutella. I’ve never felt such affection for a crêpe before, such that I’d be happy out if my life became one crêpeful blur.
The next was the savoury ham, cheese and spinach with basil and green pesto, even that fragrant deliciousness has you drooling and had me clapping my gloves together for warmth as I watched each shred of cheese melt.
Prepare yourself for their fresh generous fillings and all-star treatment and gobble down as you go about your merry way.
- Nutella – cannot go wrong!
- White chocolate and strawberries – handpicked from the garden!
- Sugar and lemon – beautifully simple with a dash of lemon cutting the sweetness
- Apple and cinnamon – from their apple tree in their orchard
- Ham & cheese with fresh spinach and basil and red/green pesto
- Margherita – homegrown tomatoes, green pesto, mozzarella
- Spinach and cheese – a golden oldie
- Chicken, red peppers , fresh rocket, spinach and red pesto – Count me In!
- Beet Crepe – home grown beetroot coming soon!
Top tip: Try the white chocolate and strawberries and ask for the Nutella drizzled/smothered on top along with your powdered sugar. I can guarantee that your belly with thank you.
Where to find them: St. James’ Hospjtal on Tuesday lunchtime, Herbert Park on Sunday (back on 7th January!), Castletown in Cellbridge the last Sunday every month and Flavors of Fingal during the summer
Check out their website for more info: http://crepewagondublin.com
**Food for thought
- Crêpe is the French word for pancake and comes from the Latin word “Crispus” meaning curled – possibly named from the curling of the batter on the edges of the hot pan.
- The idea of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was invented more than 1000 years ago as a way to use up all the leftover fatty, rich and delicious foods before Lent began on Ash Wednesday
- Almost every country/region has its own version of the “crêpe” e.g. Buttermilk pancakes in the US, Tortillas in Mexico, Dutch baby in the Netherlands, Cachapas in Venezuela, Dosa in India and Okonomiyaki in Japan