Sweet French street-food in Melbourne
This article is in English. Click here to read it in French.
Pizza, souvlaki, sushi, dim sum. The Melbourne CBD isn’t that big, yet it feels like the ‘Street Food Universal Exhibition’¹. Gastronomy here, however, lacks a bit of sweetness, so if you stumble across ‘La Petite Crêperie’ or ‘Waffles On’, even if you’re running late for work, I don’t see why you shouldn’t stop.
There’s nothing better than street food for relieving a little hunger, absorbing a hangover, satisfying a sweet tooth or breaking the monotony of a journey to work. The concept is simple: minimum utensils, quick and easy to prepare and eat (pot-au-feu in the subway is a no-no) and cheap. If France loves her meals at the table, she also loves her street food, with le Jambon-Beurre, roasted chestnuts, crêpes and waffles.
Traditionally, crêpes and waffles are winter dishes (try chocolate on a hot waffle in 30°C). And traditionally, neither one is French (waffles are from Belgium and crêpes from Brittany; and Brittany is a world apart from France). Nevertheless, it’s not as if November was hot in Melbourne, and both occupy a prominent place chez les Gaulois during the festivities of February and March² and on the beaches of the Atlantic coast in summer.
To play the game until the end, I chose a rainy afternoon in Melbourne before going to work for my sugar binge.
‘La Petite Crêperie’: take-away Bretagne
A crêpe doesn’t have thirty-six tasks to perform. Soft, delicately sweet and crispy on the top, that’s all we ask. As well as coming with a cardboard cone to collect the flowing chocolate, because yes, it will overflow (but that’s street food for you: hands on). And all the requirements are met at ‘La Petite Crêperie’.
So you’re hesitating with the menu? Besides the traditional sugar/lemon and jam, I must present the most popular one, the salted butter caramel crêpe. $5 guys! $5 only for homemade, generously spread and melted caramel dripping to the bottom of the cone to lick with (or without) your fingers. Or a flambéed Grand-Marnier crêpe. Setting fire to the food: sensational à la Bretonne.
Cnr Little Collins st & Swanston st, Melbourne
‘Waffle On’ and le Stade de Reims?
In a corner of Degraves St, between falling-apart graffiti and a sordid alley lies your salvation. It’s not difficult to find, there’s the scarf of Reims Stadium hanging on the wall. Not something you see everywhere in Melbourne.
A waffle as I like it must be golden, light, crisp, with icing sugar rushing in all the twenty cells, spreading on your nose when you bite into it. At ‘Waffle On’, I would certainly prefer it to be a little lighter but let me tell you that for $4, it’s a hell of a bargain. And they have Orangina.
I couldn’t picture a better Australian city than Melbourne (except Hobart perhaps) to host this culinary decadence. With its menopausal weather and 23% of all Australian frogs having found refuge here, with my eyes closed, I could almost believe it… Until the fateful moment where I hear in the background a: “Hey luv’ how ya doin’?” The ease and simplicity of Australians go well with waffles.
Shop 9, Degraves st, Melbourne
1. No, the Street Food Universal Exhibition doesn’t exist. Except in my dreams.
2. Crêpes have become a typical meal of these two celebrations, Chandeleur on February 2nd and each Mardi Gras (with waffles).