Shrove Tuesday, known to many as Pancake Tuesday, is just days away.
It’s traditionally been a day to clean out the cupboards of all eggs, milk and fats, which faithful Christians were forbidden to consume during the 40-day period of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. In the British Isles, many households use these ingredients to make pancakes, giving Shrove Tuesday the nickname of Pancake Day, according to the British government’s U.S. web site. “Though fewer people in Britain strictly observe Lent today, everyone enjoys eating pancakes.” On Pancake Day, pancakes are not only eaten, but pancake races are held in villages and towns.
With this is mind, it’s a perfect time to sample griddle cakes around town.
Round, thin and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, pancakes go by many other names: flapjacks and griddle cakes, to name just a few. They're a food universal to most cuisines.
Pancakes are described as a simple food in “The Pancake Handbook,” by Stephen Sieglman, Sue Conley and Bette Kroening (1994, Ten Speed Press). Perfect pancakes, the authors state, are “steamy hot, light and fluffy to the bite, yet hearty and rib-sticking at the same time They’re beautifully round and evenly risen golden brown with delicate lacy edges, moist, rich and slightly sweet with, perhaps, a hint of tangy buttermilk flavor. “
What you’ll find tasting around town are good basic versions and some variations that incorporate wholewheat, whole grains, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, lemon zest and ricotta cheese.
Want to make pancakes at home? “The Pancake Handbook” authors recommend avoid ing boxed mixes because of freshness issues and, instead, use a good flour. I like King Arthur Flour, which offers a fine pancake recipe on its home page.
The King Arthur Flour web site suggests that the typical “diner” taste is the result of substituting malted milk powder for sugar in the recipe. If you’re making your own pancakes, you an buy malted milk powder in some supermarkets, health food stores or through the King Arthur web site and other online merchants.
And now the pancake roundup.
GOLDEN COACH DINER
350 W. Jericho Tpke., Huntington (631) 423-2300
THE PANCAKES: Just plain pancakes, are available, a stack of three, or five silver dollar. They’re fluffy and buttery.
THE TOPPINGS: A square of butter and Heinz Breakfast Syrup in individual plastic containers.
THE PRICE: $4 for three ala carte, $6 with small juice and coffee.
GOLDEN DOLPHIN RESTAURANT
365 W. Main St., Huntington. (631) 351-9680
THE PANCAKES: Whole wheat pancakes were a surprising light, fresh-tasting, though unfancy treat for a diner. Delivered with barely a wait. Regular pancakes, silver dollar pancakes also are available as is a short stack. Blueberry, strawberry and chocolate chip varieties, too.
THE TOPPINGS: Smucker’s imitation maple syrup in individual plastic containers and a chunk of butter on the side.
THE PRICE: $4.95 for three regular pancakes ala carte; $6.95 with small juice and coffee.
IHOP 2598 Old Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station. (631) 423-8760
THE PANCAKES: Original buttermilk, double blueberry, chocolate chip, Cinn-a-Stack, New York cheesecake, strawberry-banana, Harvest Grain 'N Nut. A breakfast special of three pancakes includes bacon or sausage. The original pancakes on the special were light but a tad chewy and accompanied by two tiny, dry strips of bacon.
THE TOPPINGS: Numerous fruit and maple-flavored syrups in small pitchers. Specialty pancake toppings include fruit compotes, powdered sugar, whipped cream.
THE PRICE: Breakfast special $4.95. Four original $6.79. short stack $5.49. $7.45 for specialty variations.
MUNDAYS 269 Main St., Huntington. (631) 421-3553
THE PANCAKES: Decent trio of somewhat fluffy pancakes. Blueberry version was loaded with berries that overwhelmed the flavor of the pancake itself. Multi-grain and sweet potato pancakes also are available
THE TOPPINGS: Caramel-colored sweet syrup in a pitcher. For $1 extra, you can get a saucer of Vermont maple syrup.
THE PRICE: $5.75 for regular pancakes, $4.25 for short stack (two); specialty pancakes $8.95.
TOAST & CO. 62 Stewart Ave., Huntington. (631) 812-0056
THE PANCAKES: Buttermilk, ricotta lemon with chocolate ganache and hazelnuts, Bananas Foster with walnut syrup, berry-berry, chocolate buttermilk, granola topped with lemon yogurt. sauce. The ricotta lemon pancakes, dusted with confectioners sugar, offered a lively lemon flavor along with just a taste of chocolate. Sadly, it was a tad rubbery in spots.
THE TOPPINGS: Vermont maple syrup.
THE PRICE: $8.95 for buttermilk pancakes, $9.95 for specialty pancakes.
OCEAN CREST DINER 269 Walt Whitman Rd. Huntington Station. (631) 421-4424
THE PANCAKES: Regular pancakes are dry, barely redeemed by the gooey syrup and butter and made me think of IHOP just across the street. Also available, silver dollar, chocolate chip, banana, whole wheat and blueberry or strawberry preserves.
THE TOPPINGS: Packaged Quality Chef breakfast syrup and foil-topped butter pats.
THE PRICE: $4.95 for three regular pancakes, $7.25 with a side meat; $5.25 for silver dollar. Specialty pancakes $6.50